UPDATE 1:30 PM
The Flyers announced that Oskar Lindblom is unavailable to play in Wednesday's game due to an upper-body injury. David Kase will make his NHL debut in Lindblom's place. The new lines are as follows:
UPDATE 10:30 AM
The Flyers have recalled second-year pro David Kase (No. 72) from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He will be in Denver for the game with the team, and available to play. If he dresses for this game or a subsequent one during the road trip, it will be his NHL debut.
GAME 31: FLYERS @ AVALANCHE
In the first game of a three-game road trip to play Western Conference teams, Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (17-8-5 overall, 7-6-1 away) are in Denver on Wednesday night to play Jared Bednar's Colorado Avalanche (19-8-3 overall, 8-3-2 home). Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 9:30 p.m. ET.
The game will be nationally televised on NBCSN. The radio broadcast will be on 97.5 The Fanatic with an online simulcast on Flyers Radio 24/7
This is the first of two meetings between the teams, and the lone game in Denver. The teams will rematch in Philadelphia on Feb. 1.
Last season, the Avalanche swept the season series with Philly, winning 5-2 at the Pepsi Center (Oct. 6, 2018) and 4-1 at the Wells Fargo Center (Oct. 22, 2018). The Colorado top line ran roughshod over Philly with the trio of Nathan MacKinnon (1g, 2a), Gabriel Landeskog (2g, 1a) and Mikko Rantanen (2g, 1a) combining for five goals over the two games.
Philly is coming off a much-needed three-night break in the schedule; the team's first extended time off since October. The club will now play three games over the next five nights.
The Flyers are 6-1-0 over their last seven games, and 2-1-0 thus far in December. The team is coming off a costly 4-3 home win
over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon that saw the club lose leading scorer Travis Konecny for an indefinite period of time due to a concussion suffered on a late first-period hit by Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki.
Konecny (11th) and Shayne Gostisbehere (4th, 6-on-5 delayed penalty) scored first period goals for the Flyers, establishing 1-0 and 2-1 leads. Brady Tkachuk and Anthony DuClair (shorthanded) responded for Ottawa.
Ivan Provorov (7th) restored the lead at 3-2 early in the 3rd period. DuClair scored again to very briefly tie the score at 3-3 but then Scott Laughton (4th) untied it 11 seconds later to put the Flyers ahead to stay.
Carter Hart earned the win in goal. He stopped 27 of 30 shots. Hart will also get the start in Colorado.
Despite the Flyers excellent 12-2-4 run over their last 18 games, there is no breathing room in the standings. Philly enters play on Wednesday tied in points with the Carolina Hurricanes and one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Flyers will begin the current road trip with exactly 12 healthy players (i.e., no coach's decision scratches in this game). Apart from Konecny's absence, defenseman Phil Myers is day-to-day with back spasms that he experienced in the Ottawa game and which returned at practice on Monday. The team was already without Michael Raffl (broken right pinky finger).
At practice on Tuesday, Vigneault moved up Tyler Pitlick
from the fourth line right wing spot to the line with Claude Giroux and Morgan Frost. The Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes lines remained intact and Chris Stewart stepped onto the fourth line with James van Riemsdyk and Mikhail Vorobyev.
Tuesday's practice also so large-scale shufflin took place on the power play units (see projected lineups below). The power play is just 9 for its last 63 (14.3 percent): The team went went 9-for-54 (16.7 percent) in November and has started the December schedule with an 0-for-3 on the man advantage against Toronto, 0-for-3 against Arizona and yet another 0-for-3 against the Senators.
Entering this game, the Flyers have averaged 3.10 goals per game (14th) with allowing 2.67 per game (7th). The power play has dropped to 18.3 percent (18th) with one shorthanded goal allowed and the penalty kill enters at 84.7 percent (6th) with two shorthanded goals scored. The team has won faceoffs at a 54.3 percent clip (1st in the NHL).
The Avalanche have been living up to their team name; the highest-scoring team in the NHL rattled off a six-game winning streak -- including 3-1, 3-2 and 4-1 road wins in a 3-in-4 gauntlet in Toronto, Montreal and Boston -- before beginning their current three-game homestand with a 4-3 overtime loss to Calgary on Monday.
After being riddled with injuries -- but still holding their own -- earlier this season, the Avalanche forward corps is now healthy. Nazem Kadri, who missed three games with a lower-body injury, could return to the lineup against the Flyers.
There are, however, two notable absences on the blueline. Standout rookie defenseman Cale Makar is likely to miss his second straight game. He skated on Tuesday, but in a non-contact jersey. Makar leads all NHL rookies and is tied for second among defensemen with 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 29 games. His availability for Wednesday is doubtful. Erik Johnson (lower body) did not practice and remains out.
Entering this game, the Avalanche have averaged 3.70 goals per game (1st in the NHL) and allowed 2.80 per game (10th). The power play comes in at 18.8 percent (16th) and the penalty kill at 78.6 percent (20th). The team has won 47.2 percent of their faceoffs (28th).
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS (subject to change)
28 Claude Giroux - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
21 Scott Laughton - 13 Kevin Hayes - 49 Joel Farabee
25 James van Riemsdyk - 48 Morgan Frost - 18 Tyler Pitlick
72 David Kase - 24 Mikhail Vorobyev - 44 Chris Stewart
9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
6 Travis Sanheim - 61 Justin Braun
53 Shayne Gostisbehere - 8 Roberg Hägg
79 Carter Hart
[37 Brian Elliott]
Power Play 1: Giroux, Farabee, Couturier, Voracek, Gostisbehere
Power Play 2: Hayes, Frost, JVR, Provorov, Niskanen
Scratches: 23 Oskar Lindblom (upper body), 5 Phil Myers (back spasms, day-to-day), 11 Travis Konecny (concussion, indefinite), 55 Sam Morin (torn ACL)
LTIR: 12 Michael Raffl (broken right pinky finger), 19 Nolan Patrick (migraines)
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
95 Andre Burakovsky - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
11 Matt Calvert - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
83 Matt Nieto - 17 Tyson Jost - 37 J.T..Compher
16 Nikita Zadorov - 49 Samuel Girard
27 Ryan Graves - 28 Ian Cole
48 Calle Rosen - 44 Mark Barberio
39 Pavel Francouz
[30 Adam Werner]
Power Play 1: MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Donskoi, Girard
Power Play 2: Kadri, Burakovsky, Nichuskin, Compher, Cole
Scratches: 37 81 Vladislav Kamenev (healthy), 8 Cale Makar (upper body)
Injured: 6 Erik Johnson (lower body), 22 Colin Wilson (lower body)