The Flyers just barely kept their losing streak alive on Saturday as they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in spectacularly dramatic fashion, allowing a game-tying goal from Cole Caufield with less than three seconds left in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens and eventually losing 1-0 in a shootout. Now, they’re back home against another mediocre Canadian team with a chance to end their longest losing streak of the season.
Both of these teams lineups are pretty different-looking than the last time they met, though for somewhat different reasons. The Flyers have seemingly attempted multiple on-the-fly rebuilds under Chuck Fletcher and so the makeup of the team has shifted plus the team is dealing with multiple injuries at the moment (and kind of all the time?? seems like a recurring motif), while the Flames experienced more of a star-player-only exodus this summer with Johnny Gaudreau walking away, Matthew Tkachuk basically asking for and receiving a trade, and Sean Monahan getting traded with a first-round pick for essentially nothing.
The rest of the Flames roster remains intact from last season and they’ve added Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau to the mix. So far in 2022-23, that addition hasn’t quite been enough to bring the Flames up to the performance levels they achieved with the guys they lost. They’re 8-7-2, sit at fifth place in the Pacific Division, and have struggled to score this year. They’re averaging 3.06 goals per game, which puts them at 18th in the league. And they’ve had a seven-game losing streak of their own. But they’ve won three out of four since then and that 3.06 goals per game is still a lot better than the Flyers’ 2.56.
So, yes, this is a winnable game for the Flyers. The Flames have been streaky and are smack dab in the middle of a six-game road trip. Plus, in theory, every game that the Flyers have Carter Hart in net is one they have a chance to win. Let’s see how it plays out.
Flyers projected lineup
Joel Farabee—Morgan Frost—Owen Tippett
Kevin Hayes—Noah Cates—Zack MacEwen
Max Willman—Patrick Brown—Tanner Laczynski
Nic Deslauriers—Lukáš Sedlák—Kieffer Bellows
Ivan Provorov—Tony DeAngelo
Travis Sanheim—Justin Braun
Nick Seeler—Rasmus Ristolainen
Flames projected lineup
Adam Ruzicka—Elias Lindholm—Tyler Toffoli
Milan Lucic—Nazem Kadri—Andrew Mangiapane
Jonathan Huberdeau—Mikael Backlund—Trevor Lewis
Blake Coleman—Dillon Dubé—Nick Ritchie
Noah Hanifin—Rasmus Andersson
MacKenzie Weegar—Nikita Zadorov
Chris Tanev—Dennis Gilbert
Keep an eye on:
- Owen Tippett, who now has points in four straight games, including two goals in Montreal on Saturday. His 10 points in 13 games so far this year is the best pace of his young career to this point and his hair has seemingly gotten oranger?
- Elias Lindholm, who is the last man standing from what was one of, if not the best lines in the league last year and is leading the Flames in scoring this year. Lindholm leads the Flames in points with 16 in 17 games
- Morgan Frost, whose offensive numbers are still not coming, but who has often looked dangerous with the puck in the offensive zone this season. Maybe the point totals aren’t coming because his linemates have fluctuated a lot and have mostly been guys like Zack MacEwen, Tanner Laczynski, Nic Deslauriers, and Max Willman, but he practiced with Tippett and Farabee recently, so he may be getting some juicier ice time.
- Adam Ruzicka, a fourth-round pick from 2017 who has yet to become an NHL regular so far but has three multi-point games in his last four, including two goals and an assist in the Flames’ overtime win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
- The Flyers’ second line, which now has Kevin Hayes playing the wing and Noah Cates at center, because, according to Tortorella, “Cates is more responsible defensively.”
- Jacob Markström, who is getting the start in net for the Flames and has struggled this year. Coming off the back of a Vezina-nominated season, the 33-year-old is 7-4-2 with a .887 save percentage. He has had some strong starts but has also looked shaky at times; he’s given up four or more goals in four games and has even been pulled once after giving up three in one period.
- The Flyers are 61-44-12-8 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Flames. They went 1-1-0 against them last season, losing 4-0 in Calgary and winning an overtime game 2-1 in Philly.
- There are currently six NHL franchises without an official captain—the Flames are the first of those five other teams that the Flyers have played this season. The Flyers have been without a captain since March 17 of this year, when they traded Claude Giroux after 10 seasons as the Flyers captain. The Flames have been without a captain since July 21, 2021, when the Seattle Kraken selected Mark Giordano, who had been the Calgary captain for eight seasons. The other four teams are the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, the Kraken, and the Winnipeg Jets.
- The Flames are the third-oldest team in the NHL and have 12 players who are 29 or older. Their offseason additions—the 32-year-old Kadri and 29-year-old Huberdeau—are both older than the players that they “replaced.” The Flyers are the fifth-youngest team in the league. They currently have 12 players on the roster who are 26 or younger. Little victories.
- The Flyers’ power play has been pretty impotent this season. They’re scoring at a lower rate—5.76 goals per 60 minutes—while on the man advantage than all but three teams and are somehow only generating 83.23% of the shot attempts taken while they’re on the power play, which is worse than all but two teams.