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Preview: Flyers face a very winnable game in Arizona

It’s back to school night for the Flyers.

Arizona Coyotes v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Flyers will have a brief reprieve from playing top contenders tonight when they make the trip to Arizona State University to take on the Arizona Coyotes.

The Flyers have lost two in a row and 14 of their last 16, while the Coyotes have lost 10 of their last 12, but are fresh off a victory over the league-best Boston Bruins. Arizona was outshot 46-16 in that game, but somehow snuck out the win, anyway. These two teams are both near the bottom of the league in a lot of categories, including the ones that actually matter like points and points percentage.

While this game is one of many littered across 2022-23 that is really just serving as a four-point swing in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, there’s also a chance for it to be an exciting and fun hockey game. Arizona spends a lot of time killing penalties and they don’t do it very well compared to the rest of the league; both of these teams give up a lot of goals and both do quite a bit of fighting, and the game’ll be played inside a college arena and the Flyers are historically a team that travels well. Both of these teams are allowing, on average, 63 shot attempts per 60 minutes and are in the bottom four in that category.

The Flyers are right back at it after tonight, with the Devils and Avalanche again looming on the schedule, plus the Rangers, Leafs, and Hurricanes later in December, so if they’re looking for a winnable game to build some momentum, this is it.

Projected Flyers lines

Kevin Hayes—Noah Cates—Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee—Scott Laughton—Owen Tippett
James van Riemsdyk—Morgan Frost—Zack MacEwen
Nic Deslauriers—Patrick Brown—Lukas Sedlak

Ivan Provorov—Rasmus Ristolainen
Travis Sanheim—Justin Braun
Nick Seeler—Cam York

Carter Hart
(Felix Sandström)

Projected Coyotes lines

Matias Maccelli—Nick Bjugstad—Lawson Crouse
Liam O’Brien—Jack McBain—Christian Fischer
Clayton Keller—Travis Boyd—Nick Shmaltz
Zack Kassian—Barrett Hayton—Dylan Guenther

Juuso Välimäki—JJ Moser
Patrik Nemeth—Troy Stecher
Jakob Chychrun—Shayne Gostisbehere

Karel Vejmelka
(Connor Ingram)

Keep an eye on:

  • Travis Konecny, who has at least a point in 11 of his last 12 full games played. Konecny is the only Flyer scoring over a point-per-game, with 23 in 22 in 2022-23. He’s one of the few Flyers performing at or above expectations so far this year, truly making the most of his top line ice time.
  • Shayne Gostisbehere, who is second on the Coyotes in points and tallied two assists—one a shot for a deflection—in the win over Boston. He’s now got a four-game point streak and a total of 6 during that span. Hi Shayne!
  • Cam York, who made his season debut on Friday night in a game in Las Vegas that started after 10 p.m., meaning it didn’t even really happen, making tonight’s game his true season debut. York had 13 points in 20 games for the Phantoms this year before earning the call-up in place of a healthy-scratched Tony DeAngelo.
  • Lawson Crouse, who somehow has 12 goals on just 45 shots this year. Those 12 goals—which includes 10 at even strength—lead the Coyotes this year, as does his 26.67 shooting percentage. In fact, the only qualified player with a higher shooting percentage this season is Jamie Oleksiak, who has 4 goals on 13 shots.

Stray stats:

  • The Flyers are 50-30-2-3 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Coyotes. They went 5-3-0-0 at American West Arena in Phoenix and 5-5-0-1 at Gila River Arena in Glendale. This’ll be their first game at Mullett Arena.
  • Shayne Gostisbehere has 20 points in 25 games this season and 71 in 107 since joining the Coyotes. That’s 20 more points than the future considerations the Flyers traded him for has scored and 20 more points than the defenseman that they received with the excess cap space his trade created.
  • Nic Deslauriers’ hold on the league lead in penalties in minutes is under fire, as he hasn’t seen the inside of the box in any of the last five games, while Montreal’s Arber Xhekaj has racked up 11 PIM over that same span, pushing to within 1 of Deslauriers’ 57.
  • The Coyotes have allowed a league-leading 110 power play opportunities against and are averaging 7:10 minutes at a disadvantage per game—also a league-leading number. The Flyers power play is technically hot, scoring on 4 of their last 8, but has been pretty dismal overall this season. Both teams penalty kills are near the bottom of the league, too, hovering around 75 percent.
  • The very first NHL game ever played was between the Montreal Wanderers and the Toronto Arenas in 1917 at Westmount Arena in Montreal, a venue that could hold 10,000 people. Mullett Arena, the on-campus multi-purpose arena where the Arizona Coyotes currently lose their home games, can fit 5,000.
  • Carter Hart will likely take over the league lead in minutes played from Igor Shesterkin tonight, if only for the night.