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Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Dave Hakstol showing confidence in Travis Sanheim

Flyers (1-1-0) at Ducks (1-0-0)
10 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 9:30

The Flyers continue their season-opening road trip in Anaheim against a Ducks team that rallied from a 4-1 deficit in their opener Thursday for a 5-4 win against Arizona.

After tonight, the Flyers head to Nashville Tuesday before their home opener next Saturday against Washington. Coming back east with two wins would be the ideal start for the orange and black, but a point tonight would also make for a successful trip.

Let’s get you set for puck drop with some pregame thoughts for Game 3 of the season.

• As the road trip nears its end, we’ll soon find out which young defenseman won the second spot on the Flyers’ blue line. Perhaps a move will be made Sunday or Monday.

It sure looks like Travis Sanheim has has secured a spot over Sam Morin. Thursday was an indication of that and since Sanheim draws back in tonight, it’s safe to bet Sanheim is here to stay.
 
Sanheim made his NHL debut Thursday and the 21-year-old had his struggles. In the second period, Sanheim was at fault for the Kings’ first goal. Sanheim had a neutral-zone turnover and then allowed Trevor Lewis to get behind him for a one-timer.
 
But Hakstol chose to trust Sanheim in the third period with the game on the line. That was refreshing to see. Sanheim will make his mistakes, but he has to learn from them. The only way he will is to keep playing. For that reason, I’m happy to see him in tonight.

• How impressive has the Flyers’ fourth line been? Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl is a huge improvement from last year’s unit. The trio creates energy, plays responsible defensively and always seems to be in the opponent’s zone. There’s so much to like from the line and the chemistry between Laughton and Leier is uncanny.

They’re going to break out for some goals sooner or later. I’m betting it’s tonight.

• It’s been a quiet start for Nolan Patrick, but I haven’t been disappointed with his play. I think he’s flashed some positive signs as he adjusts to the NHL regular-season pace, but there’s still more to be desired. I believe it will come shortly. 
 
From a possession standpoint, however, the Patrick line with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds has been dominated in the early going. We saw it in San Jose as the Logan Couture line was matched up against them and in L.A., with the Carter line.

It appears Hakstol has decided to switch things up for tonight’s game in Anaheim. Patrick was skating with Travis Konecny and Dale Weise during the morning skate while Valtteri Filppula moved up to the second line. 

I don’t view this as a demotion per say. Second or third line is where Patrick will be this season, and I still have faith we’ll see him back with Weal and Simmonds at some point. But for now, it looks like he’ll be skating with Konecny. That should be fun.

• The Flyers will avoid Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who will miss his second straight game with one of those famous part-of-the-body injuries. In fact, Anaheim is banged up. The Ducks also will be without Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen.

Getzlaf, 32, has five goals and 17 points in 14 career games against the Flyers.

• You might remember John Gibson’s performance against the Flyers the last time they were in Anaheim. Gibson turned away 51 shots in a 4-3 shootout win on Jan. 1.

In three career games against the Flyers, Gibson is 3-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He allowed four goals on 30 shots Thursday against Arizona and even challenged Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue to a fight.

• Even without Getzlaf and Kesler, the Ducks survived an improved Arizona team Thursday with much thanks to Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell.

Perry had two goals and an assist, while Rakell scored the game-winner and gathered two helpers himself. Perry has five goals and 16 points in 15 career games against the Flyers. He’s one of those players you’d love to have but absolutely just despise when he's your opponent.