After starting the season 3-1-0, despite not looking their best, the Flyers were off to a start I think most of us expected they’d get off to. Now having been swept by the Bruins, and getting brutally outplayed in each game, the mood has obviously changed. There is no better time to right the ship than now vs. the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils are off to a solid start at 3-1-1, with the kids carrying the load. 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes leads the team in points with seven in five games. Right behind him is rookie blueliner Ty Smith with six in five games. They’ve also received spectacular goaltending from Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood who have only given up 10 goals so far this season.
One of the most obvious flaws in this Flyers team so far this season has been the play of the defense, and finally some help is on the way. Shayne Gostisbehere looks like he’ll make his season debut after being on the COVID list to begin the season. A healthy, productive Gostisbehere would do wonders for this team, especially with Phil Myers still out. Based off the following lines in practice, it seems Erik Gustafsson would sit in his place.
Lines and pairs today:— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) January 25, 2021
Patrick not on the ice for practice. Andreoff screams "stand-in," but obv a Patrick absence is notable.
Gustafsson has struggled mightily after a good debut in orange and black, so it’s not a huge surprise to see him scratched. You just have to hope that when he does get back in the lineup, his game is cleaned up and the turnovers aren’t as prevalent.
Two big questions
1. How will Ghost look?
Gostisbehere hasn’t played a game since game one vs. the New York Islanders in the playoffs last year. There’s bound to be some rust especially having been in quarantine for so long away from the team, but the question will be how quickly he can shake that off. Him and Ivan Provorov have succeeded together in the past, so hopefully they can find it again now.
2. Can the transition game improve?
It’s not news to anyone that the Flyers have struggled in transition this season. Watching them attempt to exit their own zone, and enter the offensive zone is like watching Tom Brady get to another Super Bowl, maddening. The overthinking and yet overly-simplistic at same time mentality in transition is absolutely mind-boggling. They’re either trying to get the perfect zone entry, or settle for a dump-in with zero speed and momentum. Something has to change, and no better time than now to start.
Flyers projected lineup
JVR — Hayes — Voracek
Lindblom — Laughton — Farabee
Giroux — Patrick — Konecny
Raffl — Bunnaman — NAK
Provorov — Gostisbehere
Sanheim — Friedman
Hagg — Braun
In this episode of Checking out the Competition, Kelly talks with John Fischer from All About the Jersey. Differences in this Devils team from last year’s, Miles Wood’s hot start, and what the Flyers need to do to beat the Devils in these next two games.