Before we dive into any current discussion of the Flyers, the Blackhawks’ history at the Wells Fargo Center must be explained first. Chicago’s regular-season record there is 1-14-1. That one victory came during the opening season of this stadium: 1996. Yes, the Blackhawks have not won a regular-season game in Philadelphia in TWENTY-SIX years.
(Of course, they did win a postseason game there as recently as 2010.)
Saturday’s game presents as good of an opportunity to end that skid, as the Flyers are one of the few teams that are having a worse regular season than the Blackhawks. They’ve been dreadful in 2022 with a record of 3-16-4 since the calendar flipped. The Flyers have just one win in their last nine games and fell 5-4 to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. With 42 points in 54 games, they currently sit in last place in the Metropolitan Division. There just aren’t a lot of things that the Flyers have done well this season: they’re 29th in the league in goals scored per game (2.50), 25th in goals against (3.43), have the league’s No. 30 power play (14.2 percent) and No. 24 penalty kill (24). Possession metrics aren’t much better, with Philadelphia 22nd in shot attempt share (47.51 percent) and 25th in expected goals share (46.23 percent). Oh! The Flyers have won 53.8 percent of their faceoffs, which is ranked third in the league. It appears to be doing a LOT for them.
Given those rough numbers, Philadelphia is expected to be selling at the trade deadline, with captain Claude Giroux at the top of the list thanks to his expiring contract and healthy stat line (17 G, 23 A in 51 games). He does have a no-movement clause so Giroux won’t go anywhere if he doesn’t want, but his situation is different to that of Marc-Andre Fleury in that Giroux is yet to win a Stanley Cup. Even though leaving the only professional team he’s ever known wouldn’t be easy, pursuit of a championship immortality is something that drives every hockey player. He’ll be in high demand if he opts for the latter route.
Injuries remain another massive detriment for the Flyers this season. Sean Couturier remains out following back surgery. Ryan Ellis played in just four games this season and is not expected to add to that number. Kevin Hayes had a knee operation in late January that’s sidelined him for weeks although he is expected to return for this game. It’s been rough in Philadelphia. In net, 2016 second-round pick Carter Hart has been better this season than his disastrous 2021 season with a 10-18-6 record, 2.94 goals against average and .910 save percentage. The big statistical difference is in Hockey Reference’s goals saved above average statistic, which attempts to quantify how many goals are prevented through a goalie’s play and 0 being an average mark. Last season, Hart was at minus-22.6. This season, he’s at 1.6. He’s been much better but hasn’t had much help from the players on front. Sound familiar?
Speaking of the Blackhawks, Thursday’s flurry of players returning from injury led to a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers, meaning that significant lineup changes are not expected. With the weekend double-dip, though, Chicago’s two goalies will share the net and Kevin Lankinen takes his turn on Saturday.
Blackhawks’ goalie plan is to start Lankinen tomorrow at Flyers and Fleury on Sunday vs Lightning.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 4, 2022
Not much else to discuss with this one: it’s two teams with more intrigue generated by discussion on what they will or won’t do at the trade deadline as opposed to what’s been happening on the ice. But maybe the Blackhawks can snap a drought that’s approaching three decades?
Blackhawks — Statistic — Flyers
46.77% (26th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 47.51% (22nd)
45.85% (29th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 46.23% (25th)
2.45 (30th) — Goals per game — 2.50 (29th)
3.38 (24th) — Goals against per game — 3.43 (25th)
48.4% (22nd) — Faceoffs — 53.8% (3rd)
20.7% (16th) — Power play — 14.2% (30th)
75.3% (28th) — Penalty kill — 76.4% (24th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
Kubalik — Strome — Kane
DeBrincat — Toews — T. Johnson
Hagel — Dach — Entwistle
Kurashev — Carpenter — Lafferty
C. Jones — Murphy
de Haan — S. Jones
Stillman — McCabe
Giroux — Laughton — Konecny
Farabee — Brassard — Atkinson
Lindblom — Hayes — van Riemsdyk
Willman — Brown — MacEwen
Provorov — Braun
Sanheim — Ristolainen
Yandle — Seeler
How to watch
When: 2:00 p.m. CT
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia