NHL Extra: Breaking down Flyers vs. Blackhawks

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Looking for the numbers breakdown for how these two teams stack up? Look no further as we’ve got you covered.

Team scoring

Philadelphia is tops in the NHL in scoring with 165 goals while Chicago is fifth in the league with 154. The Flyers are led by Daniel Briere and his 25 goals. Chicago, likewise, is led by Patrick Sharp and his 25 goals. Sharp also leads the Blackhawks in points with 45 while Mike Richards leads Philly in overall points with 45 as well.

Goaltending

Corey Crawford will get the start for Chicago and he’s taken hold of the starting job and for good reason. He’s sporting a microscopic 2.08 goals against average and a robust .923 save percentage while rocking a 16-8-2 record this season. Off-season signing Marty Turco was brought in expected to be the starter but Crawford’s play has forced the issue demanded he get the start.

Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start for Philadelphia and the 20 year-old rookie has been outstanding this year for Philadelphia. He’s holding a 19-6-3 record and sporting a .918 save percentage and a 2.49 goals against average. If Bobrovsky runs into trouble, Brian Boucher has been a more-than-capable backup/spot-starter this year. Boucher’s gone 11-6-2 with a .916 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average.

Special teams

If the Flyers run into penalty trouble, they’ll have their hands full with Chicago. Chicago has the league’s best power play scoring at 25.4% clip. The Flyers, meanwhile, are quite average with the man advantage scoring 16.8% of the time, good for 19th in the league. Killing penalties, however, is more Philly’s strength than it is Chicago’s. The Flyers kill 82.4% of the power plays they face, a mark that’s good for 13th in the NHL. Chicago has some penalty kill issues as they’re 27th out of 30 teams killing penalties at a 77.7% rate. Perhaps the Blackhawks would like to stay out of the box themselves.

Scratches

Philadelphia will be without forward James van Riemsdyk who is out day-to-day with a lower body injury. The feisty Dan Carcillo takes his place in the lineup.

Chicago is going without forward Ryan Johnson and defensemen Nick Boynton, and John Scott. Check that, Jack Skille is out, John Scott takes his spot.

Streaks and standings

The Flyers come into today’s game winners of eight out of their last ten games but coming off a tough loss to New Jersey yesterday afternoon. The Flyers are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference with 67 points. That point total ties them with Vancouver for the best record in the NHL.

Chicago comes in winners of two in a row and six out of their last eight. Their win over Detroit yesterday afternoon saw Tomas Kopecky score two goals. The Blackhawks have 56 points and sit in third place in the Central Division behind Detroit and Nashville. They’re seventh in the Western Conference just one point behind Phoenix for sixth and two points behind Anaheim and Nashville who are tied for fourth. Things are a bit tight in the West.

NHL Extra

If you’d like to ask James and I questions and get our thoughts on today’s game, you can join us for NHL Extra online and follow along with the action that way. To join us for NHL Extra click here. We’ll be kicking things off at 12:30 p.m.

Zibanejad looking for $5.35 million from Rangers in arbitration

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The New York Rangers and restricted free agent forward Mika Zibanejad are scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Tuesday if they can not come to an agreement on a new contract before them.

On Sunday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the numbers both sides are looking at heading into that hearing and they don’t seem to be too far apart. According to Friedman, Zibanejad is seeking a $5.35 million salary while the Rangers have countered with an offer of $4.1 million. If the two sides were able to meet in the middle that would be in the neighborhood of around $4.7 million per season, which probably seems about right given Zibanejad’s performance and some of the contracts that have recently been signed by the likes of Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat (both will make a little more than $5 million per season, while both have been more productive).

Zibanejad, 24, is coming off of his first season with the Rangers after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Derrick Brassard trade.

He was limited to just 56 games due to injury, scoring 14 goals to go with 23 assists. He scored at least 20 goals in each of the previous two seasons.

With Derek Stepan gone to Arizona Zibanejad figures to take on a bigger role this season for the Rangers.

The Rangers still have $8.4 million in salary cap space to work with, via CapFriendly.

New addition Thompson thinks Senators are ‘ready to win’

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Even after reaching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016-17 there is still probably some skepticism as to how good the Ottawa Senators will be this upcoming season and whether or not they can repeat that success.

They didn’t do much to add to that roster over the summer outside of the addition of gritty forward Nate Thompson on a two-year contract from the Anaheim Ducks.

Thompson is excited about the opportunity to join the Senators and believes the success of the team last season was not a fluke.

“This team now is ready to win,” he told Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun this past week. “I don’t think this was a Cinderella team, it was the real deal. They have a pretty good window to win games and hopefully do something even more special.”

It’s going to probably be a little more difficult this season given some of the improvements that have been made by teams around them (Tampa Bay and Toronto should be better than they were a year ago; Montreal and Boston will still be fierce contenders as well) and the fact the Senators themselves might see a bit of a regression in the standings if their overall play doesn’t change much. Keep in mind, for all of the success they had in the playoffs this was still a team that gave up more goals than it scored during the regular season. That is not typically a recipe for long-term success.

Thompson, who will turn 33 at the start of the season, will be relied on primarily to fill a bottom-six role and perhaps help in the faceoff circle. He is coming off of a 2016-17 season in Anaheim that saw him be limited to just 30 games, scoring one goal and adding one assist before recording six points (two goals, four assists) in the playoffs for the Ducks on their run to the Western Conference Finals. He spent the past three seasons playing for the Ducks and also has experience playing for Senators coach Guy Boucher during their time together in Tampa Bay.

Preds GM Poile still has work to do, with Johansen in need of a deal

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David Poile got some work done Saturday.

The Nashville Predators re-signed Viktor Arvidsson on the day the two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled. The new deal? Seven years at a total of $29.75 million — an annual average value of $4.25 million for a player that just scored 31 goals while playing on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg.

The Predators made a run at the Stanley Cup last month, doing so with great goaltending from Pekka Rinne, a top-four group of defensemen that you can argue sets the standard around the league and a talented group of forwards — a number of them with age on their side.

They didn’t win it all, but Poile was recognized for his work by claiming General Manager of the Year.

This is likely among the reasons why.

Roman Josi still has three years left on his deal, while Mattias Ekholm, who was a valuable and reliable top-four d-man playing alongside P.K. Subban, has five years remaining on his deal.

With the Arvidsson contract completed, the priority is now to get Johansen — a restricted free agent — signed. At age 24, he’s Nashville’s No. 1 center coming off a 61-point season, which completed his three-year, $12 million deal.

He was also in the midst of a terrific playoff performance before he suffered a thigh injury and postseason-ending surgery. He’s in line for a significant raise from the $4 million AAV he made on his last contract.

The Predators have about $14.5 million remaining in cap space, per CapFriendly.

Vegas GM doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move extra d-men

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The Vegas Golden Knights currently have 10 defensemen under contract — and that is without Nate Schmidt signed.

Schmidt and the Golden Knights have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 3, so there is still plenty of time for them to negotiate a new deal for the restricted free agent blue liner without having a neutral third party decide the matter.

Schmidt’s agent, Matt Keator, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that talks with the Golden Knights have been positive, which lends to optimism that perhaps the club and player will avoid this whole process with a deal.

A new contract between Schmidt — left unprotected by Washington in the expansion draft — and Vegas would put the Golden Knights at 11 d-men less than two months before training camp opens.

Granted, that number is considerably less than what Vegas had following the expansion draft, when they stockpiled 15 defensemen and eventually moved players like David Schlemko, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marc Methot.

While it seems more moves are likely on the back end for Vegas, general manager George McPhee doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry right now, per the Vegas Review Journal.

“We’re at a manageable number right now,” said McPhee. “We’re pretty close to where we want to be and we’re comfortable with the roster we have.”

Their blue line also includes five players — Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland — that are pending unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. As far as Vegas’ defensive group is concerned, this could mean future trades during the season as other clubs, perhaps playoff bound, look to possibly add a rental late in the year.

One thing McPhee has made clear in the past: He planned on keeping Schmidt and fellow d-man Shea Theodore (only 21 years old). Now, they just have to get Schmidt under contract.

Related: Vegas has more ticket revenue than Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh, says Foley