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Flyers-Blackhawks preview: Kevin Hayes will bolster Philly’s lineup

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Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes will anchor the third line Saturday afternoon against the visiting Blackhawks.

Two of the NHL’s lowest-scoring teams will meet Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, but that doesn’t mean the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks will produce a 1-0 or 2-1 game.

Both teams, you see, are using backup goalie with inflated goals-against averages, so there may be lots of offense in the 3 p.m. matchup.

The Flyers (16-28-10), are averaging 2.50 goals per game, 29th in the 32-team NHL. Chicago (20-27-8) is managing 2.45 goals per game, 30th in the league.

Philly has lost 21 of its last 24. According to tankathon.com, the Flyers have an 8.5% chance to win the draft lottery and get the No. 1 overall pick. Only four teams have better odds, topped by Arizona (16.6%).

Storylines

Will Kevin Hayes’ return jumpstart the Flyers?

Barring a setback, Hayes will play his first game since Jan. 17. The 6-foot-5 center has missed the last 16 games because of a groin infection. Prior to that, he had two abdominal surgeries and a procedure to drain fluid from his adductor region.

“I do feel 100 percent” said Hayes, who has nine points in 20 games this season. “I didn’t need to get another surgery, and I don’t think playing is going to force me to get another surgery.”

Hayes will center the third line.

“It’s going to be interesting to kind of see where he’s at,” Philadelphia Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said.

As for Chicago, it will be trying to build off its 4-3 OT win Thursday over Edmonton.

Flyers’ projected lineup

Line 1: Scott Laughton centering Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.

Line 2: Derick Brassard centering Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson.

Line 3: Hayes centering Oskar Lindblom and James van Riemsdyk

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. (Braun is battling the flu, and he will be a game-time decision.)

Goalie:  Martin Jones.

Numbers Dept.

Neither team has great special teams. The Flyers are 24th on the PK and 30th on the power play. Chicago has the;league’s 28th PK and 16th PP.

Who’s hot?

Right winger Patrick Kane, 33, who broke Flyers fans’ hearts in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, has eight goals and 19 points over his last 13 games for the Blackhawks.

For the Flyers, Lindblom has three goals and six points over his last 10 games.

Projected goalie matchup­­­

Jones (3.51 GAA, .898 save percentage) will make his first start since Feb. 22 for the Flyers. He will be opposed by Kevin Lankinen (3.53, .887).

How to watch

ABC/ESPN+ at 3 p.m.

How to bet

Money line (FanDuel)

Blackhawks:  plus-102.

Flyers: minus-122.

Prediction

Flyers 4, Blackhawks 3.

Prediction record: 18-5.

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