This Week in the NHL – October 24 – October 31

The Flyers return to action tonight after a week off against the New York Rangers.  During their week off, the Flyers toned down their usually out-the-ordinary team bonding during a week off and went to the Eagles/Cowboys game instead.  The puck drops at 7pm at the Wells Fargo Center.  This is the first of four games between the two rivals, after tonight the Flyers won’t face the Rangers until January.  Last year, the Rangers won the season series 3-2-0 with 16 goals for New York and 11 goals for the Fly Guys.  The Flyers will play two more games over the next seven days, traveling to Long Island on Saturday to face the Islanders and then hosting the Ducks on Tuesday; personally, I hoping the Ducks wear threw throwback jerseys although that’s highly unlikely for an away game.

The most important matchup for the Flyers this week is tonight’s game. At 1-7-0, the Flyers need a win and a confidence boost.  The Rangers sit just 2 points ahead of the Flyers in the unfortunately named Metropolitan Division.  New York has scored 11 goals, the same amount as the Flyers, and has let in 29 goals against, all in one less game than the Flyers have played.  Offense is what the Flyers need to improve on.  Coach Craig Berube has already moved around players, placing Vinny Lecavlier on Claude Giroux’s line hoping to spark Giroux out of his slow start.  The defensive stays put for full strength, but Mark Streit and Kimmo Timonen switch places on the power play.

Big Matchups Elsewhere Around the League This Week

Phoenix Coyotes (14 Points) @ LA Kings (12 Points); Tonight at 10:30 – A pivotal matchup between two Pacific Division teams.  Mike Ribeiro has a seven-point streak for Phoenix and Jonathan Quick is 3-2 with 0.81 GAA in his last five home starts against the Coyotes. My Pick: LA

Minnesota Wild (11 Points) and Chicago Blackhawks’ (14 Points) Home-and-Home Series; Saturday and Monday – Both teams haven’t lost in regulation at home and have had an usually slow start to their defenses.  My Picks: MIN in regulation at home and in OT in Chicago

MSG

Montreal Canadiens (10 Points) @ NY Rangers (4 Points); Monday – On paper this is an odd pick, but this is the Rangers’ Home Opener so I have to go with it.  King Henrik has had a very slow start (3.45 GAA currently) but after nine games, returning to MSG (pictured above) may be exactly what he needs. My Pick: NYR in OT

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