Hello, all! After a hiatus following Saturday night’s defeat of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers take to the ice tonight vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second time this season. This is also the first Flyers game with their new general manager, Chuck Fletcher, at the helm. More importantly, this is a divisional matchup against a team with a ton of talent as the Flyers look to dig themselves out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Flyers vs. Blue Jackets
7:00 p.m. EST
Wells Fargo Center, South Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
In the first meeting between these two teams this season, we witnessed one of the more frustrating losses of the season. Calvin Pickard (who has since been placed on waivers and claimed by the Arizona Coyotes) struggled immensely allowing six goals in a 6-3 loss in Columbus. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of good that came from the team’s first affair with Columbus, we were gifted this gem by Christian Folin, so it wasn’t all bad!
The two teams face off tonight for the first time in Philly this season and the Flyers look to establish some momentum as the calendar year comes to a close. They also look to get that momentum heading on a five game road trip that sends them to Buffalo, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver in that order. These next few weeks will be a huge test for this hockey team and if they are capable of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It all starts tonight with a big game vs. the second place team in the Metro Division.
1. Please, please get off to a hot start
This game especially will be key for the Flyers to get the game’s first goal. Sergei Bobrovsky hasn’t been his Vezina Trophy winning self this year, but he still is one of the better goalies in the league, and trailing early won’t be ideal. Possibly the more important key however will be keeping the pedal to the metal once they secure the lead. Columbus is a fast and dangerous hockey team that will be tenacious on the forecheck all night long, and the Flyers need to be prepared to keep attacking.
After the team blew a 3-1 lead late to Ottawa last week, Jakub Voracek mentioned the team got “scared” after allowing the second goal. This is something that cannot happen anymore and it starts tonight. If they get a lead, they need to keep attacking and giving Columbus everything they have.
After the firing of Gord Murphy last week, the Flyers have brought in Rick Wilson as his replacement. With a new coach of the defense, it should be interesting to see how the Flyers top two defensemen look in their first game without Murphy. Wilson appears to bring a more old school approach to his defense coaching, but a more relaxed style as well. I doubt we’ll see any major changes to the defensive system and how the Flyers play on the defensive side, but little things that the defense does in regards to pass options or gap control should be looked for.
3. Can Stolie the Goalie continue to impress?
Anthony Stolarz has been a breath of fresh air in a way in regards to Philadelphia’s goaltending this season. Even though it’s only been three games, Stolarz has performed well and provided a tad bit of stability in the Flyers crease at a time where they desperately need it. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued Philadelphia’s goalie situation this season, and if Stolarz can continue his solid play and maybe even steal a few games once in a while, it will seem like a blessing for this team. He has a tough task tonight vs. a dynamic Columbus attack lead by Artemi Panarin, but keeping the Flyers in the game is just about all we can ask for from the young netminder.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Giroux — Couturier — Konecny
van Riemsdyk — Patrick — Simmonds
Raffl — Laughton — Voracek
Lindblom — Lehtera — Weise
Provorov — Gostisbehere
MacDonald — Hagg
Sanheim — Gudas