Philly Phaithful
Better With Popcorn

Weekly Flyers Preview: January 13-16

After a disappointing 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay, the Flyers will be itching to get back out onto the ice with a couple big divisional games.

Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ New York Rangers (23-20-3, 49 points, 4th Metropolitan) 7:00, NBCSN

This is a huge game for both teams, as they are fighting for positioning (along with Washington) in the Metropolitan Division standings. This is the second meeting between the two teams, with the Flyers taking a 2-1 decision October 24th.

The Rangers are on a roll, going 7-2-1 in their last ten, including an impressive win over Chicago Wednesday. However, they have been less than impressive at Madison Square Garden, where they have compiled a 9-10-3 record.

Despite new head coach Alain Vigneault's more offensive system, the Rangers have not been scoring. They rank 24th on offense, only averaging 2.41 goals per game. Co-leading the goal department are Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin, all with eleven goals. Rick Nash has ten goals to give the Rangers five in double digits.

This season, Henrik Lundqvist is not the King Hank of old. Only winning 14 games this season, Lundqvist's goals against average is almost half a goal higher than his career average (2.73 to 2.28). His save percentage has dropped as well, all the way down to a middling .908.

New York has fantastic special teams, however, as both units are ranked in the top ten. The league's sixth ranked power play connects on 21.6% of man advantages, with both Derrick Brassard and Benoit Poliot's five goals leading the club. The Rangers have the eighth ranked penalty kill (84.7%) and only have allowed nine power play goals at home.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 @ Buffalo Sabres (12-26-5, 29 points, 8th Atlantic) 7:30, CSN, NBCSN

By far the worst team in the NHL, Buffalo has struggled all season. The Flyers beat Buffalo 4-1 in their only meeting November 21.

Despite an awful record, Buffalo has been better at home. Nine of their twelve wins have come at First Niagara Center. 

The Sabres have the worst offense, by far, averaging 1.63 goals per game. Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson all have eight goals to co-lead the team. 

As bad as the offense has been, Buffalo has been decent in their own end. Allowing 2.74 goals per game, Buffalo ranks 17th, thanks to Ryan Miller. The American Olympian is only 11-18-1 but has a GAA of 2.64. However, he has saved 92.8% of shots, which is sixth in the league.

Buffalo only scores on 12.8% of power plays, which is third worst in the league. Hodgson has a team high of four power play goals. However, the Sabres are 13th in penalty killing, stopping 82.6% of penalties.

Thursday, January, 16, 2014  vs. Nashville Predators (19-20-7, 45 points, 6th Central) 7:00, CSN

These two teams squared off November 30, with the Flyers winning in overtime, 3-2.

Nashville has lost five of six since 2014 began, but has collected points in all but one of those games.

The Predators have had trouble scoring, averaging 2.37 goals per game (25th). Craig Smith leads the team with 13 goals.  Mike Fisher has 12 and Shea Weber follows with 10.

Without Pekka Rinne, the Predators have tried to fill the void with Marek Mazanec (8-9-4, 2.75, .904) and Carter Hutton (7-7-2, 3.01, .902), but neither is a former Vezina Trophy finalist. Overall, the Predators rank 20th, allowing 2.87 goals per game.

Despite their low scoring, Nashville has the seventh ranked power play, scoring on 20% of man advantages. Shea Weber's seven power play goals lead the team, as well as NHL defensemen. The Predators have the fifth best road penalty killing, with 86.6% of penalties killed. They have only allowed nine eroad power play goals this season.

Saturday, January, 18, 2014 vs. New York Islanders (17-22-7, 41 points, 8th Metropolitan) 7:00, TCN

The beginning of a home-and-home with the Islanders, the Flyers will finish their season series with the Islanders Monday. The Flyers have beaten the Islanders in both meetings this season.

The Islanders are on a bit of a roll, winning six of seven. They have not lost a road regulation game since December 12 (6-0).

New York's offense is in the middle of the pack, averaging 2.65 goals per game. Despite solid offensive numbers, the Islanders have been top heavy in the scoring department. John Tavares has 20 goals and is followed by Kyle Okposo (17), Frans Neilsen (16) and Thomas Vanek (11). But no one else has eight.

Defense has not been a strong suit, as the team ranks 29th, allowing 3.20 goals per game. With Evgeni Nabokov injured, Kevin Poulin has been the guy in net. He has won four games in a row and five of six. However, he has allowed 3.12 goals per game and has only saved 89.5 of shots faced.

The tenth ranked power play resides on Long Island, with the Islanders scoring on 19.2% of man advantages. Tavares has six power play goals to lead the team. On the flip side, the Isles' penalty killing is worst in the league, only killing off 74.1% of penalties.

Weekly Expectations: 6 points

Since November 18, Dan has predicting Flyers points.

Realdeal: 34 points

Flyers: 34 points