Philadelphia will play four games in six days this week, which includes one back-to-back situation. The Flyers play the New York Islanders on Monday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night and the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. All four games this week are on the road before returning home next week.
The Islanders are currently occupying a playoff spot in the East and are battling for positioning. The Flyers will need to play a solid, tight checking road game by supporting each other and avoiding turnovers. The Islanders are a deep team and all four lines can score, but are without starting goalie Jaroslav Halak, who is out hurt. Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube have been splitting the goaltending duties since Halak went down. The Flyers will need to shoot the puck at every opportunity and get some traffic in front of the net to score goals. The Orange and Black will have to outwork the Islanders at even strength since they don’t give up much on the power play or when they’re shorthanded.
The Flyers will face the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, which is the first of four sets of back-to-back situations for the rest of the year. The Blue Jackets are one of the worst teams in the NHL, but the Flyers need to come in with a working mentality because Columbus isn’t going to just hand them the game. If Philadelphia can shut down the top two lines of Columbus then they have a decent shot at winning. The Flyers will still need to play a good road game, establish the fore-checking game early and be physical with and without the puck. Philadelphia will need to make it hard for Columbus to establish their own fore-checking game and play a solid game in the neutral zone.
The Avalanche are in a similar place as the Flyers and are battling for the final wild card spot out West with the Minnesota Wild. Philadelphia will need to need to stay out of the penalty box because Colorado has the third best home power play in the league. The Flyers penalty kill has been better of late, but they still need to limit the amount of penalties taken. The Avalanche will be a desperate team so the Flyers will have to come out and match their intensity, but play a smart road game. Colorado will give up some shots so Philadelphia needs to take those shots when available and not pass them up, and if on the power play they’ll need to be careful with the passes to the point since the Avalanche have seven shorthanded goals this season.
The Orange and Black will visit the Coyotes on Saturday night, who will try and play spoiler. Arizona has three lines that can score, but the problem has been the defense and goaltending this season. Mike Smith was out a majority of the season but has returned from his injury. If Oliver Ekman-Larsson is back from his injury then the Flyers will have to keep an eye on him since he’s their leading scorer. Philadelphia will need to take advantage of the Coyotes’ weak penalty kill and put pressure on them when on the man advantage since Arizona has allowed 12 short handed goals this year. The Flyers will still need to play a solid road game, and take advantage of playing a non-playoff team since they won’t play many down the stretch.
Every game is crucial to the Flyers down the stretch because they are trying to gain points and move into the last wild card spot in the East.