Fresh off a five-day break, the Philadelphia Flyers will be back against the top Western team in the league, the Vancouver Canucks.
The Flyers got the better of the Canucks when they first met back on Oct. 17. Carter Hart stopped all 26 shots he faced in the 2-0 shutout. Sean Couturier scored his first goal in 22 months, while Egor Zamula registered his first NHL goal.
Three months into the season, the Flyers are in the thick of the playoff race. And thinking about the playoffs is not out of the question. The Metropolitan is one of the most competitive divisions in the league. 13 points separate the seventh-place Penguins from the first-place Rangers. Things are even closer when you look at second through sixth place. Three points separate those teams.
The Flyers sit in third place in the division, though a win against Vancouver would move them into second. Catching the Rangers is likely out of the question, barring another hot streak and a New York downfall. However, being even close enough for that to happen is a win. There are a lot of factors that go into Philadelphia's success this season.
Having Sean Couturier back and close to his Selke-winning form has helped this team. Missing almost two years of hockey, Couturier is someone the Flyers can lean on with his experience. And it doesn't hurt that he's finding his offensive touch again. With seven points in his last four games against the Canucks, he could be someone to watch in this game.
Travis Konecny continuing his MVP form has also helped lead Philadelphia. Newcomer Ryan Poehling has been playing well as of late and seems to be making a case to stay with the team long-term. Another reason for the recent success has been the goaltending from Sam Ersson. Taking over while Carter Hart has been dealing with health issues, Ersson has pushed aside the doubters from his early season struggles. He has been practically lights out in December.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Owen Tippett - Sean Couturier - Travis Konency
Tyson Foerster - Morgan Frost - Cam Atkinson
Joel Farabee - Ryan Poehling - Bobby Brink
Nicolas Deslauriers - Scott Laughton - Garnet Hathaway
Cam York - Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler - Sean Walker
Egor Zamula - Rasmus Ristolainen
If you want to talk about one of the biggest surprises this season, the Canucks have to be part of the conversation. Vancouver sits atop the West and is tied with the Rangers for the most points in the league. New York holds the number one spot due to fewer games played and a higher points percentage. But the Canucks have shocked a lot of people.
J.T. Miller finds himself in the thick of the Art Ross Trophy race. He leads the Canucks with 48 points and is second on the team with 15 goals. After prior talk about his fit in Vancouver, he has pushed that all aside and has been one of the team's leaders. He is on pace to set a new career high in goals at his current pace. And speaking of career highs, Brock Boeser is just six goals away from a new high in goals. He has been on fire for the Canucks with 24 goals and 38 points in 35 games. He is four off of the league-lead in goals.
Star defenseman Quinn Hughes has been working on shooting the puck more, and it's paying off. He has already set a new high with 10 goals this season, while his 44 points are over halfway to the 76 points he posted a season ago. He has been hovering around the top point-getters in the league as he sits tied for seventh with Connor McDavid and Mikko Rantanen. That is some strong company for a defensemen to be in.
Canucks Projected Lineup
Ilya Mikheyev - Elias Pettersson - Andrei Kuzmenko
Nils Höglander - J.T. Miller - Brock Boeser
Dakota Joshua - Teddy Blueger - Conor Garland
Nils Åman - Pius Suter - Sam Lafferty
Quinn Hughes - Filip Hronek
Nikita Zadorov - Tyler Myers
Ian Cole - Noah Juulsen
When, Where, and How to Watch/Listen
Time: 10:00 PM
Where: Rogers Arena
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Live Stream: FuboTV
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