Game Day: Flyers vs. Leafs
After starting out the season 4-0-1, the Philadelphia Flyers (4-2-1), who have recently forgotten how to play hockey, have dropped their last two matchups to Washington and St. Louis respectively.
They will be taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1-1), who have started off the season well and are still hot, but will have to deal being without their starting goaltender for at least tonight's game.
This is the first of four matchups between these two teams.
The Flyers took three of four from the Leafs last season, their only loss coming in Toronto. The Flyers are 49-22-8 at home versus the Leafs and have an overall record of 84-52-22. The Leafs are fifth overall in the standings with 11 points while the Flyers are tenth overall with nine points.
Both of these teams are averaging 3.29 goals per game. But Toronto is surrendering about a half a goal more per game than the Flyers who have surrendered 2.71 goals per game.
When it comes to special teams the Flyers are better with the man advantage, scoring 25.7% of the time which is good for fifth in the league. The Leafs connect at a 16.7% rate, good for 15th in the league.
On the penalty kill, Toronto doesn't fair much better, killing off power plays 77.4% of the time, placing them 23rd in the league. The Flyers are a little better coming in at 19th in the league with and 81.6 penalty kill percentage.
Puck possession is important and it starts at the face-off dot. Toronto is doing a better job than the Flyers this season on face-offs, winning 50.9% of the time, good for ninth in the league. The Flyers rank 24th in the league in face-off percentage at 48.2%.
Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, James Reimer was replaced in the first period of Saturday night's game versus the Canadiens. He suffered an upper body injury after Brian Gionta collided with his head just outside the top of his crease. Jonas Gustavsson replaced him and looked shaky at times, but did manage to come away with the 5-4 OT victory.
Phil Kessel has had a red hot start to the season for the Leafs as he leads the team in goals with eight and points with 14. Former Flyer Joffrey Lupul is right behind him in goals with four, followed by Mikhail Grabovski's three. Dion Phaneuf is second on the team in points with nine followed by Lupul with eight.
Claude Giroux is leading the Flyers in goals with five and points with eight, and is closely followed by Chris Pronger with seven and Matt Read with six. Pronger now has a point in each game this season.
In The Nets
It seems like the Flyers will go back to Ilya Bryzgalov (3-2-1) with a 2.84 GAA and a .895 SV%, tonight when the face the Leafs. He has had some tough breaks and communication issues with his defensemen, who agreed that is something they need to hash out. Bryzgalov and the Flyers needs to regroup and put forth a better effort.
UPDATE: Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net tonight for the Flyers. Bobrovsky stopped 21 of 23 shots faced in the Flyers 7-2 win over Ottawa on October 18.
Because of that injury to Reimer, Gustavsson ( 1-1-0 ) with a 5.35 GAA and a .852 SV% will get the nod for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. The "Monster," as they call him, was initially brought here to be the number one and was first beat out by Jean Sebastian Giguere and then beat out by Reimer.
He looked shaky in his relief appearance against the Habs, but it is tough coming off the bench cold as an injury replacement. Will he fair better knowing he is the starter tonight or will the Flyers take advantage of his shaky play?
The bottom line is this team just needs to be better fundamentally and stop taking untimely penalties.
The team looks out of game shape for some odd reason and the remarks from Briere on the team not having their legs makes you wonder. Maybe the whole team should join Jagr in his late night workouts.
The break downs in the defensive end are mind blowing, especially by the defensemen who are pretty much the same crew from last season with Matt Walker in place of Andreas Lilja tonight. Keeping the front of the net clear from the opposition and themselves is a must if they want to cut out the "bad bounce goal" they have been seeing lately.
They just need to get back to the basics until they work through these issues. There will be highs and lows during this season with all the new young faces on this team, so keep all hands and feet inside the car, secure all loose items, and enjoy the roller coaster ride.
Line up shake up
Walker will replace Lilja tonight at defense and Jody Shelley will make his first appearance of the season, taking Andreas Nodl's spot. Both moves were to give the Flyers answers to Toronto's Jay Rosehill and Colton Orr.
What Do You Think?
With Jonas Gustavsson's GAA at 5.35, how many goals will the Flyers score tonight?
Who will score the Flyers first goal of the game?
How many "Hartnell Downs" will we see in the game tonight?
*Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comment section*
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