The Philadelphia Flyers are pulling all of their resources together for Thursday night’s game against the New York Rangers. They are missing six regulars from the lineup due to COVID protocol: Justin Braun, Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, and Jake Voracek.
Those are some important pieces to be missing, resulting in some interesting line combinations.
— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) February 17, 2021
However, it’s not necessarily all bad. The Flyers will be hosting a Rangers team that hasn’t impressed this season. On top of that, there are a few positive developments to come out of this shorthanded Flyers lineup:
Couturier and Myers back on top
The Flyers got two of their more important players back from injury just before the pause. However, now they’ve had another 10 days to heal and rest and should be closer to 100% – if not at 100%.
Couturier returned for last Sunday’s win in Washington but primarily played limited minutes. Now, he’ll be back at his rightful place as the first-line center. He won’t have any of his usual wingers, but he should be able to do some damage against a lackluster Rangers squad. In fact, having a hot James van Riemsdyk and Joel Farabee – the Flyers’ two leading scorers – on the top line is pretty positive as well. JVR has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) and Farabee is in the midst of a great sophomore season with 12 points (six goals, six assists).
Myers played in four games after returning from injury prior to the pause. He’s been swapped from the top pair with Ivan Provorov to the second pair with Travis Sanheim throughout the season. For Thursday’s game, all signs point to a Provorov – Myers top pair.
Myers has played 83 minutes with Sanheim and 26 with Provorov at 5v5 this season, per Natural Stat Trick. The Sanheim – Myers pair has been more effective (54.29% On-Ice Corsi For, 57.00% On-Ice Expected Goals For), but the Provorov – Myers pair has a lot of potential. Provorov has proven himself as a top-pair defenseman and Myers has all the tools to become one.
The Flyers lineup is a lot better with these two in it.
Kase makes his case
David Kase (pronounced “kah-SHEH”) played in six games with the Flyers last season, but only had more than 10:11 TOI in three of them. He played 19 minutes with Morgan Frost and Jakub Voracek last season, but also 18 with Chris Stewart and Mikhail Vorobyev.
With the Flyers’ top-six forward group ravaged by COVID, Kase has a great opportunity to shine. He practiced on the third line with Connor Bunnaman and Nolan Patrick on Wednesday. Kase also practiced on the second power-play unit with Michael Raffl, Kevin Hayes, Provorov, and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Kase is having a strong start to the season. In three Phantoms games, Kase had two goals and two assists. Of the Phantoms’ eight goals, Kase has points on four of them and was on the ice for another. This comes after he had 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 27 games with HC Energie Karlovy Vary in the Czech Extraliga.
He may not stick on the roster once the players on the COVID list come back, but he’s getting a chance to show that he deserves to stay in the Flyers lineup.
Dream-come-true debut for Sushko
Flyers 2017 fourth-round pick Maksim Sushko out of Belarus will make his NHL debut on Thursday night.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 17, 2021
Sushko was around a point-per-game player over his final two seasons (2017-18, 2018-19) in the OHL with 111 points (49 goals, 52 assists) in 122 games. Sushko was the captain of Belarus’ U20 international team in both of those years as well. He compiled 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 10 World Junior Championship games in 2018 and 2019.
In his first professional season, Sushko had 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 53 games with the Phantoms last year.
There have only been 13 NHL players from Belarus, so this is special for Sushko. And there is only one active NHL players from Belarus, Devils rookie forward Yegor Sharangovich.
Sushko is slated to skate on the fourth line with Sam Morin and Andy Andreoff in the Flyers lineup.
The Flyers will host the Rangers on Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Photo Credit: Heather Barry Images