By Spencer Lussier
The struggling Toronto Maple Leafs have a rare road game in January, as they travel to the city of brotherly love to take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Leafs are hoping a change of scenery will change their recent funk with the club entering this game losers of six of their last eight. This season the Leafs have not played their best hockey away from the ACC sporting a 12-10-2 record, while The Flyers don’t have the flashiest record at home (11-8-4), they enter this contest 7-2 in their last nine at the Wells Fargo Center. Both teams meet for the final time this season, with the Flyers beating the Leafs 4-2 the other two times this season. You could even look to the Leafs last lost against the Flyers about a month ago as the start of the Leafs losing ways at the end of 2017 and early on in 2018. This year’s edition of the Flyers has been the best we’ve seen in recent years. Aside from the 10-game losing streak in November, Philly has been known to play the best teams tough. Both offences are comparable 5-on-5 but the Leafs have a huge upper-hand with the man advantage with the 10th best, compared to the Flyers who are 29th.
Tonight, is a special night in Philly as before the game the Flyers will be retiring former captain and NHL Hall of Famer Eric Lindros’ number 88. Lindros played 13 season in the NHL mainly with the Flyers, but also played for the Rangers, Leafs and Stars. Lindros was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016.
Player to watch on Philadelphia: Sean Couturier
Claude Giroux has had a re-emergence this season with the team lead in points with 54, which also puts him towards the top spot in the entire league. Part of the reasoning for Giroux success is because of the rise of Sean Couturier. The former first rounder is having his career best season, reaching a new career high in goals with 25, and is on pace for 40 goals this season. With Couturier’s hot start, Head Coach Dave Hakstol had no choice but to promote him to the first line, bumping Giroux over to the wing. Couturier enters tonight’s game with seven goals in his last five games and continues to elevate Philly’s first line into the conversation of the best first lines in the game.
Watchability Scale: 7/10
Tonight’s game should be fun to watch with both offences having the potential to score lots of goals. Both team’s weakness is on defence which means the offences should be able to capitalize. Lately we have seen the goals dry up for the Leafs which can prove to be costly against this Flyers team who have been tough at home. It will come down to Philly’s discipline tonight. Both teams are comparable on offence during 5-on-5 play, but the Leafs have a significantly better powerplay which could open this game open if given the chance. I rate this game a 7/10 on the scale.