Weekly Flyers Preview: Dec. 30-Jan. 6

The Flyers continue their Western road trip, after a win against Edmonton Saturday night. This week's games will give the Flyers some tests against Western playoff contenders.

Monday, December 30, 2013 @ Vancouver Canucks (23-11-6, 52 points, 4th Pacific)

The Flyers hosted Vancouver back on October 15, a comeback 3-2 win for the Canucks.

The Canucks are in the second half of a back-to-back, after a 2-0 road victory in Calgary Sunday night.

Vancouver is 12-5-3 at home and has won six in a row, dating back to November 25. They've gotten at least a point in nine of their last ten home games.

Surprisingly, Vancouver is in the middle of the pack in scoring, averaging 2.65 goals per game (15th).

Where the Canucks excel is on the back end, where they rank fourth in goals against average (2.22). They are even better at home, where they only allow 1.84 goals. Roberto Luongo has been the man, going 16-9-6, allowing 2.24 goals per game and has saved 92% of shots.

The Sedin twins once again lead the offense, as both have 33 points this season. Daniel has 12 goals, which is second only to Ryan Kesler's 15. Chris Higgins is the other Canuck in double figures with eleven goals.

Some of the Canucks' offensive woes can be attributed to a punchless power play. Ranking 25th, Vancouver has only scored on 15.2% of man advantages. Kesler (five), both Sedins (four each) and Jason Garrison (three) are the only players with multiple power play goals.

Vancouver is the best penalty killing team in the league at 89.5% and is even better at home (91.7%). Their four shorthanded goals are fourth-most in the league. In addition, the Canucks have killed ten of their last eleven penalties.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 @ Calgary Flames (14-19-6, 34 points, 6th Pacific)

The final contest of 2013 is in Calgary. The Flyers have won four in a row in Calgary, dating back to 2002. 

Calgary has struggled at home, going 7-9-3.  They have been shutout at home in back-to-back games for the first time since 2003.

The Flames have the 24th ranked offense, averaging 2.38 goals per game. Only Mike Cammalleri (12 goals), Jiri Hudler (11) and rookie Sean Monahan (ten) have more than six goals.

Between the pipes, Calgary has struggled to keep the puck out of the net, allowing 3.08 goals per game, which is 26th in the league. The Flames have struggled to replace retired mainstay Miikka Kiprusoff, leaving the job to Reto Berra and Karri Ramo. Berra has gone 5-10-2, while Ramo's record is 6-6-3. Ramo has a better goals against average (2.79 to 2.91) but Berra holds the better save percentage (.905 to .904).

The Flames have only converted on 14.5% of power plays, which is fifth-worst in the league. Defenseman Mark Giordano leads Calgary with four power play goals.

Calgary's penalty kill is in the middle of the pack, ranked 14th, at 81.9%. However, they have the fourth best home killing percentage at 88.7%.

Thursday, January 2, 2014 @ Colorado Avalanche (23-11-4, 50 points, 3rd Central)

The Flyers open up 2014 in a city they have not won in since 2002, and are only 2-3-2-3 lifetime. 

After a hot start, the Avalanche have cooled, losing nine of 13 in December, including their last four in a row.

Colorado is tenth in the league in scoring, averaging 2.82 goals per game, but that number increases to 3.1 at Pepsi Center, where they are 12-5-2. Matt Duchene leads the team with 16 goals, but is scoreless in his last four games. Ryan O'Reilly has twelve, but none in three games. Both Gabriel Landeskog (11 goals this season) and Nathan MacKinnon (9 goals) have scored twice in Colorado's last three games. Paul Stastny has eleven goals to round out the Avs' top six.

The Avalanche rank eleventh in goals against average, allowing 2.47 goals per game. Seymon Varlamov has been the man between the pipes, winning 16 games so far this season. Varlamov's GAA this season is 2.35 to go along with a .927 save percentage.

Duchene has four goals for the 20th ranked power play (16.1%). MacKinnon and O'Reilly have three each. Colorado also has struggled on the penalty kill, ranking 22nd, killing only 80.2% of man advantages. Although their killing percentage is low, they have shorthanded only 116 times, second lowest figure in the league.

Saturday, January 4, 2014 @ Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-9, 47 points, 5th Pacific)

The Flyers and Coyotes last squared off October 11, a 2-1 Phoenix win. In the past three months, the two teams have started to figure out where they will stand in their respective divisions.

Recently, the Coyotes have been in a slump, losing six of their last seven. However, they are 10-3-3 at Jobing.com arena.

Phoenix boasts the sixth-ranked offense, averaging 2.95 goals per game. That number jumps to 3.5 per game at home. Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette lead the attack with twelve goals each. Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal (11 goals each), Mike Ribiero and Mikkel Boedker (10 each) all are in double figures as well.  Hanzal has three goals in his last games, while Vermette had a hat trick December 21.

As good as the Coyotes offense has been, their defense has been as bad. Allowing an average of 2.97 goals a game, Phoenix has the sixth-worst defense. Mike Smith has been their workhorse, playing in 32 of the the team's 38 games. He has a record of 15-8-8, allowing 2.83 goals per game and has saved 91.4% of shots faced.

Phoenix has the ninth ranked power play, scoring on 20% of man advantages. Doan has six power play goals, while Vrbata has five.  However, Phoenix only kills off 79% of penalties, which is 25th. They are also the only team without a shorthanded goal.

Weekly Expectations: 4 points

Since Nov. 18 Dan has been predicting Flyers points.

Realdeal: 26

Flyers: 24

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Dan MacNeal

Staff Writer
Twitter: @Realdeal411@TCLFlyers