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Flyers Gameday: 2/21/24 @ CHI; Phantoms @ WB/S

February 21, 2024, 2:05 PM ET [194 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Game 57 Preview: Flyers @ Blackhawks

The Philadelphia Flyers (29-20-7) will take on the Chicago Blackhawks (15-38-5) at the United Center on Wednesday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Flyers are 4-1-1 since the All-Star break. They enter this game coming off a 6-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils in their Stadium Series game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday.

In last place leaguewide, the Blackhawks are 1-4-1 since the All-Star break. In their lone road match of February, the Blackhawks are coming off a 6-3 road loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday evening, despite scoring two power play goals.

Wednesday's game is the only one the Flyers are playing this week before weekend back-to-back matinees against the New York Rangers (home) and Pittsburgh Penguins (away). Head coach John Tortorella, as expected, pushed the team hard at practice this week.

Tyson Foerster (lower-body injury) practiced in a no-contact jersey on Monday and Tuesday, staying on the ice longer and skating more intensively on the second day. He will not play on Wednesday but may be ready to return by the weekend. Rasmus Ristolainen (upper-body injury) remains sidelined and is not practicing.

Based off last Saturday's lineup and this week's practices, it seems more likely that the Flyers will continue with an 11-forwards/7-defensemen rotation than going back to a 12F/11D rotation.

Chicago has only won one game since Connor Bedard returned from a broken jaw but the team's top line trio of Bedard flanked by Nick Foligno and Philipp Kurashev has been fire. Additionally, Tyler Johnson notched a power play goal last game. In goal, former Flyers netminder Petr Mrazek has done a commendable job at keeping his often-overmatched club close in games.

Projected lineups are below. See Five Things on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com for an in-depth preview: Click here.

FLYERS

74 Owen Tippett - 14 Sean Couturier - 89 Cam Atkinson
86 Joel Farabee - 48 Morgan Frost - 11 Travis Konecny
27 Noah Cates - 25 Ryan Poehling - 19 Garnet Hathaway
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 21 Scott Laughton - xxxxx

18 Marc Staal - 6 Travis Sanheim
24 Nick Seeler - 26 Sean Walker
8 Cam York - 9 Jamie Drysdale
5 Egor Zamula

33 Samuel Ersson
[40 Cal Petersen]

PP1: Drysdale, Farabee, Frost, Konecny, Tippett
PP2: Zamula, Atkinson, Couturier, Laughton, Sanheim

Projected scratches: 62 Olle Lycksell (healthy), 71 Tyson Foerster (lower body), 55 Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body).

BLACKHAWKS

78 Nick Foligno - 98 Connor Bedard - 23 Phillip Kurashev
91 Anthony Beauvillier - 16 Jason Dickinson - 15 Joey Anderson
14 Boris Katchouk - 90 Tyler Johnson - 11 Taylor Raddysh
43 Colin Blackwell - 58 Mackenzie Entwistle - 8 Ryan Donato

72 Alex Vlasic - 4 Seth Jones
55 Kevin Korchinski - 24 Jaycob Megna
25 Jarred Tinordi - 41 Isaak Phillips

40 Avid Söderblom
[34 Petr Mrazek]

PP1: Bedard, Foligno, Johnson, Kurashev, Jones
PP2: Korchinski, Donato, Dickinson, Raddysh, Vlasic

Scratches: 13 Zach Sanford (healthy), 46 Louis Crevier (puck to mouth at practice), 52 Reese Johnson (healthy).

******

Preview: Phantoms @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (20-19-7) return to action on Wednesday evening to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (26-17-6) on the road. Game time at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza is 7:05 p.m. ET.

The Phantoms enter this game in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, four points behind the Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues affiliate) for the final divisional playoff spot. The Phantoms hold two games in hand over Springfield (23-20-5) but are a 15-13 disadvantage in the regulation wins tiebreaker.

The Phantoms enter Wednesday's game ranked 5th leaguewide on the power play (38-for-178, 21.3 percent) but 25th on the penalty kill at 79.9 percent. The Baby Pens are 28th on the power play (16.0 percent) and tied for 9th on the PK at 84.1 percent.

Although the Phantoms have been potent on the power play, they have not been a very good 5-on-5 team. The poster boy of this issue has been veteran forward Cooper Marody. Although the playmaking forward leads the Phantoms with 37 points in 46 games, 19 of his points (3 PPG, 16 power play assists) have come on the man advantage and he's a traditional minus-21 in plus-minus rating.

Rookie forward Samu Tuomaala, an AHL All-Star Game participant, is second on the Phantoms with 36 points (13g including six on the power play, 23 assists including 11 power play). Rookie defenseman Emil Andrae (37 GP, four goals, 20 assists, 24 points with four PPG and 10 power play assists) is fifth in the league in scoring by a rookie defensemen and third in rookie D power play scoring.

Since being sent down by the Flyers to get more playing time and work on his checking, Bobby Brink has posted six points (3g, 3a) and a minus-four rating. Four his points -- 2 PPG, 2 PPA -- have come on the man advantage.

Two-way forward Tanner Laczynski has frequently dealt with injuries in recent months but comes into Wednesday's game third on the active roster with 26 points in 33 games (8g, 16a). Defenseman Ronnie Attard, an AHL All-Star Game selection last year, is fourth on the team and tied with Andrae for tops among Phantoms defensemen with 24 points (nine goals) and leads Lehigh Valley blueliners with a traditional plus-four.

Coming into this season, the Flyers were hoping that second-year center Elliot Desnoyers (42 GP, 4g, 13a, 17 points) and a couple of defensemen among Attard, Adam Ginning (46 games, 13 points, minus-7), and/or Helge Grans (limited by injury to 32 games played, five points, minus-five) would make a heavy push for an NHL recall. It has not happened, at least so far.

Waived by the Flyers late in training camp after spending all of last season on the NHL roster, power forward Wade Allison got off to a terrible start with Lehigh Valley. Despite later missing time (six games in total) due to injury/illness, his play picked up. He's currently at 10 goals and 17 points in 40 games. However, he has not had a recall to the NHL, and may not get one. He's a restricted free agent this summer if he receives a qualifying offer.

Speedy rookie forward J.R. Avon has made a major impact on the Phantoms in terms of his ability to score in shootouts (4-for-5) and on breakaway opportunities. Overall, he's posted nine non-shootout goals (three on the power play), five assists (three on the power play), 14 points, and a minus-nine rating in 14 games.

Veteran two-way center Rhett Gardner, who dressed (briefly) in one NHL game with the Flyers, has sometimes centered the Phantoms top line when Laczynski has been on the shelf. Gardner himself missed some time with injury earlier this season. Overall, he has six goals and nine points in 36 games. Lehigh Valley was hoping to get more from veteran Adam Brooks this season but he's struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness in playing just 22 games (2g, 4a, minus-7).

Veteran defenseman Louie Belpedio, who held his own in an early season NHL callup but has missed a lot of time with injury since clearing waivers and being sent back down to the Phantoms. He's been a glue guy when able to play but has only dressed in 14 games for Ian Laperriere's club.

One of the Phantoms' biggest problems this season has been spotty goaltending. Neither Cal Petersen (15 GP, 5-8-2, 3.26 GAA, .890 save percentage) nor Felix Sandström (9-6-2, 3.21 GAA, .883 SV%) has provided nearly the level of consistency that the Phantoms have needed. Petersen, of course, is now on NHL recall with the Flyers due to the Carter Hart/ Hockey Canada situation.

Former Army goalie Parker Gahagen (5-5-3, 2.41 GAA, .916 save percentage) has been a pleasant surprise for the Phantoms in most of his 13 outings this season. He has not gotten much goal support in the majority of his appearances. Back on Nov.12, Nolan Maier was recalled from the ECHL's Reading Royals and turned aside 29 of 30 shots in an upset 4-1 road win over the league-leading Hershey Bears. More recently, with Sandström missing a game due to illness, the 23-year-old Maier filled in as Gahagen's backup in a 2-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch last Saturday.
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