Flight Plan: Taking Off

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

The Philadelphia Flyers have now won two games in a row, both against divisional rivals in the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, and have finally lit the lamp more than two times in one game. More importantly perhaps, the team is finally healthy as Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier have both returned from injury. Lecavalier now has four goals and six points on the season, three of which came yesterday as he skated for the second game in a row with captain Claude Giroux and rookie Michael Raffl. Jakub Voracek is starting to look a little bit more like he did last year as he scored his first goal of the season on a power move to the net. He received a little bit of help in the form of Frans Nielsen being pushed into Kevin Poulin by Hartnell, but a goal is a goal and the confidence seems to be coming back to a player who can be very dangerous when he carries the puck like he did last night. Steve Mason continues to play extremely well as he now owns a 3-5-0 record, with a .930 save percentage, and a 2.15 goals against average.

Philadelphia will play three games this week, one at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, another home game against the Washington Capitals on Friday, and one against the New Jersey Devils in Newark on Saturday. You can get your tickets to these games through tiqiq here: http://www.tiqiq.com/nhl/philadelphia-flyers-tickets/?publisherid=1260333

Anaheim Ducks on 10.29.2013 at 7:00 PM in Philadelphia

The Anaheim Ducks are 8-3-0, which good enough for third in the Pacific Division. They are a big, strong team led by captain Ryan Getzlaf (four goals, seven assists) and Corey Perry (five goals, six assists) who each have 11 points. Matthieu Perreault has nine points (four goals, five assists), while Teemu Selanne (three goals, three assists) and Nick Bonino (four goals, two assists) both have six points. Anaheim will be without the services of Jakob Silfverberg, who is out four to six weeks with a broken hand. Silfverberg was off to a good start as he has seven points (four goals, three assists) in 11 contests thus far. The Ducks have a decent defense corps in Francios Beauchemin, Cam Fowler, Bryan Allen, and Sami Vatanen. Of course they also have Jonas Hiller who has a 4-2-0 record, one shutout, a .911 save percentage, and a 2.64 goals against average. Anaheim elected to start 24-year-old rookie Frederik Andersen in their last game and he delivered as he allowed one goal on 27 shots, and that goal was scored on the power play. Andersen improved to 2-0-0, with a .980 save percentage, and a 0.60 goals against average. If Andersen starts, the Flyers will need to find a way to solve him, hopefully more than two times as Anaheim is scoring at a 3.09 goals per game clip. If the Flyers can score against the Ducks, they should be able to come away with two points.

Washington Capitals on 11.01.2013 at 7:00 PM in Philadelphia

This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Washington Capitals are 5-6-0, which is good enough for fifth in the Metropolitan Division. They have scored 35 goals to date while allowing 32. It is no surprise that they are led by their captain Alex Ovechkin, who has 15 points (10 goals, five assists). Nicklas Backstrom has certainly been a big part of Ovechkin’s success throughout their careers, and he has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) on the year. Marcus Johansson has 10 points, all assists, and is closely followed by Mikhail Grabovski who has nine points (four goals five assists). The Capitals’ defense corps can move the puck well and none of them do it better than Mike Green who has six points, all assists. Braden Holtby has gotten the lion’s share of starts for Washington and he has a 4-5-0 record, with a .913 save percentage, but a fairly high 3.07 goals against average. Michal Neuvirth has not played nearly as well as his counterpart as he has a 1-1-0 record, a .893 save percentage, and a 3.08 goals against average. If the Flyers can contain the big duo of Ovechkin and Backstrom and can keep a lid on the Capitals’ third-ranked power play, they have a good shot at winning this game.

New Jersey Devils on 11.02.2013 at 7:00 PM in Newark

The New Jersey Devils are 2-5-4, have eight points, and currently sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division. They have scored just 24 goals and allowed a whopping 36 goals on the year. Their power play is ranked 10th in the league, operating at a 22.5% clip, while their penalty kill is near the top 10 as well at 12th killing off 82.8% of man-advantages. The fact that the Devils’ power play is working so well is kind of a shock given that Ilya Kovalchuk retired over the summer. New Jersey did well in picking up former-Flyer Jaromir Jagr and former-Detroit Red Wing Damien Brunner. They are both in the top three in points for this team as Jagr has nine points (two goals, seven assists) and Brunner has seven points (four goals, three assists). Patrik Elias, who has been a model of consistency year after year, has six points (three goals, three assists), and Michael Ryder has five points (four goals, one assist). The Devils have quite a bit of talent up front who, if they can get going, can make this team really dangerous in Travis Zajac (one goal, three assists) and Adam Henrique (three goals, one assist). They both currently have four points. The New Jersey defense corps is nothing to write home about, but they certainly have some guys who are tough to play against in Anton Volchenkov, Bryce Salvador, and Andy Greene. The Devils’ real strength has always come from the crease though, and they made a huge splash this summer after trading to get Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks. Schneider has come as advertised as he has posted a 1-3-2 record, one shutout, a .915 save percentage, and a 2.14 goals against average. His backup is none other than future hall-of-famer Martin Brodeur, who is off to a 1-2-2 start, with a .871 save percentage and a 3.32 goals against average. Overall, the Devils are a good team that is well-coached by Peter DeBoer and the Flyers have had trouble winning games when New Jersey gets it’s fore-check going. That being said, this is not the same team that Peter Laviolette coached. They seem to be both skating more and playing a better overall defensive game under Craig Berube, so this poses an interesting look at what these matchups might be like down the road this season. If Philadelphia can match New Jersey’s willingness to go to the dirty areas and win puck battles, they should come away with the two points.