But the Flyers are now facing a significant test early in this 56-game campaign — Sean Couturier is out for at least two weeks with a Costochondral separation. Certainly not ideal to lose the reigning Selke winner in a season completely comprised of key divisional matchups.
However, the loss of Couturier means one of the Flyers’ most hyped prospects will get another chance to show what he can do in the NHL. Morgan Frost, selected in the first round (No. 27 overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, is expected to earn some extended playing time while centering Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny.
Frost already raised some eyebrows in 20 appearances with the Flyers last season. Though his seven points (two goals, five assists) didn’t set the world on fire, he did show flashes of brilliance in the offensive zone at times. The first goal of his NHL career was nothing short of dazzling.
Morgan Frost's first NHL goal was a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/wg54TGpRfg— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 28, 2020
The Sabres are giving one of their kids a chance to prove himself as well. Dylan Cozens, drafted No. 7 overall in 2019, has been promoted to the second line with Eric Staal and Victor Olofsson, and if he performs at the level displayed for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship, he could pose as a legitimate scoring threat.
After two days off, Carter Hart is expected to start in net for the Flyers once again Monday night. Despite the ugly goal he allowed to Sidney Crosby in the Flyers’ season opener, he’s continued to look stellar early in the campaign after a successful showing in the summer’s postseason run.
Two Big Questions
1. How will Morgan Frost look in his first appearance of the season?
It’s unrealistic to expect Frost to completely fill the void left by Couturier. Couturier is one of the best centers in the NHL and Frost is a 21-year-old with 20 total NHL games under his belt. But the line of Frost, Lindblom and Konecny absolutely has the potential to become a nightmare for the Sabres. All three players can be electric and there’s no doubt that Frost is being set up with perhaps the best linemates he’s ever played with. Regardless of the end result, the line’s performance will certainly be an intriguing story to watch.
2. Will the Flyers stay undefeated with a win against Buffalo?
The Flyers are the only undefeated team in the MassMutual East division and the Sabres have yet to win a game. That’s not to say Buffalo isn’t capable of handing the Flyers their first loss of the season, though. Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall are both capable of taking over a hockey game, and with the Flyers not having their No. 1 shutdown center available to counteract their offensive productivity, they may have their hands full. Even still, the Flyers’ depth is strong enough that even the loss of Couturier shouldn’t keep them from beating a skilled team looking for its first victory.
Flyers projected lines
Giroux — Hayes — Farabee
JVR — Patrick — Voracek
Lindblom — Frost — Konecny
Raffl — Laughton — NAK
Provorov — Braun
Sanheim — Myers
Hagg — Gustafsson
We chatted with Melissa Burgess of Die By The Blade to get some insider info; enjoy!