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5 THINGS: Flyers vs. Sharks

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The game will be televised on NBCSP. The radio show is on 97.5 The Fanatic with an online simulcast onRadio flyers 24/7.

This is the first of two games of the season between the clubs in the interconference. The Flyers and Sharks will face off at the SAP Center in San Jose on Dec. 29.

Here are five things to follow in this game.

1. Roll the lines

With the Flyers playing on the front row of a back-to-back home game in Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Nashville, Philly was lucky enough to be able to roll all four forward lines and three defensive pairs during the most of the game. First and foremost, Philly knew how to play with a lead from the start of the first period until the final buzzer.

Second, there were only a moderate number of special teams in the game. The Flyers managed one shortened power play and one full power play and one shortened power play and two full power play shorthanded (the latter resulting in Nashville’s only goal of the game late in the third period).

Things don’t always work out that way, of course. The Flyers were able to get at least 11 shifts for every player in the rosters — and 18 or more shifts for 15 of the team’s 18 skaters.

There was still a late night flight and a one hour time change between Saturday’s game and Sunday’s game. Under the circumstances, however, the Flyers should be reasonably fresh to face the Sharks.

Ideally, Tortorella will be able to spread the workload across his roster again. If, however, circumstances dictate that the Flyers shorten the bench in this game, they should have enough gas in the tank to deal with it.

2. Who is next?

Saturday, Joel Farabee (one goal, two assists for his first three points of the 2022-23 season) and Kevin Hayes (1g, 1a) were the Flyers’ main offensive heroes. After scoring his first goal of the season early in the first period, Hayes later extended his season-opening assist streak to five games.

The Flyers also got a rebound goal from the sturdy right winger Zack McEwen at the end of the first period, helped by the defender Egor Zamula and Farabée. A fourth forward for most of his NHL career, MacEwen was promoted to the Flyers roster earlier this week and has responded with solid back-to-back games.

In five games, the Flyers indeed got the committee scoring offense that Tortorella said they would need to compete. The Flyers have scored at least three goals in the five games played so far. Now they have to keep doing it.

On the playmaking side, Hayes leads the Flyers with seven assists among his eight points to date. Ivan Provorov picked up five apples and defense partner Tony DeAngelo at four.

The Flyers also seem to have drawn energy from one of their players who has yet to score a point: the fourth line left wing Nicolas Deslauriers. Whether coincidentally or not, there have been almost immediate swings in momentum in games to date in which Deslauriers has fought (three times, including Saturday) or landed a big hit.

3. Pay the price

The Flyers pulled off a great overall close off the Predators in the third period of Saturday’s game. Philly limited Nashville to five shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and extended their lead from 2-0 to 3-0, which proved huge when the Predators finally came to an end. Carter HartThe shutout bid with 2;18 remaining in regulation time.

Hart was outstanding in Saturday’s game, as he has been in his four starts so far this season. However, don’t overlook how the team ahead of him played at key moments. Most notably, the Flyers finished the night with 22 shot blocks (several of which came in the third period) and were ready to soak up hits to get the puck to safety.

Claimed waivers from the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, Lukas Sedlak made his debut for the Flyers in Saturday’s game. The fourth-line center skated 9:45 of ice time in 14 shifts (including 40 seconds of PK time). Sedlak was credited with two takeaways. Offensively, he had a golden scoring chance in the second period, hitting the post. He took three shots on goal.

The Flyers will not hold a morning practice on Sunday. However, chances are that Sunday’s lineup will be quite similar to Saturday’s. There’s a decision to be made on whether to keep rolling in the net with Hart or give Felix Sandström his second start of the season. Sandström played well in a losing cause in Florida on Wednesday.

The extra forward in Saturday’s game was Jackson Cates. Louie Belpedio was the extra defender. If the Flyers dress the same roster on Sunday, the line combinations could look like the Nashville game again:

86 Joel Farabee-13 Kevin Hayes-11 Travis Konecny
21 Scott Laughton – 49 Noah Cates – 57 Wade Allison
25 James van Riemsdyk – 48 Morgan Frost – 17 Zack MacEwen
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 23 Lukas Sedlak – 58 Tanner Laczyński

9 Ivan Provorov – 77 Tony DeAngelo
6 Travis Sanheim – 61 justin brown
24 Nick Seeler – 54 Egor Zamula

79 Carter Hart
32 Felix Sandstrom

4. Improvement needed in face-off circle.

For all the areas the Flyer has struggled in three of the last four seasons, faceoffs weren’t one of them. Philadelphia was usually at or near the top of the NHL in game winning percentage.

This is no longer the case. Claude Giroux left the team, and Sean Couturier is on injured reserve. In the first five games of the season, the Flyers rank dead last in the NHL in faceoff percentage (38.1%). There is clearly room for improvement in this area, especially for a team whose puck possession and expected goal differentials are in the red.

At least starting with controlling the puck out of the draw would be a small step in the right direction. Overall, the Flyers still have plenty of room to improve in how they try to get out of their defensive zone.

On the plus side, the Flyers’ neutral zone play and puck support down in the D zone have already shown signs of improvement. This helped goalkeepers have a reasonable chance of making more saves. The goalies did a lot of hard work for the team in return.

5. Behind Enemy Lines: San Jose Sharks

The Sharks were a very busy team in October. They were the opponent of the Predators in the two games of the Global Series in Prague to open the regular season (sustaining 4-1 and 3-2 losses).

After returning to the United States, the Sharks had a mini homestand at the SAP Center, suffering a 2-1 loss to Carolina and a 5-2 loss to Chicago on back-to-back nights. The club fell to 0-4-0.

Last week, the Sharks embarked on a four-game road to the Northeast, taking on the New York Islanders (5-2 loss), New York Rangers (upset 3-2 overtime win) , the New Jersey Devils (2-1 loss) and the Flyers. Sunday’s game will be San Jose’s third in four nights and the back half of a straight game. The only consolation is that the trip has been relatively light since the start of the trip.

The Sharks were in Newark on Saturday while the Flyers were in Nashville. The game went pretty evenly in the first period, but San Jose goalkeeper Kaapo Kahkonen was peppered with 20 shots on goal in the second period. New Jersey took a 2-0 lead before Kevin Labanc recovered one at 16:15 of the second quarter. San Jose failed to tie in the third period.

In San Jose’s first seven games, veteran offensive defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the team with five points (2g, 3a). Logan Couture and Evgeny Svechkinov have two goals and three points apiece, passing the forwards.

Sunday’s game marks Oskar Lindblom’s return to Philadelphia after the Flyers bought out his contract in the offseason and San Jose signed the 26-year-old left-winger as a free agent. There will be an in-game video tribute to Lindblom during a first-half TV break on Sunday. Lindblom has posted three assists during the season so far.

The Sharks did not hold a morning practice Sunday, although a few players skated alone and both goaltenders warmed up. If Saturday’s lineup is valid for this game, it could look like these combinations:

28 Timo Meier – 48 Tomas Hertl – 94 Alexander Barbanov
13 Nick Bonino – 39 Logan Couturer – 11 Luke Kunin
10 Evgeny Svechnikov – 7 Nico Sturm – 62 Kevin Labanc
23 Oskar Lindblom – 16 Steven Lorentz – 83 Matt Nieto

4 Scott Harrington – 65 Erik Karlsson
44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic – 5 Matt Benning
38 Mario Ferraro-51 Radim Simek

47 James Reimer
36 Kaapo Kahkonen