Game Day: Flyers / Oilers
With the Philadelphia Flyers (40-19-6) currently on a four game losing streak and playing their worst hockey of the season, they get a chance to right the ship tonight when they host arguably the worst team in the league, the Edmonton Oilers (23-35-8).
Under normal circumstances this type of game is a sure win, but with the Flyers lack luster play of late, a loss tonight and they could find themselves with company at the top of the Eastern Conference.
This is the first and only matchup of the season between these two teams. In their only meeting last season the Oilers pulled off a last second 1-0 win turning away 33 Flyer shots in the process.
The Flyers are 28-7-8 all time versus the Edmonton Oilers and have a home record of 20-11-2. The Flyers are currently winless in their last seven matchups versus the oilers, four game losing streak at home and a three game losing streak in Edmonton.
The last time the Flyers beat the Oilers was in Edmonton on March 19, 2001 by the score of 4-2. Their last home win against the Oilers was a 2-0 shutout on November 9, 2000, Roman Chechmanek would pick up the shutout.
These two teams are currently at opposite ends of the standings this season. The Edmonton oilers are in the 29th spot with 54 points while the Flyers are in the third spot overall with 86 points.
No matter how bad the power play is for the Flyers they can't get any worse than the Oilers who have the worst power play in the league with a 13 percent success rate. The Flyers are not much better though with a 16.3 success rate.
The Oilers are the second worse team in the league on the penalty kill with a 77 percent kill rate. The Flyers are tenth in the league on the penalty kill with an 83.5 percent kill rate.
Edmonton is allowing 3.15 goals per game while the Flyers average 3.17 goals per game. Could this be the game the Flyers break out of their scoring slump ?
In the span of three years between 1985 and 1987 the Flyers and Edmonton Oilers built up a huge rivalry despite being in different conferences. During that time all the teams in the league were gauging themselves off of the Glen Sather coached Edmonton Oilers.
This team was stacked with future Hall of Famers in Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier,Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr and Paul Coffey. Not to mention that head coach Glen Sather is also a Hall of Famer.
The Flyers were a bunch of hard working blue collar players with Ron Hextall being the closest player the Flyers had to a star. They gave the full effort coach Mike Keenan required in order to hang with the mighty Oilers.
The Flyers and Oilers would meet twice in three years in the Stanley Cup Finals. They first met in 1985 when the Oilers beat the Flyers in five games.
During three years the Oilers and the Flyers finished the regular season with the two best records in the NHL. In the 1987 Stanley Cup final the Flyers would give everything they had taking the high powered Edmonton Oilers to game seven for an eventual loss.
I can still hear the stupid song they played in the Oilers arena after every goal "Still The One". Every time I hear that song I still cringe.
During the 1983-84 season the Oilers were averaging 5.58 goals per game which is an NHL record. Also during the 83-84,84-85 seasons the Oilers boasted three 50 goal scorers and four 100 point players,both of these feats are NHL records.
A couple of big moments for the Flyers this series was the game six game winning goal by JJ Daigneault, probably the loudest the spectrum has ever been , and the Ron Hextall slash on Kent Nilsson in the third period of game four with the Flyers down 4-1.
Hextall was apparently upset with players cruising through his crease and decided to slash the next person through which happened to be Nilsson.
Hextall would be suspended for the first eight games of the 1987-88 season, Nilsson was not injured on the play. Here is a video of the slash which earned him that suspension.
With the coach giving the team a day off Monday, look for this team to have some more energy tonight for a longer period of time. If there is any night to bust out of the funk tonight would be it.
Let's face it they have to break out eventually and hopefully it is sooner than later. Something in the way this team is playing now reminds me of the John Stevens coached team.
Could it be that the core of this team, Stevens' guys, might be dragging the rest of the team down and getting into the funk they were in pre-Laviolette ? Just makes me wonder if Carter, Richards, Hartnell are leading this team down that path again.
There are some strong personalities in that locker room with Pronger, Timonen and Shelley. If there is a problem with some players breaking routines and slacking off lately it can be handled by the players themselves.
Sometimes a peer can get through to a player more than a coach. One thing is for sure the Flyers need to play more of a team defense and cut down on turnovers.
All these turnovers are killing the Flyers right now. Versteeg, Hartnell, O'Donnell have to be more careful with the puck as these turnovers sometimes leave their goalie hung out to dry. If the Flyers concentrate on the basics like no turnovers, play team defense and take the body they will likely pick up a win tonight.
Your guess is as good as mine on who will be the starter in goal tonight. If I had to guess, which I will do. I would have to say that Bobrovsky will get the nod tonight but you never know.
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