As the city continues to celebrates the Super Bowl Champions for the majority of the day, the Philadelphia Flyers prepare for a big game against the Montreal Canadiens. Philadelphia is coming off a thrilling overtime victory that saw Jordan Weal snipe the winning goal with 3.1 seconds left on the clock. The Flyers are looking to continue their winning ways, especially after a dominant third period.
Here are the projected lines, pairings, and five things to watch for in tonight’s game against the Canadiens.
Take advantage of special circumstances
The Eagles’ parade may have a big impact on the game. Montreal was originally supposed to be staying in the city but, because of the parade, changed their hotel closer to the airport and cancelled their morning skate that was originally scheduled. Montreal has won two-straight games, but haven’t played since Super Bowl Sunday. This could be a chance to take advantage of a team that could be tight, not ready to go, and maybe a little off their game because of some travel issues.
Parading the victory column
The Flyers are 2-0 on days that they and the Eagles have both played this season. If you go back and look at both schedules, the Flyers have won 8 games this season during the week – whether the day before or day after – an Eagles victory. They have lost 5 games, three during the tough month of November. Since then, the Flyers are 4-2 during that stretch. The Flyers are 2-0 during the Eagles playoff run, winning against the Devils and Capitals during the NFC Divisional and Championship games. With the parade set for the same day as a game, it could mean a third-consecutive victory on the day the Eagles were being celebrated. Dumb stats are fun, guys!
Secondary scoring needed
Jordan Weal scored an important goal for the Flyers in their previous game and is trying to keep that momentum going. If the Flyers are going to be a playoff team, they’re going to need their bottom-six to produce a little bit more offensively.
Looking at the stats, you can certainly see that Weal, Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier, and Michael Raffl are playing well. Yes, the physical numbers aren’t there, but the underlying stats show that those four have been giving the Flyers very solid shifts and getting a few chances on net. Just like when Raffl went on the previous scoring streak this season, it’s only a matter of time before that happens.
At the moment, Nolan Patrick is playing the best hockey of his young career and has been a completely different player from the beginning of the season. A few things to look at here – the 19-year-old is finally adjusting to the speed of the game and is learning on the fly, as well as the fact that he may finally be healthy after suffering two injury set backs after recovering from a preexisting injury from last season.
Patrick’s strong play has really been a lift for the Flyers, especially in Tuesday night’s game. He was awarded the Ric Flair Robe for player of the game and we saw many moments where he and Dave Hakstol were talking strategy, positioning, and more. Patrick is beginning to look like the player the Flyers knew they were getting when they drafted him with the no. 2 pick in this year’s draft. It’s only a matter of time before he dominates at an even-bigger rate.
Projected forward lines
Jori Lehtera – Valtteri Filppula – Michael Raffl
Healthy Scratch: Dale Weise
Blunders still hurting
The only goal the Flyers gave up on Tuesday was on a four-minute penalty kill. They had killed off the first half of the double minor, but bad positioning and terrible coverage allowed the Hurricanes to capitalize with a wide-open look in front. That was due to the struggles of Robert Hagg and Andrew MacDonald. The pair has been together for the last few weeks and they’ve had some positive instances, but many glaring bad ones – especially on the PK.
Hagg, MacDonald, Brandon Manning, and Radko Gudas have all struggled with clearing their men out of the front of the crease in past games, which have all led to big-time, momentum-shifting goals and have really made it hard for their goalies to compensate. That’s where the Flyers’ biggest hole is coming from, the play of the bottom-four defensemen. They need to clean up some, if not all, of the wrong things they’re doing in their own end. Bad turnovers, errant passes, and bad positioning can be fixed with more attention to detail. Just like how the Flyers need big time improvements from their secondary scorers, they’re going to also need improvements from their defensemen. If not, this team is going to miss the playoffs once again this season.
Projected defensive pairs
Ivan Provorov – Shayne Gostisbehere
Healthy scratch: Mark Alt
Elliott getting the nod again
Brian Elliott should be in net after an incredible start in his return to the ice on Tuesday evening. He stopped 27-of-28 shots that went his way and, if not for some shotty penalty kill play, might have even had a shutout in that game. Elliott has been Mr. Consistency for the Orange and Black. They’ll need him to lead the way once again on Thursday.
The Flyers take on the Canadiens at 7 p.m.
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images
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