After a 1-4-1 road trip in which they allowed 5.4 goals per game in the five losses, the Flyers were glad to return to their happy place, the Wells Fargo Center.
For a couple of reasons.
For one, they had the NHL’s highest home winning percentage (.789) entering Wednesday’s nationally televised game against powerful Washington. For another, they get a chance to spend time with teammate Oskar Lindblom, who has started his cancer treatments at Penn.
“I talked to him a little bit during the holidays,” captain Claude Giroux said the other day. “He’s positive and has lots of support — not just from us as a hockey team, but his family and his girlfriend. We’re looking forward to seeing him again.”
The Flyers were 17-8-5 with Lindblom in the lineup this season; they began Wednesday 5-7-1 without him.
Lindblom, 23, shared the team’s lead with 11 goals when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and he will miss the rest of the season.
Humbling road trip
The Flyers will be trying to rebound from a road trip in which they were outscored, 28-16, and lost their last four games. They were outscored in the first period, 15-5, during the season-high six-game journey.
“Overall, it was a disappointing trip, but we’ve been good at home, so we’re excited to get home,” defenseman Matt Niskanen, a former Capital, said after Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime loss in Carolina.
The Flyers are 3-17-4 in their last five holiday road trips; they played those games on the road because Disney on Ice is held at the Wells Fargo Center.
Friedman replaces 'Ghost’
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere “tweaked” a knee late in Tuesday’s loss to Carolina, according to coach Alain Vigneault, causing the Flyers to recall Mark Friedman from the Phantoms on Wednesday and send winger Andy Andreoff to the AHL team.
Friedman was paired with Robert Hagg on Wednesday. Travis Sanheim replaced Gostisbehere on the second power-play unit.
Gostisbehere (five goals, 12 points, minus-2) was to be examined later Wednesday, and Vigneault said he didn’t know how much time he would miss.
Friedman, 24, selected by the Flyers in the third round of the 2014 draft, made his NHL debut in last season’s final game. He has two goals and eight assists in 28 games with the Phantoms this season.
“From what I remember about him from camp, he’s good with his gap and he was confident with the puck,” Vigneault said before facing the Capitals.
Niskanen, who has helped Ivan Provorov improve his play, was acquired in the offseason deal that sent Radko Gudas to the Caps.
Niskanen, 33, had 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) and a minus-3 rating in 42 games before Wednesday. Gudas, 29, had 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) and a team-best plus-20 rating for the much stronger Caps.