Flyers look to continue strong start vs. Maple Leafs

NHL Hockey

One of general manager Chuck Fletcher’s biggest priorities in the offseason was to improve the Philadelphia Flyers’ depth.

Fletcher made a number of key moves and they’ve paid off as the Flyers continue to deal with some difficult injuries.

The two notable absences have been Kevin Hayes and Ryan Ellis, but the Flyers keep thriving.

Philadelphia will look to improve on its impressive 6-2-2 start when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Ellis, a defenseman, was brought in specifically to help the penalty kill unit, which was abysmal last season. Ellis has missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury and it’s unclear if he’ll return to face the Maple Leafs, according to head coach Alain Vigneault after Tuesday’s practice.

Hayes, however, remains out.

“Guys are stepping up,” Justin Braun said. “Those guys are world-class players, but I think everyone in their new roles has done a really good job. That’s what you want to have. When it’s a long season, guys are going to be in and out all year, (you want) guys who can step in and do a good job.”

In the offseason, Fletcher also signed goaltender Carter Hart to a three-year contract extension and brought in Martin Jones as the backup. Jones has been especially impressive with three wins in three starts.

While there doesn’t appear to be a goaltender controversy, the Flyers are going to be dealing with a good problem.

“It’s always important to get off to a good start and you want to make a good impression for your new team and instill some confidence in them that I’ll get the job done as well,” Jones said. “It’s a good start. The boys are playing really well and we’re going to look to keep getting better.”

Following a five-game winning streak, the Maple Leafs were soundly defeated 5-1 by the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

But only one of their seven victories has come on the road.

John Tavares scored the lone goal for the Maple Leafs, but the defense had too many breakdowns and goaltender Jack Campbell gave up five goals.

It was an uncharacteristic overall performance after a strong start.

“He’s part of spotting them the 2-0 lead early, but it’s two guys in alone coming in on him, that’s a tough ask for a goaltender,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said of Campbell. “He’s bailed us out a lot, so we’ve come to expect him to have the ability to save those, and I’m sure he has the expectation to stop them, but he’s got five guys playing in front of him.

“They’ve got to help him out.”

Unlike most of their previous games, the Maple Leafs came out flat and quickly fell behind 2-0. They were never able to recover.

But Toronto has been consistent for the most part in the early part of the season and that will be the goal when it visits Philadelphia.

“We weren’t able to sustain our game,” Tavares said of the team’s effort in the 5-1 loss. “We did not win enough of those battles in the tight areas. Giving up the lead, having to play from behind, we did not make enough plays and generate momentum in the hockey game.”

–Field Level Media

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