The Philadelphia Flyers had eight straight days off for their bye week and the All-Star weekend, but now it’s time to get back to work. They jump right back into it since they will be playing four games in six days including a back-to-back situation right out of the break.
On Monday night, they’ll face a tough Winnipeg Jets team, who are favored to go far in the Western Conference playoffs. Then Tuesday night, they’ll play in the famous Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers. It doesn’t get any easier for the remaining two games. On Thursday night, the Flyers take a trip to Boston to face the Bruins and then the team will return home on Saturday to take on Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
1) Monday, Jan. 28 vs. Winnipeg Jets- 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN
The Flyers don’t match up well against the Winnipeg Jets team, who are currently first in the Central Division. The Jets are a big, physical team that can play a fast game while the Flyers lack speed in their lineup. Winnipeg has a balanced lineup but the Flyers tend to rely on Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek. The Flyers are a work in progress on the blue line while the Jets have a solid group that plays well together.
If the Flyers want to steal two points from the Jets then they are going to have to be willing to work to create their own space to get some scoring chances. The Orange and Black have to play a disciplined game since the Jets power play is ranked fourth in the NHL. The Flyers should feel compelled to limit their mistakes and find a way to contain the line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Wheeler leads the Jets in points with Scheifele tied for the team lead in goals. Since this will be the first game after the bye week and All-Star weekend, the teams should try to get off to a good start by getting involved in the game early and often. The key factor in this game for the Flyers will be the goaltender, whether it be Carter Hart or Mike McKenna.
2) Tuesday, Jan. 29 @ NY Rangers- 7:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
The Flyers have managed to win both games over the New York Rangers so far this season. The Flyers have balanced out their lineups and James van Riemsdyk has been coming on of late, whereas the Rangers have been relying on one line to produce. The Orange and Black have been able to beat Henrik Lundqvist, but he has also had some really good games against them. This will be the Rangers first game back from the break and the Flyers will have played the night before so the pace to start this one may be a little slow, but should get better as the game goes on.
The Flyers are trying to get some wins and get back in the playoff picture, or at least out from the bottom portion of the League’s standings. They should get some bodies in front of the net to redirect pucks and screen the goalie. Mika Zibanejad is the Rangers’ leading scorer and assists guy so the Flyers need to be aware of where he is whenever he’s on the ice. The Rangers’ penalty kill is towards the bottom of the NHL so this would be a perfect time to get the power play going for the Flyers, who can’t seem to take advantage of being up a man. The Orange and Black need to get the first goal of the game to take the home crowd out of the game and get some momentum.
3) Thursday, Jan. 31 @ Bruins- 7 p.m. ET – NHLN
There have been some entertaining games between these two teams over the past few years and they usually end with the Boston Bruins getting a late game winning or game tying goal to force overtime. The Bruins won’t shy away from the forecheck game so the Flyers defensemen will have to move the puck quickly but also be smart about it. Jaroslav Halak has played both games against the Flyers this season and has a shutout in one game while allowing four goals in the other. The Bruins can play with speed in transition so the Flyers need to play a solid defensive game.
The Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is one of the best in the NHL so the Flyers need to find a way to limit the damage done by this line. The Bruins have the second best power play in the League so the Flyers should feel compelled to play with discipline and stay out of the penalty box. The whole team needs to play defense in this game including the forwards. The Flyers should get plenty of pucks on net and make sure there is someone in front to distract the goalie.
4) Saturday, Feb. 2 vs. Oilers- 1 p.m. ET – NHLN
The Edmonton Oilers beat the Flyers the only time they’ve faced each other this season, but the Flyers have been better since that meeting. Brandon Manning will face his former team for the second time this year. The Oilers are a physical team so the Flyers are going to have to play fast and create their own space in this game. The Flyers seem to have the goaltending advantage in this one since the Oilers goalies have not been particular well at stopping the puck this year. The Oilers are going to play with speed so the Flyers need to find a way to slow them down.
If the Flyers want to control this game then they are going to need to stop Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who are the top two leading scorers on the team. The Oilers penalty kill may be struggling, but the Flyers should stay out of the penalty box since their power play seems to be dangerous. The Orange and Black need to get a ton of shots on goal and get the puck towards the net since the goalies have struggled so far this season.
Flying Forward Weekly Prediction
The Flyers are going to finish the week with a 2-1-1 record. They’ll pull out regulation wins against the Rangers and Oilers. The Jets game won’t be close and they’ll take the loss in regulation time. The Bruins game will be an entertaining one, but the Flyers will ultimately continue their overtime struggles and lose in the 3-on-3 session.