SPYING ON THE SABOTEUR: Philadelphia Flyers head to Minnesota to take on Wild

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Over their past ten games, the Flyers have won seven of them. However, most of these games were at Wells Fargo Center, and their road record is a middle grounded 7-7-1. While thoughts of Oskar Lindblom echo throughout the locker room, the Flyers look to tilt that road record onto the winning side of things as they travel to Minnesota for game two of a three-game road trip.

The coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on NBCSports Philadelphia, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The Wild are -125 favorites for the Saturday night matchup.

Know Your Enemy

Minnesota Wild

The Wild have been hot lately, especially at home. Minnesota has points in 13 of their last 14 games and gained at least a point in their last 11 appearances at home. Minnesota’s top line of Eric Staal, Jason Zucker, and Mats Zuccarello combine for 64 points but are a -19. Compare this to the Flyers top line, who combine for 67 points and are +19.

Jason Zucker leads the team in goals and points, with 12 and 23, respectively. D-man Ryan Suter leads his team with 15 assists.

Despite averaging three goals per game, identical to the Flyers, Minnesota’s defense has been their Achillie’s Heel thus far. They hold the sixth-worst goals-against average (3.06) in the league. However, they have been scoring goals early and often in games recently, winning games 7-2 against Ottawa, 4-2 against Florida, 5-4 over Tampa Bay and 6-5 versus the Oilers.

The Wild have also gone five straight games without a powerplay goal. This will suit nicely against a Flyers team who has the top-five penalty kill, fending off 85.1% of opposing powerplays

Keys to the Game

Get pucks to the net

Sure, this is obvious. However, the Wild’s defense is putrid. Their stellar rookie goaltender has started two straight, so expect the recently struggling Alex Stalock to be in net Saturday night. If the Flyers can get to him early, they should see similar results to the Hurricanes 6-2 win over the Wild, Stalock’s last appearance between the pipes.

Line Match

As mentioned above, the Wild’s top line will hurt you if given the opportunity. Their top guys, however, combine for a dreadful -16. If the Flyers can keep their new top line of Giroux-Couturier-Voracek on the ice with Zucker-Staal-Zuccarello, Philadelphia should be in good shape. With Phillipe Myers looking to return and bolster the Flyers’ blue line, along with Philly’s 7th best 2.68 goals allowed per game, Philadelphia should be in good shape for a win.

Play with an edge

This one comes kind of obvious. Friday evening, General Manager Chuck Fletcher came out and announced Oskar Lindblom will miss the rest of the season with the rare bone cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma.

If there was ever a time to rally together as a team, Saturday night serves as the time to do it. Lindblom was not only a fan favorite, he was noted as a guy every teammate wanted on their line. His hard work ethic and playmaking ability are going to be missed. This is more than hockey, however, and everyone is rooting for a healthy recovery.

Oskar Lindblom leads the team, along with Travis Konecny with 11 goals so far this season. Both of their top goal scorers are going to be sidelined for time to come, and the Flyers need to adopt the “next man up” mantra.

Prediction

This is a game that the Flyers need to win. The Metropolitan division is so close, and a win would jump them back to third place in the division. With the top-notch Winnipeg Jets in line for Saturday evening, this game serves as a must-win. Losing three straight on the road would be a confidence killer.

If the Flyers can rally together and start winning on the road as frequently as they win at home, they could be unstoppable. Philadelphia should overmatch the surging Wild with their defense, but this has “high-scoring affair” written all over it.

Jake Voracek, presented with a chance to break out with the team’s injuries, will beat Alex Stolak early in overtime to win it.

Flyers win, 5-4 in overtime.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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