Flight Plan: Home Cooking

Image Courtesy of Amy Irvin ( http://www.Facebook.com/38Photography )

After having five days off, the Philadelphia Flyers will now play five games over the next eight days as they attempt to claw their way back into the playoff picture. As of today, Philadelphia is just three points out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference and five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The good news is they’re a healthy bunch, (other than Danny Briere who was injured in practice yesterday, is questionable for the game today and is listed as day-to-day), which is more than can be said for a lot of teams in the NHL at this point, and they’re playing most of their games over this eight day span within the confines of the Wells Fargo Center where their record is 9-4-1. So they’ll look to get some home cooking going to eke back into the playoff hunt. However, the Flyers have their work cut out for them and this week they will play three divisional rivals in the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers, and the New York Islanders, as well as the Boston Bruins.  You can purchase tickets to any of these games here: http://www.tiqiq.com/nhl/philadelphia-flyers-tickets/?publisherid=1260333

Pittsburgh Penguins on 03.24.2013 at 7:30 PM in Pittsburgh:

The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking down on every team in the Eastern Conference as they have 48 points and have won 11 straight games. They have the best goal differential by a country mile in the East, with a staggering 114 goals scored and just 83 goals allowed. As one would expect, Sidney Crosby has led the Pens with 52 points (13 goals, 39 assists), while Chris Kunitz is second on the team with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists). James Neal has 30 points and has 17 goals on the year, five of which are game winners (13 assists). Both Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin could return to the lineup against the Flyers, but are listed as day-to-day at the moment. Marc-Andre Fleury figures to be in net for Pittsburgh and he owns a 16-5-0 record, a 2.38 goals against average, a .912 save percentage, and a shutout. The Flyers typically play well against the Penguins. If they can continue that trend, there’s no reason they can’t pull out a win at their home away from home, the CONSOL Energy Center.

New York Rangers on 03.26.2013 at 7:30 PM in Philadelphia:

The New York Rangers have won two of the three meetings between these clubs this season. They are currently tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth seed in the East. The Rangers have a plethora of weapons up front, but they don’t score a whole lot of goals, as they have just 71 on the year. Rick Nash is leading the way for the Blueshirts with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 26 games, while Derek Stepan isn’t far behind with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists). Marian Gaborik has had somewhat of a down year as he has just 18 points in 30 games (nine goals, nine assists). Speedy forward Carl Hagelin has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists), and Brad Richards has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists). New York will likely start Henrik Lundqvist against Philadelphia and he’s been stellar this year, as per usual going 13-12-1, with a 2.22 goals against average, and a .921 save percentage. His backup, Martin Biron, has a 2-1-1 record in limited action, but has a 2.17 goals against average, and a .923 save percentage. The Flyers would need to play a strong game from start to finish to beat the Rangers, and while that’s something they have had an issue with doing so all year, they seem to have more of an issue with it against this team. If they are able to string together three strong periods against the Rangers, the Flyers should gain two points in the standings from this game.

New York Islanders on 03.28.2013 at 7:00 PM in Philadelphia:

The New York Islanders are just two points above the Flyers as of right now, though the Flyers have a game in hand. The Islanders are a young team with a lot of talent up front. John Tavares tops the list for the Isles with 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists), and Matt Moulson has just one less point with 32 (11 goals, 21 assists). Linemate Brad Boyes has 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists), and defenseman Mark Streit has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists). The Islanders have been backstopped largely by Evgeni Nabokov who has a 13-10-3 record, a 2.94 goals against average, a .899 save percentage, and two shutouts to his name. If the Flyers would like to continue the success they’ve had over the past few years against this team, they’ll have to play them like they would the teams at the top of the conference. Taking any team lightly at this point would mean trouble, so look for them to come out with guns blazing in this game.

Boston Bruins on 03.30.2013 at 1:00 PM in Philadelphia:

The Boston Bruins are sitting in fourth place in the East with 43 points, but have just two fewer points than the Northeast Division leading Montreal Canadiens (45). The Bruins have allowed the fewest goals in the league to date as just 64 pucks have crossed that thin red line behind either Tuukka Rask or Anton Khudobin. Rask has received most of the starts for the B’s and he has a 14-4-3 record, a 1.90 goals against average, a .928 save percentage, and two shutouts. Khudobin is 6-3-0, with a 2.31 goals against average, and a .916 save percentage. The Bruins aren’t a high scoring team, but certainly have a lot of firepower at their disposal and are balanced across four lines. With names like Patrice Bergeron (eight goals, 18 assists, 26 points), Brad Marchand (13 goals, 12 assists, 25 points), Tyler Seguin (10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points), Milan Lucic (four goals, 13 assists, 21 points), and Nathan Horton (eight goals, eight assists, 16 points), the Bruins can beat teams with pure skill or with raw power. They also have one of the best defenseman to ever step onto the ice in Zdeno Chara (six goals, eight assists, 14 points). The Bruins shut the Flyers out the last time these two teams met as Philadelphia failed to solve Rask. If the Flyers can play a strong defensive game, get solid goaltending, and score timely goals, they will take the win at home against Boston.