It’s finally over — well, it will be after tonight. This road trip that has carried the Flyers into the new year has without a doubt been the worst stretch of hockey we’ve seen from this group all season long. They’ve lost three straight, and four out of their last five in embarrassing fashion. It started with a 6-1 loss to San Jose, then a 5-4 loss to Vegas that really didn’t feel all that close, a 5-3 loss to LA that really wasn’t that close, and finally a 6-2 throttling at the hands of the Coyotes.
Now, the Flyers embark on one of their toughest stretches of the season in terms of competition. It begins tonight with the Carolina Hurricanes, followed by the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, and St. Louis Blues. While this stretch is helped by the fact they get Washington, Tampa, and Boston all at home where the Flyers have been stellar, it’s still a tremendous task for this team.
To say that this stretch, starting tonight, will tell us if this team is for real or not may not be all that far off from the truth. It’s true there’s still plenty of hockey left to be played this season, but with the Flyers falling further and further down the standings in the Eastern Conference, and the rest of the Metro still playing well, a hot streak is needed.
Players to watch
Nicolas-Aube Kubel — NAK has gone from the guy who we thought would never get his shot in the NHL, to clearly being liked by this coaching staff. He’ll get a great opportunity tonight on the second line with Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk.
Robert Hagg — Hagg will be in the Flyers’ lineup for this all important stretch, whether we like it or not. With the injury to Justin Braun, Hagg slots in hoping to at the very least be good enough to weather the storm until Braun can return after the All-Star game.
Two big questions
1. Will the new-look lines pay dividends?
Alain Vigneault is switching things up as you’ll see in the projected lineup below, so now we wait and see if they spark the team. He hasn’t been afraid to change lines before, and certainly won’t be now with the team struggling like they are.
2. Please boys, just snap out of this.
It’s more of a plea than a question, but for all of our sanities, please Flyers just get out of this funk and go back to winning hockey games.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
JVR - Hayes - NAK
Pitlick - Raffl - Voracek
Laughton - Vorobyev - Farabee
Provorov - Niskanen
Sanheim - Myers
Hagg - Gostisbehere
The Canes have lost two in a row and are just 5-5-0 in their last 10, plus we’re back in our time zone, so maybe this won’t be too bad? Brian LeBlanc of Canes Country talks about some dumb NHL scheduling, and how the Canes have been since we last faced them in late November.