Flyers ready to battle Wild in Minnesota to bounce back

Flyers (Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)
Flyers (Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Flyers’ last two games were heartbreakers, to be sure. After putting themselves in a 3-0 hole, they tied up with Winnipeg before falling 5-3. Against the Kings, the Flyers battled but ultimately failed in overtime. On the bright side, they showed that they can stand up to two playoff-bound teams in the West.

Tonight, the Flyers go on a mini-road trip. First up is the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are battling for one spot in the Western Conference playoff standings and will prove to be a daunting foe. The ironic thing is, when you look at these teams, there are a lot of similarities: good goaltending, inconsistent scoring, young core, and questions at the trade deadline. The Wild are, right now, what the Flyers could become.

Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 20-21-8 (48 points, 7th in Metro)

The Flyers have now lost two games in a row for the first time since before Christmas. On the plus side, Philadelphia has shown tremendous resilience in both games. A lucky shot or bounce here or there and this is a totally different game and a better outcome.

In the offseason, the Flyers made just a few moves. One of them was acquiring former Wild enforcer Nic Deslauriers. He’s helped make the Flyers’ fourth line a very intimidating one and has been one of the league leaders in penalty minutes; however, it is almost all fighting. He’s been a fun part of watching this team grow this year.

Kevin Hayes, the lone Flyers All-Star, has been on a hot streak lately. He has four points in his last four games and five goals in his last five. For the Flyers to continue to play well, his streak needs to continue as well. Likewise, James van Riemsdyk could be auditioning for a team that could use his help as well.  JVR had a goal and an assist against LA, but only one other point (a goal) in his last five games.

Flyers Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk — Morgan Frost — Owen Tippett

Joel Farabee — Noah Cates — Travis Konecny

Kevin Hayes — Scott Laughton — Wade Allison

Nicolas Deslauriers — Patrick Brown — Zack MacEwen

Ivan Provorov — Cam York

Travis Sanheim — Tony DeAngelo

Nick Seeler — Rasmus Ristolainen

Carter Hart

Minnesota Wild

Record: 25-17-4 (54 points, 4th in Central)

The Wild are one of the strangest teams to figure out in all of the NHL. There are times when they look like the next big powerhouse. Then there are times that they look like a basement dweller (sound familiar to you?). It is also unclear if the Wild are going load up for a playoff run, cash in their chips, and become sellers, or a little bit of both.

Among these issues is that Matt Dumba, a future free agent has been scratched recently. Is it to protect him from trading partners? Likewise, Marcus Foligno will be out tonight with an illness. He’s scored only nine goals this year after notching 23 last year.

Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello are the major scoring threats for this team, scoring 27 and 18 goals respectively and make for a lethal first line. Joel Eriksson Ek has also added 17 this year. But, much like the Flyers, this is a team that struggles to score consistently. What keeps the Wild in games is their defense. Minnesota is 22nd in goals scored (Flyers are 25th) while they are ninth in goals allowed (Flyers are 20th)

A lot of that is the play of their goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury is 14-10-3 with a GAA of 2.95, a save percentage of .903, and three shutouts. Likewise, backup goaltender Filip Gustavsson is no slouch. He has an 11-7-1 record, a GAA of 2.26, a save percentage of .922 and one shutout. Getting through these brick walls in net is going to be tough. The Flyers will face off against their old adversary in Fleury, who has a 31-19-2 lifetime record against Philly with a goals-against average of 2.87 and a save percentage of .901. Dang…that’s a lot better than I thought it would be.

Wild Projected Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov — Sam Steel — Mats Zuccarello

Brandon Duhaime — Frederick Gaudreau — Matt Boldy

Marcus Foligno — Joel Eriksson Ek — Jordan Greenway

Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba

Jon Merrill — Calen Addison

Marc-Andre Fleury

Where, When, and How to Watch/Listen

Time:  8 PM

Where: Xcel Energy Center

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN+

Radio: 97.5 FM

Live Stream: FuboTV

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