It’s the Black Friday game, everyone! A yearly tradition for the Flyers this time of year. Today they take on the Detroit Red Wings today, hoping for their third straight win and fourth in their last five games. If they do pull off the win today, it would also be their second straight year winning the Black Friday game, with last year being the unbelievable Calvin Pickard shutout vs. New York. Which, ironically enough: guess which team just called Pickard up from their AHL affiliate? These very Red Wings.
Detroit is coming off a throttling at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been cooking with grease since firing Mike Babcock and naming Sheldon Keefe as their head coach. So, one would imagine they’ll be a bit more motivated than usual to erase that feeling. The Flyers, meanwhile, have won their past two games and three out of four after dropping four straight.
Simply put, the Flyers should win this game. Detroit is in the middle of a rebuild and looking a lot like the 2015-16 Maple Leafs team that tanked for Auston Matthews, except this time around it’s Alexis Lafreniere as the projected first overall pick. The last time the Flyers faced a bottom-feeder like Detroit, it was Ottawa, who they lost to by a score of 2-1. I think they’ll have that loss in mind heading into today.
Players to watch for
Carter Hart — Hart gets the start today, unsurprisingly with Elliott having started vs. Columbus, and the Flyers playing in Montreal tomorrow. He’ll look to continue a hot streak of late in which he’s posted a .921 save percentage in his last nine games. He made the first start of his NHL career vs. Detroit last season, and secured his first NHL win then.
Tyler Pitlick — The fourth liner has really stepped things up of late, and finally got the results to show for it last game vs. Columbus. Pitlick has been getting better and better as the season has gone on, and now is wreaking havoc on the fourth line with Michael Raffl.
Two big questions
1. Can the power play solve the zone entry issues?
This was the biggest issue last game vs. Columbus, so it should be intresting to see if at the very least this aspect of the man advantage has been cleaned up.
2. Will Hayes stay hot?
The center has four points in his last five games, including two goals. After starting hot then going on an extended cold streak, Hayes might finally be starting to pick it up and be what the Flyers expected they were getting this offseason.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Giroux — Frost — Konecny
Lindblom — Couturier — Voracek
Laughton — Hayes — Farabee
JVR — Raffl — Pitlick
Provorov — Niskanen
Sanheim — Braun
Ghost/Hagg — Myers
The Flyers have a history of playing down to their opponents, and the Detroit Red Wings are as down as you can get. But this is a team that has beaten some good teams amidst the losses this month, so what should we expect as they come into town this afternoon? Peter Flynn of Winging It In Motown gives us the lowdown.