Flyers (10-11-7, 27 PTS) @ Canucks (14-10-4, 32 PTS)
The Philadelphia Flyers will finish their Western Conference road swing and attempt to extend their winning streak to three when they take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight at 10.
Philly won’t be rested much, already playing their sixth back-to-back game of the season, after defeating the Edmonton Oilers last night, 4-2. Besides playing, the team also had to travel to Vancouver for their quick turnaround.
But the Flyers have to be in good spirits. The 10-game losing streak isn’t that far in the rearview mirror, however, the team has won their last two and finding offense from contributors like Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl and Dale Weise. The quick turnaround may actually play in their favor.
Meanwhile, the Canucks have been on a winning streak themselves, recording three wins in their last three games. They also dominated the Flyers from start to finish for a 5-2 win in their first meeting a couple weeks ago.
Vancouver has been off since Tuesday, when they shutout the Carolina Hurricanes at home, but lost Bo Horvat to injury.
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PUCK DROP: 10:00 P.M.
LINE COMBINATIONS (Courtesy of Daily Faceoff)
Philadelphia: Flyers Line Combinations
In most back-to-back cases, the Flyers would probably change their starter in net. Unfortunately for them, with Michal Neuvirth injured, Brian Elliott will probably be in net again. Maybe if Philly was in a better position standings-wise, Alex Lyon would get in his first NHL game, but the team cannot waste any points. The offense has been churning along better lately, so we’re unlikely to see any changes up front — or on defense — unless if coach Dave Hakstol wants Jori Lehtera with fresher legs in the lineup.
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl – Valtteri Filppula – Jake Voracek
Travis Konecny – Nolan Patrick – Dale Weise
Jordan Weal – Scott Laughton – Taylor Leier
Ivan Provorov – Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere – Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim – Mark Alt
Vancouver: Canucks Line Combinations
Horvat, who needed an MRI and is considered week-to-week, will be missed by the Canucks. He’s their top-line center and second on Vancouver in points with 20. Rookie Brock Boeser is still in the lineup, though, who leads the team with 25 points. Against the Flyers, he’ll have to adjust to playing without his usual center. Former Winnipeg Jet Alexander Burmistrov is likely to take Horvat’s spot on the top line and the usual dependable Sedin twins man their second unit. Besides Horvat; Erik Gudbranson and Brandon Sutter are also out with injuries.
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Loui Eriksson
Nikolay Goldobin – Alexander Burmistrov – Brock Boeser
Sven Baertschi – Sam Gagner- Thomas Vanek
Brendan Gaunce – Markus Granlund – Jake Virtanen
Alexander Edler – Derrick Pouliot
Michael Del Zotto – Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton – Troy Stecher
Three Storylines to Watch
The Canucks are still in the playoff hunt, mainly due to the fact that they play in the weak Pacific Division. If they took their 30 points to the Metropolitan Division, they’d be sixth, instead of the third place they’re in in the Pacific. While playoff pictures won’t matter much tonight, it’s the first game where Vancouver will have to get used to playing without Horvat, one of their premier offensive weapons. The team will be out to prove it’s for real from the drop of the puck tonight.
After supplying pressure and chances on the fourth line, Michael Raffl has finally found his scoring touch playing on the second line with Jake Voracek. The Austrian winger has three points in his last two games and had a double-point night 10 days ago against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Raffl’s been a huge part of the past two wins and the Flyers need to ride his contributions while they can.
The losing streak may be over, but as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t feel far away yet. In both wins this week, the Flyers didn’t earn a completely convincing win. After tonight’s game, the team will have a four-day break — a perfect time for general manager Ron Hextall to make a move. He’s already ruled out a coaching change, but he could still explore the trade market further. If Philly can win a strong game from start to finish tonight it may turn the GM’s eyes away from the trade routs.