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Opportunity ahead this week for Flyers against fellow bottom feeders

A strong week could go further to help the Flyers erase the hold they dug themselves with that 10-game winless skid.

Philadelphia Flyers v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

After going winless in 10 straight games, the Philadelphia Flyers have won back-to-back games in regulation and face a favorable three-game schedule this week to get back points lost during their skid that got a couple coaches fired.

On tap this week are three teams on the outside looking in of the Stanley Cup playoff picture: the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators.

All three teams have standout issues right now that the Flyers could easily take advantage of, and could very well be looking at a five-game winning streak if they can take care of business.

Let’s look at the outlook for an important week if the Flyers are to keep putting that ugly winless streak in the rearview mirror.

The jersey doesn’t say “Special Teams” for a reason

Injuries and inconsistent play have limited the ceiling for both the Devils’ special teams units so far this season as Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier have missed time, and Hischier might not play due to COVID protocols tonight.

Their penalty kill is under 80% and 21st overall in the league while the power play is 31st, operating at just 12.7%. They’ve given up power play goals in three of their past five and four of their past six games and have just two power play goals in their last 12 games.

The Flyers, meanwhile, have scored power play goals in four of their past five games as Claude Giroux and Co. have heated up. The downside is that the Flyers’ penalty kill has been generous of late, surrendering goals in five of their last six games (seven total).

Carey Price ain’t walking through that door

Though we wish nothing but the best for Price, his family and his well-being, the Canadiens have badly missed their all-everything netminder thus far.

Montreal, like New Jersey, has wretched special teams — ranking 30th on both the power play and the kill. But where the Canadiens can really be taken advantage of is in net in those situations, where they’re just not stopping enough pucks.

Habs goalies are stopping just 82% of shots on the penalty kill — only the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets have been worse — and are ninth-worst on the power play having given up a pair of short-handed goals already. They’ve also struggled getting key saves for their team, posting just a save percentage below 76% on high danger scoring chances per Natural Stat Trick in all situations.

The Flyers should be able to take advantage of both the Montreal special teams and their goaltending, even in a tough road environment.

Ottawa Sen-ception

Closing out opportunity week is the Senators, who somehow are the hottest team the Flyers face, winning four of their last five games — against tough competition to boot.

But those wins over the Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche (overtime), and Tampa Bay Lightning came with with a bunch of deception behind the scenes.

Ottawa posted PDOs (shooting percentage + save percentage) well over 110 in two of those games and above 100 in the other. Essentially, the Senators played well above their heads against those clubs to get wins that they otherwise wouldn’t have since their season PDO is under 100.

They’ve tightened up their penalty kill over their last five games (two goals allowed) and have upped the scoring with more than four goals per game in that same stretch.

Where the Flyers can take advantage is by winning the possession battle right off the draw, where the Sens haven’t been great lately (below 46% in that five-game stretch) while the Orange and Black have flexed their muscles recently. Look for interim head coach Mike Yeo to get his aces Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, and Giroux going in the dot early to slow some of the Sens’ puck luck.

If the Flyers can win the battle in the dot they should be able to dictate play better and go to work on an Ottawa team that isn’t all that deep outside of their top lines and has a beatable defense and goaltender on any given night.

*Statistics courtesy of NHL and hockeyreference unless otherwise noted*

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