The Philadelphia Flyers began the tour of Western Canada with a 5-3 victory. Could they repeat against the Vancouver Canucks?
Earlier this season, the Canucks snagged a shootout victory. A few favorable bounces of the puck kept Vancouver ahead of the Flyers. Though Philadelphia fought back, tying the game late in the third period, they couldn’t claim the win.
Tonight, the Flyers have an opportunity to begin a streak on the road.
Against the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia forced themselves to tighten the defense and penalty kill. Defeating the Oilers wasn’t a huge victory because they were undefeated. It was a big win because the Flyers succeeded in their problem areas against elite special teams. As we wake up this morning, Philadelphia is third in the Metropolitan Division in terms of winning percentage (which is a better measure of how teams are handling their schedule early on versus points, which varies due to games played.)
The Canucks, ranked fourth in the Pacific Division, are out to show that their shootout victory versus the Flyers wasn’t a sham. Behind Elias Pettersson, Vancouver converted two powerplay opportunities and scored in the shootout. History tends to repeat itself with Pettersson on the ice against Philadelphia. In 2019-2020, the Flyers’ first shootout loss came off of Pettersson’s stick. This time, Rasmus Ristolainen will be available, ready to clear Pettersson from the crease.
Bucking the Canucks
Two creative offenses take the ice tonight. For the Vancouver Canucks, they struggled two nights ago against the Minnesota Wild. One trend remains true: Alex Chiasson still scores powerplay goals.
A middling powerplay doesn’t carry the momentum against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. The Flyers kept the Edmonton Oilers to a 25% conversion rate on four penalties. It’s Philadelphia that is playing above average on special teams. However, all it takes is a little luck to steal a win in the NHL.
When these two teams played to begin the Flyers season, the Canucks were a tad lucky.
Elias Pettersson had a powerplay goal deflect off of Ivan Provorov and the backboard before residing in the back of the net. JT Miller took advantage of Carter Hart losing the puck, a moment away from being frozen.
Vancouver was on the right side of the puck’s bounce. Still, they made it out by the skin of their teeth. While the Canucks are asking for more Pettersson magic, he’ll have to pluck his way around Rasmus Ristolainen. Last night, Ristolainen paved the way on defense. Keep a close eye on Philadelphia’s second pair versus centers like Pettersson and Miller.
A Philadelphia Fly-By
Nine players are averaging a point or more a game for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2021-2022:
- Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Joel Farabee, Derick Brassard, Travis Konecny
- Justin Braun, Keith Yandle, Ryan Ellis
All of the Flyers’ top-six forwards are off to a stunning start. It’s the third pair that doesn’t receive the glowing reviews they deserve.
At the moment, Ellis remains doubtful for tonight’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks. Braun would jump to the top pair with Ivan Provorov while Yandle continues to work with Nick Seeler. It is a defensive lineup that worked against the previously undefeated Edmonton Oilers.
Braun remains at his best when he’s sheltered on the third line. The caveat to that is his most recent performance against the Canucks. It was the worst of the season. Tonight, alongside Provorov, Braun has the opportunity to flip the script.
It’ll be up to Braun and Rasmus Ristolainen to slow down Vasily Podkolzin, who whipped the puck past Carter Hart for his first of the season. Martin Jones will start, giving Hart a rest. Jones is 1-0-0 this season, securing a victory against a high percentage shooting team like the Boston Bruins. I, for one, am incredibly excited to observe Jones’ trajectory with Philadelphia. Thus far, he’s earned the early approval.
I think the Philadelphia Flyers could run back the exact final score from last night. With Martin Jones starting, I expect the Vancouver Canucks to push the scoring more than usual. No matter who occupies the crease against the Flyers, Cam Atkinson will score. Tonight, I’m thinking of a blue line slapper or a third line snipe. Maybe Oskar Lindblom or Ivan Provorov.
Flyers win, 5-3.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire