Midwestern States: Blackhawks vs. Flyers Preview
There’s only one game on the NHL schedule for Monday night — and this is it.
A pair of teams with nothing to play for are the only game on the NHL slate for Monday evening as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center.
These two teams met back on March 5 in Philadelphia — a city where the Blackhawks have not won a regular-season game since 1996 — and the game served as a harbinger of Chicago’s upcoming fortunes, with a 3-2 Chicago lead to start the third period disappearing in a 4-3 loss.
That win for the Flyers was a brief respite amidst the sea of misery that has plagued the team since the calendar flipped to 2022. Philadelphia was 13-12-6 at the start of this calendar year. Since then, the Flyers are an abysmal 12-31-5 and traded away franchise cornerstone Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers at the deadline, as Giroux pursues the Stanley Cup that’s eluded him so far in his career.
Much like the Blackhawks, the Flyers are merely playing out the rest of their schedule with an eye towards hopefully brighter developments in the future. There is a younger face leading the Flyers in points, but 25-year-old Travis Konecny has just 51 points (16 G, 35 A) in 76 games this season. Veterans Cam Atkinson (23 G, 27 A) and James van Riemsdyk (23 G, 14 A) are also top contributors while 22-year-old Joel Farabee (17 G, 17 A) is making his case to be part of the team going forward. The final portions of the season have also served as the NHL debut for 2019 second-round pick Bobby Brink, who signed with the Flyers after playing his final season at Denver and gives me a reason to link to a GIF from the best Disney made-for-TV movie of all-time.
On the blue line, the top duo of Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim are both former first-round picks who are now their mid-20s and ranked first and second, respectively, on the Flyers for average ice time. But even their positive moments have been outshined by the overall drudgery of the season — exacerbated by a slew of injuries.
Speaking of injuries, No. 1 goaltender Carter Hart has not played since April 12 and is not expected to play again this season. The 23-year-old netminder played in 45 games this season with a save percentage of .905 and a goals-against average 3.16. By Hockey Reference’s goals saved above average stat, Hart’s performance this season was below average at minus-3.2 but he certainly hasn’t had much help from the players in front of him. What his future holds in Philadelphia will likely be a substantial indicator for what the future holds for the fortunes of the entire franchise.
As for the Blackhawks, it’s the penultimate home game on the schedule this season with only two total games remaining after Monday’s gathering. One lineup change from Saturday’s game was noted by coach Derek King:
King here now.— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) April 25, 2022
Lineup for tonight: forwards are the same. Caleb Jones back in, Stillman out, de Haan still out ("Groin's still bothering him"). pic.twitter.com/kGzehmm0UD
Kevin Lankinen was the first off the ice, so he’ll be the starter in net, although King also mentioned that Collin Delia will get another start before the season ends.
Not much else to say about this one, is there? But there’s still hockey to be played which means the professional athletes down on the ice could still make themselves some extra bucks on their next contracts with a strong performance or two, even in this otherwise irrelevant conclusion to the season.
Blackhawks — Statistic — Flyers
46.08% (29th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 46.37% (27th)
45.19% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 46.23% (27th)
2.59 (29th) — Goals per game — 2.62 (27th)
3.57 (26th) — Goals against per game — 3.58 (27th)
49.6% (17th) — Faceoffs — 52.1% (6th)
19.8% (20th) — Power play — 12.3% (32nd)
75.4% (27th) — Penalty kill — 75.6% (24th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
DeBrincat — Strome — Kane
Kubalik — Toews — T. Johnson
Kurashev — Lafferty — Raddysh
Borgstrom — R. Johnson — Katchouk
Vlasic — S. Jones
McCabe — Regula
C. Jones — Gustafsson
Laughton — Hayes — Konecny
van Riemsdyk — Farabee — Brink
Cates — Frost — Tippett
Lindblom — Thompson — MacEwen
Provorov — Attard
Hogberg — Sanheim
Yandle — Zamula
How to watch
When: 7 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago
Webstream: ESPN+, Hulu
(That’s right, one final game that’s only available via streaming platforms)