Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers at Chicago Blackhawks

USATSI_13555082_168382939_lowres

The good news after Monday night is that the Philadelphia Flyers have found a way back into the win column. Michael Raffl, who was credited originally with two goals, had one of those goals credited to Ivan Provorov. Brian Elliott had another quality start between the pipes. The win is a morale booster, but the Flyers need to come back down to earth quickly. The Chicago Blackhawks won’t provide a goaltender to tee off on like Oscar Dansk.

Heading into Chicago at the United Center, I would plan to give the start to Brian Elliott once again. I firmly believe that you have to roll with the hot hand and work Carter Hart at practice to continue to get him repetitions. Against the Edmonton Oilers, Hart allowed four goals on fourteen shots and against the Dallas Stars, he allowed three goals on fifteen shots. While the Blackhawks are a team that Hart is familiar with this season, and holds a win against, Elliott is still allowing two goals a game at his worst. This is while taking on more shots in those starts against the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames than Hart did against the Oilers and Stars.

Most recently, the Chicago Blackhawks faced the Las Vegas Golden Knights, losing 2-1 in a shootout. Robin Lehner kept the Blackhawks in that game, leading through three periods until a minute and a half was left in the game. Chicago then gave up a six-on-five goal when the Marc-Andre Fleury emptied the net. The lone goal for the Blackhawks came off a deflection from the knee of Kirby Dach for his first NHL goal. In the shootout, Shea Theodore had the game-winning goal on the third chance for Las Vegas.

In the last ten games against each other, the Philadelphia Flyers hold an 8-2 record against the Chicago Blackhawks. This includes the Global Series win in Prague, Czech Republic to kick off this season with a win. Going into their second meeting tonight, the Flyers don’t have any listed injuries on their report. The same can be said for the Blackhawks. Both teams will be completely healthy when they face off in their 2019-2020 regular-season rematch.

Chicago Blackhawks – Skaters

In seven games played, the leading scorer on the Chicago Blackhawks is Patrick Kane. He has three goals and five assists this season, with all of his goals coming during even-strength hockey. Two of his assists are on the powerplay, so he is contributing on special teams. Kane is scoring on 12.5% of the shots he takes this season. That is good enough for fifth this season, trailing Alexander Nylander, Drake Caggiula, Andrew Shaw, and Kirby Dach on the Blackhawks.

Statistically, the best defenseman on the Chicago Blackhawks is Erik Gustafsson. He leads all other defensemen on the Blackhawks with a +/- of 3 and has contributed four assists on offense. Gustafsson has blocked three shots and dished out six hits this season. Leading Chicago in blocked shots and hits is Brent Seabrook. He has fourteen blocked shots, twenty-one hits, with a +/- of (-1), and a powerplay goal.

Chicago Blackhawks – Goaltending

It’s been quite the conundrum in Chicago with goaltending this season. Corey Crawford has started four games, one more than Robin Lehner. In those starts, Crawford has not played well. He hasn’t had any real bad starts this season like Carter Hart has recently, but has allowed fourteen goals. Of the two goaltenders for the Chicago Blackhawks, the better of the two is Robin Lehner. He has one win this season, like Crawford, and two losses after regulation. Lehner also has the better goal against average at 1.93 while securing a 94.3% save percentage.

Philadelphia Flyers – Skaters

Not a surprise here, the leading scorer on the Philadelphia Flyers is Travis Konecny. What may be more of a surprise however is his comparison to Patrick Kane this season. As stated earlier, Kane has eight points this season. Konecny has bested that so far with ten points. The part that stands out to me about his ten points is that Konceny has split his points down the middle between even-strength hockey and the powerplay. He continues to be a force when shooting the puck too, scoring on 33.3% of the shots he takes.

While I am making comparisons, Robert Hagg’s numbers are better than Brent Seabrook’s so far this season. For all of those throwing shade towards Hagg this season, he’s the best thing going dressed in orange and black of defense. He carries a +/- of 2, which is the same as Travis Sanheim’s, but blocked sixteen shots and connected on seventeen hits. Hagg also recorded an assist this season during even-strength hockey.

Philadelphia Flyers – Goaltending

After Monday night’s win against the Las Vegas Golden Knights, I am ready to say that I think Brian Elliott has shown more as a goaltender this season than Carter Hart. This, by no means, is me saying that Hart shouldn’t be the starting goaltender so early this season. However, this is me doubling-down on what I said earlier about Elliott deserving the start against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. Hart has only seen twenty-nine more shots than Elliott this season and maintained an 89% save percentage. Elliott has a 92.5% save percentage. Both Hart and Elliott have two quality starts to their name, but Hart also has two bad starts, which is the difference between the two in this short season so far.

Faceoff Possession

Again this season, the Philadelphia Flyers show that they have the advantage as a team in the faceoff circle. Six players on the Flyers have a faceoff winning percentage over 50%. They are Scott Laughton, James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Oskar Lindblom, and Travis Konecny. As a team, Philadelphia is winning 57.3% of their faceoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks have three players on their team with a winning percentage of over 50%. Those players are Jonathan Toews, Andrew Shaw, and Ryan Carpenter. As a team, the Blackhawks aren’t over 50% at the faceoff dot, but they are on the cusp. Chicago is winning 49.9% of their faceoffs.

Prediction

In the second meeting between these two franchises this season, I am going with the Philadelphia Flyers to get the win. The Flyers are ranked 24th in the NHL in scoring and 5th in the league in goals against. This is close to how the Chicago Blackhawks are ranked. Chicago is ranked 28th in the NHL in scoring and 6th in the league in goals against. My score prediction is 4-2 and I declare that Philadelphia will improve back to a winning record this season.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00p, live from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The money line favors the Chicago Blackhawks at -115 with an over/under set at 6.5.

Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

More from our Sister Sites