Can Flyers correct defensive issues in time for Wild?
The Flyers (16-16-4) will play their last game on home ice for two-plus weeks when they take on the Minnesota Wild (20-13-5) on Monday.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (CSN) at Wells Fargo Center.
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Home cookin’
Talk about home-ice advantage.
The Flyers on Monday have a chance to secure their longest win streak at Wells Fargo Center in eight seasons. They enter their clash with the Wild having won eight consecutive games at home.
The last time the Flyers won nine in a row in South Philly was from Oct. 7-Nov. 12, 2005.
Claude Giroux has been red-hot during the Flyers’ current home streak. The centerman has collected six goals and six assists and is a plus-11 in the eight victories.
Minnesota, which will conclude its three-game road trip, hasn’t had much success when traveling to Philadelphia. The Wild are 2-6-0 all-time at Wells Fargo Center and were crushed by the Flyers in their last visit -- a 5-1 rout on Jan. 17, 2012. Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier all scored in that game.
2. Giroux and Voracek
The Flyers have scored three or more goals in a season-high four consecutive games, and that’s due in large part to the play of top-line players Giroux and Voracek (see story).
Giroux has turned his season around over the past few weeks. He’s recorded at least one point in six straight games, which ties his career-best streak, and he's been dominant in the offensive zone.
Voracek has been just as good. The 24-year-old has found the back of net six times during his current seven-game point streak and has 11 points during that span.
3. No Harding
The last time the Flyers and Wild met, netminder Josh Harding made 21 saves to help Minnesota to a 2-0 shutout victory on Dec. 2.
Harding has been spectacular this season, posting an 18-5-3 record and NHL-best 1.51 goals-against average, but will not play against the Flyers. He is currently adjusting to his medication for multiple sclerosis and is expected to rejoin the Wild after the Christmas break.
The Flyers have an opportunity to jump on a Minnesota defense that has struggled with Harding sidelined. The Wild have given up nine goals in back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.
Vinny Lecavalier, who missed nine games with a non-displaced fracture in his back, returned to the Flyers’ lineup in Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He registered an assist on Couturier’s marker and played over 16 minutes.
There was a casualty in Saturday’s loss, however. Erik Gustafsson suffered a left knee sprain in the third period and is expected to miss the next two weeks.
The good news? Nicklas Grossmann, who leads the Flyers with 92 blocked shots, will be back for Monday’s game against Minnesota. He missed the Columbus game with the flu.
Steve Downie is still recovering from an upper-body injury and will not suit up. He could return when the Flyers open a six-game road trip in Edmonton on Saturday.
For the Wild, Harding is the only player on the injury list.
5. This and that
• The Flyers have given up only one goal on the penalty kill in their last five home games (13 for 14).
• Minnesota has been outscored 24-8 while going 1-6-1 in its last eight road games.
• The Flyers have a 3-6-1 record against the Western Conference this season.
• The Wild are unbeaten in regulation play when leading after the first period (8-0-1) and after the second frame (14-0-3).
• Mark Streit has two goals and three assists during his current four-game point streak.