CALGARY, Alberta - Can the Flyers duplicate their Western Canadian success from a year ago?
The Flyers turned their 2017-18 season around after sweeping the Calgary-Edmonton-Vancouver road trip for the first time in 21 years.
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It all starts Wednesday night as the Flyers take on the Flames for the first of three games in a four-day span. Last season, the Flyers won, 5-2, in Calgary as Brian Elliott stopped 43 shots in the victory.
Let's look at the essentials:
• When: 8:30 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 8 p.m.
• Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
• Once again, Dave Hakstol has elected to use the Western Canada trip to drastically change the makeup of his lines, splitting up Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier for the first time since the 2016-17 regular season.
Last season, Hakstol broke up what was the most efficient line in hockey (Giroux-Couturier-Jakub Voracek) in an effort to establish some balance among his forwards.
Giroux and Couturier had been paired together dating back to Oct. 4, 2017, playing the last 108 regular-season games together on the same line. Giroux scored 134 points (44 goals, 90 assists), while Couturier produced 96 points (41 goals, 55 assists).
Couturier will return after missing the previous two games with a lower-body injury.
"I think it was just more cautious," Couturier said. "I probably could have played through it."
• James van Riemsdyk is one point shy of 400 for his NHL career.
• Voracek continues his torrid pace with a season-high five-game point streak. Voracek has scored three goals to go along with three assists and is currently four points shy of 600 for his career.
• Among the myriad of changes, recent call-up Phil Varone will move over from right winger to his natural center position and will anchor the Flyers' fourth line with Oskar Lindblom and Dale Weise. It's a move that certainly speaks volumes about where the team is with Jori Lehtera and Jordan Weal, who will be healthy scratches.
That's his natural position. I think he lied to me a little bit when I asked him if he had played wing. How about right wing? He said, ‘Oh yeah. All the time.' He went in and he did a good job. He looked comfortable and did a good job with the puck.
- Hakstol on Varone
• Anthony Stolarz will make his seventh straight appearance in net - the longest stretch of games of any Flyers goaltender this season. In Stolarz's previous six games, an interesting trend has developed as he has allowed between two and four goals: two-four-two-four-two-four.
• This may not be the best time for the Flyers to face high-scoring left winger Johnny Gaudreau. The South Jersey native is coming off a strong week in which he was named the NHL's third star. Gaudreau has 20 points over his last 12 games with a seven-game point streak that was snapped Sunday in a 1-0 loss to the Oilers.
However, Gaudreau may have been preoccupied leading up to that game against Edmonton after learning the devastating fate of his hometown Eagles, who had lost in overtime, 29-23, to the Cowboys.
Yeah, tough loss. Playing Edmonton, I couldn't warm up for the first 15 minutes after our team meeting. I had to watch the overtime there. I thought he was going to intercept it there at the end. Unfortunate loss but a lot of injuries. That's what happens sometimes.
• The Flames have the second-most explosive offense in the NHL, averaging 4.20 goals per game, which is second to the Lightning.
• Flames captain Mark Giordano will return to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for kneeing Wild center Mikko Koivu. The Flames split the two games Giordano missed. He's currently fifth among NHL defensemen with 29 points this season.
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Oskar Lindblom-Phil Varone-Dale Weise
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Andrew MacDonald-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
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