Flyers face Coyotes, aim to build off West success

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Despite their revolving door in goal, the Philadelphia Flyers are coming off a 3-0-1 western swing as they return home for the back end of a home-and-home set with the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night.

Monday night in Glendale, Arizona, the Flyers, with Calvin Pickard playing his second straight game in goal, defeated the Coyotes 5-2 to finish off the trip that raised their record to 7-7-1.


Now, they come off the road with a five-game homestand.

Pickard, one of four goalies used by Philly in the first 15 games, stopped 65 of 71 shots in going 1-0-1 in the last two games -- with Brian Elliott and Michael Neuvirth injured.

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"There's not a whole lot of guys just laying around and there's not a whole lot of guys you're gonna get for less than three or four pieces, if in fact you get a guy," says general manager Ron Hextall. "It's not as easy as we'd all like it to be just to parachute a player of any position in for a short period of time or you try to upgrade.

"We obviously need to get Ells healthy. Hopefully Neuvy gets healthy."


Elliott won the first two games of the trip before going down in practice. He was back on the ice Wednesday and survived taking a shot to the mask from Jakob Voracek in practice. After slamming his stick on the net, he kept going.

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The Coyotes, off to a 7-6-0 start, are 3-3-0 on the road as they head out on a four-game road trip over just six nights. They are in Pittsburgh and Washington Saturday and Sunday and finish in Detroit Tuesday night.

"It's going to be a tough road trip, we're playing some great teams," coach Rick Tocchet said. "It's a good challenge for us. Saying that, we've just got to make sure that we don't let our game slip and don't have big, long losing streaks.

"If you look around the league, everybody's kind of around -- other than a couple teams that only have two, three losses -- everybody's in that range, it's hard to win. It's hard to stay consistent because there's urgency in a lot of teams. You have to match that urgency."

Antii Raanta is 2-1-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .943 save percentage lifetime against the Flyers. He is 5-4-0 with 2.10/.929 numbers on this young season.


The Flyers come into this game 28th in the NHL (through Tuesday) but are facing a team Thursday that is just 25th in goals per game.

Philly is 14th in goals for, 24th on the power play and 29th in penalty killing, while the Coyotes are a stingy third in goals against and second in penalty killing, 23rd on the power play.

Pickard is 3-2-0 with 1.87/.939 numbers lifetime against Arizona, while Elliott, who was off to a 4-5-0 3.10/.893 start, is an impressive 9-2-1 with 2.22/.918 numbers in his career against the Coyotes.

"Yeah it's good to get into a rhythm for sure," Pickard said after his 34 saves Monday night. "I think that was my fourth or fifth game now and fourth start so it's good to get a little more comfortable and I thought my last two were my best two so far. I just gotta build off that. Enjoy this one tonight and then back to work when we get back to Philly."

The Flyers seem to have corrected one problem on their trip. After allowing the first goal of the game in nine of their first 11, they scored the first goal in all four games on the trip -- and wound up with seven of a potential eight points on the journey.


Claude Giroux had two goals and an assist at Arizona, the assist is the 280th power-play point of his career. That ties him for second place on the club's all-time list, with Bobby Clarke still comfortably in the top spot with 333.

The Flyers hosted and met with (after practice) 50 military service men and women at practice Wednesday -- and will further honor the troops in Saturday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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