Better With Popcorn

Weekly Flyers Preview: Nov. 3-Nov. 9

At 4-5-2, the Flyers have an opportunity this week to make up some lost ground against three teams who are among the bottom nine in the standings.

Action starts tonight at 7 p.m. against the Edmonton Oilers.

Tonight, Nov. 4, 2014 vs. Edmonton Oilers (4-6-1, 9 points, 6th Pacific) 7 p.m., CSN

The Oilers had been on a four game win streak before losing their last two. Those games were all part of a seven game homestand. The Oilers have yet to win on the road, going 0-2-1, and allowing at least four goals in each game.

Their top scorer, Taylor Hall (six goals, 10 points) will be out 2-4 weeks following an MCL injury. They will also be without captain Andrew Ference, who is serving a three-game suspension following an illegal check. Returning to the lineup will be defenseman Nikita Nikitin, who has been out since Oct. 24.

Jordan Eberle will carry the load, as he has three goals this season to go along with eight points. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also has contributed three goals for the league’s 18th ranked offense (2.64 goals per game). David Perron has six points as well, scoring one goal.

In net, Edmonton has leaned on Ben Scrivens, who has gone 4-5 this season. He has posted a very high goals against average of 3.01 and a woeful .897 save percentage.

With all of their offensive weapons, Edmonton has only scored five power play goals, giving them the the 22nd ranked unit (14.7 percent). Their penalty kill is ranked 15th at 81.2 percent.

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 vs. Florida Panthers (4-2-3, 11 points, 7th Atlantic) 7 p.m., CSN

Florida defeated the Flyers on Saturday, 2-1. The Panthers had a shutout going into the final 20 seconds when the Flyers finally solved Roberto Luongo. The Panthers will have a game against Boston sandwiched between their two dates with the Flyers.

Luongo has been a rock for the Panthers, as Flyers fans saw Saturday, making 36 saves in the win. On the season, Luongo is 4-2-2 with a fantastic 2.15 goals against average (13th in the NHL) and a .933 save percentage (sixth).

Florida’s offense is still nothing to be afraid of, averaging 1.56 goals per game (second worst). In addition to the lean scoring, their offense has been ravaged by injuries. Dave Bolland (groin) and Brandon Pirri (concussion) are both on injured reserve. Sean Bergenheim, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau all missed the game against the Flyers, but Barkov and Huberdeau should be back in the lineup for the Cats on Thursday.

In that game against the Flyers, the Panthers were able to score on their 22nd ranked power play (14.7 percent) with Aaron Ekblad’s first NHL goal.

Florida killed off six Flyer power plays on Saturday to boost its penalty killing to 22nd at 76.6 percent.

Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 vs. Colorado Avalanche (3-5-5, 11 points, 7th Central) 7 p.m., CSN

Colorado has fallen on hard times this season after its surprising finish last year. With a 2-3-5 record in its last ten, Colorado currently sits in last place in the Central Division.

With all of the weapons the Avalanche have, it is unexpected to see them with the 23rd ranked offense (2.38 goals per game). Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Tanguay lead the team with four goals each, while Matt Duchene and Jamie McGinn have added three apiece.

Erik Johnson, Jarome Iginla and Ryan O’Reilly have all scored two goals.

Former Flyer Danny Briere has been a healthy scratch in Colorado’s last three games, and has not played more than 10 minutes in a game since Oct. 16 against Ottawa.

Between the pipes, Semyon Varlamov is 2-3-4. He boasts a respectable 2.50 goals against average and a very good save percentage at .931.

The offensive struggles have carried over the the power play, where the Avs rank 19th at 17 percent. Both Landeskog and MacKinnon lead the team with two goals each. Colorado has the second best penalty killing in the league at 92.4 percent.


Dan MacNeal
Staff Writer
Twitter: @Realdeal411@TCLFlyers