NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the St. Louis Blues at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The St. Louis Blues have been falling apart for over a month now. GM Doug Armstrong’s answer to the mounting losses was to fire Ken Hitchcock and replace him with associate coach Mike Yeo.
Yeo was able to win his first game as head coach on Thursday, when the Blues defeated the Maple Leafs 5-1, but they went back to their old ways on Saturday, as they were dropped 4-1 by the Penguins. As if the loss to Pittsburgh wasn’t enough, the Blues also lost forward Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL in that. He’s done for the year.
“I know it’s been a long emotional week for everybody,” Yeo said after the loss, per the St. Louis Dispatch “We had a good game (on Thursday) and this was not a good game. What I’ve said all along is, we need to continue to build our game. It has to be our focus. We’ll take out of this what did well enough and push forward.”
Things won’t get any easier for St. Louis. Tonight is their first game of a five-game road trip, which will see them travel to Philly, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Detroit. The first four games will be played over the next six days.
Despite their struggles, the Blues are still in a decent spot. They’re currently two points behind Calgary for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but they have three games in hand. A solid road trip could put them right back in playoff position.
The Flyers are in a similar boat. They need to go on a run if they want to secure a position in the postseason. Philadelphia has racked up 59 points in 53 games, which puts them in the final Wild Card spot in the East…for now.
They’re two points ahead of Toronto, three points ahead of Florida and four points ahead of Carolina, but those teams have three, one and two games in hand respectively.
This will be Philadelphia’s third game of a five-game homestand that has see them take down Montreal on Thursday and lose in OT to Los Angeles on Saturday night.
One of the positives for the Flyers has been the play of goalie Michal Neuvirth, who was especially outstanding in the 1-0 loss to the Kings. In his last three outings, Neuvirth owns a 0.99 goals-against-average and a .958 save percentage. Those numbers are obviously on a small scale, but no one can argue that those are impressive stats.
The Flyers typically split the workload between Neuvirth and Steve Mason when both are healthy, but playing multiple games in a row is something every goalie appreciates.
“It’s definitely huge,” Neuvirth said, per CSN Philly. “Like I said so many times, the more I play the better I play, I felt really good out there.
“I am seeing the puck well, I was battling through traffic, penalty kill was really good once again. It would have been nice if we could win that game but, it didn’t happen.”
If they want to hold down that playoff spot, they’ll need one of their two goalies to continue stepping up and keeping them in games.