In the second game of a six game road trip, the Philadelphia Flyers (12-12-2) travel to the Xcel Energy Center tonight to take on the Minnesota Wild (15-8-5). This is the first of two meetings between these two teams who will meet again at the Wells Fargo Center on December 23rd. Game time is 8:00pm eastern time and it will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
Both the Flyers and the Wild are coming off of back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. The Wild had a much harder trip than the Flyers did, having to play a home and home series with the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild lost their Friday contest 3-1 and lost in a shootout Saturday night 3-2. The Flyers played the Winnipeg Jets on Friday morning and came away with a 2-1 win. Then on Saturday night they came away with a shootout victory over the Nashville Predators, 3-2.
Although both teams are expected to be tired, energy management will be much more crucial for Philadlephia. The Flyers took 12 minor penalties in their two games this weekend, causing many players to log hard minutes. Over the weekend, players like Kimmo Timonen logged big minutes (53:35 combined) while players like Zac Rinaldo (12:34 combined) logged virtually nothing. The Flyers will need to be able to roll all four lines against a good Wild team if they want to be able to stay fresh for 60 minutes.
Things to look for:
-Vincent Lecavalier will miss tonight’s game due to back spasms. Per Flyers insider Anthony SanFilippo, Brayden Schenn will center the second line with Michael Raffl moving to the left wing. This move highlights the chemistry and value of the Read-Couturier-Downie line. Instead of moving Read or Downie up, Berube is choosing to move up Raffl. Expect Jay Rosehill to come back into the line-up on the fourth line.
-This game is one of the few so far this season in which the Flyers opponent has a clear goaltending advantage. Josh Harding, who is 13-4-3 on the season, is expected to start for the Wild and is one of the NHL leaders in both SV% (.936) and GAA (1.52). Harding started both of the games this weekend against the Avalanche so he could be tired. The Flyers will start Ray Emery after having Mason start both games this weekend. Emery is 3-4 on the season with a .910 SV% and a 2.60 GAA.
-Sean Couturier is sporting a two game goal streak and has six points in his last seven games. He has also been a beast on the penalty kill lately. Look for Couturier to draw big minutes again tonight, especially with Lecavalier out of the line-up and the Flyers penchant for penalties. Tonight is Couturier’s first trip to the Xcel Energy Center since draft day in 2011 when the Flyers took him 8th overall.