The Philadelphia Flyers have won three-straight games and are looking to continue a different streak of their own on Tuesday evening. After losing 10-straight games and ground in their conference, the Flyers need to come out of the gates hot against a young Toronto team.
The Flyers beat the Maple Leafs in their building on Oct. 29 with the help of Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, who both scored in the 4-2 win. Brian Elliott’s 28 saves helped end a two-game losing drought.
Here are the projected lines, pairings, and five things to watch for in tonight’s game.
Important home stretch prior to Christmas
The Flyers have an important home stretch coming up prior to the Christmas break. They have a five-game home stand against a few really tough opponent. They’re riding a season-high three-game winning streak, but they have to show that they can win at home. That’s why they need to get take advantage of this momentum and perform in front of a home crowd that hasn’t witnessed a win since Nov. 9 against Chicago.
It took a road trip to Western Canada for the Flyers to get out of their funk, so hopefully they can continue their strong play on home ice. If they want to get back into the playoff hunt, now is the time to do it. Dave Hakstol’s group needs to come out of the gates flying and put together a full 60 minutes.
Have to stay hot against the young Leafs
In keeping with the theme of momentum, the Flyers need to make sure the young Maple Leafs don’t get off to a hot start. Winners of three-straight games of their own, the Maple Leafs may be without one of their premier players in Auston Matthews. The young forward missed Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers with an upper-body injury. Matthews took an accidental hit to the head from teammate Morgan Rielly with 2:50 remaining in the third period of a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
The Flyers got back to their winning ways by playing a simple game. They need to continue doing that if they want to stay hot. They will need to match the Leafs’ speed and skill.
Keep the depth scoring going
Michael Raffl is on a roll right now, but he wouldn’t tell you that. He’d say that he’s been doing the same thing all year long, but that the numbers are finally matching his style of play. When Dave Hakstol made a desperation move to end the 10-game streak by breaking up one of the best top lines in the NHL, people were worried. But a change to the entire lineup, swapping Wayne Simmonds to the top line and Jake Voracek to the second line to play with Valtteri Filppula and Raffl, has changed the outlook of the secondary scoring.
Voracek continues to be a force offensively, recording points at a rapid pace and putting himself amongst the league’s best. He’s been important in Raffl’s point surge as well. Having two, puck-possession players like Filppula and Voracek around Raffl enables him to be physical in front and work his game battling for pucks and being a presence in the offensive zone. They’ve been a great trio thus far.
Simmonds has benefitted from playing with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux, both of whom are keeping pace with Voracek in point production and impact in the offensive zone. The worry for this team is that their third line won’t do much, which is more of a concern with Hakstol than any. His utilization of Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny hasn’t handicapped this team, of late, but it does question the development of the young forwards on this roster. You can look to Jordan Weal, Scott Laughton, and Taylor Leier on the fourth line and say otherwise, but you need to get more from one of your most talented forwards in Konecny and one of the emerging playmakers in Patrick.
It’ll be interesting to see how Hakstol’s roster utilization develops now that the team’s forwards are healthy.
Projected forward lines
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise – Nolan Patrick –Jordan Weal
Taylor Leier – Scott Laughton – Travis Konecny
Healthy Scratch: Jori Lehtera
Looking for a Gudas return to the lineup
With Radko Gudas set to return to the lineup, the Flyers may be able to utilize Travis Sanheim a bit more. Sanheim was sheltered with Gudas out of the lineup. He was passed over in favor of Brandon Manning and Mark Alt, in regards to ice time. But having Gudas back gives Dave Haktol the ability to let Sanheim do his thing offensively while having a more experienced defender next to him in Gudas.
Andrew MacDonald and Ivan Provorov were reunited for the road trip and they got back to the basics. Outside of the occasional flopping on the ice to break up a 2-on-1 or shooting a puck completely wide of the net in the offensive zone, MacDonald has played well enough in his return to be serviceable on this team. His partner is everything the Flyers hoped he’d be. Provorov is an absolute machine right now and he’s going to continue getting better day after day, shift after shift. The young defenseman has been logging 27+ minutes on a gamely basis and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down. He’s a workhorse and is going to be used as much as possible.
Shayne Gostisbehere has been great for the Flyers and has bounced back offensively, or at least to the consistency that fans want him to be. He and Robert Hagg have formed a good pairing that is more than serviceable for this team right now. However, there are big breakdowns at time, some timely turnovers, and more. The pairing has been able to recover and make up for them, however. It’s just something to be a little cautious about moving forward for a pairing that gets caught in their own end on many occasions.
Projected defensive pairs
Ivan Provorov – Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere – Robert Hägg
Healthy Scratch: Mark Alt
Injured: Brandon Manning
Keep riding the Moose
Brian Elliott was outstanding during the Flyers’ sweep of Western Canada – but that’s just being humble. Elliott was a key reason as to why the Flyers were able to rid their 10-game losing streak and turn it into a three-game winning streak. It was so good that the NHL awarded Elliott with the third star of the week honor. With Michal Neuvirth out with an injury for the next week or so, Elliott will be called upon to start the entire home stand. Barring anything crazy, Elliott will be fine to start all five games. The Flyers have off days in between games until Dec. 22 and 23 when the Flyers face Buffalo and Columbus in back-to-back days.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images
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