The Flyers 7-3 victory over the Capitals on February 7th was quickly overshadowed by several players getting hit with Covid protocols, sidelining Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, and Justin Braun.
Welp! Nowhere to hide – the Flyers face-off against the Rangers Thursday night with a roster that resembles a pre-season game.
Here are three storylines to watch for:
1. The Covid-Kids get their shots
We know who isn’t going to play, so who gets the call-up to fill out the forward depth? Based on Wednesday’s practice there will be a youth
movement forced march:
- David Kase
- Connor Bunnaman
- Andy Andreoff
- Sam Morin
- Maksim Sushko
Ideal? Absolutely not, but what an opportunity for these guys and a look into some of the future players in the Flyers franchise.
Bunnaman has played well in some limited games this year and Morin has a game in his new wing position – so we have an “idea” of how they can handle themselves. Andy Andreoff is the most intriguing player who is getting the call from the Taxi-squad and will be centering the 4th line with Morin and Sushko based on Wednesday’s practice line-combos.
David Kase and Maksim Sushko, hold on for 8 seconds boys. This is the NHL debut for both of them so there will be jitters, but hopefully simple games and lots of energy in their memorable night.
2. Hey, at least it is against the Rangers…
As bad as the Flyers COVID situation is, the Rangers are a nuclear dumpster-fire wrapped in a Pauly Shore movie with a 3-5-2 record. On Tuesday they had an impressive third-period collapse to the Devils with a 5-3 loss.
What’s taking a bite out of the Big Apple this season?
- Reports of locker-room brawls with high-priced-turned-waived defensemen Tony DeAngelo (NY Times)
- The loss of Jacob Trouba for the next 4-6 weeks (NY Post)
- Mika Zibanejad having a total of three-points and a minus-five rating this season (NHL.com)
- Rumblings of head coach David Quinn being the right man for the job (NY Post)
Winning the offseason is not translating to winning…
However, the Rangers do have Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin is expected to return after missing two games, and Zibanejad is a dirty-dirty Sweed who can get hot very quickly.
HE HAS A MAN-BUN – you cannot rock man-bun in the NHL and not score goals.
Additionally, the Rangers have to be raging after Tuesday night’s B&T-Series loss and are looking at the Flyers roster as a wounded fawn trying to cross 95. HOWEVER, if the Flyers get a lead coming out of the first the young players will gain some confidence and rhythm while the Rangers fragility could cause them to fold under the frustration that has mounted this season.
3. Survive and Advance
The Flyers can win this but it’s not going to be pretty gang. Let’s just face it…
Sean Couturier went from ease into this game on the 4th line to shut down Panarin in one game; hardly a ramp-up time. Kevin Hayes, JVR, Farabee, and Nolan are all top six-ish players who will get a bulk of the playing time against the Rangers – all will be playing with new line-mates.
You know what’s looking good right now? DEFENSE & GOALIES
The Flyers positives – a tested defense and steadfast goaltending. Often in this early season there has been glaring issues with breakouts, untimely soft goals, horrifically timed and unnecessary penalties, but the Flyers defensive crew and goalies need to be the anchor of the team against the Rangers – and they can be.
Like playing harder for a backup goaltender, the Flyers backline players are hopefully aware of the pressure that will be put on the young forwards and need to do everything they can, between breakouts, controlled gaps, sticks in lanes, & timely offense, to give the squad a fighting chance to survive & advance.
Those are 3 Storylines going into Flyers v. Rangers – 7p Thursday Night
Photo Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire