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GDT: Flyers @ Sharks..Opening Night!!!!

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  • GDT: Flyers @ Sharks..Opening Night!!!!

    per Bill
    Preview: Flyers @ San Jose
    October 4, 2017, 5:53 AM ET [271 Comments]
    Bill Meltzer
    Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
    UPDATE 2:45 PM EDT

    Brian Eliott will get the start in goal for the Flyers. Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim appear to be the healthy scratches among the defensemen. Lineups are updated below.


    GAME 1 PREVIEW: FLYERS @ SHARKS

    It has been 178 days since the Philadelphia Flyers concluded their 2016-17 season. Tonight, the puck finally drops on the 2017-18 campaign as Dave Hakstol's Flyers take on Peter DeBoer's San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center. Game time is 10:30 p.m. EDT. The game will be nationally televised on NBCSN.

    This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season, and the lone game in San Jose. The clubs will rematch in Philadelphia on Nov. 28. Last season, the Flyers sustained a 2-0 shutout loss in San Jose (Dec. 30) and then skated to 2-1 overtime home win (Feb. 11).

    The Sharks are a team that habitually gives the Flyers' trouble. Dating back to Feb. 16, 2004, the Flyers have gone just 2-10-5 against San Jose. The Flyers' last road win in San Jose was back on Feb. 3, 2014, in a game where the Flyers entered the third period trailing, 2-1, and then exploded for four unanswered goals to win the game, 5-2.

    Flyers Outlook

    The 2017-18 season marks the second straight year the Flyers have started the regular season with a game in California. This year's opener is the start of back-to-back games for the Flyers and the beginning of a three-in-four gauntlet through the state. Tomorrow night, the Flyers are in Los Angeles (site of last year's opener) and, on Saturday, the team is in Anaheim.

    If the Flyers are to push for a playoff spot this season, posting a significantly improved road record will be a must. Last season, the Flyers compiled a robust 55 points on home ice (25-11-5) but just a meager 33 points (14-22-5) on the road.

    This was not a one-season aberration. Over the last four seasons, the Flyers enjoy the NHL's 7th best home record but rank 24th on the road. Dating back to the 2013-14 season, the Flyers have only claimed a cumulative 149 point in away games. Not coincidentally, the Flyers missed the playoffs in two of the four seasons.

    The Flyers will enter the 2017-18 season with five rookies on the opening night roster: center Nolan Patrick, left winger Taylor Leier and defensemen Robert Hägg, Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim. All have changed from their training camp uniform numbers to new numbers. Patrick has switched from No. 64 to No. 19 (his junior hockey number with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings). Morin has switched from No. 50 to No. 5, while Sanheim has gone from No. 57 to No. 6, Hägg now wears No. 8 instead of No. 48, and Leier has swapped No. 58 for No. 20.

    Patrick, the second overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, will make his regular season NHL debut on opening night. So will Sanheim if he is in the Flyers' lineup against the Sharks. Leier has played in 16 games over the last two seasons, including 10 games last season. Morin and Hägg each made their respective NHL debuts in the final week of last season.

    While the Flyers' opening night forward line appears set, it is much less predictable to forecast how the opening-night defense combinations will be arranged. The holdover pair of 20-year-old reigning Barry Ashbee Trophy winner Ivan Provorov and serially maligned veteran Andrew MacDonald will likely remain intact for opening night. The rest will become clearer after the Flyers' morning skate.

    Third-year offensive defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere suffered an upper-body injury in the third period of Sunday's exhibition finale against the New York Islanders. As a precaution, the Flyers took along eight defensemen for the season-opening road trip and waived veteran forward Matt Read (who cleared waivers on Tuesday and was assigned to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms).

    However, Gostisbehere participated fully in Tuesday's practice and declared himself ready to go for opening night. Whether he plays or not against the Sharks and how the pairings are arranged should become clearer on Wednesday based on the morning skate combinations and which two defensemen (the scratches) take extra skating after the starters leave the ice.

    Twenty-two-year-old rookie defenseman Hägg, now in his fourth North American pro campaign after three full AHL seasons with the Phantoms, appears to be the least likely of the Flyers three rookie defensemen to be a scratch on opening night. He played in Sunday's "dress rehearsal" game against the Islanders and was informed that he'd made the NHL roster outright.

    In the meantime, neither the 21-year-old Sanheim nor the 22-year-old Morin were in Sunday's lineup. It seemed as if one or the other was going to be the final preseason roster cut before Gostisbehere went down late in Sunday's game. For whatever it is worth, it was the more offensive-minded Sanheim who practiced in Gostisbehere's spot at Tuesday's practice on a pairing with hard-nosed veteran Radko Gudas. Hägg, who played with Gostisbehere for much of Sunday's game, was paired with veteran Brandon Manning at Tuesday's practice.

    Since last season, there have been a variety of other changes to the Flyers' look.

    Steve Mason was not re-signed as an unrestricted free agent, as general manager Ron Hextall opted instead to sign veteran Brian Elliott to a two-year contract. Elliott will share playing time with Michal Neuvirth, who was inked to a two-year extension last season ahead of his own potential unrestricted free agency.

    The Flyers traded Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues during the 2017 NHL Draft weekend, obtaining two first-round picks (Morgan Frost in 2017, and a conditional 2018 or 2019 first-rounder) plus veteran Finnish forward Jori Lehterä. It appears that Lehterä will be a healthy scratch on opening night.

    Perhaps the most notable development during training camp this year, apart from the many rookies battling for roster spots, was the adoption of a new top line combination. After seven years of almost exclusively playing center, Claude Giroux was moved to left wing. Typically a shutdown center as his primary role, Sean Couturier now centers Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

    After last season, the Flyers dismissed longtime forwards and power play coach Joe Mullen in favor of 39-year-old Kris Knoblauch (late of the 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League champion and Memorial Cup runner-up Erie Otters). Knoblauch has begun to implement a few tweaks to the system employed by Mullen, including having four forwards on the second unit as well as the first. Knoblauch also hopes to see more player movement within the offensive zone and somewhat different methods of offensive zone entries.

    As of now, it looks as if veteran Finnish forward, Valtteri Filppula, will remain in the first power play unit spot (left hash marks to mid-center slot) previously occupied by Schenn. Although Filppula is much more of a pass-first player than a frequent shooter, Hakstol and Knoblauch have said they believe the veteran Finn can adapt to shooting more often. He was placed on the top unit, according to Hakstol, to aid in clean offensive zone entries and puck retrievals within the attack zone.

    During the preseason, the team's new second power play unit -- Couturier, Patrick, Jordan Weal, Travis Konecny, and Ivan Provorov -- often generated greater pressure than the first unit. That, along with the play of the new fourth line combination of Leier, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, was among the bright spots in a 32-3 exhibition season showing for Philly.

    On Tuesday, the Flyers voted on a new alternate captain, to go along with captain Giroux and holdover alternate Wayne Simmonds. The players decided that MacDonald, the senior-most defenseman on the roster, would wear the second A for all road games while Filppula, a Stanley Cup winner during his Detroit Red Wings days, would sport the A at home.


    Key team stat comparisons (2016-17 NHL overall ranking)

    Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.59 (T-20th), Sharks 2.67 (19th)
    Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 2.82 (T-19th), Sharks 2.44 (5th)
    5-on-5 Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 128/154, Sharks 152/135
    Power play efficiency: Flyers 19.5% (14th), Sharks 16.7% (25th)
    Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 79.8% (T-20th), Sharks 80.7% (T-17th)
    Shots per game: Flyers 31.5 (5th), Sharks 29.9 (T-19th)
    Shots against per game: Flyers 28.5 (7th), Sharks 27.7 (3rd)
    Faceoff percentage: Flyers 52.3% (5th), Sharks 48.1% (23rd)


    PROJECTED LINEUPS (Subject to change, will be updated)

    Flyers (Tuesday practice lines)

    28 Claude Giroux - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
    40 Jordan Weal - 19 Nolan Patrick - 17 Wayne Simmonds
    22 Dale Weise - 51 Valtteri Filppula - 11 Travis Konecny
    20 Taylor Leier - 21 Scott Laughton - 12 Michael Raffl

    9 Ivan Provorov - 47 Andrew MacDonald
    23 Brandon Manning - 3 Radko Gudas
    53 Shayne Gostisbehere - 8 Robert Hägg

    37 Brian Elliott
    [30 Michal Neuvirth]

    Scratches: Jori Lehterä (healthy), Travis Sanheim (healthy), Sam Morin (healthy), Anthony Stolarz (SOIR).


    Sharks

    62 Kevin Labanc - 19 Joe Thornton - 8 Joe Pavelski
    27 Joonas Donskoi - 39 Logan Couture - 89 Mikkel Boedker
    28 Timo Meier - 48 Tomas Hertl - 36 Jannik Hansen
    68 Melker Karlsson- 50 Chris Tierny - 42 Joel Ward

    7 Paul Martin - 88 Brent Burns
    44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic - 61 Justin Braun
    4 Brenden Dillon - 74 Dylan DeMelo

    31 Martin Jones
    [30 Aaron Dell]


  • #2
    Well so far that's Meltzer and Issacs who are saying both rookies are scratches. Mind boggling.
    .

    Comment


    • #3
      Stupid West Coast games.

      Comment


      • #4
        not a fan of the scratches..reminds me too much of the Phillies being too loyal to the older guys..but...game tomorrow...gotta figure/hope/expect Sanheim and Morin go tomorrow in LA

        Comment


        • #5
          I HATE seeing both rookies scratched. Manning should NOT be in our top 6...he's a #7. I don't like MacDonald much either, but at least I can understand him being seen as a regular (for now). Not to mention, Manning and MacDonald both struggled in the preseason while Morin played consistently solid hockey and Sanheim, after a rough start, played as well as any blueliner outside of Provorov over the last few games.

          I'll also go on record as saying Couturier as a first line center won't work. I am actually a supporter of the guy and don't want him traded, but he is at his absolute best when playing the third line role and is a good PK guy plus has looked pretty good on the second power play unit playing the point. But he struggles every time they throw him into a scoring role 5 on 5. Let him do his thing! No need to push Giroux to the wing considering he's an excellent face off guy and a creative player in the middle. He looks like he has his jump back (based on preseason) too.
          Mike Barr, Founder

          Comment


          • #6
            couts was the top ES goal scorer on the team last year, second in points 5v5 after jake. I dont at all agree that he's struggled 5v5 at all. He's struggled on the PP. If he put up normal PP numbers instead of worst-in-the-league numbers we'd all be saying 'couts has finally broken through!'

            Now he's no beast 5v5 either, but the rest of our team has had even more trouble at 5v5.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by clumsysnake View Post
              couts was the top ES goal scorer on the team last year, second in points 5v5 after jake. I dont at all agree that he's struggled 5v5 at all. He's struggled on the PP. If he put up normal PP numbers instead of worst-in-the-league numbers we'd all be saying 'couts has finally broken through!'

              Now he's no beast 5v5 either, but the rest of our team has had even more trouble at 5v5.
              He had 14 EVGs last season, that puts him at 109th in the league...the rest of the team not doing better doesn't mean he was good.

              Simmonds had 13 EVGs and 16 PPGs
              Schenn had 8 EVGs and 17 PPGs

              ...and "struggled' is polite, Couturier had 0 PPGs last year...while averaging 1:49 a game on the PP

              I'm not hating on Couturier....but he's not a top 6 offensive talent....even if guys like Jake and giroux are underachieving



              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mike Barr View Post
                I HATE seeing both rookies scratched. Manning should NOT be in our top 6...he's a #7. I don't like MacDonald much either, but at least I can understand him being seen as a regular (for now). Not to mention, Manning and MacDonald both struggled in the preseason while Morin played consistently solid hockey and Sanheim, after a rough start, played as well as any blueliner outside of Provorov over the last few games.

                I'll also go on record as saying Couturier as a first line center won't work. I am actually a supporter of the guy and don't want him traded, but he is at his absolute best when playing the third line role and is a good PK guy plus has looked pretty good on the second power play unit playing the point. But he struggles every time they throw him into a scoring role 5 on 5. Let him do his thing! No need to push Giroux to the wing considering he's an excellent face off guy and a creative player in the middle. He looks like he has his jump back (based on preseason) too.
                Back to back games, I am sure Morin and or Sanheim gets in then.

                Agree, Couturier is at his best #3 center, I couldn't care less how much he makes playing there either. The Flyers play great when he is #3 C.

                If I am not mistaken, Hakstol said Giroux will be taking faceoffs key ones at least, he just shifts over when he can. Hakstol or Hextall talked about it on CSN (If i remember correctly), so I think that is what we will see Giroux doing more of 5 on 5 during the season.
                Philadelphia Flyers #1
                Winnipeg Jets a very distant #2
                The rest of the 28 teams can KMA!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Looks like the Pens jerk off session made the game start late and we'll miss a lot of the 1st.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wtf?
                    As if I needed another reason to hare the penguins.

                    Comment

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