The St. Louis Blues travel to Philadelphia tonight for the first time in the post-Ken Hitchcock era to take on the Flyers. The Blues, who are routinely atop the Western Conference standings are struggling this year, which cost former head coach Hitchcock his job recently. The Blues’ goaltending has been atrocious after letting former All-Star goalie Brian Elliot walk in free agency last summer.
As for the Flyers, they’ve had their bouts with goaltending trouble as well this year. It’s been an issue all season long, but it looks to be swinging in Michal Neuvirth’s direction lately. The Flyers will go with Neuvirth for a third straight start tonight after an outstanding performance against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 4, 2017
Tonight’s game starts a five-game road trip for the Blues, who dropped a Saturday tilt to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1, at home. They are outside of the playoff picture in the west while the Flyers are holding down the second wild-card spot in the east and desperately need to get their offense into the gear they were in earlier in the season. In their last two games, the Flyers have a combined shot total of 33, which is not an ideal recipe for winning games.
St. Louis Blues vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Wells Fargo Center – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – NBCSN, CSN-PH, TVA Sports; 97.5 The Fanatic
2016-17 Season Series: 1-0 Blues
St. Louis Blues: 25-22-5 – 55 Points
Road Record: 8-13-1
Hot Players: Alex Steen, Kevin Shattenkirk
Scratches: Magnus Pääjärvi (healthy, recalled Sunday), Robert Bortuzzi (healthy), Robby Fabbri (IR, torn ACL), Kyle Brodziak (IR, foot)
Alexander Steen — Paul Stastny — Vladimir Tarasenko
Kenny Agostino — Jori Lehtera — David Perron
Jaden Schwartz — Patrik Berglund — Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall — Ivan Barbashev — Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester — Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson — Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson — Colton Parayko
Philadelphia Flyers: 26-20-7 – 59 Points
Home Record: 16-7-4
Hot Players: Michal Neuvirth
Scratches: Michael Del Zotto (lower body), Shayne Gostisbehere (healthy), Matt Read (healthy)
Michael Raffl — Claude Giroux — Jakub Voracek
Dale Weise — Brayden Schenn — Wayne Simmonds
Travis Konecny — Sean Couturier — Nick Cousins
Chris VandeVelde — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Roman Lyubimov
Ivan Provorov — Andrew MacDonald
Mark Streit — Nick Schultz
Brandon Manning — Radko Gudas
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Blues are happy the calendar month has turned to February because they had a horrendous January, that ultimately led to Hitchcock’s demise. The Blues will be busy over the next week as they start a set of three games in four nights beginning with the Flyers.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Flyers will welcome back talented rookie Travis Konecny after head coach Dave Hakstol made him a healthy scratch the last two games. However, Calder Trophy runner-up Shayne Gostisbehere will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game as his sophomore campaign in the NHL has not gone as planned for the young blueliner.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Blues forward Kenny Agostino will make his debut tonight after tearing up the AHL this season. He leads the AHL with 42 assists and 60 points and is getting his chance with the Blues after Robby Fabbri sustained a season-ending knee injury in their Saturday game against the Penguins.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Flyers desperately need one of their two quality goaltenders, Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth, to take the reins and run with it. The Flyers are neck and neck with the teams below them in the standings, fighting for the final playoff spot. If the Flyers have any hope of finishing the season in the top eight it will have to be from the consistent play of one of their goaltenders.
Glen Stricker is a Temple University graduate with a degree in Media & Communication. He is the Lead Writer for the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers as well as the social media coordinator and contributor for @PHLFlyersNation