The Philadelphia Flyers play a hockey game tonight!
All being well, the Flyers will host the Rangers at 7:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers (8-3-2, 5-2-1 at home) are getting back into things after a layoff due to COVID. Luckily, they get an easier opponent in the struggling Rangers (4-7-3, 1-2-1 on the road).
Projected lines and pairs
The Flyers lineup will look a bit different on Thursday night with six players unavailable. Their next-man-up mentality will be in full effect.
Here are the projected lines and pairs for the Flyers against the Rangers:
James van Riemsdyk – Sean Couturier – Joel Farabee
Michael Raffl – Kevin Hayes – Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman – Nolan Patrick – David Kase
Samuel Morin – Andy Andreoff – Maksim Sushko
Ivan Provorov – Philippe Myers
Travis Sanheim – Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg – Erik Gustafsson
- The Flyers will be playing in their first game in 11 days. They won their last game, 7-4, on Sunday, February 7th against the Washington Capitals
- The seven players on NHL’s COVID Protocol list will be unavailable: Justin Braun, Morgan Frost (IR), Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Jakub Voracek.
- Claude Giroux‘s ironman streak of playing in 328 straight games will come to an eight. It was the eighth-longest active streak and the longest on the Flyers. Ivan Provorov will play in his 329th straight game tonight.
- Tonight’s game will be the first Flyers game without Giroux or Voracek in the lineup since March 1st, 2009, per Bill Meltzer.
- Maksim Sushko (2017 fourth-round pick) will make his NHL debut.
- The Rangers will be without Jacob Trouba (broken thumb), but Artemi Panarin (lower-body) is expected to return after a two-game absence.
Three things to watch
1. Couturier front and center
Sean Couturier is the key to this Flyers team. He was an immediate difference-maker in his first game back, that 7-4 win against the Capitals, and will be tasked with a lot of minutes tonight.
The top line is composed of the Flyers’ three best forwards currently. Couturier is undoubtedly their most important forward and JVR and Farabee are the team’s top-two scorers.
2. Defensive duties
The Flyers will rely on their defensemen a lot against the Rangers. They have five of their six regulars, and the downgrade from Braun to Hagg/Gustafsson should only be really felt on the penalty kill.
The defensemen will need to do their jobs and help out the bottom-six forwards. The third line may be able to hold their own, but the fourth line will need to be sheltered and monitored.
3. Rust vs. Rest?
It’s the old debate of rust vs. rest.
Granted, the Flyers are a bit shorthanded, but it won’t take long to see if they are rusty or rested. It could be a little bit of both with a slower first period and faster finish. That has been the Flyers’ MO this season anyway with an 11-9 goal differential in the first period compared to 21-17 in the third period.
The Flyers and Rangers are scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop on Thursday evening. Carter Hart will get the start in net as the Flyers look to get right back to their winning ways.
Photo Credit: Heather Barry Images