Looks like we're getting ourselves ready to burn the midnight Oil, eh!!?!?
See what I did there?
Tonight at 9:30 ET, the Flyers skate against the Edmonton Oilers. Not exactly a challenging competitor considering the Oil sit fourteenth in the Western Conference, but they are stocked with some of the leagues most promising Up & Comers. No challenger - no matter how low or high in the standings - should ever be underestimated. In fact, Philadelphia's last win in Edmonton came on March 19, 2001.
It also doesn't help that they're coming off a 6 - 1 victory over Calgary two nights ago.
Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers in goals-scored this season (26), and has built quite the reputation at 21yrs old in the NHL as a talented winger. He's averaging over a point per game (55 GP, 58 Pts), and skates with the forward line opposite of Ryan Smyth, and centered by Sam Gagner.
Before heading into uncharted territory like this tilt tonight, we have to focus on what hasn't been working for our Broad Street Bullies.
The Penalty-Kill comes to mind immediately, and taking a gander at the teams stats I see that Edmonton's ranked 4th in the league at the Power-Play percentage (21.0). Recently Philly's taken a nose dive in the shorthanded department, and is placed 21st in the entire NHL at killing off the man-advantage.
What we have here is recipe for disaster.
A big key to defeating this less-than-successful Oilers team is staying out of the box and not crossing the line. Handing over opportunities to our adversary could very much be the deciding factor in a win/loss result. And that goes for both Clubs.
Edmonton's PK percentage isn't anything to write home about. They own the League's thirteenth spot in that category. Philadelphia's the fifth hottest squad with a power-play percentage of 20.2. Players like Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell have been owning the crease, picking up the garbage and planting themselves as immovable objects while the Flyers skate on the man-advantage.
In Tuesday night's dramatic comeback over the Winnipeg Jets, Hartnell accomplished his 14th power-play goal which leads the league.
But seeing as how Edmonton's not customarily a team on our radar, stats are primarily the tool we have to see what we're up against. And we all know that stats aren't everything.
My colleague, Joe Bogle, and I have reached out to some of the Oil's fanatics through the wonderful world of Twitter. Naturally, the both of us enjoy poking the sleeping bear and pitching our fair share of smack talk towards the opposing team's enthusiasts.
We managed to reel one in.
Though the man's Twitter handle keeps his name anonymous, he had the following input for the Orange & Black Pack, and Flyers nation alike --
Though I may disagree with that silly-ass prediction of his, our Edmontonian friend is correct; This Oilers club is fully capable of breaking out. Their best talent is their young talent. And their young talent is still maturing through the tough atmosphere and terrain of the NHL. Nevertheless, those pipsqueaks flash brilliance here and there, which will inevitably grow to consistency and make Edmonton one of the toughest teams to skate against, roughly, in the next 3 - 4 seasons. That's my humble opinion.
Leading into tonight's game, the Flyers have a little more leeway sprinkled on their roster. With the addition of Nicklas Grossman, you've combined some Western Conference experience along with defensive size to your blue line.
Coming from the Dallas Stars, Grossman had the luxury of facing The Oil four times a season from his Pacific Division.
I admit, that's not an enormous advantage to have, but it can't hurt.
All eyes are on Bryzgalov who's been reported to get the start this evening --
No need to regurgitate his recent quotes from the dressing room, or any rumored one-liners he's been accused of saying. You take a look up front and you're more than satisfied with your depth. The Kubina and Grossman deals have solidified your blue line nicely, blending it with both defensive and offensive defensemen.
The question mark remains between the pipes.
Forget Bobrovsky. Ilya Bryzgalov is our netminder to ride, whether any of us are happy about it or not. Edmonton's not exactly sporting a brick wall in front of their cage, but just about every team in this league has stronger netminding than our Philadelphia Flyers.
Bryz is the make-or-break element in orange. And unless this team can continue to score 5+ goals every night, if Bryzgalov fails then the Flyers will continue to suffer in the standings.
Again, all eyes on him.
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