Time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Where to watch: ESPN+, SN, NBCSP
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Flyers -160. Canucks +130
BetMGM: Flyers -167, Canucks +135
Caesars: Flyers -160, Canucks +140
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Canucks - Flyers preview and analysis
Canucks: lost 3-2 (SO) at Oilers on Oct. 13
Flyers: 1st game of the season
Many teams can chalk last season up as an aberration due to the COVID-shortened 56-game schedule.
But the Philadelphia Flyers were the rare breed of somehow falling off a cliff in a short amount of time. After missing the playoffs last season, the Flyers retooled their blue line and are going back to an 82-game season with some hope that the core of the group can make another run.
This crucial season begins Friday when the Flyers host the Vancouver Canucks in Philly’s season opener.
The Flyers finished last season with 58 points, a good 13 behind the New York Islanders for fourth place in the East Division. It was going to be an uphill climb for the Flyers in that stacked division, but things aren't any easier as they return to the Metropolitan Division. Four teams may make it out of the Metro, but as things stand, the Flyers may not be one of those teams.
That’s why they retooled their defense group by acquiring Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators and Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres during the offseason. Couple that duo with Ivan Provorov, and the Flyers should have one of the best blue lines in the Eastern Conference.
But the success of Philadelphia’s season rests on the shoulders of goalie Carter Hart. The prized 22-year-old goaltender played only seven games last season and was shut down due to an MCL sprain in his left knee.
Hart was spectacular in his first full season in 2019-20, going 24-13-3 with a 2.42 GAA and .914 save percentage. The Flyers not only have good faith in Hart, but have him under control for a reasonable cost for the next three years ($3.979 million AAV). The goaltending after Hart is, of all people, Martin Jones. And if Hart needs a breather, it’s almost a guaranteed loss behind him.
The Canucks will make their first trip to the United States in almost two years after what was a hectic season in the Canadian bubble. Twenty-one players were part of a gigantic COVID outbreak in Vancouver that saw them finish the season with 19 games in 32 days. Not surprising, the Canucks missed the playoffs after coming within one game of the Western Conference Final in the Edmonton bubble in 2020.
Vancouver is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers in its season opener in what was a promising debut for some. Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his first goal after the former Arizona Coyotes captain was acquired in a trade this offseason. Rookie forward Nils Hoglander had two assists in his NHL debut, and Quinn Hughes also scored the goal to bring it to overtime.
Canucks star Brock Boeser did not play Wednesday and it’s unexpected he will play in this one. Ristolainen (upper body) will not play.
You figure a healthy Hart returning to his crease will get a home crowd fired up. Much like most of these arenas returning to full crowds, Philly should be a great atmosphere and will be ready for what’s to be a fun game. Flyers win 4-2
The Canucks are 11-26 (-14.4 net games on the money line) off a road loss in the past three years.
Vancouver is 18-43 ATS after a road game in the past three years.
The Flyers are 7-5 (+1.8 net games) against the spread the past three years in Friday games.
J.T. Miller -- Elias Pettersson -- Alex Chiasson
Tanner Pearson -- Bo Horvat -- Conor Garland
Matthew Highmore -- Jason Dickinson -- Nils Hoglander
Justin Dowling -- Juho Lammikko -- Vasily Podkolzin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes -- Tucker Poolman
Jack Rathbone -- Kyle Burroughs
Claude Giroux -- Sean Couturier -- Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee -- Derick Brassard -- Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom -- Scott Laughton -- James van Riemsdyk
Patrick Brown -- Nate Thompson -- Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Ivan Provorov -- Ryan Ellis
Keith Yandle -- Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler -- Justin Braun
Goals: Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Quinn Hughes -- 1
Assists: Nils Hoglander -- 2
TOI: Quinn Hughes -- 27:02
Leading goalie: Thatcher Demko -- 0-0-1 .941 save percentage, 1.85 goals-against average
Goals: Joel Farabee -- 20
Assists: Jakub Voracek -- 34
TOI: Ivan Provorov -- 24:59
Leading goalie: Brian Elliott -- 15-9-2, 3.06 GAA, .889 save percentage
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