Weekly Flyers Preview: Jan. 20-26
This week, the Flyers have a few winnable games before starting a brutal streak against a few teams in playoff position.
Monday, January, 20, 2013 @ New York Islanders (19-24-7, 45 points, 8th Metropolitan)
The Flyers go for the sweep of the season series with the Islanders Monday after a 6-4 win Saturday.
New York had been on a roll, but has lost two of three, with their only win coming in a shootout. They finally return home after a two week road trip, to an arena that they have recorded a 7-9-7 record.
The Islanders average 2.66 goals per game, ranks 16th. As we saw Saturday, the Islander offense is led by Canadian Olympian John Tavares, who scored his team-high 22nd goal Saturday night. The goal was his 58th point of the season, which ranks second (along with Ryan Getzlaf) in the NHL.
Kyle Okposo (19 goals), Thomas Vanek (17 goals) and Frans Nielsen (16 goals) support the offense, but the team has no other player with at least eight goals. Vanek has scored two goals and three assists during his four game point streak.
The Islanders have the second worst goals against average (3.20) in the league. They are vastly better at home, but still allow 2.87 goals. Kevin Poulin, who was in the net Saturday, is expected to start again Monday afternoon. On the season he is 10-14, with a 3.10 goals against average, while saving 89.5% of shots. In his last three games, however, he has allowed ten goals.
Home has helped the Isles' special teams. New York has the ninth best home power play, connecting on 22.4% of man advantages. Tavares leads the team with six power play goals. The Islanders have the worst overall penalty kill (75.5%) but that number jumps to 76.4% at home (27th).
Tuesday, January, 21, 2014 vs. Carolina Hurricanes (20-19-9, 49 points, 7th Metropolitan)
The Hurricanes have had the Flyers number this season, winning both meetings so far this season. However, this matchup is in Philadelphia. Carolina has lost three of four, but won four in a row to start 2014.
Carolina averages 2.42 goals per game, which ranks 24th. Jeff Skinner leads the team with 21 goals, but, other than the Staal brothers (both with ten goals), no one else is in double digits. Nathan Gerbe (nine goals) and Alex Semin (eight) are next on the team.
The 18th ranked defense (2.79 goals against average) resides in Raleigh. However, that number balloons to 3.04 away from the Tar Heel State. With Cam Ward out due to injury, Anton Khudobin has been getting the lion's share of the starts. This season, Khudobin has gone 7-3 with a 2.06 goals against average and has a .934 save percentage. He has lost three of his last four starts, but has only allowed three goals once in that stretch.
Carolina has the 25th ranked power play, scoring on 14.6% of man advantages. Skinner has nine power play goals, but no one has at least four. Their penalty kill is also ranked 25th, stopping 79.4% of opponents' man advantages.
Thursday, January, 23, 2014 @ Columbus Blue Jackets (24-20-4, 52 points, 4th Metropolitan)
The last time these teams met in mid-December, they split a home-and-home series. Columbus has been hot since the calendar flipped, winning seven of eight. At home, the Jackets have gone 12-9-2, including winning four of their last five.
The tenth-ranked offense scores 2.79 goals per game, but averages 2.95 at home. The scoring is balanced, with six players in double figures. Ryan Johansen, and his linemates Nick Foligno and R.J. Umberger have combined for 51 goals. The top line of Cam Atkinson (15), Brandon Dubinsky (10) and Matt Calvert (5 goals in 22 games) have been good this season as well.
At home, the Blue Jackets only allow 2.52 goals per game. Since returning from injury, Sergei Bobrovsky has gone 5-0, with a 1.74 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. Overall, Bob has a record of 15-11-2, a 2.53 goals against average, while saving 91.6 percent of shots.
Columbus has the eleventh ranked power play (19.0%), with Umberger's five goals leading the way. Their penalty kill is below average, but is ranked ninth at home, killing 84.3% of home penalties.
Saturday, January, 25, 2014 vs. Boston Bruins (30-15-3, 63 points, 1st Atlantic)
The first meeting between these teams should provide a benchmark for the Flyers. Boston has been fantastic at home, but has been average on the road, compiling a 12-10-1 record.
Boston has the seventh ranked offense, averaging 2.85 goals per game. The scoring has come from all over, with seven players in double digits. The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla have combined for 36 goals. Not to be outdone, the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith have scored 41. Defenseman Torrey Krug has ten, while captain Zdeno Chara is close with nine.
The Bruins have the second ranked defense, allowing 2.17 goals per game. However, they allow 2.57 goals on the road. Tuukka Rask has been good season (22-12-2, 2.11, .928) but has struggled lately, losing five of seven. During that stretch, his goals allowed average has been 3.40 and has only made 88.9% of saves.
Chara's six goals lead the twelfth ranked power play, as the Bruins score on 18.9% of man advantages. However, they only are 15th on the road, with a 16.9% conversion rate. The Bruins have the eleventh ranked penalty kill, killing 83% of penalties.
Weekly Expectations: 6 points
Since Nov 18 Dan has been predicting Flyers points.
Realdeal: 40 points
Flyers: 39 points