Flyers finishing poor stretch against West; Matt Read clears waivers

FLYREARLY21
Flyers winger Matt Read cleared waivers Tuesday.

The Flyers on Tuesday night will complete a stretch in which they will have played the last 10 games against Western Conference opponents, hosting the Vancouver Canucks.

During that span, the Flyers have won just two of nine against the West, beating St. Louis, 2-0, and Chicago, 3-1.

“We have to make sure we take care of the challenge today, and then obviously (the schedule) changes a little bit, going into divisional play,” coach Dave Hakstol said after Tuesday’s morning skate in Voorhees.

Overall, the Flyers have played 16 of their 20 games against the West; they have won five of those games (5-7-4).

The West has a reputation of having heavier, more physical teams than the East. Hakstol doesn’t buy it.

“I think we’ve seen different types and styles of teams from the Western Conference,” he said. “I don’t think you can make a blanket statement.”

After Tuesday, the Flyers will face three straight East teams, then play three of the next four against the West. But from Dec. 12 through the rest of the season, they will face mostly Eastern foes.

They are 3-1 against the East, beating Washington, Florida, and Toronto. Their only loss was a 5-4 setback to Ottawa, a game in which the Flyers saw two goals erased by the referees.

Belief in Raffl

Michael Raffl, who will play left wing on the Flyers’ third line Tuesday on a unit with Val Filppula and Travis Konecny, is pointless in his last 41 games dating to last season. Hakstol hasn’t lost faith in him.

“Anybody who has watched our team play knows that Raf has played extremely well from the start of the year,” Hakstol said. “He doesn’t have much to show for it offensively, and I’m sure it’s frustrating for him. He’s played very, very well, and he doesn’t need to change his game at all. … He just has to stay with it and the points, the rewards, will come.”

Breakaways

As expected, winger Matt Read cleared waivers Tuesday. He is expected to be sent to the Phantoms when Andrew MacDonald is activated.  Radko Gudas’ spot on the roster counts even though he is suspended for 10 games. … Michal Neuvirth, who was 2-0 vs. the Canucks last season, will make his first start in goal in the last six games, and Dale Weise will be a healthy scratch. … Vancouver is starting a six-game, 12-day road trip. The Canucks have lost four of their last five, and the Flyers have lost four straight. … Former Flyer Michael Del Zotto leads the Canucks in ice time (23:21 per game) and blocked shots (35).