The Philadelphia Flyers will look to avoid a third straight loss with a depleted roster as they host the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
After six key players were placed on the coronavirus list, the Flyers fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Rangers last Thursday and then 7-3 to the Boston Bruins on Sunday at NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nev.
Again, the Flyers are expected to be without captain Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom. There is a slight chance some of these players could play Wednesday.
“We talk on a regular basis — every other day, exchange quite a few texts,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Jake has had no symptoms, so he’s champing at the bits here. He understands the situation. It’s not easy to spend 14 days at home — it’s a challenge. They’re doing the best they can; they’re FaceTiming with their teammates, with their families, with their friends.
“Once they’re cleared to come back, hopefully it won’t take them too long to get back in stride and in rhythm and they’ll be able to help us.”
Even with a short-handed roster, the Flyers must improve defensively to beat any team. Goaltender Carter Hart gave up six goals and was pulled after the second period against the Bruins.
To be fair, the defense in front of him was spotty and inconsistent.
“They got on top of us,” Sean Couturier said of the Bruins. “We weren’t too responsible defensively. They’re a good team and they make you pay when they get their chances.”
The Flyers have been outshot in 13 of their 15 games yet hold an 8-4-3 record. Three of those losses came against the Bruins in regulation, one in overtime and one in a shootout.
After a disappointing 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 16, the Rangers have responded with wins over the Flyers and Washington Capitals.
The Rangers will look to make it three in a row in a rematch against Philadelphia.
New York will be without standout Artemi Panarin, who’s taking a leave of absence after a report surfaced in a Russian newspaper accusing him of assaulting a woman in 2011 in Latvia.
Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored a huge goal against the Capitals and likely will receive more ice time with Panarin absent.
“Goal-scorers thrive off confidence, and usually when one goes in, it starts a little bit of a snowball effect, so we certainly hope that happens for Alexis,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “He continues to improve, come to the rink with a great attitude and work hard, and as long as he continues to do that, good things are going to happen for him.”
Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil are on the virus list and questionable for the game against the Flyers. Chytil also has been recovering from an upper-body injury.
“Obviously you’re concerned any time someone gets put on this list, so we’ll talk here shortly and see how he feels,” Quinn said of Kakko. “From what I gather, there haven’t really been any symptoms yet, so we’ll see.”
The Rangers have killed off 31 of their past 32 power plays over the past nine games.
–Field Level Media