The Flyers are still rolling, but they’ve got a tough schedule ahead of them this week, and they’re kicking things off tonight as the Boston Bruins come to town. In case you’ve been living under a rock or something, the Flyers are looking to collect their tenth consecutive win tonight, and to move into first place in the Metro. They’re also coming off of a somewhat lackluster game against the Sabres that led to Alain Vigneault’s assessment being “our goaltender [Carter Hart] had his best stuff and the other 18 guys were okay.” We can understand why we may have gotten a just okay effort from most—a three game in four game stretch is a decidedly tough one—but the Flyers are going to need to be much better than okay tonight.
You may recall, the last time we saw the Bruins here in Philly, they were losing in a shootout because Brad Marchand missed the puck on his attempt (he missed the puck!). But the bad news is that, unfortunately, since then they’ve been doing general good Bruins things, generally. They’ve won seven of their last ten games and are still sitting pretty comfortably at first in the Atlantic. So the Flyers will have the difficult task ahead of them in looking to shut them down. They’ve done it before, more or less, so it’s not out of the question! But, well, yeah. They will be without their whole second pair, though, as Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug are out, so that’s something that may work in the Flyers’ favor. Maybe.
Players to watch
We all probably know by now how dangerous that Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is, and one of the Flyers’ biggest tasks of the night is going to be finding a way to shut them down. One would think they would do this by matching up Sean Couturier’s line against them (as they had done in their last meeting at home) and letting him work some of his defensive magic. It may mean that we won’t be expecting as much offense generated from this line, but hey, it can’t always be them getting to go out there and feast on weaker competition. Sometimes you have to do this kind of shutdown dirty work too.
With all of that said, since we’re expecting the top line to be playing a more defensive role this evening, logically, this means the offense is going to have to come from elsewhere. And who might be one of those contributors? Why not Farabee? He’s been playing very well since his recall, and one of the Flyers’ more consistent generator of chances over these last few games (he even looked pretty good in that Buffalo game, which is saying something). He picked up a goal on Saturday (thanks to a bit of extra hustle and pressure on the forecheck) and seems to be getting on a roll here, so we’ll see if he’s able to keep that going tonight.
Two big questions
Can we get a little more from the penalty kill?
We should preface this by saying that it wasn’t a particularly poor performance that we got some the Flyers’ penalty kill on Saturday, but it wasn’t their best, either. they did, of course, keep the Sabres’ power play off the board, and that is their primary goal after all, but they did still face a struggling power play and let them get a good bit of puck movement going, and let them put up a good handful of chances on them (seven shots and four high danger chances). The overall theme going into this one is that the Flyers are just going to have to do a little better than they did on Saturday, and the penalty kill is one of the key areas. They’re going to be facing the second ranked power play in the league
First place, here we come?
As we mentioned in the introduction, with the Capitals’ shootout loss to the Sabres last night, with a win tonight, the Flyers have the chance to move into sole possession of first place in the division, and wouldn’t that be something? We’re all doing a lot of standings watching down this stretch, here, we’re not going to pretend that we’re not. The Flyers have the chance to secure a more favorable matchup in the playoffs if they move into first in the Metro, and this is a good thing! But that pretty well goes without saying. And maybe it’s just as simple as it would be fun and validating to see them sitting atop the rankings. We’re already having fun, but hey, a little bit more never hurt anybody.
Pucks drops tonight at 7:00, and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Farabee - Hayes - Konecny
Laughton - Grant - Pitlick
Raffl - Thompson - Aube-Kubel
Provorov - Niskanen
Sanheim - Braun
Hagg - Gostisbehere
And for your listening pleasure, ahead of this game Kelly talked to Shawn Ferris from Stanley Cup of Chowder about how the Bruins are still good (gross), how the Flyers maybe, possibly, might be able to shut down their top line, and also... jersey matchups? More fun stuff herein.