The Flyers need to start what could be the most important week of their season with a victory against the Bruins in Boston tonight. The Bruins currently lead the Flyers by four points in the last playoff spot of the division. This marks the first of five games in a seven-day stretch, three of which are against the Bruins.
This is a problem considering that the Bruins have dominated the Flyers this season, having won all five games. The last time they faced off, however, the Flyers roster was depleted due to COVID-19 restrictions. The opportunistic Bruins took full advantage, beating the Flyers by a score of 7-3 in Lake Tahoe. The Flyers are 0-3-2 against the Bruins this year. Three of the five games have been decided by one goal.
The Flyers get some good luck for a change?
The Flyers do catch a break this time as they will face neither Tuukka Rask nor Jaroslav Halák this evening. Dan Vladar will be a net for the Bruins after Halák tested positive for COVID-19 Monday morning. Rask is out with an upper-body injury. In three career games, Vladar owns a 2-1 record with a .929 save percentage.
The Flyers will need to make their shots count against 6’5” Czech Native. Back at the beginning of the season, this wasn’t an issue. They were frequently outshot and relied on the strength of their goaltenders while clinical shooting kept the offense burning. Since the beginning of March, the Flyers started outshooting their opposition, but the efficiency has fallen through the floor.
O’ Captain, My Captain
Can we please put the bed the ‘Giroux has to go’ tweets, calls, whatever? Claude Giroux has strapped this team to his back and tried to carry them to victory multiple times throughout the slide. The other night you could just see the drove on his face after scoring the first of two goals. G was not going to be denied as he was determined to even the score which ended in a significant point as we come down the stretch.
The Flyers will need the captain to continue to lead by example if they want to make a playoff push. However, Giroux can’t be the only Flyer forward who is producing. G has 28 points in 34 games while his average ice time is below his career average. It’s time for the remaining top-six forwards to find their scoring touch.
The Flyers need the TK of old to rise up
As Travis Konecny continues to struggle in the offensive zone, head coach Alain Vigneault made a smart choice by getting him on a line with Giroux and Voracek. Although TK hasn’t found the back of the net, he was a factor in both of G’s goals Saturday as well as the game-winner in OT vs the Sabres.
Konecny right now has seven goals and 16 assists in 30 games played. Last season the All-Star winger ended up with 24 goals and 66 games played. He is below his average point total from last season and hasn’t been effective for the Flyers since before the Pandemic. TK has not scored a goal in his last 11 games and has only scored two goals since January 21st. He is a talented sniper with a highly accurate shot, it just appears that he’s going through a bit of a confidence struggle right now. Once he sorts it out, which I believe he will, I expect the goals to start coming regularly.
Defense, Defense, Defense
The Flyers defense is going to ask a lot of Ivan Provorov and Justin Braun over this week as they look to shut down David Pastrnak. Pasta has absolutely owned the Flyers this season and if the Flyers hope to make a playoff push they have to minimize number 88.
Clearing the zone and minimizing turnovers at the blue line has to be a top priority for the defense. Any mistake and the high-powered Bruins offense will certainly look to capitalize. This is the week to turn around the season and make a strong playoff push.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre