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Flyers begin toughest stretch of season with matchup against Maple Leafs

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The next seven games will shape the playoff hopes of the Philadelphia Flyers, and it all begins tonight when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Flyers’ upcoming stretch, including tonight, sees them take on the Maple Leafs twice, the Boston Bruins twice, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers, and the New York Rangers. All of those teams sit in the top ten in the NHL with the Panthers in first, the Bruins in third, the Rangers in fourth, the Hurricanes in eighth, and the Maple Leafs in tenth, respectively.

“I think there’s an excitement that games are meaningful right now,” said assistant coach Brad Shaw. “I don’t think we really get too far ahead of ourselves. We’re still taking things one game at a time, one day at a time.

“Regardless of that, the group of games we have in the next couple weeks are fairly daunting, but when you look at them one game at a time, we’re capable of winning any night when we play our A-game and that’s our challenge, is how close can we get to our best game with as many players as possible as often as possible.”

The Flyers know the challenge ahead is tough after getting a bit of a breather with a win over the last-place San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, but they’re ready for it. They’ll certainly have their hands full against an always dangerous Toronto club tonight.

The league’s top goal scorer, Auston Matthews, enters the contest with 54 tallies, but he only has one goal in his last five games and two goals in his last eight. He did, however, rack up a hat trick against the Flyers back on February 15th at Scotiabank Arena and has 18 points (9g, 9a) in 16 career meetings against Philadelphia, so watch out for one of the frontrunners for this year’s Hart Trophy.

One saving grace for the Flyers is that they won’t have to face Mitch Marner. The Maple Leafs winger and team-leading setup man with 51 assists hasn’t played since March 7th due to a lower-body injury and is still day-to-day. Marner has racked up 17 assists in 18 career contests against the Flyers to accompany 4 goals.

Despite some injuries, the Maple Leafs have won 11 of their last 14 games, including a run of seven straight from February 13th to February 24th. They score a ton of goals and they possess a lethal power play that operates at a 27.2% rate, which is tied for second in the league and that doesn’t bode well for a Flyers penalty kill that has allowed five goals on its last nine kills (44.4%) in the last two games. In the month of March through six games, Philadelphia has killed 15 of 21 penalties (71.4%) which is still below their usual standard, but hopefully the last two contests were outliers.

PHI Record: 34-24-8, 76 pts, 3rd in Metropolitan

TOR Record: 34-19-8, 82 pts, 3rd in Atlantic

When: 7:30pm ET

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

Broadcast Info: ESPN+, Hulu, 93.3 WMMR

Last Game PHI: 3/12/24, 3-2 W vs. San Jose

Last Game TOR: 3/9/24, 3-2 W at Montréal

PHI Goalie: Samuel Ersson (19-13-5, .899 SV%, 2.61 GAA, 3 SO)

TOR Goalie: Ilya Samsonov (17-5-6, .887 SV%, 3.10 GAA, 2 SO)

PHI Projected Lineup

#15 Denis Gurianov – #14 Sean Couturier – #10 Bobby Brink

#74 Owen Tippett – #21 Scott Laughton – #11 Travis Konecny

#86 Joel Farabee – #48 Morgan Frost – #71 Tyson Foerster

#27 Noah Cates – #25 Ryan Poehling – #19 Garnet Hathaway

#8 Cam York – #6 Travis Sanheim

#18 Marc Staal– #23 Ronnie Attard

#5 Egor Zamula – #77 Erik Johnson

#33 Samuel Ersson

#32 Felix Sandström

Scratches: #44 Nicolas Deslauriers, #89 Cam Atkinson

Injuries: #9 Jamie Drysdale, #24 Nick Seeler, #55 Rasmus Ristolainen

TOR Projected Lineup

#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #34 Auston Matthews – #19 Calle Järnkrok

#11 Max Domi – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander

#23 Matthew Knies – #64 David Kämpf – #74 Bobby McMann

#29 Pontus Holmberg – #24 Connor Dewar – #75 Ryan Reaves

#44 Morgan Rielly – #46 Ilya Lyubushkin

#20 Joel Edmundson – #37 Timothy Liljegren

#78 T.J. Brodie – #22 Jake McCabe

#35 Ilya Samsonov

#60 Joseph Woll

Scratches: #2 Simon Benoit, #18 Noah Gregor, #31 Martin Jones, #89 Nick Robertson

Injuries: #16 Mitch Marner, #25 Conor Timmins, #55 Mark Giordano

News and Notes

– The Maple Leafs have won the last seven meetings against the Flyers. Philadelphia has not beaten Toronto since December 3rd, 2019.

– The Flyers are 100-65-22-6 all-time against the Maple Leafs since joining the league in 1967. 1967 is also the last time the Maple Leafs won a Stanley Cup.

– Philadelphia is 58-28-8-2 against Toronto at home all-time and 24-17-0-2 against them at Wells Fargo Center since it opened in 1996.

Travis Konecny leads all active Flyers in goals (6, tied with Cam Atkinson) and points (19) against the Maple Leafs, while Marc Staal leads in assists (15) against them.

Samuel Ersson has played just once against the Maple Leafs, allowing four goals on 28 shots in the Flyers’ 4-3 overtime loss on February 15th in Toronto.

Union Forge Vodka proudly serves as the Official Vodka of Flyers Nation. This partnership celebrates the unyielding spirit of Flyers fans and offers a quality spirit that perfectly compliments the team’s essence. Whether celebrating victories or showing resilience, Union Forge Vodka embodies the winning spirit of both the Flyers and their dedicated fans. Stay connected with exciting giveaways by following @unionforge and @flyersnation across all social media platforms.

Managing Editor at Flyers Nation. Proud lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers and all things hockey related. Steve Mason's #1 fan.

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