3 Things: Flyers-Blackhawks 3/16/16

The Flyers and Blackhawks will duel on NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry special at 8:00.

Following the Philadelphia Flyers’ dominant win on Tuesday, the Flyers are back in the saddle again for Wednesday’s tussle with the Blackhawks.

The 4-3 victory over the Red Wings puts the Flyers just 1 point out of the playoffs with 2 games in hand.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are heading into Wednesday’s game coming in off of a tough loss to the Los Angeles Kings, losing 5-0 at home. Still, the Hawks have 88 points on the season, are virtually guaranteed a playoff spot, and look primed for a deep run.

The Flyers and Hawks will face off at 8:00 in Chicago as a part of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry special. Here are “3 Things” to know before puck drop.

  1. Flyers Getting Contributions From Everyone

One noticeable attribute that the Flyers have developed over the season has been their depth. While Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and Shayne Gostisbehere have been consistent contributors, the depth lines and pairings were always a disappointment for Philadelphia.

Those days are long since gone. The third line is good at driving possession and winning puck battles using their speed, the fourth line has improved in all 3 zones, and the defense has stepped up since Michael Del Zotto got injured.

This is a trait that playoff teams have; for example just look at the Blackhawks. All 3 of the Blackhawks’ recent Stanley Cup Champion teams have had deep rosters. It is safe to say that if the Hawks didn’t have the depth they have, they wouldn’t have won 3 Stanley Cups.

By the same token, if the Flyers didn’t have the depth that they now have, they never would’ve leaped into playoff contention.

  1. Stopping the Blackhawks

The Flyers are the latest team with the unenviable task of attempting to halt the high-scoring Blackhawks. Few have succeeded thus far, and with good reason: the Blackhawks have the best chemistry in the NHL.

The rich got richer at the trade deadline, as Andrew Ladd, Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise, and Christian Erhoff have all jumped aboard and are playing critical roles for the Hawks.

These acquisitions have joined an existing cast that includes consensus MVP Patrick Kane (89 points in 70 games), Jonathan Toews (24 goals and 24 assists), Artemi Panarin (Shayne Gostisbehere’s main competition for the Calder Trophy), Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and goalie Corey Crawford.

One thing about the Blackhawks is that they rarely tinker with their line combinations or special teams units; they know what works and they never have to mess with it. Thus, while teams are aware of what’s coming, they haven’t been able to find an answer for it yet.

  1. Flyers’ Playoff Chase

The Flyers face a long road to the playoffs, but they have already passed the construction zone, now they are cruising. However, there are still some winding turns up ahead.

After Wednesday’s game, the Flyers will be out of game action until Saturday afternoon, but the intensity is sure to ramp up, as the Flyers will be hosting the rival Pittsburgh Penguins with the opportunity to draw closer in the Wild Card race.

Following that crucial matchup, another back-to-back awaits the Flyers; they’ll play the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets as the start of a 4-game road trip.

The Flyers need to win all of the games that they can, but it could be tricky to do so against the Hawks, Penguins, and Islanders. This team doesn’t have any quit in them though, which will help them get through this stretch.

If the Flyers are a real playoff team, they’ll have to be able to persevere through this adversity.

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