Game Preview 33/82: Flyers at Ducks

Flyers' Justin Braun
Flyers’ Justin Braun (Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

Tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers have the opportunity to split another road trip. Following a victory over the Seattle Kraken, the Flyers sputtered with consecutive losses to the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Momentum is a critical element. Philadelphia needs to defeat the Anaheim Ducks, then bring that energy back to Broad Street.

In the Eastern Conference, the Flyers are still in the postseason hunt. A win tonight adds two more points to the season total. The eighth seed is within reach.

The Ducks currently occupy a playoff position. They’re the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

If Philadelphia wins on the road, it’s a statement victory against a playoff-caliber team.

Quacks

Don’t be surprised if Anthony Stolarz (93.2% SV, 2.13 GAA, 6-2-1) gets the start. He’s never faced the Philadelphia Flyers, selected by them in 2012.

Missing from the lineup are Ryan Getzlaf, Nicolas Deslauriers, and Derek Grant due to COVID protocol. Grant, formerly a Flyer, played several games in 2019-2020 for Alain Vigneault. The NHL’s “Rookie of the Month” for December, Trevor Zegras, likely will not clear COVID protocol either. It remains unlikely that Adam Henrique (lower-body) and Josh Mahura (upper-body.)

Five of the above players are forwards. Assuming all five miss tonight’s game, Max Comtois (2A, 2P) contributes. He’s participated in fifteen games this season, supplementing a physical presence. Comtois isn’t notably dangerous with the puck on his stick, focusing on the containment of the puck in the offensive zone. Recently, Comtois secured his only powerplay point of the season when Cam Fowler (49.6% CF, 54 BLK, 17 GV, -1) scored in Colorado.

The Anaheim Ducks have more questions than answers throughout their offense.

Philadelphia Fly-By

Carter Hart (91.8% SV, 2.74 GAA, 7-8-4) is the probable starter after clearing COVID protocol. If he starts tonight, it’ll be the first time he’s engaged in NHL hockey in nineteen days.

Yesterday, Jackson Cates and Nick Seeler entered COVID protocol. Non-COVID-related unavailability belongs to Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis, and Derick Brassard. Couturier remains out due to an upper-body injury, and Ellis, now out of COVID protocol, doesn’t have a timetable for his return per Mike Yeo:

“It’s just not making a lot of progress right now. Hopefully, something changes there very soon.”Mike Yeo; 1/3/2022

Brassard didn’t join the Philadelphia Flyers on the road. Just a while ago, Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov went into COVID protocol. Giroux has been the best forward on the ice this season and the streak of consecutive games played for Provorov stops at 403 games. Max Willman, Gerry Mayhew, and Cam York are recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Already, the Flyers are missing three forwards who offer a defensive effort in Couturier, Giroux, and Brassard. Cates, as of late, was one of the more energized skaters on the ice. These players help bail out a thinning defense. Justin Braun (46.3% CF, 70 BLK, 15 GV, +1) deserves the spotlight tonight. He must tighten up defensively, taking advantage of a depleted Anaheim Ducks lineup.

Prediction

Though they are underdogs again, they aren’t buried by odds. A returning Scott Laughton helps the Philadelphia Flyers pick up the pace. Recently, the bottom six has buzzed. It’s the top six that need to find their skates. The Anaheim Ducks fly a little bit lower tonight above their home pond.

Flyers 3, Ducks 1

(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

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