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Wednesday Night Hockey

Pluses, minuses for Flyers-Blues

Philadelphia seeking consistency, St. Louis complete team, says NHL analyst Weekes

by Kevin Weekes @KevinWeekes / NHL Network Analyst

Each Wednesday throughout the regular season, Kevin Weekes will be offering his pluses and minuses for the teams competing in the NBCSN "Wednesday Night Hockey" game in his Weekes on the Web blog.

The St. Louis Blues enter their game against the Philadelphia Flyers on "Wednesday Night Hockey" on quite the roll.

The Blues (30-10-7) have 67 points, tied with the Washington Capitals for tops in the League, and seek their tenth straight win at home.

The Flyers (24-16-6), who have two wins in their past seven games (2-4-1), will look to get back on track at Enterprise Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Here's my breakdown of the game:

 

Flyers

Pluses: They have by all accounts exceeded expectations and can score with the best of them. Credit first-year Flyers coach Alain Vigneault for instilling his system and credit the players for thriving under it. Philadelphia is currently in a Stanley Cup Playoff spot, as the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov have been pleasant surprises for the Flyers. Konecny, who will represent them at the All-Star Game, is tied with Sean Couturier for the team lead in points with 39 (14 goals, 25 assists). Provorov has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) and is leading the team in ice time per game (24:54).

Video: WSH@PHI: Konecny buries wrist shot at the doorstep

Minuses: They play well at home but not on the road. The Flyers are 15-3-4 at Wells Fargo Center but have nine wins in 24 road games (9-13-2). What separates the good teams from the great teams is the ability to have success away from home and it's something they don't have yet.

Philadelphia needs to be more consistent. They tend to follow up winning streaks with losing streaks. Three times this season they've had winless streaks of four games, and three times they've had winning streaks of at least four games.

Carter Hart sustained an injury and will be out 2-3 weeks with an abdominal strain. That's bad news for the Flyers as the 21-year-old goalie was developing nicely in his second NHL season, going 15-11-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 32 games.

 

Blues

Pluses: The Blues are perhaps the most complete team in the League. They rank in the top 10 in goals scored, are in the top five in goals against and they grind. They also have great depth with four lines they can roll at any time.

Goalies Jordan Binnington and Jake Allen have been outstanding. Binnington, who will play in his first NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 25 at home in St. Louis, has 22 wins, a 2.47 GAA and .917 save percentage; Allen is 8-3-3 with a 2.27 GAA and .926 save percentage and has settled in nicely in his backup role.

The Blues have not had a hangover since winning the Stanley Cup last season, and have been cruising along, leading the Western Conference, with nine straight wins at home. 

Video: Binnington's 1st calendar year as an NHL Player

Minuses: They lost forward Vladimir Tarasenko to a shoulder injury in October and he'll likely be out until at least the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And defenseman Colton Parayko was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with an upper-body injury and will miss his sixth straight game. Those are two big parts of their team to not have.

St. Louis also ranks middle-of-the-pack (13th) on the penalty kill. Although they haven't allowed a power-play goal against in their past three games, they allowed six in their previous four, so that's an area they can improve on.

 

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Who starts in goal for the Flyers?

2. Can the Blues continue their run at home?

3. Which team will be more physical?

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