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Preview: Flyers look to repeat their last performance against the Avalanche

The banged up defending champs will host the Flyers in the midst of a four-game road trip.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers will take on the Avalanche in Denver tonight after starting their current road trip with back-to-back overtime losses.

The Flyers aren’t exactly hot, but they do have points in three of their last four games—which is hot for them—and they’re catching the Avalanche in close enough proximity to their last game that they’re still pretty banged up. Colorado is still without Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, among others. That last game is one of Philly’s two wins in their last 17 games, coming largely at the hands of those injuries to the defending champs.

But can the Flyers capitalize again? They’ll be putting their best foot forward with Carter Hart in net, although it’ll be his seventh start in a row. Hart has been the best Flyer by a mile—somehow, shockingly, coming in with a .500 record on a bottom five team. At 8-8-6, Hart is doing his best to drag this Flyers roster—a bottom-third team even when not battered by injuries—into some wins: .909 save percentage at all strengths and .926 at even strength while facing some of the highest shot numbers of any goaltender in the league.

The Flyers are currently eight points out of a playoff spot and eight points ahead of the worst team in the league. Pretty soon they’re going to have to make a decision.

Projected Flyers lines

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

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

Carter Hart
(Felix Sandström)

Projected Avalanche lines

Artturi Lehkonen—Mikko Rantanen—Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Newhook—J.T. Compher—Logan O’Connor
Charles Hudon—Ben Meyers—Jean-Luc Foudy
Dryden Hunt—Andrew Cogliano—Jacob MacDonald

Sam Girard—Cale Makar
Devon Toews—Erik Johnson
Brad Hunt—Andreas Englund

Alexandar Georgiev
(Pavel Francouz)

Keep an eye on:

  • Morgan Frost, who almost doubled his season total with a 4-point night against the Coyotes two nights ago. Frost is still looking for a breakout season to establish himself at the NHL level, and, with 10 points in 28 games, he’s at least on his way to a career year if he can stay healthy and in the lineup.
  • Mikko Rantanen, who is in the top ten in the league with 36 points so far this season. The Finnish winger has 19 goals on 77 shots for an absurd 24.7 shooting percentage and is fresh off a hat trick in a win over the Blues.
  • Cam York, who went straight from the AHL to the top power play defenseman on the Flyers, playing 17:54 against the Golden Knights and 24:07 against the Coyotes, leading all defensemen in 5-on-4 time. He was on the ice for more Flyers shots than any other player on Sunday, as well.
  • Cale Makar, who is so good an NHL player that you don’t need me to tell you to watch out for him. In fact, you might consider turning this game on just to watch him play hockey. The defending Norris Trophy winner has 25 points in 26 games from the Colorado blueline.

Stray stats

  • The Flyers are 43-30-14-6 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Avalanche, but 12-13-5-3 in Denver. The Flyers beat the Avalanche 5-3 in their last meeting just over a week ago.
  • John Tortorella and co. are riding Hart as far as they can: he leads the league in starts with 22 and minutes with 1,309. He also leads the league in losses after regulation with 6.
  • The Flyers have 1,206 career points combined on their injured reserve, compared to 1,744 in the lineup. Meanwhile, the Avalanche has 2,006 out of and 2,269 in the lineup.
  • Lukáš Sedlák played 162 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets between 2016 and 2019. He then spent the last three seasons playing for the Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL before returning to North America with the Avalanche for 3 games. He went scoreless with just 1 shot on goal in those three games before the Flyers claimed him off waivers in October.