The Flyers are ending their three-game road trip against the Chicago Blackhawks. They’ll be trying to get a second win out of the trip and come home with 5 out of 6 possible points. Hopefully, a slightly changed up bottom six can help hold Chicago off the board, while Michal Neuvirth’s looks to continue his positive record against Chicago.
Brayden Schenn is serving the last game of his three-game suspension
After a strong pre-season, the Russian 24-year-old will finally make his NHL debut as a part of the Flyers 4th line. At 6-foot-2 and 207lbs, Lyubimov adds a bit of weight to the bottom six. With Matt Read earning a promotion to the 3rd line, Lyubimov will be playing in place of Nick Cousins. Lyubimov will play on the wing along with Chris VandeVelde and center Boyd Gordon. Surprisingly, but not THAT surprisingly, Chris VandeVelde has avoided being a healthy scratch. Hakstol’s preference and possibly VandeVelde’s penalty killing role keeps him from being a healthy scratch again and again.
With Brayden Schenn set to return to the lineup after a three-game suspension, the lines will go through another set of changes. Lyubimov will have to have an impressive performance to remain on the roster. Lyubimov could push any of Cousins, Read or (maybe) VandeVelde out of the lineup.
Chicago’s Penalty Kill
One area where the Flyers may be able to do some damage is on the power play. Chicago’s penalty kill hasn’t been very effective lately and the Flyers should look to capitalize on any man advantages they can get.
The Blackhawks have only played three games so far this season, but have already allowed seven power play goals against on 13 penalty kills. That’s a 46.2 penalty kill percentage. Chicago’s PK wasn’t great last season either, 22nd in the league. While they may be changing things around to improve the PK, they aren’t there yet and that could be a gift for the Flyers.
Neuvirth in Net
Michal Neuvirth started the season with a 4-2 win over the L.A. Kings. Neuvirth looked comfortable, while Mason looked a little awkward in his start against the Coyotes. The Mason we saw in an overtime loss in Arizona wasn;t the Mason we had seen all pre-season. It’s hard to blame Mason for the loss against a faster Arizona team, but it probably did influence Hakstol’s decision.
On top of recent performance, Neuvirth had a positive record against the Blackhawks last season. In two games against the Blackhawks last season, Neuvirth only allowed 2 goals and put up a .964 sv%.