Game 26 – Philadelphia Flyers vs. Arizona Coyotes
9:00 p.m. – Gila River Arena
Here we are, Flyers fans. 26 games in to the 2021/22 season and the team is a complete mess. There’s no polite way to say it. After notching their first win in the last eleven games last night, they’re taking on one of the only teams in the league that may be playing worse than they are.
Both teams are coming off Friday night games, with the Coyotes falling to the NHL leading Florida Panthers 3-1. Arizona should have a little more energy as they’ve only played two games over the past week whereas the Flyers are playing their seventh game in as many days.
Carter Hart played two of the past three games, so expect Martin Jones and his 3.41 GAA to get the start. It’s not as though the Flyers goalies have played poorly this season with both Jones and Carter Hart hovering around .910 in save percentage. But, when you’re facing thirty-five shots per game for the season, some of them are going to sneak by. Jones will be looking to grab a win from the worst team in the league.
The Coyotes have just five players with more than 10 points on the season and their second leading scorer is some guy named Shayne Gostisbehere (4G 13A 17 PTS). You may remember him from his time in Philly. He’s having a bounce back season with the Coyotes and would be the second leading scorer on the Flyers right now.
The Flyers defensemen are going to have to keep a lid on Ghost as well as Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller. Normally, with a team playing as poorly as the Coyotes have been, this shouldn’t be too hard but, nothing is easy with the Flyers defense this year.
The Flyers will be missing Ryan Ellis again. The vet has only appeared in four games this season and was supposed to be the solid pairing with Ivan Provorov. Instead, it’s been Provorov and Justin Braun together on the top pairing for most of the year. The second pair is Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen and they’ve been the most consistent duo this season. Maybe because they’ve played together the most, but if that’s the most consistent pair, then I don’t need to say any more about the defense.
On offense, the Flyers finally got a goal from Sean Couturier against the Golden Knights, his first in the last eleven games. They also got goals from James van Reimsdyk and Kevin Hayes on a new look third line along with Max Willman. Hopefully, as they’re playing some less impressive teams, last night will be the start of those guys putting up consistent points.
Claude Giroux, who didn’t have his best game, against the Golden Knights, is still putting up almost a point per game this year (9G 13A 22 PTS) but was an awful 3-12 on face-offs last night. That’s not, in any way, normal for Giroux who’s always toward the leaders in faceoff wins. Having been moved back to center with interim coach Mike Yeo, he’s on the top line with Morgan Frost and Cam Atkinson. We’ll see how they develop as Frost hasn’t shown much to go along with the hype since the Flyers drafted him.
The Coyotes are averaging a league worst 1.81 goals per game on just over twenty-five shots per game. That seems like a positive for the Flyers who are allowing just under thirty-five shots per game to their opponents.
This game is going to come down to which Flyers team shows up. One that’s looking to build on last nights victory, or the team we’ve all sadly come to know.
There’s not much to cheer about for tonights game. With this team it seems that every night is a surprise.
Look for the Flyers, in spite of all that I’ve said, to win 3-1 tonight and get themselves on a winning streak… of two games.