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Flyers to try to contain the Colorado Avalanche’s sizzling top line

The Flyers will have a difficult challenge against the line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen.

Flyers right winger Jake Voracek tries to score on a wraparound shot against Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov during the teams' Oct. 6 meeting in Denver. Colorado won the game, 5-2.
Flyers right winger Jake Voracek tries to score on a wraparound shot against Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov during the teams' Oct. 6 meeting in Denver. Colorado won the game, 5-2.Read moreJOE MAHONEY

Colorado will be trying to put the finishing touches on a successful road trip Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers will be trying to contain the Avalanche's sizzling top line, one that has Nathan MacKinnon centering wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

Good luck with that.

The Avs are 2-0-1 on the road trip, and Landeskog has scored a total of six goals in those three games. Colorado's top line has combined for 10 goals and 21 points during the trip.

"They have a little bit of everything on that line: some speed, some size, some skill, some toughness," Flyers center Sean Couturier said after Monday's morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. "It's a tough line to go up against, but it's just another great opportunity and another great challenge to go against the best and show what we're made of."

Couturier will center Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds on Monday, and that unit will spend a lot of time matched against MacKinnon and Co.

"If our line is plus-1 or plus-2, we have a good chance of winning," Couturier said. "That's kind of the mentality we've always had. At the same time, if we have the puck most of the night and play offense, we're not going to give up anything."

"It's a big test. I think they're the top line in the league right now," said Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg, who will be paired with Ivan Provorov for the second straight game.  "They have playmaking and speed from MacKinnon, playmaking from Rantanen, and Landeskog just goes hard. He plays simple, but it makes him effective."

In Colorado's 5-2 win over the visiting Flyers on Oct. 6, Landeskog and MacKinnon (empty-netter) each scored goals. Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves, and he will get the start for the Avs on Monday.

Dads in the house

Many of the Flyers' dads will be at Monday's game, and they will be in Boston on Thursday for their annual fathers-sons outing.

The Flyers and their dads will get to Boston on Wednesday; some of the dads are trying to get tickets to Wednesday's World Series game between the Red Sox and Dodgers at Fenway Park.

Coach Dave Hakstol said he and his coaching staff and the players will not be at the World Series.

"We're there on business," Hakstol said. "Hopefully, the dads will have an opportunity to go. What a great experience that would be as an aside, as part of the dads' trip. But players and staff will stick to our routines."

Neuvirth close to returning

Goalie Michal Neuvirth's workload continues to ramp up, Hakstol said, adding it's getting "higher and heavier and we'll continue on that path."

Neuvirth, recovering from an apparent groin injury, could be activated later this week. After Thursday's game, backup goalie Cal Pickard (2-1 record, 4.75 GAA, .833 save percentage) could be put on waivers, or the Flyers might go with three goalies.

If Neuvirth can stay healthy, the Flyers could use him. Their .862 save percentage is last in the NHL.

Colorado will take a .936 save percentage, second in the league, into Monday night's matchup.

O’Brien injured

Providence's Jay O'Brien, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound center selected by the Flyers with their second pick in the first round (19th overall) in June, was injured on a hit by UConn's Carter Turnbull on Friday. He left the game and didn't play Saturday, either.

General manager Ron Hextall does not give injury updates on prospects, but O'Brien might have suffered a concussion.

O'Brien, who was drafted out of high school,  has no points in four games.


The Flyers will use the same lineup that produced Saturday's 5-2 win over New Jersey. That means Brian Elliott (2-3, 3.68 GAA, .878 save percentage) will be back in the nets. Elliott has a 9-3-2 career mark against Colorado, compiling a 2.24 GAA and .907 save percentage. … Winger Marko Dano, claimed off waivers from Winnipeg last week, will make his Colorado debut Monday. … Gritty was ranked No. 1 among NHL mascots by USA Today. Gritty T-shirts will be handed out at Monday's game. … Claude Giroux has eight goals in 13 career games against the Avs. … Defenseman Sam Morin, who is coming off knee surgery, was on the ice again Monday and was working with assistant coach Ian Laperriere. Morin isn't expected to be ready to play until February.