It was an explosive 5-2 win for the Philadelphia Flyers as they hosted the Buffalo Sabres. Not only was it a runaway win, but it was also St. Patrick’s Day luck for Owen Tippett. The 24-year-old scored three of the squad’s five goals with Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk adding their own for good measure.
While this might be a welcome sign for a team that is sitting solidly in seventh place, the happiness is short-lived. Metro Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes are storming into town and that will be another test of just how well John Tortorella can put together lines that work.
Carolina Hurricanes (44-15-8, 1st in Metro Division)
Puljujarvi – Aho – Jarvis
Teravainen – Kotkaniemi – Necas
Martinook – Staal – Fast
Noesen – Drury – Stepan
Slavin – Burns
Skjei – Pesce
Gostisbehere – Chatfield/Coghlan
Carolina isn’t infallible, let’s make that clear. Yes, they might have 96 points but they’re not a team surrounded by vibranium. Granted, the Canes defeated the Flyers in all of their three meetings so far this season. A small silver lining for Philadelphia is that these have one been one-goal wins, not total blowouts. But against the Toronto Maples Leafs on St. Patrick’s Day, they fell 5-2. That match was a case of “let’s be generous” to Toronto. Three of the goals for our neighbors to the north came from powerplays or an odd-man rush.
Until arriving in Toronto, the Canes had a 12-game streak of not allowing any power-play goals. Austin Matthews snapped that streak and ended the Canes’ penalty kill streak at 28. With a penalty kill percentage of 83.6%, they sit just behind the Boston Bruins in that regard.
Another uphill battle is that Carolina is still trying to find a way to score goals without two main guys: Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty tore his Achilles back in January while Svechnikov recently tore his ACL. Svechnikov at 22 years old is one of the most dynamic forwards in the league. Without him, the Canes haven’t fared TOO poorly. If they can get three marks on the board, it’ll be a tough stop for Torts and Co. When Carolina has scored three goals in a game, their record sits at 39-4-4.
Philadelphia Flyers (25-32-11, 7th in Metro Division)
86 Joel Farabee – 13 Kevin Hayes – 52 Tyson Foerster
21 Scott Laughton – 49 Noah Cates – 74 Owen Tippett
25 James van Riemsdyk – 48 Morgan Frost – 22 Brendan Lemieux
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 58 Tanner Laczynski – 57 Wade Allison
9 Ivan Provorov – 45 Cam York
6 Travis Sanheim – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
24 Nick Seeler – 77 Tony DeAngelo
32 Felix Sandström
The 5-2 win over Buffalo is very much a good and comfortable win. Felix Sandstrom will likely get the start since Carter Hart was in the pipes in the Buffalo game. Yet there isn’t necessarily a “this will be easy” mentality. Carolina is going to be looking for a turnaround and Philadelphia are just 2-10 in back-to-back games. The Flyers have also allowed 3.28 goals per game, 21st in the league.
Tippett and Farabee are both going to be the guys to watch this game. Farabee’s energy in the Buffalo game and his goal was a jolt to the Torts squad. It broke his 27-game goalless streak and is the first goal for him since the All-Star Break. The fire under his belt on a line with Kevin Hayes and Tyson Foerster might be contagious.
Tippett has been in more scoring chances since the break than anyone else on the squad. His first NHL hat trick is a good place to start and he’s been able to generate more chances on 5-v-5 and the power play. Yet he’s only had nine points to show for it. Expect him to try and make it double digits against Carolina.
Puck drop is at 5pm at Wells Fargo Center.
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AP Photo/Matt Slocum