After a thrilling and yet oh so frustrating 6-5 overtime win yesterday, the Flyers are back yet again to finish their season series with the Detroit Red Wings. The Flyers won the first meeting between the two teams in a much more tame, 3-2 victory. Today they’ll attempt the sweep of the Red Wings for the first time since they began facing them more than once a season, back in 2011-12. They’ve come close the past two seasons, but one overtime loss each year got in the way.
The win yesterday put the Flyers just seven points outside of a playoff spot, behind the new second wild card place holder in the Carolina Hurricanes. Sweeping the Red Wings in this back-to-back would be huge, but the Flyers need some help from two division rivals to really make up some ground. The Rangers face off with the Penguins today, as the Pens hold a six point advantage over the Flyers. Buffalo, just two points ahead, takes on the Devils. If the Devils and Rangers can beat both the Pens and the Sabres, it would go a long way for this team paired with a sweep today.
It’s still unclear whether the Flyers will have Carter Hart start both games of the back-to-back or not, but if he doesn’t, Mike McKenna would start. McKenna has not played a game for the Flyers since allowing four goals on 24 shots vs. Washington back in early January. If he starts this evening, it would most likely be his last appearance in a Flyers jersey with Cam Talbot set to join the club shortly.
1. Let’s not blow any leads this time, alright?
That was quite an emotional game yesterday with the Red Wings coming back down 5-1 to tie it with eight seconds left, and then the Flyers won it in OT. Anthony Mantha didn’t help matters when he shoved Claude Giroux headfirst into the boards, which somehow did not register a penalty. Mantha would be the one who tied the game for Detroit on a deflection, because why wouldn’t he be?
If the Flyers are able to grab a lead, especially a big lead as they did yesterday, they cannot afford to fall into the trap. Staying on the attack but also being responsible defensively is a fine line to walk, but one they’ll need to perform to avoid what happened yesterday. They may have won the game, but one bad bounce and Detroit comes back down 5-1 to win the game, which would have been a demoralizing loss for this hockey team.
The debut of Phil Myers has been a much anticipated one, and we could very well see it finally happen this evening. This tweet from Francois Le Blanc of Radio Canada seems to indicate Myers will make his NHL debut tonight in the Motor City.
Ça se confirme. Le premier match de Philippe Myers avec les Flyers de Philadelphie à 19h (heure de l’Atlantique) à Détroit, contre les Red Wings. Le match est seulement diffusé pour l’instant à NBCSN (disponible seulement aux USA ou sur Centre Ice). #icinb— Francois Le Blanc (@RCFrancois) February 17, 2019
Myers was recalled by the club on February 9 after 29 points in 48 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. If the big right handed defenseman finally does make his debut tonight, I’d imagine we see Andrew MacDonald come out the lineup. He had an especially rough game yesterday, and it makes the most sense for him to come out and Myers slides right into his spot next to Shayne Gostisbehere.
3. Can the offense stay hot?
The Flyers offense has been one of the main reasons for their recent success, and yesterday was no exception. They may have lost the overall Corsi battle vs. Detroit, but the quality of their chances were the catalyst for their goals. Breakouts were especially strong for the majority of the game yesterday, as once they shut down the Red Wings’ attack, by the time you could compliment their defense play they were already in the offensive zone.
In turn, passing was strong as well. Possibly a bit too reliant on the stretch passes, but they converted them more often than not which is the most important thing. In the offensive zone, the effort was clearly to get the puck to high percentage areas. If passes did go back to the point, smart, screened point shots were being taken or the defensemen were giving the puck right back to the forwards down low. If they do more of the same this evening, we should see similar results.
Flyers Projected Lineup
JVR — Giroux — Konecny
Lindblom — Couturier — Voracek
Laughton — Patrick — Simmonds
Bailey — Varone — Raffl
Provorov — Sanheim
Gostisbehere — Myers
Hagg — Gudas