Scoring outburst? Check. Back-to-back wins? Check. The Flyers are still far from perfect, but there were several positives that came from the club’s 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday.
The Flyers (3-7-0) will look to build on their best effort of the early season when they host the Anaheim Ducks (9-3-0), who are in the midst of an eight-game road trip, at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. (CSN) and here are five things you need to know for the contest:
1. Keep it going
The Flyers entered Saturday with their leading goal scorer in the AHL. Tye McGinn, who had three goals in a brief stint with the Flyers as an injury call-up, was sent down to the Phantoms to make room for a returning Scott Hartnell.
So what did Vinny Lecavalier do? He made sure the Flyers left Long Island with a leading goal scorer who is actually on the current roster. Lecavalier netted his seventh career hat trick, and now has four goals and two assists in his first seven games in orange and black.
Lecavalier, however, didn’t act alone in the Flyers’ victory over the Isles. Several players had solid performances including Jakub Voracek, who netted his first marker of the season, Michael Raffl, who picked up his first NHL point, and former Islander Mark Streit, who collected two helpers. Even struggling center Claude Giroux got himself into the mix, earning two assists of his own.
After a horrid 1-7-0 start, the Flyers certainly appear on the precipice of breaking out after two wins over the New York teams of the NHL. They’ll search for their first three-game winning streak of the season against a very good Anaheim club.
The Ducks are capable of putting up goals at will -- they are averaging 3.17 per game -- but will also wear teams down physically. If the Flyers carry over their effort from the Islanders game, then Tuesday should be an entertaining matchup.
2. Advantage Flyers?
Believe it or not, the Flyers are actually better on special teams than the Ducks, statistically speaking. Both teams have struggled this season while on the power play, but the Flyers have the advantage in this game (see story).
The Flyers, who snapped a 1-for-25 skid on the power play against the Isles, are 10 percent on the man advantage. They’ll be going up against a Ducks penalty-killing unit that is at 76.2 percent.
As good as Anaheim has been offensively, its power-play units have disappointed early on. The Ducks rank dead last in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 8.2 percent.
That’s not to say Anaheim is weak on the PP. The Flyers can’t afford to give players like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne more ice to work with in the game.
However, one of the few things the Flyers have done well this season is kill penalties. They’ve allowed just seven goals in 43 shorthanded situations. If you take away the three power-play goals the Flyers allowed in a loss to Detroit, the team’s PK would be at 88.8 percent instead of 83.7.
3. Clipped Ducks
While the Flyers are fielding a healthy lineup, the Ducks have a handful of injuries to key players.
Veteran Saku Koivu returned to Anaheim for tests after taking a hard hit during Sunday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Koivu was knocked unconscious on a check by Brandon Dubinsky and must be tested and evaluated before he is allowed to return to the Ducks, per NHL protocol.
Netminder Viktor Fasth also returned to Anaheim on Monday. Fasth, who is receiving additional treatment on his lower-body injury, hasn’t played since Oct. 16.
In addition, the Ducks are missing forwards Jakob Silfverberg (hand), Matt Beleskey (upper body) and defensemen Luca Sbisa (ankle) and Sheldon Souray (wrist).
Forwards Dustin Penner (concussion) and Mathieu Perreault (wrist) were both full participants at practice Monday and head coach Bruce Boudreau said it was possible one or both could return to the Ducks’ lineup on Tuesday.
4. Ducks fly together
Tuesday will be a measuring-stick game for the Flyers’ defense. The Ducks have a potent offense, led by Perry, Getzlaf and company.
A big reason for Anaheim’s strong start is the balance throughout its lineup. Six players have scored three or more goals already, with Perry (six) and Getzlaf (five) leading the way. In addition, 12 Ducks have registered four or more points.
In comparison, the Flyers have just two players with at least three goals (Lecavalier and McGinn) and only five have four or more points (Lecavalier, Giroux, Streit, Voracek and Brayden Schenn).
The Flyers would be smart to pay attention to Perry. The former MVP has back-to-back two-point games and has three goals and four assists in his last five contests.
Don’t forget about Getzlaf, either. The Ducks’ captain is at a point-per-game pace (12) and trails Perry by just one point for the team lead.
5. This and that
• The Flyers have not played Anaheim since Dec. 2, 2011. In that game, Jaromir Jagr scored twice and added an assist to help the orange and black to a 4-3 overtime victory. Kimmo Timonen registered three helpers, while Giroux and Hartnell each had a goal and an assist.
• Selanne, who is in his 22nd NHL season, has faced the Flyers 21 times in the regular season. The 43-year-old has 17 goals and 13 assists in those contests.
• Due in large part to the strong play of Steve Mason, the Flyers have allowed the fewest goals of any team in the Metropolitan Division (27).