The Toronto Maple Leafs will travel to Philadelphia to take on the surging Flyers. They beat them 5-2 in their last meeting but that was a long time ago. The Flyers sit three points back of the Leafs but the Heroes have a game in hand. Here are some great articles to help set the stage tonight. Lineups follow.
Sean Couturier wasn't in the lineup for the Flyers last time the teams met, nor was Scott Hartnell. Of course, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds weren't producing at the same rate they are now, either. The Flyers' special teams have continued and even accelerated their hot play of late too, so all-in-all, even with the loss of Matt Read, the Flyers are a better team today than they were when the faced the Leafs two weeks back. All good things.
The Flyers have definitely faced some early season PDO demons.
You can tell by the numbers that the Flyers, a slightly-above average puck possession team with less than ideal shooting and save percentages, are probably producing below their expected output this season. That should change soon, and rather than treating the Flyers as a hardly dangerous 9-10-1 squad, look at them instead as the team that has won three of four by out-scoring their opponents 20-13.
Of course, as we are all too familiar with, the big trade between the two teams means that we will be eternally checking in to see how the two participants are faring:
It's too soon to declare either side winners or losers, but even amid JVR's breakout year it's hard to feel bad about the exchange. The Flyers' offense has been on a roll of late, climbing to eighth in the rankings with 2.90 goals per game, so it's not as if they miss him desperately. Despite the addition of Schenn though, Philly is allowing the eighth-highest goals against at 3.05, so obviously they still need work on the back end.
Right now, that decision constitutes one of the most immediately-lopsided trades in recent NHL history, potentially ahead of James Neal and Matt Niskanen going to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligoski (there is some debate because it took Neal, now a 40-goal scorer alongside Evgeni Malkin, about half a season to find his legs in the Eastern Conference). After scoring 11 goals in 43 games all of last season, van Riemsdyk now has 11 in 19, but the shocking part is that it comes with an at least semi-sustainable shooting percentage of 15.9; at least he's not like Brad Marchand shooting in the high 30s and low 40s all season.
But the most important part is to tell the mastermind behind the trade that we're thankful for his efforts to help the blue and white improve:
We, the PPP community, have a bit of a reputation around the Hockey Internet for ganging up on people. I think we should take an opportunity to use our imposing status for good, and let Paul Holmgren know how much we appreciate his contribution to our happiness by sharing our joy: let's all mail Paul Holmgren our favourite pictures of James van Riemsdyk succeeding as a Toronto Maple Leaf!