Back on the road, the Philadelphia Flyers hope to get back into the win column at the expense of the best team in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes.
Last time out, the Hurricanes grabbed a spectacular two points in overtime against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Contrasting Carolina, the Flyers were shut out by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tonight, Philadelphia needs a scoring surge against the league’s best defense. It’s a tall task. The 24th best offense doesn’t pose a threat to the Hurricanes, especially lately. Averaging 1.4 goals over the last five games means there’s a definite scoring drought.
Thrashing their way through the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes ought to be the runaway favorite tonight. They possess the tenth-best offense, the best defense, the sixth-best powerplay, the tenth-best penalty kill, and are the best at winning faceoffs. Across the board, the Hurricanes are legitimately the best of the bunch.
Unlike the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina is spreading the wealth. Five players eclipsed ten points already. Only Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux reached double-digit points for the Flyers. Defensively, it’s an easy assignment for the Hurricanes.
Every Carolina skater is playing at a high level. If Philadelphia is to gain a victory, they must be opportunistic against a stubborn hockey club.
Martin Necas is a game-time decision. If he is a go, expect him to move to 1RW. Nino Niederreiter is recovering from a lower-body injury. If Necas is unavailable, Josh Leivo is. It would be Leivo’s 2021-2022 debut.
Starting for the Hurricanes tonight will likely be Frederik Andersen.
Remember when I said the win against the Arizona Coyotes was a “culture win” for the Philadelphia Flyers? It was, but not to the magnitude tonight would be versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
On the right side of the ice, the Flyers must remain intelligent while playing physically. Justin Braun has been terrific with Ivan Provorov. They’ll shine on the top pair with Nino Niederreiter missing.
Alain Vigneault has to be eyeing the opportunity to hop all over the Hurricanes’ second penalty kill unit. The availability of Martin Necas will play a critical role. Philadelphia will take all the help they can get on the powerplay, considering its pitiful performance recently. Bumping Keith Yandle to quarterback the powerplay instead of Provorov is ideal.
Joel Farabee and Oskar Lindblom swapped positions in the middle six. From a matchup perspective, Farabee could take advantage of the mismatch versus Brendan Smith. It’s surprising to see Vigneault break up the third line he praises for playing detailed hockey. Following the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vigneault said he “feels the goals will come,” when speaking about the previous Lindblom, Scott Laughton, and James van Riemsdyk line. Moving Lindblom to the second line is an attempt to aide Cam Atkinson and Derick Brassard during even-strength hockey.
Carter Hart will start tonight, and unrelated, Nicolas Aube-Kubel was placed on waivers.
It’s early, but this game serves as a wake-up call to the Philadelphia Flyers. If they want to hang with the NHL elite, this is the competition. Philadelphia is the massive underdog. There’s not much of a defense for choosing against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Hurricanes win, 4-2.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre