Back at home for a one off, the Philadelphia Flyers hope to demoralize a winless Arizona Coyotes club.
Seven games into the 2021-2022 season, the Flyers are 4-2-1. At times, without an entirely healthy lineup, they’ve played like a team that could fight their way into the postseason. Philadelphia also let games slip away from them because of their lack of discipline.
Twice, they’ve lost in regulation to elite NHL teams in the rise of the regular season. Penalties cost them against the Florida Panthers, and the Calgary Flames did everything better on the road.
How can Alain Vigneault get his lineup back on the right track? The Flyers return home tonight to face the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are the only team without a win in the NHL. It’s time to avoid the trap game narrative in Philadelphia. The Flyers need to “bring it to Broad.”
Ghosting the Win Column
To give you an idea of the Arizona Coyotes in 2021-2022:
- They’re winless.
- The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals shut them out.
- In 5/9 games, the Coyotes allow 5+ goals.
- 8/9 losses in regulation (one shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres.)
There’s a drought of scoring, too. The Coyotes cannot score to maintain a lead (or defend one.) Arizona is the rock bottom of the NHL, per the standings.
The Philadelphia Flyers tend to play down to their opponent. They’ve bailed out catastrophic franchises before. Look no further to 2020-2021. The Sabres were on an eighteen-game losing streak before defeating the Flyers, 6-1. It would be the most Philadelphia thing for the Coyotes to win their first of 2021-2022 tonight.
Arizona gives themselves a chance tonight if they can mitigate the Flyers in the first period. Generally, whomever Philadelphia plays controls the second.
Starting the game with a hot succession of shifts is critical for the Coyotes. The Flyers, on paper, are the better team, and it’s not close. They haven’t been the wisest team, however. Drawing penalties is a proven blueprint, mapped by the elite, to defeating Philadelphia in 2021-2022.
A Philadelphia Fly-By
Even if the Coyotes challenged the Flyers in the first period, it wouldn’t end well for tonight’s visitors. The veterans in the locker room want to kick the Coyotes out the door from which they came.
Of course, Shayne Gostisbehere returns to town as an opponent. He shipped to Arizona with a second and seventh-round pick in 2022 pinned to his collar. A season ago, Gostisbehere hovered between the second and third pairs. Playing either side, he had the flexibility to quarterback the blue line on the powerplay. By the numbers, he was an elite powerplay-scoring defenseman last season.
My eye will be on a trio of defensemen. Par for the course recently, the second pair is worth a mention. Rasmus Ristolainen and Travis Sanheim, when they play well, are crucial to a Flyers victory. Lately, they’ve been as adversely compromising too.
The other defenseman I have my eye on is Keith Yandle. He was accountable for trying to force plays against the Calgary Flames. Through his awareness and leadership, Philadelphia has a chance to demonstrate how the culture changed this offseason by whooping the Coyotes at home.
Yandle began his career with the Phoenix Coyotes (coached by Wayne Gretzky.)
Tonight’s game will speak volumes about the Philadelphia Flyers and what’s to come this season. By design, the Flyers should blow the Arizona Coyotes back to the desert, sandstorm and all. Philadelphia cannot allow a losing streak on the brink of double digits to snap at their expense.
Flyers win, 4-2.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire