PREVIEW: Someone Has to Win When Flyers Face Coyotes.
Neither the Flyers nor the Coyotes are adequately equipped to win hockey games. They’re both utterly hopeless franchises who should endeavor to lose every game they play for the future health of their hockey team. That’s what makes tonight so uniquely difficult.
And it makes the stakes uniquely high.
This is a critical L to take on the race to the bottom of the league. If the objective is Bedard, losing this game is a fantastic way to get there.
If the Flyers can rise to the occasion and lose this game, then their path to the bottom gets exponentially abbreviated. Let us all pray.
Hart In Net AGAIN:
Carter Hart has been splendid as a goalie to date, consistently making this team seem more competitive than they are.
Were the Flyers a playoff team, his staggering workload and continued excellence would be a storyline that I followed with baited breath and absolute amazement.
But given where the Flyers are as a franchise, do we REALLY need to give every possible start to Hart?
Must we continuously throw him to the wolves just to marvel at how he comes out comparatively unscathed?
Felix Sandstrom is a backup goalie looking to prove he’s a bona-fide NHLer. Wouldn’t it be easier for him to prove his case if he actually got a healthy amount of starts?
It’s hard enough to make a name for yourself as a goalie in front of an utterly hopeless team. It’s even harder when you only get 15 starts all year.
This stretch through November and December is the busiest part of the Flyers’ schedule, and we’re still running Hart out there every chance we get.
How much will we play him when we start getting multiple days off? Is he going to start 65 games for a tanking team?
Don’t get me wrong. I am impressed by Hart’s ability to do this. I just don’t know that there’s a need for it.
Who Else Is Playing? NO IDEA!
By far, my favorite part about the John Tortorella Era Flyers is how we rarely know who’s playing until warm-ups are underway.
There is more intrigue than usual in this particular decision, especially concerning the defense.
Tony DeAngelo was “healthy scratched” in the last game, and Cam York was slotted in his place.
York played a strong game against the Golden Knights.
Tortorella, himself, agreed with that assessment.
So, what is going on with the defense?
Is Tony DeAngelo actually hurt, hence my usage of quotations around “healthy scratch”? The common belief is that his foot is still bothering him.
Is Tony DeAngelo healthy, and going to ride the bench anyway?
Is York going to sit out so DeAngelo can get back in his there? Despite his strong performance last time out?
Is someone else altogether going to sit so both DeAngelo and York can play?
Given Torts’ fascination with guys like Braun and Seeler, I wouldn’t expect that. But who knows?
Certainly not me. Or anyone, really. Until the very last moment.
Vejmelka in Net?
At the time of writing, I have yet to hear who the starter will be for the Coyotes. If I had to guess, it would be Karel Vejmelka.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Vejmelka has emerged as the undisputed #1 goalie in Arizona. And he’s done so in truly spectacular fashion.
If there has been a goalie in the league who has been as brilliant as Hart in an equally calamitous environment? It would be Karel Vejmelka.
Hopefully, he will play. That gives us a better chance of getting a coveted L.
Prediction: 3-2 Flyers.
Unfortunately, if there’s any team in the NHL the Flyers would be favored against, it would be the Coyotes.
But I have faith in the boys to go for the upset and get us one step closer to Connor Bedard or Leo Carlsson.
Mandatory Credit: Johnny Ulecka