We are at the mushy middle of the NHL regular season. Not yet getting excited by transactions or realistic rumors within the weeks prior to the trade deadline, but already past the part of the season that has enough runway for a team to change the direction they are going. Everything has been pretty much decided right now, so we’re just coasting and biding our time until we can think about those damn things we love so much but they don’t typically love us back: trades.
Enough overarching narratives, the Philadelphia Flyers are playing a hockey game tonight and whether that makes you want to tingle with fear or turns you inanimate, it will be happening in Motor City against the Detroit Red Wings.
In the second half of a prolonged home-and-home, there is an opportunity to take some of the embarrassment they felt in Wednesday’s big, fat, stinky 6-3 loss, and turn it into motivation to play way better than they have previously. They just did not really have it at all on Wednesday, just a lame duck of a hockey team that showed up at home to try and fend off a Detroit team that is surprisingly good and young and probably what the Flyers want to be in a year or two. There is an amount of uncertainty when it comes to facing a team with so many young players — how well the rookies or sophomores will handle a variety of situations, but they can also suddenly explode out of nowhere and score piles and piles of goals like it were nothing. No one has an idea what Red Wings team the Flyers will get a chance to play in this afternoon showcase, so let’s just hope for an entertaining one.
Regardless of its entertainment value, this is a somewhat pivotal game for the Flyers season — no stop laughing, I’m serious. Things are only going to get harder from here on out. There are no real reinforcements coming, so with the announcement on Friday that Sean Couturier will be missing the rest of the season, and that Ryan Ellis and Kevin Hayes might be done as well, we know for certain what the roster is and is going to be before some eventual trades happen. And considering that after Detroit, this team will be facing an onslaught of Cup contenders in the Penguins, Capitals, Hurricanes, Blues, and you get the point, they could certainly be in a free-fall not just in the standings but in some player’s reputations for what their actual talent level is at. But hey, if you play well and pot some goals along the way, then maybe you can rescue some of that.
Well, at least it will be over early enough so you can enjoy your weekend.
Projected Flyers lines:
Lindblom - Giroux - Atkinson
van Riemsdyk - Laughton - Konecny
Willman - Brassard - Mayhew
Ratcliffe - Bunnaman - MacEwen
Provorov - Braun
Sanheim - Ristolainen
Yandle - Seeler
Carter Hart will get the start in Detroit.
Projected Red Wings lines:
Zadina - Larkin - Raymond
Bertuzzi - Suter - Fabbri
Namestnikov - Rasmussen - Erne
Gagner - Veleno - Smith
DeKeyser - Seider
Staal - Stecher
Oesterle - Lindström
Alex Nedeljkovic is projected to get the start, but that has not yet been confirmed.
- Scott Laughton has stretched out his point streak to four games now — earning one in each bout. Previously, he was simply getting the points because it felt like someone had to, logging in minutes that approached 20 and leading a lot of the forward group; but with a lesser role in the previous game against Detroit, he was still able to pot a goal. Let’s see if he continues it this afternoon.
- While it is somewhat lazy to say that a team hasn’t been trying, it is kind of the case when you watch a Flyers game lately. Just in their previous game, they set a new season-low of shot attempts at 5-on-5 (trying just 24 in over 43 minutes of play, compared to the Red Wings’ 49) and had one of the worse league-wide numbers of unblocked shot attempts with just 17. The least amount of unblocked shot attempts at 5-on-5 a team has done this season is 13 — they’re pretty close! There appears to just be such a lack of offensive attempts lately, and you think when you’re playing against a still-terrible Red Wings blue line, that number would go up.
- Nothing is going to change for a little bit, so let’s just try and enjoy some last games of a certain Flyers legend.