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Preview: Flyers host Bruins for Ristolainen debut

Philadelphia (good) are facing off against a Boston (bad) team that is well rested or rusty.

NHL: Preseason-Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers are riding high after their dominant performance — physically and on the score sheet — over the floundering Seattle Kraken on Monday. Unfortunately, they might get knocked down, tumbling towards the ground as they are set to face the ever-formidable Boston Bruins on Wednesday and it is just the second game for them this season, so it can go one of two ways.

Perhaps the Bruins will (hopefully) come out slow-footed and really struggle to get warmed-up against a Flyers team that has really put forth a beginning to their 2021-22 campaign with a full effort. It isn’t the lazy Philadelphia team that appears too slow to compete with the other powers of the Metropolitan Division, so far it’s been a rambunctious squad that exudes controlled chaos as well as any other. And if Boston lets up for just one second and lets their defense slip, they have enough forward depth to prove it to be costly.

The other option is that Boston is completely rested and ready to take on any opponent. They won their season opener against the Dallas Stars by a score of 2-1 (plus an empty-netter) and the score reflected the evenness of the bout. While Boston controlled the shot attempt share, the actual quality of chances was even throughout the hour of action (Stars had 2.69 xG compared to the Bruins’ 2.88). But that was four days ago — plenty of enough time for coaches to make their changes and for players to recover from any opening bumps and bruises.

So who really knows? At least we have more confidence in this rendition of the Flyers compared to last year’s (so far).

Three Players To Watch

1. Travis Konecny

The dude is absolutely on fire. While two goals and an assist in two games isn’t eye-bulgingly fantastic, he just appears to be throwing his weight around at both ends of the rink and has been returning to the former complementary self he has been in the past, next to Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux. Maybe he’ll score another with his New Dad Energy.

2. Rasmus Ristolainen

Ristolainen is making his long-awaited debut for the Flyers on Wednesday and next to the well-experienced-but-sometimes-slow-footed Keith Yandle, it is really curious what to make of that pairing. I can only imagine that Yandle will have more control as the blueliner that can spring into offensive action. If that is theory is correct, we might just see the off-season argument that all Rasmus needs is to not be “the guy” on a pairing or even among the six defensemen. We just hope he does something not bad.

3. Zack MacEwan

Okay, yeah it’s easy to look out for guys making their Flyers debut, but MacEwan is a really interesting case. He’s replacing Max Willman, who is a great story and showed some peaks into what he can be with some more development this past week, but is certainly set to feature on the Phantoms for the remainder of the season. A recent waiver claim from the Vancouver Canucks, MacEwan can throw the body and punch faces around that upper echelon of physical forwards in the NHL. He has a sick ass mustache too.

Two Big Questions

1. Oh my god, is that Martin Jones?

Easily the most contentious piece of news released yesterday was that Martin Jones will be starting in between the pipes against the Bruins on Wednesday. Are we supposed to just be alright with Carter Hart starting all 82 and the lower half of his body turning into a pile of wet sand? Hell no. Are we justifiably concerned about Jones playing against a very good team? Yes.

We will live, but it’s worrisome no doubt.

2. Will we see the Flyers’ second powerplay goal of the season?

Somehow and someway, the Flyers have started their season scoring 10 goals in two games and only one of them was on the man advantage — a Konency tally against the Canucks in a two-goal third period that forced overtime. But it’s not like their process has been terrible either. They have — so far with a small sample size — earned the 13th-ranked shot attempt rate, the 15th-ranked unblocked shot rate, and the 16th-ranked expected goals rate on the powerplay. It’s not bad! Just average. There are enough offensive tools for this team to use to create a well-run system to get some dang goals when they can get it.

One other issue is simply getting the opportunities though. As the team has drawn just five penalties through the two games. Maybe they just need to annoy the shit out of some greasy Bruins depth player or something.

Puck drops tonight at 7:30 p.m., and you can check out the projected lineup below:

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Farabee - Brassard - Atkinson
Lindblom - Laughton - van Riemsdyk
MacEwan - Thompson - Aube-Kubel

Defensemen

Provorov - Ellis
Sanheim - Braun
Yandle - Ristolainen

Goalies

Jones
(Hart)


Our friends over at Stanley Cup of Chowder shared Skylar with us so he could fill us in on what the Bruins’ summer looked like, how they’ve looked through their one (1) game so far, and what we might expect from them in tonight’s game.