Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers (20-16-4) will take on the Colorado Avalanche (24-11-4) in Denver. Game time is 9pm eastern and the game will be televised on CSN Philadelphia. This will be the fourth game of the Flyers six-game road trip. The Flyers are 3-0-0 in the first three games of the trip.
The Flyers offense has been on fire lately. They have at least three regulation goals in their last eight games and are receiving offensive contributions from the whole line up. The defense has been getting involved along with the top three forward lines. The Flyers have also created their own luck in shootouts, winning the skills competition in both Edmonton and Vancouver to earn back-to-back shoot out victories. Both Steve Mason and Ray Emery have played well on this road trip. Expect Mason to start tonight. Matt Read and Erik Gustafsson are injured and will not be in the line-up tonight. There is a chance that Read will play against in Phoenix on Saturday.
Unlike the Flyers, the Avalanche started the season on fire. They were 14-2-0 in their first 16 games, but have cooled off since then, going 10-9-4 in their last 23 games. Semyon Varlamov has been one of the top goaltenders in the NHL and rookie Nathan MacKinnon (10G, 14A, 24P – he is only 18 years old) is as good as advertised. Matt Duchene is averaging a point per game, with 16 goals and 20 assists through 36 games. On the injury front, the Avalanche will be without PA Parenteau and Alex Tanguay.
-Read out, Rosehill in: With Matt Read out of the line-up, Craig Berube has stated that Jay Rosehill will play tonight. Look for the top two lines to remain the same (12-28-93 and 19-10-17) and for Steve Downie to move up onto a line with Couturier and Lecavalier (9-14-40). Rosehill will slot into the fourth line with Hall and Rinaldo (37-18-36).
-Mason vs Varlamov: Steve Mason ans Semyon Varlamov will be the starting goaltenders tonight and both of them have played very well this season. They have almost identical save percentages (Mason – .922 Varlamov – .926) and exactly the same goals against averages (2.38). Varlamov is 17-8-4 while Mason is 16-9-4. It is impossible to give either team an advantage in the goaltending department.
-Downie and Talbot: On October 31st the Flyers sent Max Talbot to Colorado in exchange for Steve Downie. Both players figure to be on their respective teams’ third line. Since the trade, Talbot has three goals and six assists in 28 games while Downie has two goals and 10 assists through 23 games. Talbot has fit in well in Colorado and been a valuable penalty killer as he was in Philadelphia. Downie has filled a need for the Flyers as a versatile winger who adds skill and grit to the line-up. Although I would give the nod to Philadelphia in terms of who “won” the trade, each player has filled a need in the organization to which he was went.
As a Flyers fan, I like what Talbot brought to the table and I wish him the best… just not tonight.