The home opener for the Philadelphia Flyers is here. After a short two-game road trip out west to begin the season, the Flyers are back in Philly to open up their home schedule against the San Jose Sharks.
It should be a fun-filled night with new entertainment for the fans at the Wells Fargo Center, and of course Gritty should continue to ‘wow’ fans. But the most important thing of the night will be one thing: the outcome.
The Flyers put on a show in last year’s home opener with an 8-2 drubbing of the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. They’ll be looking for a similar result tonight against the Sharks.
Here are the projected lines, pairings, and what to watch for in the home opener.
Projected lines and pairings
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Jake Voracek
Oskar Lindblom – Nolan Patrick – Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal – Mikhail Vorobyev – Wayne Simmonds
Scott Laughton – Jori Lehtera – Michael Raffl
Ivan Provorov – Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hägg – Andrew MacDonald
Travis Sanheim – Radko Gudas
Up front, the Flyers are forced to switch things up on the third line with James van Riemsdyk’s injury, and Hakstol is looking for more out of the top six. On defense, Christian Folin is out of the lineup after a disastrous debut.
Brian Elliott will once again get the start, with Calvin Pickard backing him up. You have to check out Pickard’s new Gritty mask if you haven’t seen it; or even if you have for that matter.
Here are three things to watch for in tonight’s home opener.
The line that started out the 2017-18 season on fire has been reunited after two games. After splitting the road trip with rather lackluster performances from the top six, especially the second line, Dave Hakstol is giving the top two lines a new look.
Jake Voracek will be reunited on the right side of Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. The trio spent 376 minutes together last season at 5v5 and outscored opponents 24-11, good for a +13 goal differential and nearly 69% goal for. That’s pretty nice.
With Voracek moving up, Travis Konecny is moving down. The second line will now be a trio of youngsters with Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Konecny.
This line has speed and playmaking ability in Konecny, a hard-nosed playdriver in Lindblom and a strong two-way presence in Patrick.
The second line struggled in the first two games, so hopefully these new-look lines will do some damage in the home opener.
Gudas returns to the lineup
After being a healthy scratch despite a strong performance in the season opener, Radko Gudas will return to the lineup for the home opener. He will be in place of Christian Folin, who showed in his Flyers debut why he needs to be the seventh defenseman.
With Gudas back in the lineup, the Flyers have three pairs that could theoretically play well, but the bottom two are still a toss up. Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov are solid up top, then Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hägg are hit or miss, while Travis Sanheim and Gudas could be sneaky good.
A Weal chance
With James van Riemsdyk sidelined for up to six weeks, Jordan Weal will once again get an opportunity to show that he belongs in the lineup. He will be on the third line in JVR’s place, alongside rookie standout Mikhail Vorobyev and Wayne Simmonds.
The third line has a little bit of everything, and they’ll hopefully be able to continue playing well with Weal slotting in for JVR.
There will be some pregame festivities tonight for the home opener, so expect puck drop to be delayed past the scheduled 7:05 p.m. start time.