The Philadelphia Flyers are in a compromising position. They jumped out to a 6-2-2 start before falling to 8-7-4.
After a win against the Washington Capitals, where the Flyers played complete hockey, Philadelphia broke down. The breakdown includes two shutout losses, an overtime loss, a shootout loss, and three other games where the opposition scored five or more. Currently speaking, the Flyers are losers of five straight. They were a team with a playoff trajectory early on. Now, they’re playing like the sixth-best team in the Metropolitan Division.
Philadelphia is seventh in the Metropolitan, behind the New Jersey Devils. In terms of regulation wins and points, the Flyers have secured more than the Devils. New Jersey is skidding but defeated the Lightning to secure one victory in their last five games.
A quarter of Philadelphia’s season will be complete tonight, and this divisional contest must reset the winning tone.
The Devils You Know
Mackenzie Blackwood (92.2% SV, 2.84GAA, 3-1-2) is the projected starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils. Jack Hughes (shoulder,) Miles Wood (hip,) and Jesper Boqvist (upper body) remain unavailable.
Tonight will be the first time these two rivals go head-to-head in 2021-2022.
Chase De Leo will be a healthy scratch, replaced by Mason Geertson (0G, 0A.) Two other focal points are Tomas Tatar (3G, 6A) and PK Subban (51% CF, 27 BLK, 14 GV, -1.) In a 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, Tatar scored, but Subban was detrimental.
Geertson is a 4LW in the same sense that Samuel Morin was last season, a defenseman filling in on the fourth line. He isn’t a shooting threat, but he’ll be out to bruise. The Philadelphia Flyers are already down four centers. He’ll want to grind down the Flyers’ fourth line, giving Tatar a chance to take advantage of line changes.
Subban was invisible in the loss to the Nashville Predators. He was the only defenseman not to take a shot on goal. His physical play will lead the way if he expects to get back on track tonight. Morgan Frost must be alert when Subban is on the ice. On the second pair, Subban will work next to Jonas Siegenthaler (46.4% CF, 31 BLK, 14 GV, +2.)
A Philadelphia Fly-By
Martin Jones (92.7% SV, 2.67GAA, 3-2-1) is the confirmed goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers. Ryan Ellis (lower body,) Patrick Brown (hand,) Kevin Hayes (core), Derick Brassard (lower body), Nate Thompson (shoulder), Samuel Morin (knee,) and Wade Allison (ankle) all remain unavailable.
The Flyers put three goals on the scoreboard twice in their last nine games. They lost both of those contests. Losing neutral zone battles and relinquishing possession upon offensive entries are untouched elementary blunders against top-level NHL teams.
It’s the first five-game losing streak during the Alain Vigneault era for Philadelphia.
Morgan Frost (0G, 1A) had the primary assist before a slapshot from Rasmus Ristolainen (46.1% CF, 59 HIT, 8 GV, -2.) The secondary assist belonged to Cam Atkinson (7G, 4A,) who flanks the right side of Frost on the second line. The top six competed well against the Carolina Hurricanes, including Claude Giroux (7G, 10A.) He leads the team in scoring, setting up, and finishing scoring plays to keep the Flyers in games.
Defensively, Philadelphia shifts on the right side. Justin Braun (40.7% CF, 44 BLK, 7 GV, +1) drops to the third pair to reinforce Keith Yandle (53.2% CF, 15 BLK, 15 GV, -9.) That means more minutes will go to Nick Seeler (42.6% CF, 27 HIT, 8 GV, -4) on the second pair with Travis Sanheim (45.9 CF, 29 BLK, 11 TK, +4.) On a defense that’s showing cracks in the armor, Sanheim is having a consistently underrated season. Due to Ristolainen moving to the top pair with Ivan Provorov (47.3% CF, 47 BLK, 21 GV,) it’ll be up to Sanheim and Braun to calm down the rest of the unit.
A surprise to no one, the Philadelphia Flyers are the underdog. The New Jersey Devils will benefit from the Flyers being the fourth most injured team in the league. On paper, the game plays closely. Philadelphia needs to become the world-beaters they were when they went 6-2-2 in the first ten games.
Flyers win, 3-2.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre