Bill Meltzer: Flyers Gameday: 12/3/14 @ ANA



The Flyers will have the same lineup as last night. Steve Mason will get the back-to-back start in goal. Vincent Lecavalier and Michael Del Zotto remain healthy scratches. PREVIEW: FLYERS @ DUCKS

In dire need of something positive from which they can rebuild their confidence, the Philadelphia Flyers (8-13-3) are in California to take on the Western Conference powerhouse Anaheim Ducks (15-6-5).

Game time is 10:30 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on TCN Philadelphia.

This is the second and final meeting between the teams this season. On Oct. 14, the Ducks captured a 4-3 shootout win at the Wells Fargo Center.

In the previous game, the Flyers trailed Anaheim by a 2-0 margin after the first period and 3-2 at the second intermission. With 5:20 remaining in the third period, Jakub Voracek tied the game on a spectacular individual effort in which he powered his way around the net and elevated a perfect backhanded shot under the crossbar as he skated out in front. William Karlsson scored the winning goal in the skills competition.

The Flyers, who are playing the second half of back-to-back game nights, will be back in action in Los Angeles on Saturday. The Flyers make a Dec. 9 stop in Columbus before returning home for three games. The Ducks were idle last night. On Friday, the team travels to St. Paul to take on the Minnesota Wild. Flyers outlook

The Flyers are coming off an emotionally wrenching 2-1 loss in San Jose last night. Matt Nieto scored the game winner with just 11.5 seconds remaining on the third period clock.

For the first time this season, the Flyers scored first in a road game. Sean Couturier weaved a power play goal through traffic on a shot from the top of the left circle at the 6:00 mark of the first period. It was Couturier’s fifth goal of the season, snapping an 11-game drought.

Scott Laughton earned his first NHL point with the primary assist on the play. Andrew MacDonald, returning to the lineup after sitting out Saturday’s game as a healthy scratch, received the secondary assist.

The Sharks tied the game at 1-1 with 2:16 remaining in the second period. On a 3-on-2 rush, Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s left circle shot eluded Steve Mason to knot the score.

The game remained tied until Nieto’s fateful goal in the closing 12 seconds of regulation. On the play, Nieto forced a turnover by Brayden Schenn in the neutral zone. All three Flyers forwards were now on the wrong side of the puck, as Nieto sent the puck ahead to Patrick Marleau. Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn had an opportunity to break up the play but got beaten badly at the blueline. Now Marleau had a partial breakaway with Nick Schultz scrambling to get back.

Schultz hooked Marleau — a delayed penalty was called — but the veteran forward nevertheless was able to snap a shot on Mason. The Flyers goaltender made the save. A fraction of a second later, a desperately retreating Coburn accidentally knocked into his teammate, preventing any chance of Mason being in position to make a second save. The trailing Nieto picked up the loose rebound and fired it home to win the game.

Chosen the third star of the game after making 25 saves — including several of the very difficult variety — Mason deserved a better fate than a regulation loss on his record.

Did the rest of the team deserve better? The Flyers played an excellent first period, generating a 16-6 shot advantage and taking a lead to intermission. Thereafter, Philly got outshot by a 21-13 margin for the rest of the game. Philly had a few prime scoring chances mixed in, but San Jose was the better and more aggressive team the rest of the way.

The Flyers have been a mess ever since a five-night break in November. In the 10 games that have followed, the team has posted a 1-8-1 record. The team drags a 2-9-1 record away from the Wells Fargo Center into tonight’s game.

The Flyers have over-relied on their top line, top power play unit and their goaltenders to bear the entire burden. When those facets do not shine in spectacular fashion, the team has been losing ugly. The top line duo of Jakub Voracek (still second in the NHL scoring race) and Claude Giroux has cooled off a bit of late, which was inevitable. This has further exposed the team’s scoring depth issues in addition to ongoing problems in five-on-five play and tendency to suffer ill-timed lapses in puck management and coverages.

In last night’s game, Vincent Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for the first time in his distinguished NHL career. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare re-entered the lineup after sitting out Saturday as a healthy scratch.

With MacDonald coming back in the lineup, Flyers head coach Craig Berube made Michael Del Zotto a healthy scratch in Anaheim. Although Del Zotto had been the Flyers best all-around defenseman for much of the first six weeks of the season, he has not played well since sustaining a lower-body injury in the Flyers first game at Madison Square Garden.

Del Zotto only missed one game but has had more bad games than good ones since then. Then again, the same could be said for most of the club. His ice time dropped noticeably in the games leading up to the healthy scratching last night; which was a strong hint that Berube was unhappy with how the player’s game was trending.

It is not known as of this writing how the Flyers will line up for tonight’s game. Luke Schenn, a healthy scratch two games ago, received just 12:51 of ice time in last night’s game. He was minus one and charged with a pair of giveaways. Schenn could be the leading candidate to be scratched tonight presuming Del Zotto returns to the lineup. Ducks outlook

The Ducks enter tonight’s game coming off a 3-2 home win over the Boston Bruins on Monday. Anaheim has been a little inconsistent of late. Over its last 13 games, the club has posted a 5-3-5 record. Three of the one-point losses were via shootout, two were in overtime.

Heading into Monday’s game against the Bruins, Anaheim had lost back-to-back games in regulation to Chicago (home) and San Jose (away). Before that, the Ducks reeled off a mini-hot streak of three straight wins.

In the game against Boston, goals by defenseman Sami Vatanen, Devante Smith-Pelly and Matt Belesky erased an early 1-0 deficit and proved to be just enough offense for a win. Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to nail down the victory.

Entering tonight’s game, 2013-14 Hart Trophy finalist Ryan Getzlaf leads the team in both assists (16) and points (23). Former Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry paces the team with 14 goals (four on the power play) among his 20 points. Vatanen leads the defense with six goals, 14 assists and 20 points.

Former Flyers farm hand Patrick Maroon, who was unavailable due to injury in the earlier meeting this season with Philadelphia, has one goal and 10 points in 18 games.

When the Flyers played the Ducks back in October, Philly had issues getting many of its shot attempts on net from the better shooting areas on the ice. Anaheim blocked 23 shots, led by nine from Vatanen.

On the injury front, the Ducks could have Clayton Stoner (mumps) back in the lineup tonight but still have a very extensive list of wounded warriors. Francois Beauchemin (broken finger), Mark Fistric (lower back, has resumed skating), young goaltender John Gibson (lower body), veteran goaltender Jason LaBarbera (upper body), veteran forward Dany Heatley (groin) and defenseman Ben Lovejoy (hand) all remain on injured reserve. Eric Brewer (undisclosed) may also be out. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)

Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.58 (19th), Ducks 2.62 (15th)

Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 3.04 (T-24th), Ducks 2.50 (T-11th)

Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.85 (25th), Ducks 1.02 (15th)

Power play efficiency: Flyers 22.9% (6th), Ducks 16.9% (20th)

Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 74.1% (30th), Ducks 84.7% (7th)

Faceoff percentage: Flyers 51.5% (10th), Ducks 51.8% (9th) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)


10 Brayden Schenn – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek

12 Michael Raffl – 49 Scott Laughton – 17 Wayne Simmonds

18 R.J. Umberger – 14 Sean Couturier – 24 Matt Read

36 Zac Rinaldo – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 76 Chris VandeVelde

5 Braydon Coburn – 55 Nick Schultz

8 Nicklas Grossmann – 32 Mark Streit

47 Andrew MacDonald – 22 Luke Schenn

35 Steve Mason

[29 Ray Emery]

Scratches: Michael Del Zotto (healthy), Carlo Colaiacovo (healthy), Vincent Lecavalier (healthy).


39 Matt Beleskey – 15 Ryan Getzlaf – 10 Corey Perry

14 Rene Bourque – 17 Ryan Kesler – 21 Kyle Palmieri

7 Andrew Cogliano – 12 Devante Smith-Pelly – 33 Jakob Silfverberg

19 Patrick Maroon – 44 Nate Thompson – 18 Tim Jackman

4 Cam Fowler – 42 Josh Manson

47 Hampus Lindholm – 37 Mat Clark

3 Clayton Stoner – 45 Sami Vatanen

31 Frederik Andersen

[72 Igor Bobkov]

Scratches: Eric Brewer (unspecified), Francois Beauchemin (broken finger, IR), Mark Fistric (lower back, IR, has resumed skating), John Gibson (lower body, IR), Jason LaBarbera (upper body, IR), Dany Heatley (groin, IR), Ben Lovejoy (hand, IR).