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Preview: Flyers seek a second in a row against the Golden Knights

Philly welcomes the NHL’s second-youngest franchise to the Farg for just the fourth time

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Fresh off a weekend win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flyers will host the Vegas Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center tonight, looking for just their second two-game win streak of 2022. The Flyers are 17-28-10, sitting at last place in the Metropolitan Division. Their 44 points and .400 point percentage are both six from the league’s worst.

Carter Hart will get the Flyers’ net tonight, making his 34th start (and 35th appearance) of the season. Hart is 10-18-6 with a .910 save percentage on the year, which is a pretty impressive save rate all things considered. It’s about as good as it gets this year for goalies with a losing record—tied with Connor Hellebuyck who has a .910 percentage but is 18-20-9. Elsewhere in the lineup, the Flyers will play their second consecutive game with Kevin Hayes on the ice, while Nick Seeler will join Keith Yandle on the bottom defensive pair in place of Kevin Connauton.

Vegas is sitting at 32-21-4 and third in the Pacific Division, but recently got a pretty big lineup boost with Jack Eichel returning from injury for the first time in just under a year and hitting the ice for the first time as a Golden Knight. Eichel’s availability was well-timed, as the Knights have been without captain Mark Stone for almost a month now. Vegas is in playoff position and have a pretty solid winning record, but they’ve also struggled compared to the high standard the franchise has set for themselves in their short history. They’re closer to being out of the playoffs right now than they have ever been this late in the season.

It’s likely that Robin Lehner starts for the Knights tonight, bringing his 21-14-1 record and .909 save percentage into Philadelphia for the first time since March 23, 2019, when he was a member of the New York Islanders.

This game, like pretty much all the rest of the games in the 2021-22 season, doesn’t mean much for the Flyers. At best, these games are just showcases for their potential trade pieces—Rasmus Ristolainen, Derick Brassard, maybe Keith Yandle (if anybody wants him?), and, of course, Claude Giroux. For the Knights, there’s a lot more at stake with each game. We’ll see who wants it more tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

Projected Flyers lines:

Claude Giroux—Scott Laughton—Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee—Derick Brassard—Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom—Kevin Hayes—James van Riemsdyk
Gerald “Gerry” Mayhew—Patrick Brown—Zack MacEwen

Ivan Provorov—Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim—Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle—Nick Seeler

Carter Hart
(Martin Jones)

Projected Knights lines:

Max Pacioretty—Jack Eichel—Nicolas Roy
Jonathan Marchessault—William Karlsson—Reilly Smith
William Carrier—Chandler Stephenson—Michael Amadio
Evgenii Dadonov—Jake Leschyshyn—Keegan Kolesar

Nicolas Hague—Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Theodore—Zach Whitecloud
Ben Hutton—Dylan Coghlan

Robin Lehner
(Laurent Brossoit)

Keep an eye on:

  • Oskar Lindblom, who, after scoring the opening goal against Chicago last game now has 19 points in his last 33 games. This comes after Lindblom went 21 games without a goal and with just one assist to open the season. He’s also climbing back to breaking even both in terms of actual and expected 5-on-5 goals: 27-30 actual during his ice time and 27.3-30.9 expected.
  • Jack Eichel, who has 3 goals and 3 assists in his 9 games for Vegas so far this year. The Knights have 141 shot attempts at 5-on-5 with Eichel on the ice compared to 124 against. The Knights’ lines have bounced around, with Eichel playing mostly with some combination of Max Pacioretty, Chandler Stephenson, Nicolas Roy, and Evgenii Dadonov. He’s coming off what is probably his biggest and most defining moment with Vegas so far, scoring the game-winner over Ottawa on Sunday with just 5 seconds left in the game.
  • Gerry Mayhew, who is back, baby! After healthy scratching him for Saturday’s game, Mike Yeo has deemed that Mayhew Mania may resume. Mayhew has 6 goals in 20 games for the Flyers and is currently chasing Gerald Diduck (56 goals, 156 assists) for highest-scoring Gerald in NHL history. Stay tuned.
  • Chandler Stephenson, who is having a career best season in his seventh overall and second full with Vegas. Stephenson is tied for the team lead in points with 42, which is already a career high by 7 points.
  • The first goal, as it has often signaled the eventual winner in most Flyers games this season, a trend that continued in their win on Saturday. The Flyers are 14-4-6 when scoring first and 3-24-4 when the opponent scores first. Meanwhile, the Knights are 24-10-2 when scoring first.

Stray stats:

  • The Flyers are 4-3-0 against the Golden Knights in the five seasons since Vegas’ expansion draft. They are 1-2 against the Knights when playing in the Wells Fargo Center. The Knights have outscored the Flyers 17-25 in their seven matchups.
  • Claude Giroux is sitting at 898 career points in 995 career games, and since he has scored at least two points in 238 of those games, including 10 this season, there’s always the possibility that tonight is the night he scores his 900th point.
  • Both Alex Pietrangelo and Ivan Provorov are averaging just a few seconds over 25:00 minutes per game, with the former’s coming in at 13th in the NHL and the latter’s at 15th. The Flyers are getting outshot during those minutes by a deficit of 64 shots for a shots for percentage of 47.6%, compared to the 113 positive shot differential for the Knights with Pietrangelo on the ice, for a 53.74%.
  • The Flyers have now played 10 games since the break for the All Star Game. They are 2-6-2 in those 10 games. They were outshot in both of those wings—by the Capitals on February 26 and by the Blackhawks on Saturday.
  • No Golden Knight has ever scored more than 78 points in a season, achieved by William Karlsson in the franchise’s inaugural season. Jonathan Marchessault is currently on pace for 67 points, but has been at a point-per-game pace in the 10 since the All Star break.