Date: Tuesday December 17th, 2019
Time: 4:00 PM Pacific
Location: Wells Fargo Center
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Broad Street Hockey
Past Ducks and Flyers matchups have featured two very similarly built rosters: big bruisers led by relatively underrated captains providing much of the scoring touch. The nickname Broad Street Bullies has stuck around years after it was first used for a reason.
But times have changed. While Claude Giroux and Ryan Getzlaf are still one of the primary offensive contributors to their respective teams, the days of the orange heavyweights have given way to more skilled players who rely more on getting pucks to the net rather than pile driving each other into the ground.
These two teams are apparently mirror images from last season: even with Travis Konecny returning to the lineup after suffering a concussion on December 7th, the Flyers forward corps are depleted. Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick remain out of the lineup, and the awful news of Oskar Lindblom’s diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma (a type of bone marrow cancer) have left Philadelphia looking for ways to press onward.
The Ducks will need to limit the chances of one of the best lines in the NHL. The Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny line has the ability to score almost at will, with Couturier being arguably one of the top three play driving centers in the NHL. New head coach Alain Vigneault will not hesitate to give them the tough assignments and cause havoc if the Flyers need a quick goal. Expect Dallas Eakins to get the Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson pairing on the ice against them as much as possible.
The depleted Flyers forward corps provides an opportunity for the offensively-challenged Ducks. Anaheim has been on an upward trend over their last five games, routinely taking the majority of the shot attempt share as well as expected goals share. That hasn’t translated to a lot of offense, but it has kept the Ducks in games and has given them the opportunity to win most nights.
The Ducks defense will have a slightly different look tonight with the puzzling move of sending Josh Mahura, who had been performing well, back to San Diego while recalling the previously struggling Jacob Larsson. The reasons for this move are unclear at the moment, but it’s very likely Ducks brass is trying to take one last look into assessing whether or not the young Swede can recover his first round pick reputation. Or showcasing him to eastern scouts in a potential trade.
Keys To The Game
Take advantage of the Flyers replacements: The Flyers are missing several forwards, most notably their co-leader in goals, Oskar Lindblom who is out for the season. While they still have their most dangerous line in tact, their depth will be tested against a Ducks team that has been trending upwards in shot metrics. Yes, it was the rebuilding Rangers, but the Ducks had several moments last Saturday where they dominated possession and scoring chances. Now is the time to carry that momentum forward.
Side note: Ondrej Kase will get to face his brother, David for the first time in the NHL. It should be a fun sibling rivalry on the ice.
Shut down the Couturier line: That line is terrifying for almost every team in the NHL. But the Flyers don’t have a whole lot of scoring power outside of them. Eakins will undoubtedly try to get Lindholm and Mason out against that line to provide shut down services. If they are successful, the Ducks stand a very good chance to get plenty of looks on Flyers goaltender Carter Hart.
Vote for Lindblom for All Star Game captain: He deserves it. Show your support. The game has no effect on the standings, so there’s nothing to lose. Let’s all show our support for the young Swede in his fight against Ewing’s sarcoma.