Flyers vs. Ducks preview: Keep the point streak going
And start a new win streak in the process, that would be nice.
Make no mistake, it’s a bit disappointing the Flyers’ eight-game win streak ended the way it did in a shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The good part, however, is that their point streak reached nine games and they have a chance to make it an even 10 with a win or OT/shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Let’s obviously root for the former in this case.
Going into their game vs. the Kings, it was seen as a “should win” game given how poorly they have played this season. The same thought process applies today to their meeting with Anaheim, but hopefully we see better results. The Ducks have been carried this season by an all-world performance by John Gibson, but are still one of the bottom-feeders of the Western Conference. The Ducks come in with a record of 21-25-9 on the season, and sit just one point ahead of the Kings for dead last in the West. In the same breath, they’re only four points out of a playoff spot. This isn’t your father’s Western Conference anymore, folks.
The Flyers didn’t play their best game against the Kings, and were pretty lucky to even gain the point and force overtime, as Jakub Voracek scored the tying goal with just 17.4 seconds to go. After the way they lost, one would have to assume the team is fired up for this game ready to take out some frustration. Anaheim is a team riddled by injuries, lack of depth, and a head coach who should not be a NHL head coach. They post the league’s third worst raw Corsi For percentage, just ahead of the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers. What all of this is pointing to is that Anaheim is a pretty bad hockey team.
1. Starter Hart
After an admirable outing from Anthony “Goalarz the” Stolarz vs. L.A, Carter Hart will be in net for today’s game. Hart was one of the major factors in the win streak, and I’d imagine he’ll be instrumental today if the Flyers can secure their ninth win in 10 games. This will of course be his first meeting with the Ducks, as the first Flyers meeting with Anaheim occurred back in November.
Hart is coming off of his amazing performance vs. Vancouver which saw him set a career high in saves, but we’ll hope he doesn’t have to set another new high today. The Flyers have struggled to keep shot totals down despite generally keeping those shots to the perimeter. I think it’s fair to say the Flyers young netminder wouldn’t mind an easier day in net.
2. Defense, do better
This is a pretty simple one, but it bears mentioning yet again. The Flyers seemingly let their guard down against the Kings, who dominated much of the game from a possession standpoint. The Kings are one of the worst offensive teams in the league, and Anaheim is even worse than them. The Ducks have the fewest goals scored among NHL teams this season, with 125.
They didn’t pull it off against L.A., but today the Flyers need to have a dominant defensive performance. The Kings’ neutral zone play was a key factor in their win, and the Flyers would be better off having learned from that game. Anaheim doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive firepower with Ryan Getzlaf creeping up there in age, and Corey Perry seeing the injury bug plague the remainder of his career. I expect a much better defensive showing today.
3. Offense, looking at you, too
The offense is cut a little more slack here, given the Kings have been a better defensive team. Today however, the Flyers should honestly have no problem scoring at least three goals on the Ducks, especially given the fact they won’t be facing Gibson.According to hockeyviz’ 5-on-5 threat level model, the Ducks are a whopping plus 16 percent defensively. If you’re unfamiliar with what that means, minus on defense is good, so the Ducks are not only bad, they’re downright turrible.
Although most of the Flyers resurgence offensively in the third period vs. L.A was probably a product of score effects, they still got on the gas and made things happen. Even with score effects before, the Flyers would continue to get utterly dominated offensively. So at least they’re finally doing what they’re supposed to be doing when trailing in games!
Flyers Projected Lineup
JVR — Giroux — Konecny
Lindblom — Couturier — Voracek
Laughton — Patrick — Simmonds
Varone — Vorobyev — Raffl
Provorov — Sanheim
MacDonald — Gostisbehere
Hagg — Gudas
Stats courtesy of hockey-reference, hockeyviz, and Natural Stat Trick