Coming off a team-record-tying November, the Flyers start the month of December with a tough test in the Toronto Maple Leafs. While they’ve played the Leafs twice already this season, that was the Mike Babcock-led Leafs that struggled out of the gates. Since Toronto fired Babcock and promoted AHL head coach Sheldon Keefe, they’ve looked as dangerous as ever.
Since Keefe became the head coach, Toronto has lost just one game in a 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. They’ve looked like a much more dangerous hockey team, taking fewer perimeter shots, and have largely been the team everyone expected them to look like at the start of the season. Tyson Barrie has finally gotten going, which has been a huge plus for this team.
Meanwhile for the Flyers, they’ve won four straight games for the second time already this season, and are playing some of their best hockey. Alain Vigneault seemingly finally has a set lineup at least with the forwards, as every line is starting to produce. On defense, things are somewhat set in stone, but not entirely.
Shayne Gostisbehere will be in the lineup yet again tonight, along with Phil Myers which means Flyers twitter can put down the pitchforks for at least one night. Robert Hagg will be a healthy scratch after getting a look the past few games.
Players to watch for
Travis Konecny — Konecny finally ending his nine game goalless drought with his tally vs. Montreal, and now I wouldn’t be surprised to see him score in bunches. While he’s not your prototypical pure goal scorer, it’s obvious his shot is extremely good and underutilized. He has one of the better shots on the team, and I’d love to see him use it more and the team get him into position to use it more.
Joel Farabee — Although he hasn’t scored a goal in his last 13 games, Farabee has a three-game point streak, and four points in his last five. He had a sweet assist to Kevin Hayes for his goal vs. Montreal, and his great passing vision is starting to really show up.
Two big questions
1. Will Hayes stay hot?
With six points in his last seven, Hayes has been one of the best Flyers over this recent hot stretch. He’s starting to earn that big pay day he received over the offseason, and the Flyers have obviously been a better team because of it.
2. Will we avoid the shootout this time?
Both games this season vs. the Leafs have gone to a shootout, and honestly folks I’m really sick and tired of this team going to shootouts. This isn’t really a question, more of a plea for no shootout tonight. (But also win the game please because that’s most important so I guess if you have to go to a shootout then win it)
Flyers projected lineup
Giroux — Frost — Konecny
Lindblom — Couturier — Voracek
Laughton — Hayes — Farabee
JVR — Raffl — Pitlick
Provorov — Niskanen
Sanheim — Braun
Ghost — Myers
Needless to say, the Leafs have had quite the time since we saw them last! Adam Selvig of Pension Plan Puppets joins us again to share his thoughts on the Leafs in that time, the Mike Babcock situation, and his thoughts on Sheldon Keefe’s first few games as head coach.