Philadelphia Flyers @ Colorado Avalanche: Game Preview


The Colorado Avalanche will play hosts to the Philadelphia Flyers for both teams final rendezvous of NHL action in the year 2014. The Avalanche will be looking to end the year in style, and get back on the winning track, after a pair of disappointing performances against Central Division rivals, Chicago and St. Louis.

The Lowdown

Philadelphia Flyers (14-16-6) @ Colorado Avalanche (13-15-8)

The When: 7:00 pm MST. Puck drop will be a few minutes after the clock strikes the hour.

The Where: The Pepsi Center, in Denver, Colorado. Conveniently located 5280 ft above sea level. Game will be broadcast on Altitude.

The What: The greatest sport on the planet, that’s what.

The Why: It’s the greatest sport on the planet. I just told you that. Pay attention.

Also, the Avalanche will see the return of Croatian born, Borna Rendulic. Hope Avs fans are ready to ‘Be Wild’ tonight. Also, I’d just like to point out the timeline of tweets that went out today, and brag that I had one of the earliest scoops on the Rendulic news, thanks to a random Croatian dude I follow on twitter. This probably will never ever happen again, so I just want my 2 seconds in the sun! K, I’m toasty. Moving on.

Flyers Scouting Report:

The Flyers are in the midst of a season long 8-game road trip, and it may be starting to take a toll. Philly got stomped in Nashville and Phoenix in their last two contests, by a combined score of 8-3. This after a three game winning streak, where the Flyers racked up 16 goals. Go figure.

It seems that Philadelphia is being plagued by the same illness that has ravaged the Avalanche’s season. Inconsistency. Neither team’s season has been clockwork. Orange is the jersey color the Flyers are known for, but they will be wearing their away whites for tonight’s game. I still think the home team should wear white jerseys, for the record.

The Flyers offensive attack, is led by a pair of orange haired, slick sticked, creative dynamos, who go by the moniker’s Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. The duo has posted 88 points in 72 games. Voracek has an impressive 14 goal and 46 point season going, in his 36 games, which is good for the team lead.

For perspective, the Avalanche’s young quartet of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, and Ryan O’Reilly has only combined for 85 points, in 144 total games this season. The Flyers’ leading duo is outscoring the Avs’ young gun quartet 88-85. I’m not going to comment. Just let those stats marinate for a bit, if you will.

The Flyers goal for/ goals against split is 2.78/2.89, which is far superior to the Avs 2.44/2.97 split.

The Flyers also usually play games featuring a lot of special teams scoring. Their power play converts at a rate of 21%, and their penalty kill is one of the league’s poorest at 74%. Perhaps the Avalanche’s vanilla power play will be a bit more flavorful on this night.

Keys to the Game:

1. Get out and skate. The Avalanche I think can skate with these guys, and the Eastern Conference style tends to be a bit more open. This is an opportunity for the Avalanche, especially Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, to use their wheels to try and get themselves going.

2. Loosen the grips. The Avs really have nothing to lose at this point, do they? I think it would do wonders for this team to just relax a little bit, and let the game come to them. I think they have too many guys who know they are slumping, and they are pressing, over-thinking, and gripping the sticks way too tight. I’m not a doctor, but if I had my hockey PhD, I’d prescribe a massive dose of chill pills for this entire team. Relax! Have fun! At this point, I think that’s just what a real doctor would order.

Especially for Nathan MacKinnon. The dude is playing so angry right now. He has seemed to be playing with an unnecessary edge all season, and it was noticeable in training camp. The stick slamming, door slamming, cursing under his breath… You’re a professional hockey player, have some fun. Let things go. I think he is such a head case, and gets so mad and frustrated any time he messes up, that it is really spiraling his game into a bad place.

3. Shots, shots, shots… shots shots! If you want to loosen up, take some shots! Seriously. The Avalanche need to shoot the puck, and do a better job of generating scoring chances. This team managed only 16 shots against the Blues, and frankly, that’s pathetic. This team is too talented to put up an effort like that in a divisional game. There are too many quality offensive players to have been shut out 6 stinkin’ times already this season.

The Avs need to find a way to score more goals. Right now, they aren’t doing what it takes, and that’s on them. They have to be better. I mean that in a tough love sort of way.

The Avalanche have a home date with the lowly Edmonton Oilers two days after the Flyers game, so this is a really good opportunity to jump right back to the .500 mark. Let’s get it done, boys.