Flyers-Wild preview: Another contender invades (mask-free) Wells Fargo Center
Another home game, another strong opponent facing the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers (16-27-10) will meet the Minnesota Wild (31-17-3) — who are struggling but very dangerous — in Game 6 of a franchise-record eight-game homestand.
It’s also the sixth straight game against an opponent that could do damage in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The six: Washington (twice), Carolina, St. Louis, Edmonton, and Minnesota.
The Wild will be hungry – and angry — because they have lost four straight and six of their last seven. They are coming off Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to visiting Calgary.
All of a sudden, Minnesota, which had a franchise-record 48 hits against the Flames, is fighting to stay in a playoff spot despite its .637 points percentage.
The Flyers, who have lost 20 of their last 23 games and have a .396 points percentage, are playing for pride. They have been competitive in their last seven games, but only have one win in that span.
“I think we’ve done some good thing in improving our game,” said Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo, who formerly was a head coach in Minnesota. “We’re in every game against all these good teams. Now it has to piss us off that we’re not winning more games. We can’t be satisfied” with being competitive.
In Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Edmonton, Yeo liked the Flyers’ structure and work ethic, “but we didn’t do enough to win the game. And that’s where we have to take a step here. There’s another edge that we can bring to our game. We can’t be satisfied, or accept that we have some guys out and we’re not winning games. We can’t be OK with winning one game every once in a while. We have to demand more.”
As a sidenote, starting tonight, Flyers fans do not have to wear masks at the game because Philadelphia city officials lifted the restriction.
Can the Flyers get some traffic in the paint and get some inside chances? They had 39 shots in Tuesday’s loss to Edmonton, but most of them were from the perimeter.
Will Minnesota right winger Ryan Hartman, 27, haunt his former team?
Hartman is having a career year: 19 goals, 37 points, and a plus-23 rating. He would be leading the current Flyers in goals and plus-minus stats.
In the summer of 2019, the Flyers traded Hartman, then a restricted free agent, to Dallas for Tyler Pitlick.
Hartman had been acquired by Philly for Wayne Simmonds and a fourth round pick.
Flyers’ projected lineup
Line 1: Claude Giroux centering Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson.
Line 2: Scott Laughton centering Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny.
Line 3: Derick Brassard centering James van Riemsdyk and Gerry Mayhew.
Line 4: Patrick Brown centering Max Willman and Zack MacEwen.
Defense: Ivan Provorov and Justin Braun; Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen, Keith Yandle and Nick Seeler.
Goalie: Carter Hart.
Led by left winger Kirill Kaprizov (24 goals, 64 points), the Wild have six players who have scored at least 16 goals, and they own one of the league’s best offenses. Minnesota is averaging 3.67 goals per game, fourth in the NHL.
The Flyers are one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams, placing 29th and averaging 2.47 goals per game.
Left winger Kevin Fiala, a first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2014 draft in Philadelphia, has three goals and seven points over his last five games for the Wild.
For the Philadelphia Flyers, Mayhew, who used to play for Minnesota, has three goals over his last five games.
Projected goalie matchup
Hart (2.87 GAA, .912 save percentage ) will make his third straight start, while Cam Talbot, a former Flyer (briefly), will start for the Wild. Talbot (2.98, .908) has struggled lately, losing four straight.
How to watch
NBC Sports Philadelphia at 7 p.m.
How to bet
Money line (FanDuel)
Wild 4, Flyers 2.
Prediction record: 17-5.