Can Flyers correct defensive issues in time for Wild?
If it were a TV pilot being shot in Philly, you could call it, “Two Guys on a Streak.”
Jakub Voracek has a career-high seven-game point streak. Claude Giroux tied his career high with a six-game point streak.
Neither were aware it was their best, but both know it’s going to be hard to keep it going Monday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild play to keep the game scoreless until the right break comes along, similar to the style that made the New Jersey Devils famous all through the 1990s.
Just as hard, however, will be keeping things in focus for the Flyers tonight with a three-day Christmas break coming up. They won’t hit the ice again until Friday.
“Yeah, obviously with Christmas coming, a lot of people have things on their mind,” Giroux said. "It’s a big game for us to get those two points before we go on a little break, and feel better about ourselves.”
The Flyers lost 6-3 in Columbus on Saturday. They also lost their previous meeting with the Wild, 2-0, in St. Paul, Minn., back on Dec. 2.
Minnesota is playing back-to-back, which should favor the Flyers.
Giroux has four goals, seven assists for 11 points during his six-game streak. He leads the Flyers with 31 points and is starting to look like the player he's expected to be after a difficult start to the season -- no goals in his first 15 games, likely related to a freak wrist injury playing golf over the summer.
“I’d like to play a little bit better,” said Giroux, who had a four-point effort in his last home game last Thursday against Columbus.
“The last game at home was good, but there is always room for improvement. In Columbus, we could have played better. You look back at it, we were in it the whole game and then let them get a few goals and take the points from us.
“The best part of hockey is winning. When you win, you feel better about yourself, the confidence comes back and that is what it’s all about.”
Voracek has six goals, five assists for 11 points during his seven-game streak. He, too, had a poor start to the season with just one goal through 16 games. He suffered a back injury in the preseason which was a pivotal factor to his start.
“It’s hard to say, it was six or seven games before I was all right,” said Voracek, who needed even more games to get his conditioning level up, as did most of the team after a terrible training camp that affected everyone.
“It took me a while to get back to normal. Right now, me and G are playing well with [Michael] Raffl on the ice. We’re making a difference in games, which is expected of us. That and scoring goals, which is huge. Hopefully, we continue doing that tonight.”
The obvious chemistry between Voracek and Giroux is back. Voracek said today there are no plays on the ice he is incapable of making when he’s playing well.
He also said it’s easier when Giroux is at the top of his game, which he has been lately.
“[Giroux] didn’t get enough luck with enough goals going in, but we both stayed patient and it’s paid off right now,” Voracek said.
A victory would assure the Flyers (16-16-4) go into the Christmas break with a winning record.
“We want to be over .500,” Voracek said. “We tried to move up the standings last game, but we collapsed in the third.
“To be over .500 at Christmas, I don’t think anyone would have expected that from us because of the beginning of the season. It’s a big step.”
Coach Craig Berube expects a low-scoring game.
“They played tough defense and you have to make sure you are doing a good job with the puck tonight and putting it in the right areas,” Berube said.
“They’re going to play stingy defense ... it’s going to be tight out there.”
Andrej Meszaros will replace the injured Erik Gustafsson (knee sprain). He had been a healthy scratch for five games. ... Nick Grossmann, who missed Saturday’s game in Columbus with the flu, is back in the lineup, which means Hal Gill is out. ... Steve Mason starts in goal.