Better With Popcorn

Weekly Flyers Preview: Dec. 9-15

This week the Flyers have their work cut out of them, finishing up a road trip and playing some of the league’s top teams.

Monday, December 9, 2013 @ Ottawa Senators (11-14-5, 27 points, 6th Atlantic)

The Senators have been in a free fall, losing eight of 11, falling all the way to sixth place.  During that span, they have allowed three goals or more in nine of those contests.  They currently are 4-8-3 in Ottawa.

The Flyers beat Ottawa twice in November by a combined score of 10-2.

Ottawa still hasn't figured out how to defend, as their goals against average has ballooned to 3.17 (from 2.95) in the last three weeks.  At home, they allow a whopping 3.27 goals per game.

However, they can still score (2.87 goals per game, 7th) and are led by Bobby Ryan who has 14 goals.  Jason Spezza has 12, while Erik Karlsson leads in points with 25 (8 goals).

Predictably, their powerplay has been good (19.5%, 11th) and their penalty kill has been bad (78.9%, 23rd).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 @ Chicago Blackhawks (20-6-5, 45 points, 1st Central)

Chicago is the best team in the league, pointwise; however they lost three games in a row recently before beating Florida on Sunday.

At home, the Hawks are 9-2-4, and have been an offense dynamo.  On the season, they rank first in goals per game (3.42), featuring four players with double digit goal totals (Kane 16, Toews 12, Hossa 12, Sharp 11).

On the backend, they have been fairly average, with a 2.71 GAA, which ranks 17th.  Corey Crawford has done well between the pipes, going 17-6-3 with a 2.49 GAA and a .906 save percentage.

Where Chicago has struggled is on the penalty kill. They rank 29th, only killing 71.8% of penalties.

Thursday, December 12, 2013 vs. Montreal Canadiens (19-9-3, 41 points, 1st Atlantic)

Montreal is the hottest team in the league, going 9-0-1 in their last 10; they haven’t lost a non-shootout game since November 16 against the Rangers. 

The Flyers haven’t seen the Canadiens since the first week of the season, where they lost 4-1 at the Bell Centre.

Their 13th ranked offense (2.68 gpg) is led by Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, both with a team high 11 goals.  Brendan Gallagher (9 goals), Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller (8 goals each) have balanced out the offense.  P.K. Subban has a team leading 24 points (20 assists).

As good as the offense is, the defense is even better.  Montreal only allows 2 goals per game, which is second in the league.  Carey Price is making a run at being named Canada’s starting goalie for the Olympics with a fantastic season (14-8-2, 1.95 GAA, .938%).

Special Teams are equally a strong point as Montreal boasts the fifth ranked power play (22.7%) and the third best penalty killing (86.4%).

Sunday, December 15, 2013 @ Washington Capitals (16-12-2, 34 points, 2nd Metropolitan)

The last time the Flyers saw Washington, the Caps torched them in a 7-0 rout.  Since then, the Flyers have played better, but so have the Capitals.  They have won four of five and have climbed to second in the Metropolitan Division.

Washington has the seventh ranked offense (2.87 gpg) led by Alex Ovechkin, who already has 22 goals on the year.  Mikhail Grabovski and Joel Ward have added nine goals each while Nicklas Backstrom has racked up six to go along with 27 points.

Goaltending still has been a problem for the Capitals.  They allow 2.77 goals per game (22nd) and that number jumps to 2.82 at Verizon Center.  Part of that could be attributed to the second highest shots allowed average in the league (34.9).

Their special teams are both above league average with a fanastic power play (22.8%, 4th), led by Ovechkin’s 9.  Washington has killed 83.6% of penalties, which ranks 13th.

Weekly Expectations: 3 points

Since Nov. 18 Dan has been predicting Flyers points.

Realdeal: 16

Flyers: 12

----

Dan MacNeal

Staff Writer
Twitter: @Realdeal411@TCLFlyers