We’re back with a bit of weekend hockey on deck! After dropping their first two games of the preseason this week to the Islanders and Bruins, the Flyers are back with most of their big guns in tow and hoping to pick up a win over the Capitals tonight. They’ll be facing a Capitals team without a number of their biggest contributors, so if there was ever a time they could pull a reverse and take advantage of a bit of a talent mismatch, well, the time is now.
Three players to watch
1. Martin Jones
Alain Vigneault noted in practice yesterday that Jones is set to play the whole of tonight’s game, and then Carter Hart will get the nod on Monday. It’s a relatively quick turnaround for Jones, who played the first half of Thursday’s game against the Bruins, and perhaps that’s a good thing, because he looked a little shaky (to put it delicately) in that first showing. And, granted, that is the key here, it was his first showing of the preseason so there was surely some rust that needed to be knocked off, but it still wasn’t a performance that likely had many feeling too confident that this signing was a slam dunk. We want to resist getting too worked up just yet about how Jones is faring on his new team, but this is still a good chance for him to work towards getting himself more settled and back on track. We’ll see how that goes.
2. Morgan Frost
It’s been a pretty brutal training camp as far as injuries up front have gone, but if there’s one silver lining to be found here, it would be that Frost now has an easier path to an NHL job right out of camp. That said, he’s still going to have to work hard to grab that spot, it certainly going isn’t going to be just handed to him, and he’s going to need to show a little bit more in the game settings to keep himself in that mix. To be clear, he isn’t having a poor camp, and he’s looked very good in the practice settings, but he hasn’t quite flashed to the same degree in his first game. We’re not too worked up about that just yet, but tonight is a good opportunity for him to take that next step, get a little more involved, and put down any questions of his deservingness of the role he’s been given to work with.
3. Joel Farabee
Farabee’s certainly started off his preseason with a whole lot of flash—he was probably the Flyers’ best player on Thursday, bringing good jump and picking up two goals against the Bruins. It was a very nice way to kick things off, particularly after the pretty stellar last season that he had. We’ve been talking a lot about rust being knocked off during the preseason, but there was none of that to be seen with Farabee, apparently. He’s rolling already, it’s been fun to see, and, it goes without saying, it’s going to a big asset to the team as a whole. He’ll be playing with Frost and James van Riemsdyk again tonight, and we’re hoping that this line can get going as a whole as they get a bit more work in together, and with Farabee’s ability to drive offense, he’s going to be a big key here.
Two big questions
1. Chemistry, anyone?
Looking at the lines and pairs for this game, we haven’t really seen too much shuffling of the combinations from what was put together to start things off. So Vigneault doesn’t seem to be still searching for one particular mix, but rather he’s giving these lines a bit of time and runway to work together and try to find some chemistry, which certainly doesn’t seem like a bad play. We’ve already seen some positive early returns, but we’ll be keeping an eye out to see if that’s sustainable, and that this mix is able to work on building some momentum.
2. Can the penalty kill get rolling?
The Flyers are back and the penalty kill is struggling, it’s like midseason around here already. It hasn’t all been bleak, but with a goal given up against the Islanders and then two against the Bruins, the penalty kill is the one area that has really struggled to get going so far. The good news is that tonight we’ll be seeing what should be most of their regular penalty killers for the regular season, and the hope is that this can give them a bit of a boost and they can get themselves rolling a bit better. It’s still early, so we’re keeping our expectations manageable, but we’re hoping that we can see even a bit of an improvement from what we have over the first two games. Baby steps, etc.
Puck drops tonight at 7:00, and you can check out the projected lineup below:
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
van Riemsdyk - Frost - Farabee
Lindblom - Brassard - Atkinson
Laughton - Thompson - Aube-Kubel
Provorov - Ellis
Sanheim - Ristolainen
Yandle - Braun