Flight Plan: Home After the Holidays

Last week, the Philadelphia Flyers won three of their four games. Their wins came against the Vancouver Canucks via the shootout, the Calgary Flames, and the Phoenix Coyotes. The lone loss came against the Colorado Avalanche in a game where the puck just wouldn’t go for them and Semyon Varlamov was marvelous. That being said, the second line has started to click a little bit with Brayden Schenn scoring five points in his last four games, Wayne Simmonds garnering four points in his last four games, and Scott Hartnell quietly netting six points in his last five games. Claude Giroux is still leading the team with 38 points, and five points in his last five games, despite going scoreless in two of his last three. He’s just four points off of having a point per game pace after going scoreless in five games to start the year, which is quite a feat.

The Flyers lost two good players in top-line fixture Michael Raffl and third-line do-it-all stalwart Matt Read. Raffl is out with a concussion, but may return soon and Read could also be on his way back from an upper-body injury. Erik Gustafsson is still projected to be out another week or so with a lower-body injury.

The Philadelphia Flyers have three games this week: they finish up their latest six-game road trip in Newark to face a divisional rival in the New Jersey Devils, then play two at home against the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning. You can purchase tickets to any and all Philadelphia Flyers games through tiqiq.com.

New Jersey Devils on 01.07.2013 at 7:30 PM in Newark
The New Jersey Devils continue to hang around in the Metropolitan Division. They are currently four points out of a playoff spot with 42 points on the year. This will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams. The clubs have traded shutouts in the two previous games, a 1-0 shutout for Ray Emery way back on November 2nd, and Martin Brodeur blanked the Flyers less than a week later on November 7th.

The Devils are led by none other than ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr who has 34 points (13 g, 21 a). Patrik Elias has 25 points (7 g, 18 a), while both Michael Ryder (13 g, 8 a), and Andy Greene (7 g, 14 a) both have 21 points. The Devils do have some talent up front, so if left unchecked, they can put points up, but they’re mostly a grind it out type of team, as referenced by their 26th ranked offense at 2.35 goals per game and 8th ranked defense at 2.42 goals allowed per game.

To win games like that, a team has to be strong in net which the Devils definitely are. Brodeur is 12-9-3 with three shutouts, a 2.36 GAA, and a .903 SV%. Cory Schneider has a significantly worse record at 5-9-5 with two shutouts, but better numbers with a 2.13 GAA and a .914 SV%.

If the Flyers can outwork the Devils, deal with their intense forecheck, and capitalize on their chances, they should be able to win this game.

Montreal Canadiens on 01.08.2013 at 7:30 PM in Philadelphia
The Montreal Canadiens are currently in sole possession of the third spot in the Atlantic Division with 53 points. The Habs and Flyers have split the season series to this point, as Montreal won the first game by a score of 4-1 and the Flyers won the second, 2-1. This is the final meeting of the season for these two clubs, and it should be a good one.

They are led in points by PK Subban with 33 points (7 g, 26 a). Tomas Plekanec has 26 points (13 g, 13 a), while Max Pacioretty has 25 points (19 g, 6 a). Second-year forward Alex Galchenyuk has 23 points (10 g, 13 a) and Andrei Markov has 22 points (3 g, 19 a).

Montreal’s goaltenders, as has been the case the last few years, have been the stars of the show. Starting netminder Carey Price is 19-11-4 with two shutouts, a 2.26 GAA, and a .927 SV%. Peter Budaj is 5-3-1 with one shutout, a 2.05 GAA, and a .923 SV%. In other words: the Canadiens netminders are stingy.

In order to win this game, the Flyers have to generate offense and beat Price or Budaj. Plain and simple.

Tampa Bay Lightning on 01.11.2013 at 1:00 PM in Philadelphia
The Tampa Bay Lightning have continued to impress sans their best goal scorer, Steven Stamkos. They are sitting all by themselves in second place in the Atlantic Division with 54 points. They won the first meeting of the season between the two clubs by a 4-2 score at the Tampa Times Forum, which is par for the course given the Bolts are 14-4-2 at home. On the road, the Lightning are far less consistent going 11-8-2.

Tampa Bay is led by Martin St. Louis who has 38 points (17 g, 21 a) and offseason signing Valtteri Filppula has 32 points (15 g, 17 a). Teddy Purcell (8 g, 15 a) and Alex Killorn (10 g, 13 a) both have 23 points, while Tyler Johnson has 22 points (11 g, 11 a), and Victor Hedman has 21 points (7 g, 14 a).

In addition to having a balanced attack, the Lightning have had one of the best goaltenders in the whole league this year in Ben Bishop. Bishop is 22-5-3 with four shutouts, a sparkling 1.83 GAA, and a stellar .936 SV%. His backup who won the first game of the year over the Flyers, Anders Lindback, is 3-7-1 with no shutout, a 3.11 GAA, and a .886 SV%.

It’s going to be a daunting task to beat Bishop and the Bolts. If the Flyers can keep the puck out of the net and roll four lines to keep pace with the Lightning, they may have a shot at winning this game.