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Preview: Les Flyers! Allons-y! A la victoire!

The Game: 8:00 p.m. EST on NBCSports Philadelphia, ESPN+/Hulu, and 93.3 WMMR

Oui, j’ai étudié le français. Il y a longtemps, désolé.

Anyway: the Canadiens are in town! Hon hon hon, and all that. Oh, and Happy Pride Night as well! There might not be any jerseys this year (sad), but expect some fun Pride-themed events.

Believe it or not, there was a hockey game on Monday, in which the Flyers lost to their cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a pretty good game, actually! Though we wouldn’t fault you for not paying attention to the on-ice product that evening, though.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, who are 3-4-3 (Guilty Spark) in their last 10, that loss mattered a bit: the Penguins are two points behind them in the standings and have a game in hand. If Philadelphia wants to keep the playoff dream alive (and they may’ve inadvertently made a deadline add–more on him in a minute), they’ve gotta string a few wins together.

Enter an inconsistent Montreal team. Their playoff hopes aren’t looking good, sure, but they’re improved over last season. The Canadiens’ young players continue to make strides under Marty St. Louis, and they have a few exciting prospects that aren’t far from making NHL debuts, as well. It’s still very much rebuild time in Montreal, though they’re shifting to the actual “build” part, and aren’t the pushover cellar dweller they’ve been the past few years.

In fact, they’d probably be much higher in the standings if they weren’t dealing to such a devastating swath of injuries: Kirby Dach was injured in October and will miss the entire season; Alex Newhook is out 10-12 weeks with a high ankle sprain; Rafael Harvey-Pinard is out, and so are Christian Dvorak, Chris Wideman, and Tanner Pearson. Yikes! The fact the Canadiens aren’t in last right now is almost stunning.

But nobody in Philadelphia cares about that right now, because it’s shiny new toy day and the Flyers are running 11 forwards, seven defensemen to accommodate said new toy.

Players to Watch

Jamie Drysdale
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Flyers executed a borderline blockbuster trade in the middle of the first period of Monday’s game that will be talked about for quite some time. The return? A 2025 second round pick, and right-handed defense prospect Jamie Drysdale.

Drysdale was the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft. He’s an elite skater with a mind for offense, with true No. 1 defenseman upside. The early parts of his career have been marred by injury and the poor fancystats that come with playing on godawful Anaheim Ducks team, so a bit of doubt has crept in with regards to his ultimate ceiling. However, the Flyers coaching staff of John Tortorella and Brad Shaw has worked absolute wonders on this team’s defense–and getting a high-end prospect early in his development could radically alter the Flyers blue line.

In the short term, Drysdale should be an immediate upgrade on a league-worst power play; long term, he could be a foundational piece. At just 21, he has over 100 games of NHL experience, and in his first full season in 2021-22–his second in the NHL–he put up 32 points in 81 games, with 12 coming on the power play.

If all goes according to plan, tonight should be Drysdale’s debut as a Philadelphia Flyer. He’s wearing number 9 (Provorov who?), which means that if he’s on the top pair with Travis Sanheim, they’ll be 6-9. Nice.

Travis Sanheim
The presumptive partner to Drysdale, it’ll be fascinating to see how left-shot Sanheim–who’s played nearly all season on the right–shifts back to his “natural” position. Will it look like he never left, or could some small challenges become glaring errors? Either way, both are high-end to elite skaters, so we might get to see some dizzying offensive zone displays.

Cam York
It stands to reason that York will be bumped down to the second pair with either Sean Walker or Rasmus Ristolainen. If you recall, York’s standout game of the season was against the Detroit Red Wings, when Travis Sanheim missed the game due to illness. With a different partner, perhaps York will feel safer jumping up on offense again–which means the Flyers could have a really solid top four to close out the season.

Cole Caufield
If we’re going to tell you to watch Cam York, it only makes sense to add the guy drafted one spot after him: Cole Caufield. In 39 games this season, Caufield has 11 goals and 27 points. The small winger’s goal scoring ability continues to develop, and the Flyers will have to keep him from getting shots off if they hope to win–especially on the power play, where Caufield has 12 points so far this season.

Projected Lineups

Philadelphia Flyers

Joel Farabee – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
Owen Tippett – Morgan Frost – Cam Atkinson
Tyson Foerster – Scott Laughton – Bobby Brink
Ryan Poehling – Garnet Hathaway

Travis Sanheim – Jamie Drysdale
Cam York – Sean Walker
Nick Seeler – Rasmus Ristolainen
Egor Zamula

Sam Ersson
Carter Hart

Montreal Canadiens

Cole Caufield – Nick Suzuki – Juraj Slafkovsky
Brendan Gallagher – Jake Evans – Josh Anderson
Emil Heineman – Sean Monahan – Jesse Ylonen
Michael Pezzetta – Mitchel Stephens – Joel Armia

Mike Matheson – David Savard
Kaiden Guhle – Justin Barron
Jayden Struble – Jordan Harris

Sam Montembault
Jake Allen

Gameday Tunes

“You won’t break my soul,” Cutter Gauthier, cuz now we got someone new to be excited about.

Stats via Hockey Reference

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