The Philadelphia Flyers battled back from a tough 1-6-1 stretch with a huge four-goal third period to clinch a comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. They have a tough test on Sunday with a matchup against the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals.
Here are the projected lines, pairings, and five things to watch for in this evening’s game against the Capitals.
Missing fire power
The Capitals will be without Evgeny Kuznetsov on Sunday night. He suffered a scary injury on Friday night against the Islanders and is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Kuznetsov has played extremely well against the Flyers over the last two seasons. It’ll be imperative that the Flyers take advantage of a shorthanded attack.
Turning negative streaks into positive ones
On Saturday, Valtteri Filppula and Michael Raffl ended long goalless droughts with big-time goals. Filppula fell behind the play after colliding with a referee, got a stretch pass from Wayne Simmonds, skated in on Cam Ward, made a deke, and finished the play putting the Flyers up 3-2. His breakaway goal would be the game-winner. Raffl followed up off the ensuing defensive zone fac-off. He blocked a pass, skated towards the neutral zone, got a pass from Sean Couturier and finished the game with an empty- net goal. Raffl’s goal was a product of hard work and it could spell a theme in the final 10 games of the season.
The Flyers need their depth players to keep putting up points. It could be the difference in their potential playoff surge.
The Flyers experimented in the first period with some different lines, and they eventually were outplayed in the first two periods of that game. A change came later on, putting Travis Konecny back on the third line and reuniting him with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux. They had more chemistry than Giroux, Couturier, and Michael Raffl.
But the fact that Dave Hakstol has experimented with new groupings on the road is a good thing. He realized that Jordan Weal is more effective than Jori Lehtera, that Matt Read provides more on the ice than Lehtera, and that Read can fill in for Lehtera on the penalty kill.
Having Dale Weise and Lehtera our of the lineup shows that the Flyers know their younger players are providing more of an impact on the ice than their veterans. It may have taken a while, but now it’s time for the young players to force their way into more playing time.
Projected forward lines
Oskar Lindblom – Nolan Patrick – Jake Voracek
Matt Read – Scott Laughton – Jordan Weal
Clear the zone, clean it up
The Flyers fell victim to failed clears throughout their bad stretch and nearly fell victim to it on Saturday. They had some stressful moments, with Andrew MacDonald, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Brandon Manning making turnovers that led to big-time chances for Carolina.
Travis Sanheim and MacDonald both took bad penalties on Saturday. They’re going to need to clean up the mistakes moving forward. A four-minute, unnecessary high-sticking penalty could hurt them against a team like Washington – especially with a lethal power play.
Clean it up, take care of the puck, grow moving forward.
Projected defensive pairs
Brandon Manning – Radko Gudas
Injured:Robert Hägg, Johnny Oduya
Lyon can’t wait to be king
Alex Lyon played one of his best games of the season last night, stopping all but two shots that came his way. The two goals he surrendered, however, were in the fluke category. A redirection on an almost-high stick from Jordan Staal beat Lyon five-hole. Later in the game, Michael Raffl tried to poke check the stick of a Canes player, but he regathered it and went top shelf after Lyon thought the puck may have redirected into the middle of the ice or side of the net.
The Flyers are expecting big things from their goalies down the stretch. If they play solid like Lyon has in his spot starts and Saturday night start, they could be in good shape.
Petr Mrazek will likely get the start this evening, though, with the back-to-back less than 24 hours later with travel.
The Flyers take on the Capitals at 5:00 p.m.
(Photo by Heather Barry/Sons of Penn)
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