The Philadelphia Flyers are heading down south to take on the Nashville Predators in the Music City. The last time that these two teams squared off, Claude Giroux was in orange and black celebrating his 1,000th game. It feels like so long ago, yet, it wasn’t.
After not seeing the Predators in the 2020-21 season due to division realignment, the Flyers opened up the season series with a huge win on Giroux’s big night before his eventual trade to the Florida Panthers. Now, without the longest serving captain in team history, the Flyers will look to sweep the two game set between the teams in Nashville.
Taking a look at the opponent, the Predators are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, including two brutal 6-1 losses to the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights. The Predators are coming off of a week-long west coast road trip, and certainly can’t be happy with their most recent results. They’re fighting for position in a tightly congested Western Conference playoff picture with a record of 37-24-4.
Defenseman Roman Josi is one of the frontrunners for the Norris Trophy, while Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene are battling it out for the team lead in goals. Forsberg currently holds the record for most goals in a single season by a Predators and the team lead with 36, while Duchene tied Viktor Arvidsson’s previous record with 34 goals. Both of them are top 10 goal scorers in the NHL. In the last five games, Josi has a team-leading nine assists and 10 points, while Forsberg has a team-leading five goals.
Juuse Saros is the projected starting goaltender for the Predators, and if it weren’t for a Hart-worthy season from Igor Shesterkin and a bounce back campaign from Frederik Andersen, he could have a shot at the Vezina Trophy. While he should be a top three contender for the award, it doesn’t appear like he will win it. The Flyers will have a big test in front of them containing the electric trio of Forsberg, Duchene, and Josi, while also trying to put pucks passed the young Finnish netminder.
On the Flyers side of the lineup card, they are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games with their most recent loss coming to the Central Division-leading Colorado Avalanche. Ever since their victory over these same Predators, the Flyers have been alternating wins and losses. They’ve had three wins and three losses over their last six games. Their overall record is 21-33-11.
Kevin Hayes leads the team in goals, assists, and points with two, five, and seven in total. Cam Atkinson continues to lead the team in goals and points with 23 and 49 respectively. For the Predators, Josi leads the team in assists and points with 61 and 79.
Carter Hart is the projected starter for the Flyers. He owns a .909 save percentage and looked like he could have contended for the Vezina if the team in front of him was better at defending. The Flyers are the third-worst team by expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) at even-strength in the entire NHL, and the goaltending has suffered because of that as well.
The Predators power play ranks seventh in the NHL at 24.6 percent, and considering the Flyers penalty kill is 26th in the NHL, staying out of the box is going to be a critical component to this game if the Flyers want to come out on top. When they won in Wells Fargo Center, the Predators didn’t play strong defense, but the Flyers took advantage of almost every chance they earned. The Flyers are playing a team that is coming home with the desire to win after two pathetic outings, but their confidence has to be wavering as well. If the Flyers can manage a goal or two early in the game and take the crowd out of it, they may be able to walk out of the game with a win.
James van Riemsdyk — Joel Farabee — Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom — Kevin Hayes — Hayden Hodgson
Max Willman — Morgan Frost — Owen Tippett
Patrick Brown — Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov — Cam York
Travis Sanheim — Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle — Nick Seeler
That’s all from me, everybody! Go Flyers!