Flyers return to Toronto looking to extend winning streak

Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)
Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Flyers finally got over the hump that is the Columbus Blue Jackets and dispatched them 5-3.  Winners of two of their last three games, the Flyers are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since they defeated Ottawa on Nov. 5 and St Louis on Nov. 8. The game they lost previously: the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-2 contest.

In that game, Joel Farabee scored the game-opening goal and Owen Tippett would add a third-period score. However, three third-period scores, including a pair by John Tavares would put the game away for Philly. Will this trip be different?

Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 11-15-7 (29 points, 7th in Metro)

This is a much different team heading to Toronto than the last time. A lot of guys got injured. Some of them came back. The Flyers went on a 10-game losing streak, benched Kevin Hayes, and have tried to find themselves.

If anything, one of the things that is helping this team is the return of James van Riemsdyk. Since returning from a broken finger earlier this season, he has come roaring back. While he missed the trip to Toronto the first time around, he has scored three goals and four assists in his last five games.  He also loves playing against his old team. Since returning to Philly in 2018, he has scored five goals in nine games; including a hat trick in 2019.

Tippett is also on a hot streak as of late. He had two goals in the last game to bring his total to 10 goals; the same as he had all of last season. If he can keep this level of production up, the Flyers’ investment in him is well worth it.  Likewise, Frost, who has struggled to score, has three goals in his last five games as well.

Joel Farabee had an assist against Columbus. That breaks a six-game pointless streak. He also hasn’t scored a goal since people were eating their Thanksgiving leftovers on Nov. 26 against the Islanders. Let’s hope that this shows he is getting ready to come out of his slump.

Carter Hart will get the start as Felix Sandstrom is dealing with an illness. Samuel Ersson has been recalled from the AHL and could possibly make his NHL debut tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Philadelphia Flyers Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk — Morgan Frost — Owen Tippett

Joel Farabee — Noah Cates — Travis Konecny

Kevin Hayes — Scott Laughton — Zack MacEwen

Nicolas Deslauriers — Patrick Brown — Wade Allison

Ivan Provorov — Rasmus Ristolainen

Cam York — Justin Braun

Travis Sanheim — Tony DeAngelo

Carter Hart

Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 20-7-6 (46 points, 2nd in Atlantic)

The Maple Leafs are everybody’s favorite team to “make the leap” every year. And every year, they find new and exciting ways to break the hearts of their fans (sounds familiar don’t it). So far, Toronto has held fast to second place in the Atlantic, staying distantly behind the Boston Bruins who are having a monster season, while keeping ahead of wounded juggernauts Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

Which brings us to an interesting bit of information: How are the Leafs doing it? They are doing it with their defense. Yes, Austin Matthews, Tavares, and others get all the headlines because they have a lot of scoring threats, but this team is second in the NHL in the fewest goals surrendered. That could be a major problem for the Flyers, who are still 29th overall in scoring goals.

Now, when I say their defense, I really mean goaltending. Ilya Samsonov is 9-3 this season with a 1.98 GAA (third-best in the league) and a save percentage of .929 (second-best in the league). Matt Murray is just as good with a 2.34 GAA and a save percentage of .925, good for sixth-best. Samsonov has two shutouts while Murray has one.

Their defense has been battered by injuries lately. Rasmus Sandin left Tuesday’s game against Tampa. Victor Mete has also been placed on injured reserve and will not be active.

Toronto’s victory over the Lightning also stopped a two-game skid. This could be a tough game, but if the Flyers get a good jump early, they could steal a win out of Ontario before heading south for Raleigh and the Hurricanes.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup

Michael Bunting — Auston Matthews — William Nylander

Calle Jarnkrok — John Tavares — Mitchell Marner

Alexander Kerfoot — David Kampf — Pierre Engvall

Zach Aston-Reese — Pontus Holmberg — Joey Anderson

Mark Giordano — Justin Holl

Jordie Benn — Timothy Liljegren

TJ Brodie — Conor Timmins

Ilya Samsonov

Where, When, and How to Watch/Listen

Time: 2 PM

Where: Scotiabank Arena

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN+

Radio: 97.5 FM

Live Stream: fuboTV

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