Tonight’s contest is the third of a four-game road trip for the Philadelphia Flyers (9-13-7) as they take on the Colorado Avalanche (14-10-2). The Flyers are coming off Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes and will be looking to earn their first road win since they beat the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 5. The Avalanche are without Nathan MacKinnon, who is expected to be out a few more weeks with an upper-body injury suffered in the last meeting with the Flyers on Dec. 5.
The Flyers emerged victorious in that game, 5-3, and Kevin Hayes and Scott Laughton each finished with two assists. Here’s our gameday preview.
Philadelphia Flyers Projected Lines
James van Riemsdyk – Morgan Frost – Owen Tippett
Hayes – Noah Cates – Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee – Laughton – Zack MacEwen
Nicolas Deslauriers – Lukas Sedlak – Patrick Brown
Ivan Provorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Travis Sanheim – Justin Braun
Nick Seeler – Cam York
Carter Hart – Felix Sandstrom
Flyers Unable to Contain Keller in Overtime Loss to Coyotes
Clayton Keller earned his first career hat trick during the Coyotes’ 5-4 overtime win on Dec. 11 and continues to establish himself as one of the league’s brightest young stars. The Flyers had good offensive performances from van Riemsdyk and Frost, who each had one goal and three assists, but it was not enough to secure a victory.
The combination of van Riemsdyk-Frost-Tippett proved to be the difference-maker for the Flyers’ offense. Head coach John Tortorella commented on Frost following the game: “It’s pretty simple. We’re certainly not trying to turn him into a checker. We need to see more offense out of him. If he can’t bring us offense, I’m not sure where it all goes for him.” Despite the demand for more offense, Frost only has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 28 games this season.
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According to Giana Han of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Konecny credited Frost’s ability following the loss, saying, “He just hasn’t had the bounces. If he plays like that, he’s got a lot of skill – I knew it was just a matter of time.” The team needs more production overall as they rank 30th, averaging 2.41 goals for per game (GF/GP), and would benefit from steady offense from players such as Frost, Farabee, and Tippett.
Colorado Avalanche Projected Lines
Artturi Lehkonen – Mikko Rantanen – Valeri Nichushkin
Andrew Cogliano – JT Compher – Logan O’Connor
Charles Hudon – Ben Meyers – Jean-Luc Foudy
Dryden Hunt – Alex Newhook – Jacob MacDonald
Samuel Girard – Cale Makar
Devon Toews – Erik Johnson
Brad Hunt – Andreas Englund
Alexandar Georgiev – Pavel Francouz
Rantanen Nets Hat Trick for Avalanche in Latest Win
Rantanen continues to lead the Avalanche while they have been missing key players like MacKinnon and Nichushkin. He has five goals in his last five contests, including three against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 11. Nichushkin returned recently after undergoing ankle surgery in November and is critical to the club’s success in a competitive Central Division.
Related: Mikko Rantanen: Avalanche’s Rising Star?
Before their latest win, the Avalanche lost four consecutive games but will try to build on the victory against the Blues to get back on a winning streak. Head coach Jared Bednar commented on their recent victory: “I liked our competitiveness all night. It wasn’t the perfect game from us by any stretch, but I did like the way we competed. The way we stuck with it. I think everyone was emotionally invested in the game.”
Players To Watch
Philadelphia Flyers – Carter Hart
Tortorella has started Hart in 22 of 29 contests, and Hart has not had a rest since the Nov. 26 loss to the New York Islanders. He is tied with Igor Shesterkin and Jordan Binnington for the most games played among goaltenders but has remained solid for the Flyers despite not receiving much support from the offense.
Colorado Avalanche – Mikko Rantanen
Rantanen has been outstanding for the Avalanche and is coming off a hat trick against the Blues. It will be a challenge for the Flyers to limit his offensive chances this evening.
Tonight’s game has a 9 PM ET start time and will be broadcast on NBCSP.
*Flyers lines from @giana_jade on Twitter. Avalanche lines from @Peter_Baugh on Twitter.