Three keys to a Flyers victory against a fierce rival on wednesday

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It’s been a storybook season for the Philadelphia Flyers thus far. From a ten game winning streak, now to an eight game winning streak. No one including William Shakespeare couldn’t have scripted this season any better, than what has transformed at the Wells Fargo Center since mid December. In mid December the Flyers were dead last in the Metropolitan Division. Now their vying for first place in the division. Can I get a, “Woooooooo.” unbelievable.

Once winners of six in a row, the orange and black finally had their winning streak snapped against the Carolina Hurricanes last Thursday night. Moreover, they lost to a juggernaut in the Tampa Bay lightning on Saturday, and the red hot Florida Panthers on Sunday. What do the orange and black have to do to keep the wheels falling from off the bus against the Pittsburgh Penguins?

 

Penalty Kill/Staying Out Of Penalty Box
One area of improvement that the Flyers have had on their six game winning was streak was their penalty kill. On the six game winning streak they managed to bring their penalty killing rate up .38%  points to 75.28%. However, after suffering a three game losing streak. The penalty killing situation has been less than spectacular. Unfortunately, the Flyers have given up two power play goals on the losing streak, and it has dropped their penalty killing rate to 75.00%. This is well below the league average of 80.17%.

The task gets no easier on Wednesday as the Penguins have the league’s best power play, with a percentage rate of 26.4%. Simply put, the Flyers have to stay out of the box in order to win the special teams battle on Wednesday. It’s a tall task, but the Penguins are just lethal while on the man advantage.

 

Defense
Defensively the Flyers have been down right bad here as of late. This has become more apparent on this three game losing streak. However, their defense was leaky a few games prior to the losing streak. Proof in the pudding was blowing two, yes two, two goal leads against the Lightning. The masterminds in the Lightning had numerous odd man rushes, but caused many Flyers turnovers, as well. Unfortunately, the orange and black had trouble transitioning out of their zone for the majority of the afternoon. This lead to many turnovers by the team defense.

The Florida Panthers managed to just go straight up the gut, and score on four breakaways or mini breakaways for that matter. Regardless, the defense was leaky at best. Andrew Macdonald was scratched prior to the game with an upper body injury. Johnny Oduya filled in his absence and registered 19 shifts totalling 12:22 of ice time. Oduya only played nine seconds in the third period before being injured himself.

Of course, Mrazek can play better, and him being a professional will admit that. However, Mrazek needs some support here, as well. This past weekend they were exposed by a juggernaut, and one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

 

Goaltending
For whatever reason, Alex Lyon didn’t start Sunday’s contest against the Florida Panthers. Not that it would have mattered given the outcome. But, a little faith in the youngster could have gone a long way. Mrazek has played in six games with the orange and black, and has registered a 3-2-1 record, 2.93 GAA, and a .895 Save Percentage. Prior to last Thursday’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes Mrazek was lights out, while compiling a 3-0-0 record, 1.33 GAA, and a .947 Save Percentage.

These two days off before this huge divisional contest should do Mrazek justice. More than likely, he will be tabbed as the starter against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Mrazek will tell you he has to play better, and maybe he can give the fans some confidence at the goaltending position from here on out.

 

A Bit of Good News:
Per David Isaac Wayne Simmonds is likely to return tomorrow against the Penguins.

Lines were as follows in today’s practice:

Giroux-Couturier-Konecny

Lindblom-Patrick-Voracek

Weal-Filppula-Simmonds

Lehtera-Laughton-Raffl

It has been an amazing, breath taking season thus far for the orange and black. These two teams know each other very well. The team that usually is victorious in this inter divisional rivalry, is one that excels in the special teams battle. Hopefully, the Flyers stay out of the box on Wednesday, and can come up with the big, “W.”

 

Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

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