Man, I was so excited for Flyers hockey to come back. How I’m able to make it in the offseason, I’m not sure, because these last two weeks or so without the Flyers have been brutal. Well, the Flyers are back tonight against the Rangers. While that sounds great and all, to say they aren’t putting their best lineup out there would be an understatement. Let’s take a look at what the lines are going to look like tonight.
I don’t know about you, but I take a look at this lineup and prepare myself for a slow game in which the Flyers get worked. Trust me when I say I want to be wrong, because I really do. That being said, Raffl and NAK on the second line screams “our actual second line has COVID” and it does so very loudly.
I would make some kind of comment on Morin and Maxim Sushko playing a combined 1 NHL game at the forward position, or the fact that NoPat has to carry Bunnaman and Kase…but you just have to look at it. At least the defensive corps is somewhat unaffected, because you all know how I feel about the Flyers’ depth at defense. For those of you who are new here, I think it’s non existent. I’m hopeful that Hagg and Gustafsson on the third pairing don’t have terrible matchups tonight. Given that the Flyers are the home team tonight and have last change, AV is going to have to make sure of that. If they get caught against the Rangers’ top six, there might be a problem.
To make a bad problem worse, Artemi Panarin is back for the Rangers tonight, a certified Flyer-killer. He has 20 points in 15 games against Philly (thanks for the stat, Sam Carchidi), and the Rangers are coming off a tough loss to New Jersey where they were unhappy with their effort. I expect the Rangers to come out hot tonight and make it really difficult for the shorthanded Flyers and Carter Hart, who once again will get no help. Honestly, if the Flyers make it out of here with a point, I’m happy.
What really annoys me about this whole situation is that COVID smacked the Flyers in the face RIGHT as they were getting it together. They were finally starting to play like a good team and then this disease comes in and ruins it. Confidence was higher and I expect it to drop unless the team is able to really gut it out and squeeze out some wins.
It also just sucks how the players missing tonight will also miss the Lake Tahoe game, as Jordan Hall reported.
I’m still stoked for this game but so much less so knowing it won’t be a full force Flyers team going against the Bruins who have a special talent for kicking us in the teeth. I’m hopeful something magic can happen, but I’m also worried. Lastly, you just have to feel bad for the guys missing the game. Outdoor games must be fun as hell even if the NHL puts on 15 of them a year, and they have to miss it because of this damn virus.
It sucks, man. I can’t wait for COVID-free hockey. Let’s hope the orange and black can steal a couple wins in this stretch. Go Flyers!