Welcome to the Pod Street Preview! Since the loss to the Boston Bruins at Lake Tahoe, the Flyers turned their game around and are now on a three game winning streak after beating the New York Rangers and sweeping the Buffalo Sabres in back-to-back games. Adding in the reinforcements that came off the COVID-19 list helped this team propel their game to the next level. It’s as if the two week rest for some of these players made an impact as they watched their team play games without them.
The month of March is a busy one for the Flyers, as they play 17 games in 31 days. If there was a time to separate themselves from the bottom feeders, this would be the month to make it happen. Currently, 11 of those 17 games are against teams that are in the bottom half of the East Division.
The Broad Street Bullies will familiarize themselves with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres. They play at least three games against each of those teams with the exception being the Rangers, in which they play them four times. The Flyers start their month off against inter-state rival Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Remaining on the Road
The Flyers finished off their back-to-back series with the Buffalo Sabres and immediately traveled to Pittsburgh in preparation for this week’s three-game series against the Penguins. This will be the first time the Flyers have seen the Penguins since the season opening games in Philadelphia. Currently the two teams are separated by two points in the standings, which makes the three games just as important as the first two.
Star defenseman for the Penguins Kris Letang is beginning to heat up as he has collected seven points in four games over a week’s time. With Letang finding his groove, this makes the Penguins offense and defense scary to go up against as #58 is important to both sides of the puck for Pittsburgh.
Speaking of point streaks, have you seen Sean Couturier out there on the ice? He’s been nothing short of incredible since coming back from his Costochondral injury that was sustained against this very same Penguins team. Scoring in his first six games, he has posted five goals and five assists for a total of ten points. Expect Alain Vigneault to deploy his shutdown center to stall the likes of Malkin and Crosby in their upcoming series.
We are all familiar with the rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in recent years and playing three games in a row will be a real treat for Flyers fans to watch. Philadelphia is finally finding their swagger that possessed them last March before the COVID-19 shutdown. They are playing dominant hockey on both sides of the puck and both goalies are coming off of shutout highs.
“Cap”-ping the Week Back at Home
After their three game series with the Penguins, the Flyers will find themselves on the backend of a back-to-back set against the Capitals. This will be the second matchup between the Capitals and Flyers since Philadelphia was put on pause due to COVID-19. The first and only matchup between these teams was filled with highlight reel goals as the stars for both teams shined.
The Flyers will continue to have their hands full as they will try to shut down the Capitals power line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Wilson, as they combined for 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists). This was Couturier’s first game back from injury as he had played limited minutes. We should see Couturier and his linemates playing heavy minutes against the Capitals first line in limiting their point production.
Since their meeting, the Capitals have gone on a 6-2-1 run, securing them a second place spot in the East Division sitting just a point ahead of the Flyers. They have been hot and they show no signs of slowing down as they swept the New Jersey Devils this past weekend. The Capitals will have to go through the Boston Bruins twice this week before meeting with the Flyers. Hopefully the B’s can beat them up a little bit ahead of Sunday’s game.
The Bruins and Capitals are currently tied with 26 points with the Flyers trailing behind them with a single point. This week’s matchups can significantly have an impact on the East Division’s top four spots with how tight these standings are. By week’s end, there could be a new name in that top spot.
With the Flyers recent play, expect this week’s slate of games to be exciting. A three game series with the Penguins, rounding off with a Capitals game, we should expect to see lots of highlight reel goals. The Flyers are anticipating Travis Konency to come off of the COVID-19 list which will add more firepower to an already well-oiled machine.
With just how good the Flyers have been playing with their new look lines from the “Covid Line” and the “Center Line”, it will be interesting to see where Vigneault slots TK in the lineup. With a big week and month coming, AV is going to need TK to step up and start producing with how busy their schedule is, as he has only produced five goals and three assists in twelve games.
The three game series against the Penguins will have a playoff-like atmosphere and will likely test the physicality of the Flyers as the series goes on. Hopefully by the time they meet the Capitals, they aren’t too beat up by the physical play that the Penguins can bring when it comes down to the Battle of Pennsylvania. Predictions for this week’s slate of games is 2-1-1, anticipating the Penguins and Capitals playing with a “never say die” mentality.
That’s all for the Pod Street Preview this week. Be sure to check back this time next week for another round of the Pod Street Preview, looking ahead to the games of the week.
Photo Credit – Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire