The Flyers are back again tonight for a relatively rare bit of Monday action, and are kicking off the first game of a home and home against the Bruins in Boston tonight. Last time we saw the Flyers, they fell behind to the Islanders in Saturday’s game, but were able to mount a comeback to force overtime, only to lose in the shootout. But there were some improvements to be found in that game, and Carter Hart really stole the show,
The Bruins have decidedly also been struggling recently. They’re without key pieces like Tuukka Rask and now Jaroslav Halak, and Brandon Carlo (again), and their already thin defense is getting exposed more regularly, while the forwards are struggling to score consistently. They’ve lost five of their last ten games, but are still clinging to that last playoff spot in the East division. They’re four points up on the Flyers (though with two games in hand), so the Flyers have a chance to not only gain some ground on them, but also put a bit of separation between themselves and the Rangers (who are tied with them in points but have played one more game). So we’ll see how this goes!
Players to watch
Claude Giroux (...or maybe everyone except him)
Saturday’s game was decidedly one of Giroux’s “fine, I’ll do it myself” games, where he just puts the team on his back and tries to drag them to a win. The team fell a little short in the end, with that shootout loss as we said, but Giroux’s play was still pretty remarkable, and the result shouldn't take away from that. We’re hoping that the rest of the team shows up and takes some of the burden off of Giroux’s shoulders so he doesn’t have to put together two of those types of games together in a row, but we’re equally interested in how he’s going to follow that one up. Who’s going to show up! That’s our big question!
Laczynski made his NHL debut on Saturday after putting up a really stellar start to the season with the Phantoms, and he certainly impressed in that first game. It wasn’t perfect, but he brought some flash and pretty immediately looked like he belonged playing at this level. We’re still expecting to see him playing a limited role, but there’s still room for him to build on that first showing, and that the opportunity and run with it. There’s a lot of potential there, and we’re excited to see where he goes from here.
Two big questions
What kind of response will we get?
It’s the ongoing question of the season if there ever was one. The Flyers picked up a bit of momentum on Saturday, and are in a good spot to be able to build on that. But we’ve seen them do this before, play a good game and then backslide in the next and fall right back into their old bad habits in the very next game, which may not leave us positively brimming with optimism for how this game is gonna go. But, that said, the Flyers are in a good spot to build on any momentum that they’ve gathered, so it really feels like now or never.
Can the penalty kill take a step forward?
One of the markedly weak spots for the Flyers this season has been the penalty kill. We know this, it isn’t news. But as the Flyers are driving home the message that they’re trying their hardest to get back into the playoff mix, this is an area sorely in need of improvement if they want to do that (and equally as important, of course, is remaining disciplined and avoiding needlessly putting themselves on the penalty kill in the first place). We saw a couple of flashes of what looked like last season’s penalty kill on Saturday, but there’s still a lot of improvement needed. Can tonight be another step forward towards that? Well, here’s hoping.