Canucks vs. Flyers Game Day Preview: Lacklustre Starts
Photo credit: canucks.com
On paper, the Philadelphia Flyers should be one of the league’s better teams. I mean, a team with Claude Giroux, Vinny Lecavalier and Sean Couturier down the middle, and Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell on the wings seems like a pretty damn, deep team. But as we enter week 3 of the 2013/2014 NHL regular season, the Flyers have scored just 8 goals in 6 games (1.33 goals per game) and sit in 15th place in the Easter Conference – their 2 points in 6 games is only 1 point better than the last place Buffalo Sabres.
After losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, restlessness is again building in Canucks Nation. As impressive as the Vancouver Canucks were in 3 come-from-behind wins in the first week of the season, they looked just as lacklustre in back-to-back 4-1 home losses to the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens. Perhaps most alarmingly, they looked slow and tired against the deeper Sharks and younger Habs. They generated few, quality scoring chances and looked disorganized on defense. Much like how they looked at the end of last season.
What to watch
Tonight’s game marks the start of the Canucks’ 7-game road trip, which will see them play in Philadelphia, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Long Island, New Jersey and St. Louis over the next 11 nights. If they look tired now, I’d hate to think how tired they’ll be in a couple of weeks.
Who to watch
Despite the Flyers’ slow start, goaltender Steve Mason has a 0.935 save percentage (0.942 on even-strength). Surprisingly, he’s been decent – certainly more decent than he was in his last several seasons in Columbus.
Dan Hamhuis is going through what is easily his worst stretch of games in a Canucks jersey. And on Saturday against the Habs, he played possibly his worst game as a Vancouver Canuck, punctuated by his misplay of the puck that led to an Steve Smith-esque own goal – the eventual Habs’ game-winning goal. He’s been the Canucks’ best defenseman since signing with the team 3 seasons ago; it’s hard to imagine that he won’t eventually bounce back.
Alex Edler will be serving game 2 of his 3-game suspension. Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder remain injured, though Schroeder is travelling with the team and already took part in the Canucks’ morning skate last Saturday.
For the Flyers, Lecavalier, Hartnell, and defenseman, Andrej Meszaros, are all out with injuries.