GAMETIME: 7:30pm Central
TV: CSN locally, NBCSN nationally
WOOTER ICE: Broad Street Hockey
POWER PLAY: Flyers – 0% (28th) Hawks – 27.3% (12th)
PENALTY KILL: Flyers – 88.9% (10th) Hawks – 46.1% (Dead Ass Last)
SCORE ADJUSTED POSSESSION: Flyers – 52.5% (8th) Hawks – 47.9% (22nd)
TRENDS: Ghost Bear has seven shots on Saturday against Arizona, Mark Streit had an 83% CF% on Saturday
After battling through perhaps the two best teams in the West for the season’s first three games, the schedule lightens a bit this week for the Hawks. And it starts with a visit from Cold Ones, otherwise known as the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers have split their first two games out west on the season, overcoming the Kings and then losing in overtime to the Coyotes for their opener. The Flyera come in sporting a host of young talent. You’ve already heard about Ghost Bear, and this year the Flyers are adding rookie Ivan Provorov who has everyone out there feeling the vapors. Provorov is only 19, but spent the past two years being a point-per-game in the WHL last year, and that’s the hardest junior league to score in.
Up front, Travis Konecy has joined the corps to go with Giroux, Voracek, Couturier, and the currently injured Brayden Schenn (he won’t play tonight). There’s actually a bright future in orange, if you can believe it. They actually have a plan, and the patience to follow it. They don’t have a raving lunatic behind the bench in David Hakstol. They’re actually getting goaltending from Steve Mason, though his career .891 SV% against the Hawks won’t have Flyers fans feeling all that good about tonight.
When Schenn returns, the Flyers will have some enviable center-depth or more flexibility. Giroux-Schenn-Couturier would be the envy of most of the league, or Schenn forcing some other winger down the lineup would make for solid four lines. Considering the division the Flyers are in, another playoff spot should be theirs, with all the questions the Rangers, Islanders have.
The Flyers are uniquely equipped to take advantage of whatever is ailing the Hawks’ penalty kill at the moment, if it is indeed something structural and not just a run of shit-ass luck. Ghost Bear and Streit are some of the best PP QBs you can find, and Voracek and Giroux have gotten quite rich setting up G for one-timers from the left circle. Staying out of the box would be highly advisable tonight.
For the Hawks, they’ll have to negotiate a couple injuries among the forwards. Ryan Hartman is out, but Jordin Tootoo has recovered from dysentery to take his spot wasting everyone’s time on the fourth line. Rasmussen will be the other winger for Marcus Kruger, who must wonder if Quenneville is angry at him for something he can’t identify. The re-jiggered lines see Motte getting a look with Toews and Mike BossyTocchet. Hinostroza and Schmaltz will try and end Hossa Watch ’16. The defensive pairs look to remain the same, as Campbell and Forsling try and get all the water out of their lungs from Saturday night.
The Flyers are fast but they’re not Predators-fast. They’ll try and play with the Hawks but this is a defense you’d like to think the kids will find more room against. For the first time in recent memory, the Flyers blue line isn’t rife with drooling boulders so the Hawks can find some joy along the walls. Have to be careful, as Ghost Bear, Streit, and Provorov are aching for space and can really do damage when they find it.
With the Jackets and Leafs after this, the Hawks have a chance to build some confidence early in the season after a somewhat rocky start to the season. Crow could probably use it.