Happy New Year folks! Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday, and that you're looking to kick off the new year with a bit more Flyers After Dark. Let’s get weird.
The Flyers are back at it again tonight against the Kings, and this should be an interesting one. The Flyers are coming off a back-to-back against the Kraken and the Sharks, where they came away with an overtime win and an overtime loss, respectively, and those games were both a little weird. The Flyers put up an absolutely brutal defensive effort against the Kraken, but were still able to hold on long enough to make it to overtime and come away with that win, and then while they did make some improvements in the Sharks game, there was still some messiness coming through. We’re not expecting perfection in this one, but we’re hoping to see them take at least another step in the right direction.
And despite their position in the standings (sixth in the Pacific), the Kings won't be an easy opponent. They’ve been a bit inconsistent over the course of the season, but they’ve won six of their last ten games, and they’re coming off a shootout win over the Canucks into this one. Plus, they’ve gotten a bit more offensive help, as they just called up their 2019 fifth overall pick Alex Turcotte. So we’ll see what this one looks like.
Players to watch
1. Morgan Frost
With a goal in Thursday’s game and some nice chemistry already shown with his new linemates Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny, Frost seems to be picking up some steam in his return from the break and his bout on the COVID protocol list. He was playing with good jump, and more and more he’s continuing to put together more details of his game at the NHL level. He’s pushing the pace, getting to more dangerous areas, and the overall confidence in his game is coming back. He’s getting a nice role to work with, and he's been a real treat to watch as he’s continuing to put it all together.
2. Martin Jones
After a night off in San Jose, Jones is back and getting the start in this one. Carter Hart has been removed from the COVID protocol list (hooray!), but he won't be joining the team until tomorrow. So it’s Jones time again! He put up a fine showing in Seattle, not perfect, but enough to help the team hold on for a win, and that’s exactly what they needed from him. He’ll be leaned on again for another similar showing tonight, and he’ll likely have a busy night, facing a Kings team which is averaging the fifth most shots on goal per game. Should be fun!
Two big questions
1. Can the Flyers get anything out of their power play
Probably the most haunting image from Thursday’s game came from the Flyers, with a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, just standing around passing the puck around the perimeter before putting a shot on goal from the point. Their play on the man-advantage against the Sharks left quite a bit to be desired, and they’re going to need a bit more from them in this one. They did still pick up a goal, and looked much sharper, on Wednesday against the Kraken, so the hope is that Thursday was the anomaly and they can settle back in well enough in this one.
2. How’s the energy going to look?
Speaking of things that have been inconsistent over the last two games: the Flyer’s energy has been a little up and down of late here. And some of that is understandable, they did quite a bit of travel and had a very late night because of it before the Sharks game, but it’s still something they've been battling with. With a day of yesterday and things being a little less hectic, they should be coming into the game on a better note, but it’s still up to the players to actually make sure that they’re keeping that energy and intensity up. We saw how ugly things can get when that slips, so, yeah, let’s not do that again.
Puck drops tonight at 10:30 PM (gross), and you can check out the projected lineup below.
van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Atkinson
Willman - Hayes - Farabee
Lindblom - Frost - Konecny
Cates - Brown - MacEwen
Provorov - Braun
Sanheim - Ristolainen
Yandle - Connauton