Preview: Golden Knights seek fourth consecutive win as they take on struggling Flyers
The Vegas Golden Knights will look to collect another two points and build on their three-game winning streak when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers are mired in a 3-10-2 stretch since returning from the All-Star break and would select seventh overall if the NHL Entry Draft were held today. Philadelphia is 24-31-11 and sits in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division with 59 points through 67 games.
The Golden Knights, however, have been excellent over the last six weeks with a 12-2-2 record in that span. Vegas is in first place in the Pacific Division with a 41-20-6 record and 88 points in 67 games.
The Golden Knights’ road trip has been a success through four games, as Vegas has gone 3-1-0 with consecutive wins against Tampa Bay, Carolina and St. Louis after falling 2-1 to Florida.
Tonight’s favorable matchup presents an opportunity for Vegas to come away with eight out of a possible 10 points on a critical road trip in the final weeks of the regular season.
The Flyers are coming off an embarrassing and disastrous trade deadline that ultimately resulted in the firing of general manager Chuck Fletcher, the same guy who gifted Alex Tuch to the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft. The Flyers named Danny Briere as the interim general manager, though additional organizational changes are expected in the offseason.
Philadelphia is not a team that will openly tank for Connor Bedard, though the Flyers are not desperate for points the way some of Vegas’ recent opponents have been.
But while this isn’t technically a must-win game considering there are still 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Golden Knights need to leave the City of Brotherly Love with two points.
Philadelphia has the worst power play in the NHL, operating at just 15.1 percent. The penalty kill isn’t much better and currently ranks 26th with a 75 percent success rate.
After generating seven power plays in two games, the Golden Knights have had just three combined opportunities over their last two games and have gone 0-for-3 in that stretch. However, the Flyers rank 12th in penalties taken per game (3.90), which could give the Golden Knights a chance to get something going on the man-advantage.
But Vegas has found ways to win games at 5-on-5.
Scoring first has proven useful over their last three games, all wins. The Flyers haven’t mustered up enough wins to make the following statistics overly telling, but Philadelphia has a .462 win percentage when scoring first (12-10-4) compared to a .300 win percentage when giving up the first goal (12-21-7). Only two teams have lower win percentages when scoring first, however: Anaheim (.444) and San Jose (.394).
Also, the Vegas goaltending has been tremendous. All five netminders — Logan Thompson, Adin Hill, Laurent Brossoit, Jonathan Quick and Jiri Patera — have delivered solid performances and have made a huge difference in Vegas’ recent surge.
That being said, this is the kind of trap game Vegas has to be mindful of, especially considering the Golden Knights have an all-time record of 4-5-0 against Philadelphia and lost both meetings against the Flyers last year.
The Golden Knights did win the previous meeting against the Flyers this year, a 2-1 overtime decision on Dec. 9. It was the game in which Shea Theodore got injured after colliding with Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim in overtime before Jonathan Marchessault scored the game-winner off a turnover by Kevin Hayes, lifting Vegas to the 2-1 win.
The injured Travis Konecny leads the Flyers in goals (27) and points (54) in 52 games this season. Hayes, a frequent victim of John Tortorella’s notorious benchings, is second on the team in scoring with 49 points, and Scott Laughton (36), Owen Tippett (34) and Tony DeAngelo (34) round out the top-5.
Carter Hart is 17-21-10 with a 2.96 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and one shutout in 47 starts. The numbers are more of a reflection of the team in front of him than an assessment of his performance this season; after all, he ranks in the top-20 in goals saved above expected (9.25).
Hart has played well against Vegas over the last few seasons; he is 2-1-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
Quick is 11-4-2 all-time against the Flyers with a 1.98 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and two shutouts. He is likely to get the nod tonight for Vegas; Quick is 3-0-0 in three starts with Vegas and is coming off a 33-save shutout against the Hurricanes.
Keegan Kolesar was a late scratch on Sunday due to an upper-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
Update: Keegan Kolesar will miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury. He’s listed as day-to-day. #VegasBorn
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 12, 2023
According to the AT&T SportsNet pregame show prior to Sunday’s game against St. Louis, Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit have begun skating, though there is no timetable for their return. Adin Hill, Nicolas Roy, William Carrier and Mark Stone are not skating, according to the broadcast.
Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Pavel Dorofeyev
Paul Cotter — Chandler Stephenson — Phil Kessel
Brett Howden — Teddy Blueger — Michael Amadio
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud
Scott Laughton — Morgan Frost — Owen Tippett
Joel Farabee — Kevin Hayes — Tyson Foerster
James van Riemsdyk — Noah Cates — Tanner Laczynski
Nicolas Deslauriers — Elliot Desnoyers — Kieffer Bellows
Ivan Provorov — Cam York
Travis Sanheim — Rasmus Ristolainen
Nick Seeler — Justin Braun