The Philadelphia Flyers came out of their All-Star break with two clunkers in a row, making that three-straight regulation losses for a team needing to get back into the playoff race and gain ground against a tough Metropolitan Division.
Here are the projected lines, pairings, and five things to watch for in today’s game against the Senators.
Can’t let two points go to the wayside
The Flyers find themselves falling back into the thick of things within the Eastern Conference playoff race. They had a chance to gain four important points earlier in the week, but failed to record even one. Two points are on the line against a Senators team that is among one of the worst in the entire league. Anything less than two points would be a travesty for this team right now. With 31 games remaining, they’ll take anything they can get moving forward.
Have to have a different result
Penalties, miscues, lack of a fight. All three have been issues with this team this season. Philadelphia had only six shots in the final period of play, which gave New Jersey a perfect chance to come back and win the game in the third period. They can’t have that happen this afternoon. They need to clean things up, come out firing, and be a more sound team on both ends.
Bottom-six switch balancing out lines
Dave Hakstol placed Nolan Patrick on the second line in their first practice out of the break. Patrick, who hasn’t missed a game since returning from his concussion earlier this season, has really come on of late and is looking like the player the Flyers got with the no. 2 pick in this year’s draft.
Patrick centered Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek and immediately reaped the benefits, scoring on the team’s first shot on goal. Patrick is thriving and it’s a good sign moving forward. He did take a hooking penalty in the game, but it wasn’t the biggest gaffe of the night. Look for more of the same from Patrick.
Taylor Leier made his return to the lineup on Thursday evening in place of Tyrell Goulbourne, who was loaned back to the Phantoms on Friday afternoon. Scott Laughton was bumped up to the third line and had a pretty decent game as the 3C. It’ll be interesting to see how the Flyers play with a more-balanced attack.
Projected forward lines
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal – Scott Laughton – Michael Raffl
Taylor Leier – Valtteri Filppula – Jori Lehtera
Healthy Scratch: Dale Weise
Clean up the mess
Other than Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, the defense has been atrocious. Bad penalties, lackadaisical plays in their end, inability to clear the zone, and terrible zone coverage have all led to brutal goals. The Flyers have been hurting themselves of late and a lot of that has been due to brutal play from the blue line. The Flyers need to clean it up or they’ll find themselves out of the playoff race sooner than they would like.
Projected defensive pairs
Robert Hägg – Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning – Radko Gudas
Healthy scratch: Mark Alt
Toss up: Neuvirth or Lyon
Michal Neuvirth is expected to make the start on Saturday afternoon, but the Flyers haven’t disclosed who will officially make the start. Lyon played well in his first NHL start, but struggled late in regulation. Defensive breakdowns, penalties, and bad positioning really hurt both goaltenders in the previous two losses. Whoever is in net, they’ll be looking for help in front of them.
The Flyers take on the Senators at 1 p.m.
Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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