The Philadelphia Flyers have a huge week ahead, and a chance to gain some points against teams that are currently ahead of them in the Eastern Conference Wild Card standings. The Flyers will faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On Tuesday night, the Red Wings visit the Flyers, who will still be without forward Jake Voracek, at the Wells Fargo Center. Voracek suffered a lower body injury and has missed the past seven games. The Flyers are 5-1-1 without him in the lineup. Philadelphia has a chance to move within a point of Detroit for the final wild card spot with a win in regulation and they have two games in hand on the Red Wings.
If the Flyers want to beat the Red Wings then they’ll need to stop the top two lines since that’s where most of Detroit’s offense comes from. Niklas Kronwall won’t be on Detroit’s blue line since he’s sidelined for one to three weeks with a knee sprain so the Orange and Black will need to take advantage of that. Philadelphia will need to try and get the first power play unit clicking again since the second unit has been scoring some goals of late. The Red Wings are only killing off 76% of penalties while on the road, which ranks 25th in the league. Philly will want to continue the balanced scoring attack since the Red Wings have given up 26 goals in their last 10 games played. Philadelphia will want to take the lead and not sit back, but keep attacking in the offensive zone while being smart on defense.
The Flyers visit the defending champions, Chicago Blackhawks, on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks have been struggling as of late especially with killing penalties. Chicago’s penalty kill ranks 26th out of 30 NHL teams at 78.3 % so the Flyers will want to produce while on the man advantage. Philadelphia will be on the second half of a back-to-back situation so they’ll need to roll all four lines and this could be a game where the goalie needs to step up big and steal one. The Flyers will need to shut down the Blackhawks top two lines, which have no problem producing.
The Orange and Black will need to stay out of the penalty box since Chicago has the second best power play in the league and both units are dangerous. The teams will need to keep an eye out on the two rookies in this game. Shayne Gostisbehere of the Flyers and Artemi Panarin of the Blackhawks, who will have an impact of the game, if given the chance.
The Penguins will visit the Wells Fargo Center for the first time this season on Saturday for a matinee game. Pittsburgh is the other team that Philly is chasing in the wild card race. The Penguins will be missing a key piece on offense with forward Evgeni Malkin out for the next six to eight weeks. The Flyers need to stay focused and out of the penalty box. The Pens power play hasn’t exactly been spectacular this year on the road, but they still have a dangerous unit that can score when needed. The Orange and Black will have to play a solid, smart game at even strength since Pittsburgh’s penalty kill is solid and ranked sixth overall.
Philly will need to shut down the top two lines of the Penguins to have a chance at winning. The top line for the Flyers will also need to step up their game, but they’ll also need some help from the supporting depth players, which they’ve gotten of late. The Flyers will need to score first and keep attacking in the offensive zone and get traffic in front of the Pens’ goalie. If the Flyers want to win then they’ll have to be smart with the puck and avoid turnovers, especially in their own zone and the neutral zone.
This week could make or break the Flyers’ playoff chances, depending on how many points are picked up or lost against the teams in front of them.