You better get used to this. The Metropolitan Division teams are all clustered at the top and separated by just four points from the current first-place Carolina Hurricanes (13 points) to the seventh-place Pittsburgh Penguins (9 points). I’ve said time and time again that this is the most competitive and toughest division in hockey and this is proof. I don’t care if we’re 9 or 10 games into the season, depending on the team. Every game against a division rival matters, and this one is a big one.
On Tuesday night, the Flyers will make that trip up I-95 to start a three-game road trip this week. After taking on the New York Rangers, they will travel to Ontario to play the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.
Record: 5-2-1 (11 points, 4th in Metro)
The Flyers are 1-0-1 in division play so far this year, picking up an OT loss Saturday night against the Hurricanes. The Flyers rallied from a 2-0 deficit and held a brief lead before a late goal in regulation and a late goal in overtime. Still, a point is a point and the Flyers will have to go for as many points as they can this season if they want to remain relevant and competitive.
Speaking of scoring, the Flyers need to start scoring. I know under John Tortorella that this is a defense first team (third best in the NHL in goals allowed). It’s working pretty well so far. Is it sustainable? We’ll see. But adding some scoring pop to the top line would be a big help.
Unfortunately, injuries to the front line keep happening and that’s where the Flyers’ scorers are. However, Joel Farabee, who was expected to miss part of the season after neck surgery, has been playing and playing well. He was on a streak, scoring his goals with blows. The Flyers need him to get going again.
A wonderful surprise lately has been the appearance of the fourth line. In the Carolina game, Lukas Sedlak, a recent waiver wire addition, had two assists. Let’s face it, a fourth line is supposed to frustrate the other team. Anything else is a bonus. In Saturday’s game against the Canes, the quarterbacks were responsible for two of the three goals scored, the other being a power play goal.
Carter Hart continues to play hot. As long as he does, this team might have a chance.
Joel Farabee – Kevin Hayes – Travis Konecny
Noah Cates – Scott Laughton – Owen Tippett
Kieffer Bellows – Morgan Frost – Zack MacEwen
Nicolas Deslauriers – Lukas Sedlak – Wade Allison
Ivan Provorov – Tony DeAngelo
Travis Sanheim – Rasmus Ristolainen
Nick Seeler – Justin Braun
New York Rangers
Record: 5-3-2 (12 points, 3rd in Metro)
The Blueshirts were supposed to challenge the Hurricanes for the division lead like they did last year. And while they’re part of the group of teams near the top of the division, they’ve shown they’re still a force to be reckoned with.
They are ninth in the NHL in goals scored; the Flyers, by the way, are 26. However, they are 20 in goals against. If the Flyers can take advantage of the mistakes made by the Rangers, they could escape with a few goals and two points.
Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin lead the way for New York. Panarin has a team that leads by 16 points with five goals. Zibanejad leads the Rangers with six goals to go with his 12 points.
Their big offseason acquisition, Vincent Trocheck, a player I thought the Flyers should have taken, has also been producing. He has nine points with four goals scored.
The Rangers have really been on the hook this year. They won their first two games of the year before losing five of their next six games. They finished a trip out west with wins over the Stars and Coyotes. New York is 0-2 in divisional play, losing to the Islanders and Blue Jackets.
When Igor Shesterkin is in net, the Rangers are 5-0. He has a 2.55 goals against average to go with a .913 save percentage. When Jaroslav Halak is between the pipes, they are 0-3 with a 3.69 GAA and a .867 save percentage.
Getting goals scored quickly will help against Rangers. They have a team that can score often. The biggest challenge will be keeping Zibanejad off the scoreboard. He’s a Flyers killer, scoring 15 goals and racking up 14 assists against the Orange and Black.
Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Kappo Kakko
Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trocheck – Alexis Lafreniere
Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Julien Gauthier
Sammy Blais – Ryan Carpenter – Ryan Reaves
Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
Zac Jones – Braden Schneider
Where, when and how to watch/listen
Time: 7 PM
Where: Madison Square Garden
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 FM
Live stream: Fubo TV
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