Flyers Look To Stop Wiley Coyotes
The Philadelphia Flyers (39-15-5) will host the Phoenix Coyotes (32-19-9) tonight at 7:00 pm EST at the Wells Fargo Center. Phoenix brings with them a seven game winning streak and ladies man and former Flyer Scottie Upshaw.
The Flyers are coming off a huge 4-2 matinée win against the New York Rangers on Saturday, they are 3-1 in their last four games.
Overall the Flyers are 11-8 versus the Coyotes, and 29-16-2 against the Winnipeg Jets making them 40-24-2 against the two franchises. Shane Doan is the only original member of the Winnipeg Jets franchise still playing for the Coyotes.
The Flyers are 6-3 at home versus the Coyotes.The Flyers lost their last meeting with the Coyotes 3-1 on November 21, 2009 in Phoenix, they did beat the Yotes the last time they faced them in Philly on November 22, 2008 4-3 in OT. Dan Carcillo scored a goal that game as a member of the Wayne Gretzky led Coyotes.
Ilya Bryzgalov has been solid and is the reason this team is on a seven game winning streak, he is 7-0 in his last seven starts and will look to extend that streak tonight.
The Coyotes are being led by defenseman Kieth Yandle in points with 51 closely followed by Ray Whitney with 45. Yandle also is currently leading all NHL defensemen in points. None other than ex-Flyer Scottie Upshaw leads this team in goals with 16, three away from breaking his career high.
The goals are spread out amongst the team as they have eight players in double digits goals (Pyatt,Vrbata,Stempniak,Doan,Korpikoski,Hanzel and Whitney), two on the verge at nine (Yandle,Turris) and one at eight (Belanger).
The Flyers also have eight players in double digit goals; (Briere,Carter,Giroux,Hartnell,Richards,Zherdev,Leino,JVR) and one with nine (Nodl), who may be stuck there a while the way he is going right now.
This should make for an interesting matchup for both teams. Defense will need to be played up and down the lineup for both these teams. The Flyers have the advantage on special teams as they rank 16th in the league connecting at a 17.4 percent rate.
The Coyotes are in the 23rd spot connecting at a 16.7 percent rate. The Yotes do not fair much better on the penalty kill ranking 24th with a 79.8 kill rate.
The Flyers are in the top ten at the eighth position with an 84 percent kill rate.
With the Coyotes on a hot streak right now and Bryzgalov playing the way he is with his 2.56 GAA .918 SV% and 5 shutouts it would not surprise me if the Flyers struggled to score tonight.
They have these funks every once in a while where they struggle to score while giving up scoring chances to the opponent allowing them to hang around long enough to steal a game on a bad bounce or soft goal. That being said they need to score first and quick,the Flyers are first in the league in winning percentage .848 when scoring first.
The Flyers have to use the body more, I sound like a broken record every game but until they start laying people out and making room for themselves these teams will continue to hang around longer than they should.
Kris Versteeg will be making his home debut this evening, home debuts are always better point wise for new guys. Let's see if he can get one in front of the home crowd tonight.
With Boosh being a little banged up, I would think Bobrovsky would get the nod tonight. He needs to get off to better starts as he has been surrendering quick goals then shutting the door for the rest of the game.
Soemtimes the oppsite happens with him, he holds a team scoreless for two periods then surrenders a couple in a few minute span. He needs to be more consistent down the stretch if he wants to be leaned on in the playoffs.
Betts -Out (Finger Laceration)
O'Donnell - Out (knee)
Oskars Bartulis will be playing in the place of Sean O'Donnell tonight. This will be his first action since January 11th, he has been a healthy scratch for seventeen consecutive games.
Scottie Upshaw will be playing in Philly for the first time since he was traded for Dan Carcillo in 2009. Speaking of Carcillo, he and Briere will be facing some old friends tonight as they both played for the Coyotes.
Step Up Players