FLYERS HOCKEY IS BACK!
After the Flyers’ lackadaisical, and shortened, early-2021 season, the orange and black find themselves with a great opportunity to rebound this season. For their first crack at the resumption of schedule normalcy, Philadelphia kick off their season against the Vancouver Canucks tonight at 7PM.
As my friend and colleague Eric Reese pointed out, “the Flyers are the most injured NHL team before the 2021-2022 season begins (next are the Edmonton Oilers with six players.)” However, aside from Kevin Hayes and Wade Allison, most of the Flyers’ starting lineup will be available Friday night. This includes Rasmus Risolainen and Ryan Ellis, who have missed many of the team’s recent practices.
Alain Vigneault constantly preaches the importance of a 200-ft game, and all four lines typically continue to that theme on an individual level. The trick will be getting them to do it together, which seemed to have worked well in the preseason (on a surface level). This being said, AV has toyed with numerous line combinations, but I’d expect the lines to look very similar, aside from the injuries listed below, to how they looked in the final preseason game against the Capitals.
Rasmus Ristolainen is out with an upper-body injury, sidelining him for the season opener. Nick Seeler will fill in for him. I don’t know how the Flyers manage to do it, but they always manage to have random and incredibly inconvenient injuries. The full list of pregame transactions is below:
The Canucks actually played a game late on Wednesday night, so the Flyers had the opportunity to peak at their line combinations and playstyle. Dom Luszczyszyn’s model at The Athletic projects 87.1 points for the Canucks and a 31% chance of making the playoffs. Also according to his model, the Canucks have the worst defense in the NHL despite adding Oliver Ekman-Larsson. OEL is on the decline, but did show some promise a couple of weeks ago in a preseason game… so we’ll see.
Sound any type of familiar, Flyers’ fans?
Despite what is predicted to be a putrid defense, the Canucks have an intriguing pool of offensive players heading into this season. They added the sneaky dynamic Conor Garland during the offseason, and he’ll be paired with captain Bo Horvat. Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes will look to provide some offensive spark for Vancouver as well.
On Wednesday night, their lineup combination was as follows. As of the time this article is being written, there have not been any changes to this.
The Canucks fell to the Edmonton Oilers on their opening night on Wednesday. After going down 2-0, OEL and Hughes each tallied a goal to eventually push the game to a shootout, which the team lost.
I know it’s the first game. I know this is dramatic. However, if you are a competing playoff team, you typically do not lose a season opener, especially one at home, against a team of the Vancouver Canucks’ level. Crazier things have happened, but the Flyers have a much deeper and more talented roster and need to play as such. Philadelphia just needs to take care of business and get ready for Monday night’s game against Dave Hakstol and the Seattle Kraken.
Flyers will maintain possession of this game, but probably not score much because they’re, well, the Flyers, and typically like to make things difficult. My official score prediction for this game is a 3-1 win, but with an empty netter. Despite controlling the game, they will fail to score often in this one.
For full season predictions done by the Philly Sports Network Flyers’ team, check out the article here. I’ll also be reporting live from the press box for tonight’s season opener, so make sure to follow along with me on my Twitter, @Ricky_Amandeo8.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre