Avalanche (7-5-0) @ Flyers (7-6-1)
The Philadelphia Flyers are likely to get stud defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere back into the lineup tonight when they take on the Colorado Avalanche at the Wells Fargo Center.
Gostisbehere skated with Brandon Manning at practice this morning and will be a game-time decision Saturday evening. The 24-year-old blueliner was leading all NHL defenseman in scoring when he suffered an upper-body in a game against the Maple Leafs exactly one week ago. Gostisbehere appeared to be boarded by Toronto forward Leo Komarov, but no penalty or further discipline was assessed on the play. In the absence of Gostisbehere, youngster Ivan Provorov has had to really step up on the back-end and is thriving with increased minutes.
The Flyers are coming off a gutsy 2-0 win over the Blues on Thursday in which Michal Neuvirth pitched a 33-save shutout and Provorov blocked 10 shots in a sensational defensive outing.
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LINE COMBINATIONS (Courtesy of Daily Faceoff)
Philadelphia: Flyers Line Combinations
Rookie Nolan Patrick skated in a non-contact jersey this morning, so it appears his return to the lineup could be coming. Neuvirth is back in the cage tonight after his best outing of the season Thursday against the Blues. Given Brian Elliot’s mediocre play to date, if Neuvirth turns in another strong showing tonight, he really could grab a tight hold on the starting gig for the time being.
Giroux – Couturier – Voracek
Konecny – Filppula – Simmonds
Weal – Lehtera – Weise
Leier – Laughton – Raffl
Provorov – Hagg
Manning – Gostisbehere
Sanheim – Alt
Colorado: Avalanche Line Combinations
Rocco Grimaldi and Matt Nieto are out for the Avalanche tonight due to illness. Mikko Rantanen is currently leading the team in scoring, while offensive rearguard Tyson Barrie has eight points in his past nine games. Semyon Varlamov is starting in goal.
Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Yakupov – Duchene – Andrighetto
Bourque – Soderberg – Comeau
Greer – Kerfoot
Barberio – Johnson
Nemeth – Barrie
Zadorov – Lindholm
Three Storylines to Watch
Ivan Provorov is something to behold right now. He’s averaged at least 27 minutes of ice time the past four games, tying a Flyers record against the Blues on Thursday with 10 blocked shots. This is the seventh game in a 12-day span for the Flyers, so will Provorov run out of steam? All signs point to no considering his excellent conditioning and insane offseason workout regime.
Claude Giroux always seem to feast on the Avalanche. The captain has six goals and 10 points in 10 career games against Colorado over his career and will look for more of the same Saturday evening. The top-line winger is playing some of his best hockey right now and has seven points (three goals) in his last seven games. He’s really settled into life on the wing and will look to take full advantage against an Avs’ team giving up an average of 3.08 goals-per-game.
The goaltending matchup. Michal Neuvirth has a chance to really make a statement here. It’s one thing to pitch a 33-save shutout against one of the best teams in the Western Conference, but it’s another to do it again the next game against a team in the middle of the standings. I don’t think anyone is confident in Brian Elliott as the starter right now, so Neuvirth could really bolster his value here. Varlamov’s last outing was an outstanding 57-save win against the Hurricanes, but other than that, he’s been up-and-down all season long. The Flyers need to take advantage.