This is a perfect time for the Philadelphia Flyers to dig another team deeper into a pit of despair, so they might as well do it.
Flyers vs. Blues
When: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Where: Wells Fargo Center
TV: NBCSP, BSMW
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
The St. Louis Blues are having terrible season. With a 3-7-0 record, a team that was projected to at least be a playoff hopeful, with some talent to spare and a stable structure enough to push around other teams, is suddenly second-last in the entire NHL and is staring up at others that weren’t even supposed to (or wanted to) win any games. St. Louis also owns the worst active losing streak right now, having lost seven(!) consecutive games. That means they started out the season winning their first three and then just decided “oh, that’s enough.”
This nosedive lands them in Philadelphia on the second half of a back-to-back (they just lost to the Boston Bruins by a score of 3-1 last night) and gives the Flyers an opportunity to at least take advantage of a poor team, limping their way down the coast.
They already beat up on the Ottawa Senators — the owners of now the second-longest losing streak in the league — so why not the Blues?
As we all know, though, the Flyers are still trying to figure out what they are and what they have. We all expected this team to be bad, but head coach John Tortorella has dragged this roster to wins that they might not have fully earned with anyone else behind the bench. They sit above the average mark, with a 6-3-2 record and while it is certainly still incredibly early to be looking at the standings, the Flyers are just one point out of a Wild Card spot. That is just so weird to think about, even if we’re just 11 games into the season.
Who knows what this lineup can even do?
As an added bonus, the Flyers will be wearing this year’s Reverse Retro jerseys for the first time. A nice little treat for us after we vote at our local polling station.
Projected Flyers lineup:
Owen Tippett — Kevin Hayes — Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee — Scott Laughton — Wade Allison
Tanner Laczynski — Morgan Frost — Nic Deslauriers
Lukas Sedlak — Noah Cates — Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov — Tony DeAngelo
Travis Sanheim — Justin Braun
Nick Seeler — Rasmus Ristolainen
Carter Hart most likely will be starting against the Blues. It’s predictable.
The Flyers’ top-line duo of Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny is still putting in the work, leading the team in scoring, and continuing to be the key contributors offensively. Hopefully, Owen Tippett can catch some of that fire and improve on his current production of just two goals and three points in the six games he’s played.
One of the big stinky questions has to be regarding Rasmus Ristolainen’s position on the team. He has been straight-up awful this season, earning just an on-ice shot attempt percentage at 5-on-5 of 23.85 and an expected goals percentage at 5-on-5 of 16.42. That is awful, like terrible. Imagine the worst hockey player in the league right now, they still have those on-ice percentages hanging around 40 percent or so. Ristolainen might need to take a breather or something, or just, I don’t even know.
Anyways, what’s up with the opponents?
Projected Blues lineup:
Brandon Saad — Ryan O’Reilly — Ivan Barbashev
Pavel Buchnevich — Robert Thomas — Vladimir Tarasenko
Jake Neighbours — Brayden Schenn — Jordan Kyrou
Alexei Toropchenko — Noel Acciari — Nathan Walker
Nick Leddy — Colton Parayko
Torey Krug — Justin Faulk
Niko Mikkola — Robert Bortuzzo
Thomas Greiss is your projected starter for St. Louis since they are on the second half of a back-to-back.
One of the main reasons why the Blues have been bad is the lack of scoring. That statement is incredibly obvious, as you need goals to win hockey games. But when your leading scorer is Justin Faulk of all people, and your top center Ryan O’Reilly has one goal and one point in his 10 games, that’s a bad thing.
There are still some players producing enough — Tarasenko has nine points, Brayden Schenn has 10, Robert Thomas with seven — but after a sprinkling of decent players, it is a steep drop-off for everyone.
The Blues won’t be shooting 5.6 percent at 5-on-5 for the entire season, so some bad luck certainly plays a role in this, but most teams are still getting an advantage in every other underlying metric as well.
It is an overall decrease in what has been expected of a team like this with a roster like this. Maybe they’ll continue the downfall in Philadelphia tonight, or suddenly use a beatdown of an overperforming team as a springboard to get back to their winning ways. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.