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Preview: Cautious optimism

More preseason hockey for your enjoyment.

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

After a messy, drawn-out debut Tuesday, the Flyers are set to take on the Boston Bruins in another exhibition game. Want to know the story-lines and players to watch, or just looking to scratch your hockey itch? You’re in the right place.

The Bruins

Boston hasn’t iced many members of its main roster yet, opting to use Tuesday’s outing against the New York Rangers as a chance to break in some youngsters. In a 3-2 loss, the Bruins only featured four NHL regulars in their lineup (Tomas Nosek, Curtis Lazar, Mike Reilly, and Linus Ullmark) and still hung tough with a Rangers team playing significantly more of their established names (Artemi Panarin, Kappo Kakko, Jacob Trouba, Igor Shesterkin).

It’s worth noting that Boston had some silly penalties and communication issues throughout the night, something that the Flyers will hope to take advantage of. With so many inexperienced prospects on the ice, it’ll be a tough task for the home team to pull out a win unless we see a lineup more reflective of their regular season look. As for a player who we should be able to count on watching, pay close attention to Mike Reilly. The veteran blue liner was spectacular all of last year, and is a savvy addition to an already formidable defensive team. He’ll be leading the charge in all three phases from the back end unless Charlie McAvoy ends up dressing out.

The Flyers

Philadelphia should change much from the last outing outside of some likely additions to the lineup. Don’t be surprised if Rasmus Ristolainen, Travis Sanheim, Nate Thompson, and Martin Jones all make their debuts on the season. Of the aforementioned newcomers, Ristolainen is clearly the one to watch; seeing how he blends with Sanheim is a worthwhile pursuit, even in preseason action.

As covered in our recap of Tuesday’s loss to the Islanders, the Orange & Black still have plenty to work on before hitting the regular season. Under the pressure of heavy forechecking, the team still buckled more than they didn’t, maintaining the pattern of an inability to manufacture effective breakouts. Against another disciplined defensive unit under Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy, the same problem remain. The special teams units could also use some more reps to help things run smoothly in the future.

In more recent news, Egor Zamula is hurt. Fantastic. This is fine.

Three Big Things

  1. The Flyers have an... acrimonious relationship with beating the Bruins lately, to put it mildly. Even when Boston was a skeleton crew outside of a few big names last year, Philadelphia couldn’t manage to find wins (we’ll conveniently ignore that the Flyers will also missing quite a few players for the sake of my narrative here). Getting comfortable with countering a well-coached team will be a good exercise for Alain Vigneault and company.
  2. Can this team come out of the gate firing tonight as opposed to the slow start they issued on Tuesday? The Flyers still continue their frustrating trend of digging holes in the first period, and with a shakier presence in net that’s not an affordable mistake. Going gangbusters out of the gate for a change wouldn’t hurt.
  3. Hoping to see the penalty kill drift towards greater aggression in this game, especially against a roster full of youngsters. The addition of a home run threat in Cam Atkinson opens up counterattacking options and incentivizes adopting the power-kill mentality that’s become popular across the league’s best units when down a man; let’s see the Flyers adjust accordingly.

Game Day Tunes

In the midst of having a magical life experience (go Mariners) I’m feeling good. Let’s choose a song to reflect that. This is not a clean song.

Happy game day, and as always, go Flyers.