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Flyers vs. Hurricanes preview: A storm is brewing

Tropical storm Carolina comes to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Flyers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off an overtime loss to the Florida Panthers, and they’re coming home to take on the “Bunch of Jerks.” It’s the second of four meetings between the teams in 2021-22. The first game ended with a score of 2-1, where the Flyers came out victorious. Now, they’re looking to get another in the season series at home in the Wells Fargo Center.

The Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes are easily one of the best teams in the NHL early into the season. With a record of 14-3-1 and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, it puts them tied for first in the Metropolitan Division and second in the NHL. Their points percentage is .806, and they won their first nine games of the season before falling to the Panthers.

The Hurricanes lost their most recent game to the Seattle Kraken in a nailbiter. Philipp Grubauer made 35 saves on 36 shots to stifle their high-powered offense. It’s the kind of game that the Kraken wanted to play, as their defense and goaltending showed through the relatively weak offensive performance. Either way, the Hurricanes are a tough team to beat at home or on the road, and they haven’t lost often to start the season, so they’ll be looking for revenge when they come to Philadelphia.

Players to watch

There are so many players to watch on the Hurricanes. I could write a whole article about how talented of a team they are. There are the obvious ones like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov, and Martin Necas. They all possess plenty of skill, and their ability to transition the puck and create offensive opportunities while playing a decent two-way game is impressive. We rarely see a core group of young players that are great in their own end and the offensive zone.

Svechnikov specifically is one of the most hypnotizing players in the NHL. From the lacrosse moves to the complete force that he plays the game with, there isn’t a game that goes by where you miss him. He goes to the front of the net, but he’s also not afraid to open up at the faceoff dot and fire a puck past the goaltender. He currently leads the Hurricanes in points with 19 in 18 games. He is ninth on the team in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 53.6 percent and fourth in goals for percentage (GF%) at a ridiculous 74.82 percent. It’s unbelievable how good this kid is.

Philadelphia Flyers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Svechnikov is an incredible talent at a young age, but he’s not who I will focus on. Instead, I will focus on another player who will make a significant impact as time continues to move forward: Seth Jarvis. He was drafted 13th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft after putting up a ridiculous 98 points in 58 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. In the AHL with the Chicago Wolves, he scored 11 points in nine games, including seven goals, and in the WHL with Portland, he scored 27 points in 24 games.

Jarvis finally got the chance to come up and play in the NHL this season, and now that he has passed the nine-game threshold for contract purposes (burning off a year of his entry-level deal), he will be a full-time player in the NHL lineup.

In 11 games with the Hurricanes, he has six total points with four goals to his name. Even though the box score numbers may not be the most exciting, he is doing well by the analytics both in the offensive and defensive zones. By xGF%, he’s second on the team at 58.47 percent, albeit in a small sample size. He’s driving play and stopping the other team from getting high-danger opportunities. In GF%, he’s third at 76.35 percent. If you need any further proof, here is his regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) chart.

Seth Jarvis 2021-22 RAPM Chart (11 games)

Jarvis is a highly talented player. The Hurricanes lucked out with the pick, and he’s proving everyone correct. His ability with the puck is something to applaud. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with as he develops.

The Flyers

The Flyers are headed back home after a tough overtime loss in Sunrise, Florida. Their record moved to 8-6-4, and they’re tied for sixth in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils. Their points percentage is 19th in the NHL.

With the emergency call-up of Morgan Frost, the Flyers were looking for a spark against a Panthers team that had yet to lose at home. They got a great game from goaltender Martin Jones, and because of him, they were able to steal a point. Joel Farabee found himself on the scoresheet scoring the game’s first goal on a breakaway, and how could I not mention this incredible save?

After a solid start to the season, the Flyers are returning to earth. They have a record of 3-4-3 in their last 10 games; it’s something that the analytics suggested was imminent. Their xGF% is 30th in the NHL at 45.07 percent, and after having a GF% over 50 for a strong stretch, they’ve regressed. Their 49.91 percent is 17th in the NHL. The stat that lowers their xGF% is their expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60). They’re 31st in the NHL, only above the Vegas Golden Knights. They haven’t been able to bail their goalies out on many occasions, which is a massive problem. Last season, the goaltending couldn’t get much worse. This season, it’s excellent, but the defensive presence is essentially zero.

Projected Lineup

Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny

Joel Farabee - Morgan Frost - Cam Atkinson

James van Riemsdyk - Scott Laughton - Zack MacEwen

Oskar Lindblom - Nate Thompson - Max Willman

Ivan Provorov - Rasmus Ristolainen

Nick Seeler - Travis Sanheim

Keith Yandle - Justin Braun

Carter Hart

(Martin Jones)

One thing to watch

The Hurricanes have a very high-powered offense. They’re fourth in the NHL in goals for per 60 (GF/60) and expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60). They are 10th in the NHL in goals for per game and 13th in shots per game. They do not show mercy in the offensive zone, and head coach Rod Brind’Amour has designed a system to use speed and strength to help control the puck. They’re one of the best puck possession teams in the entire league.

My one thing to watch is how long the Flyers can contain them. The goaltending has been stellar, so I would bet that Hart will get his fair share of action. However, at some point, the defense will have to take the game into their own hands. Leaving the goalie out to dry consistently, whether it’s Jones or Hart, is not a recipe for success. Now that everything is starting to move in the wrong direction, the team should be learning that lesson. There are tons of threats on the Hurricanes, and it will be a massive test on an already depleted Flyers lineup.

Enjoy the game! Go Flyers!