Well, the Flyers are back in their comfort zone, that being in a state of having lost consecutive hockey games. We’ll see if they stay in that zone today as they face the Chicago Blackhawks at 3:00 p.m. ET. Let’s go rapid-fire here:
- After a solid showing a week ago today in a home win over the flailing Washington Capitals, the Flyers lost in a pretty weak showing against the fighting Connor McDavids and then blew a third-period lead to lose to the Minnesota Wild(s). They’ve still won just three games in the year 2022. That is, I think, bad.
- Yeah, just checked, it’s bad.
- So, what’s good? Well, depending on your perspective on this, Kevin Hayes coming back into the lineup today (which, as of this writing on Friday night, sounds likely) is probably good. There have been questions ever since Hayes went back on the shelf in January to groin surgery on whether he’d be back again this year (and/or whether he should come back this year), but if the goal is to try and get him back at game speed, it’ll be good to have him back in the lineup after about six weeks away from the ice.
- On that note, though, Hayes did speak a bit about his most recent surgery, his third on his core within the last year:
Hayes says that after seeing doctors the last time he was playing, he found out he had a real bad infection in his groin and that was leading to a lot of his discomfort. That's why the drain out (his last procedure) was necessary.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) March 4, 2022
That sounds highly unpleasant! But hopefully that’s something that he’s, physically speaking, more capable of putting behind him than core muscle surgery.
- In any case, should be nice to have Hayes back. Not nice: he seems to be replacing Gerry Mayhew in the lineup:
Tomorrow's Flyers line combos per Mike Yeo:— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) March 4, 2022
Look, I know that getting upset about a guy who is probably a replacement-level NHL player leaving the lineup is silly, and Mayhew has definitely cooled off a bit since he had that run of goal-scoring in early February, but ... I dunno, I feel like you could get more out of him than Max Willman or Patrick Brown at this point. What do I know. Not gonna lose sleep over it, but I’ve enjoyed the Winter of Gerald. Oh well.
- Other things we learned on Friday: Martin Jones is starting today; Derick Brassard knows he goofed up on Thursday night (a particularly egregious turnover before the Wild’s buzzer-beating first-period goal comes to mind here); and I am in fact still capable of feeling Flyers-related emotion, particularly when Claude Giroux is involved:
I hate it here.
- So, the actual game today. The Flyers are facing the Chicago Blackhawks, who, in addition to their myriad issues as a franchise off the ice, have also managed to be one of the only teams that’s possibly been even more disappointing than the Flyers on the ice. They, too, made a big trade on draft day back in July for an arguably-overhyped defenseman from the 2013 draft, and they, too, stink real bad this season. They, too, are even on their second coach of the season!
- In fact, you could argue that this game between the 25th and 28th-ranked teams in the league (by points percentage) has some fairly important implications when it comes to Greatest Tank Battles: NHL Edition.
- The Blackhawks still have a few of the names you’ve come to surely hate over the past, ah, (/glances at calendar) 12 years, they have a few other interesting forwards, and they’ve got Marc-Andre Fleury in net which is still very weird (though he’s not playing today, someone named Kevin is), but for the most part they are a team that is not very good. They are probably going to be underdogs today to the Philadelphia Flyers, which should tell you a lot.
- First time the Flyers have actually hosted Chicago since November of 2018. Technically, the Flyers “hosted” the Blackhawks in the 2019-20 season opener, but that game, of course, took place in Prague. Oh my god remember that? When the Flyers lost a preseason game to a team from Switzerland and everyone lost their minds and then they went and won their opener? That feels like it was 29 years ago.
- Oh, also, this game between two of the worst teams in the NHL is on national TV. Like, real national TV — live on ABC. It will be in stiff competition with Abbott Elementary for the best Philadelphia-centric content to air nationally on the network in 2022. (Actually, probably not much of a competition. Watch Abbott Elementary, it’s very good.) You can also watch it on ESPN+, and it’s on 97.5 The Fanatic on radio. If you’re in Canada, it’ll be on Sportsnet.
That’s all we got. Enjoy!