Flyers Aim To Extend Road Win Streak To Six
After losing for the first time in the month of December, the injury-depleted Philadelphia Flyers (20-8-3) will kick-off a five game road trip tonight in Denver when they face the Colorado Avalanche (15-17-1) in their only meeting of the season.
The Flyers had their seven game unbeaten streak come to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon (6-0) by the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. Tonight they will try to stay unbeaten on the road in December, and will do so with yet another new young player in the line-up.
The Flyers have called up Ben Holmstrom to take the place of Sean Couturier who is the latest Philadelphia player to suffer a head injury, joining a list that includes Brayden Schenn, Chris Pronger, and Claude Giroux. Holmstrom has skated with the big club just once this season in the team’s matchup against the Buffalo Sabres in early November.
He has recorded eight goals and eight assists in 25 games with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.
The Flyers have also activated Andreas Lilja from IR; he is coming off his conditioning stint with the Phantoms and may see action tonight.
However, the team did receive some encouraging news on Sunday.
Claude Giroux traveled with the team and participated in practice with a yellow no contact jersey. This is a good sign that he is beginning to work his way back onto the ice.
Still the Flyers need to take extreme precautions with Giroux and not rush him or any of the injured Flyers back before they’re 100% healthy. It is a long season and the Flyers will need a healthy lineup to compete at the high level it will take to be successful in the playoffs.
The last time these two teams met was in Philly last season, for the Flyers' season opener. After the unveiling of their 2009-2010 Conference Championship banner the Flyers got out to a quick 2-0 lead and scored two more in the third for the 4-2 win.
Tonight the Flyers will face an Av's team who have won five in a row at home and have lost nine straight on the road.
Since beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Saturday night, the Avalanche improved their record versus the Eastern conference this season to 7-1-0. They are 3-0 at home and 4-1 in the Eastern Time zone.
The Av's are 4-0 in matchups versus the Northeast Division and 2-1-0 versus opponents in the Atlantic Division. The Av's are in last place in the Northwest Division with 31 points while the Flyers are first in the Atlantic with 43 points.
Despite being shutout by the Bruins the Flyers are still tops in the league in scoring averaging 3.55 goals per game and should have no problem finding the back of the net in Denver tonight as the Avalanche surrender 3.03 goals per game.
Special teams will play a huge role in tonight; the Avalanche rank third in the league with a 21.7% success rate while the Flyers rank in the middle of the league on the penalty kill with a kill rate of 81.9%.
The Av's are actually worse off in this area as they rank 25th in the league with an 80% kill rate. The Flyers are 11th in the league with the man advantage and have an 18.6% success rate.
The face-off circle is another area that will give the Flyers problems tonight especially with three Flyers centers out with head injuries. The Avalanche is the stronger team on the draw winning 51.4% of them, ranking seventh in the league.
The Flyers have struggled mightily in the face-off circle this season, winning 47.7% of their draws placing them in the 27th position.
The Flyers will have to pay closer attention to these areas if they want to extend their road unbeaten streak to six and will have to do so with a jumbled lineup.
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