- Let us never speak about the Flyers Tahoe 2021 game again.
- Enough with multi-day stoppage of play.
- Enough with a four-day road trip for one game.
- Enough with the players on the Covid protocol list.
- Enough with the Bruins (for now…).
- Enough with the excuses.
Time to dig into the 2021 season which is now 25% complete, yet feels like it hasn’t really gotten started, starting with the Flyers/Rangers matchup on Wednesday night.
Here are three Rematch Storylines:
1. In Soviet Russia, Newspaper Crumbles YOU!
Cheeky sub-head aside, Rangers star forward and shootout ulcer-inducer Artemi Panarin (5G,13A), is the subject of an apparent political hit-job from a Russian tabloid this week.
Frightening if true, freighting if false.
Either way, Panarin is out for the Rangers on Wednesday night which leaves a grim blemish on a Rangers team that “started” to get some offensive flow after a 4-1 win over the Capitals on Saturday night.
Adding injury to insult, 2019 number two overall pick Kappo Kakko (2G, 1A) has been placed on the COVID protocol list, creating a line-juggle situation for the Rangers.
The still-undermanned Flyers will take any matchup advantage they can to get back into the win dojo, and this unfortunate situation for both Rangers players certainly tips in the Flyers favor on the ice.
2. Forward Lines of Forwards
How deep into the bench did the Flyers have to go in Tahoe? Two heritage defensemen, Sam Morin and Mark Friedman, were playing wing against the top team in the division.
While the Flyers roster still has a firm grasp on NHL’s COVID list, all signs point to captain Claude Giroux (1G, 10A) making a jubilant return to help balance out the forward lines with… forwards.
The addition of Giroux should provide an emotional boost for the team, some playmaking on a struggling power play, and overall improvement on five-on-five scoring opportunities.
Under the radar, Carsen Twarynski (remember him!) will make his season debut after being “inactive” at practices last week. Twarynski had a strong start to the 2019/20 season before being sent down but provides a hard-nosed grinder on the 4th line to further even the bench.
Players playing their right position.
3. Paging Nolan
I feel pretty awful shaming Nolan Patrick (2G, 3A) given the migraine issues that caused him to miss the entire 2019/20 season, but it’s time to get in gear.
The plan for Patrick was to take the 3C spot to gain favorable matchups. We are still waiting for that strategy to work out. Patrick had an opportunity to step into a larger role given the depleted forward depth, but it simply didn’t happen.
In an effort to light the fire, coach Alain Vigneault is re-tooling his lines and had Patrick on the wing with Kevin Hayes and Giroux. AV admitted he wasn’t sure how long the experiment would last but “we need Nolan to play better than he has so far.” Pairing Nolan with two veterans who play the right way, are in position, and could help Nolan find some fire in his game.
That second line combo will be an interesting one to watch tomorrow night with a keen eye on #19.
ENOUGH for 3 Storylines – Flyers/Rangers Rematch: Wednesday @7p NBCSN
Photo Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire