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Preview: Misery loves company

Hopefully the Flyers can rebound while beating up on the Eeyore of the league.

Philadelphia Flyers v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Flyers have been losing a lot lately, and that’s not very enjoyable. However, it could be worse! You could be a Buffalo Sabres fan. Philly gets a pathetic Sabres team with a lame-duck head coach at home tonight, so there’s reason to expect a win. Who should you be keyed in on, what are the storylines, and what’s on deck for pre-game listening? All of that below.

The Sabres

This team stinks. Buffalo has plummeted to the league’s worst points percentage ever since suffering back-to-back shutout losses to the Flyers last weekend. The Sabres are surrounded by murmurs of coach firings, burner accounts and the looming Jack Eichel trade that’s cast a shadow over everything this year.

Ralph Krueger hasn’t had much to work with, but he’s not helping anything, either. The Buffalo bench boss has struggled to put players in positions to succeed and has been subject to heavy criticism from the fans over his repeated benchings of Jeff Skinner. On a team that features players like Kyle Okposo and Cody Eakin on a nightly basis, it’s fair to say that vitriol is deserved.

The big news of the day? Jack Eichel will once again be missing from the lineup. Elliott Friedman speculated that this could be an injury that sidelines the young superstar for a long time; this is fortunate for the Flyers to say the least. Philly should beat this team, and if they don’t it’s time to start ringing some alarm bells.

The Flyers

The Orange & Black are coming off a tough loss to Washington, but I don’t know that there’s quite as much reason for doom and gloom as people are saying. The Flyers ran into a hot goalie in Ilya Samsonov and lost despite largely controlling play. One could say that this is karma for all of us (me included) complaining about the underlying process when the team was winning.

Carter Hart will be in net again for Philadelphia tonight. The young goalie has continued to struggle a bit, but from an objective perspective he seems to be settling his game recently. As the Flyers feel the pressure to climb to the top of the division ratchet up, Hart needs to round into form for this team to have legitimate title hopes (although adding a defenseman to help him wouldn’t hurt).

Besides that, there isn’t much to say. The Flyers have to improve their consistency and need better results (and a better process) from special teams, but until either the coaching staff or personnel get shaken up a bit I don’t expect much drastic improvement there. Buffalo is terrible, the Flyers are a good team (despite what people say) and they should win tonight.

Three Big Things

  1. Dial in on the penalty kill and watch for what the issues with it are. A lot of the failures are just fundamental mistakes in coverage, and it’s fair to question why exactly that’s happening when this team had a good PK last year. The answer lies partly within personnel (Matt Niskanen’s absence is notable), but some of it is in execution too. Look for the guilty parties and ask if what they’re doing is a common problem across multiple players at there position (and therefore likely a product of coaching) or if it’s an individual mistake that’s not being replicated by others.
  2. Will Carter Hart continue to rebuild his confidence and refine his tweaked approach? I thought Hart looked fine in his start against the Caps, but it seems like he still has a ways to go before he’s stealing games and looking totally comfortable again. Crushing Buffalo would do some good in that respect.
  3. Will Travis Konecny build on what’s been one of his best stretches of the season? TK has looked more like the guy who led the team in scoring last year lately, so that may be a sign of things to come.

Gameday Tunes

I present the chillest Tuesday-related song I can think of.

Happy game day everyone, and as always, go Flyers.

Brand new friend of the pod Joe Yerdon joins us to discuss what the heck is going on in Buffalo, from coaching problems, to discontent stars, to injuries, and all the way to ownership. Conclusion? The Flyers need to win this game. For us AND for them.