For the next few days, the Philadelphia Flyers will go through their toughest stretch of the season.
Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, they will face the Chicago Blackhawks for the second and final time during the regular season. The last time the two teams faced one another, the ‘Hakws dismantled the Flyers, scoring seven goals en route to a 7-2 win.
With the Flyers clutching onto the second spot in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points, Tuesday night’s game could help the Flyers’ confidence heading into a stretch where they will play the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings.
Ray Emery (7-9-1, 3.02 GAA, .899 sv%) will make his first start since Feb. 27 after being sidelined with a lower-body injury. He will be opposed by Antti Raanta (12-3-3, 2.44 GAA, .904 sv%) who is making his first start since Mar. 12.
While the Blackhawks are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League, and the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Flyers are coming off two huge wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have a respectable record at home, 17-5-1, since Nov. 9 and are 7-2-1 in their last ten games.
The Blackhawks are coming off a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings, but they lost some forward depth going into Tuesday night’s game. Brandon Saad, who has 19 goals and 44 points, will not play because of an upper-body injury. Marian Hossa, however, returned Sunday night and should help pick up whatever is lacking from Saad.
They have gone 4-3 since the Olympic Break and have lost three of their last four road games. In their last ten games, they are an even 5-5.
For the Flyers to win Tuesday night, they will need to employ the same shutdown defense they had during the weekend series against Pittsburgh. While the Blackhawks have a multitude of offensive weapons, playing a tight defensive game will even the level of play.