New week, new Flyers? We can hope, at the very least. The Flyers are back at it tonight to kick off what’s set to be a pretty busy week for them. Tonight, they’re closing out this three game series against the Islanders before they meet the Devils for the second of their back to back games on Tuesday.
The Flyers are looking to come out of this one with an edge in the series, after they took the first game by a 4-3 margin, but then went on to drop the second 6-1 and really looked like they had taken a step back. The good news, though, that we’ll be getting Shayne Gostisbehere back in the lineup tonight. But the bad news is that the Flyers’ task at getting back on track may well still be getting even more difficult, as they’re maybe going to be without Sean Couturier for the second game in a row (he’s a game-time decision this evening), which, it goes without saying, would be a massive loss for them. But hey, maybe there’s something to be said for players banding together and stepping up to fill that void, and maybe we end up with a bit of good in this one. Please don’t make me a liar, the Flyers.
And for a bit of housekeeping, win tonight would put them just one point back from the Bruins and the fourth playoff spot in the East. There’s still a good bit of ground to be picked up, but they could put a dent in it, at the very least.
Players to watch
Yeah, yeah, we’re paying a lot of attention to Farabee this season, but deservedly so—he’s been perhaps the most dependable of the Flyers’ forwards, contributing points with consistency and bringing energy and intensity to every game, when the team at large seems to be lacking in it. As we noted in the introduction, the Flyers are going to need guys to step up in the event of Couturier’s absence, and Farabee’s been leading the Flyers’ charge just about all season, so he very well could be the one to do it. Is there another level he can tap into? Now wouldn't that be fun.
With Carter Hart starting each of the Flyers’ last two games, it’s not too much of a surprise that we’ll be getting Elliott in net tonight. On the whole, he’s been solid this season, when used sparingly, and that’s really the key here. We know that Elliott can be more than a dependable backup if his workload is managed well, but in a season like this one, with this crazy schedule and as the Flyers try to work through whatever Carter Hart has to work through, a lot’s been asked of Elliott already. We’re hoping for another strong performance, but also particularly keyed in on how he’s holding up with this workload.
Two big questions
1. Time for another good response?
Well, here we are again. It feels like the Flyers are trapped in this cycle of “play a poor game, we say that have to respond well, they respond better (sometimes), we get excited for a second, and they play poorly again,” and the cycle repeats and repeats. Right now, we’re back in the “saying the Flyers need to respond well” phase, after they dropped a pretty ugly game on Saturday, with a 6-1 loss to the Islanders. Things are looking pretty rough right now, and the Flyers need to stop things from spiraling. Can they take a step towards doing that tonight? Here’s hoping.
2. Will fatigue factor in?
This schedule has been pretty crazy, that’s no secret, and it really isn’t showing any signs of letting up any time soon (indeed, the Flyers are going to be right back at it again tomorrow night), which means we can reasonably expect that fatigue is going to be an issue down the stretch here, and energy management even more important. It’s understandable, and we’re keeping an eye on it in general, but it feels extra important this week. This is the first night of a back to back, and if the Flyers start to looked gassed already, well, that feels like a bit of a problem. The Flyers are going to need to strike a balance between bringing some jump to this game but also avoiding burning themselves out ahead of Tuesday’s. It’s a difficult test, and we’ll see how it shakes out.