Just how different are the Flyers from last season?
Wednesday night should provide some early evidence to that answer.
The Flyers (1-0-1) will see the debuts of three acquisitions when the club hosts the Bruins (1-0-0).
Let's get into the essentials for the game:
- When: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Where: Wells Fargo Center
- Broadcast: TNT with Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk and Keith Jones on the call
• Rasmus Ristolainen, Zack MacEwen and Martin Jones will all play their first game for the Flyers.
Ristolainen, who was acquired in one of the Flyers' big offseason trades, is a 6-foot-4 Finnish defenseman that plays a bruising brand of defense.
"I would say I'm a player that the other team hates to play against and I try to be a pain in the ass," Ristolainen said in July after the trade.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old had to miss the Flyers' first two games because of an upper-body injury.
"I know he's definitely raring to go and get out there," James van Riemsdyk said Wednesday after the team's optional morning skate. "The style of game that he brings and wants to play and enjoys playing is definitely one that resonates with the fans here. I’m sure he’s going to be a fan favorite pretty quickly."
MacEwen also plays a physical game but does so up front. He's been itching to go after a delayed arrival because of U.S. visa issues. The Flyers claimed him off of waivers from the Canucks a week ago but he didn't get to Philadelphia until around midnight Tuesday as he awaited the approval of his visa.
"I've been told that he gets in hard on the forecheck, he's a physical player but plays a smart game," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday. "That's what I expect to see from him. I don't know much of him, but he's a young player that obviously our management and scouts thought highly of because we picked him up on waivers. He's going to get an opportunity with a new group of teammates to show what he can do."
The 25-year-old winger will play on the fourth line with Nate Thompson and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
"I chatted with him yesterday, seems like a really good guy," Aube-Kubel said. "I played against him in junior major in Quebec. I remember him being big, tall, strong and good defensively. I'm excited for tonight."
Jones, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal in the offseason, will make his first regular-season start with the Flyers.
The Flyers' decision to play Jones over Carter Hart makes fine sense. It's the third game of a season-opening four-game homestand. Hart got the first two games and is expected to get the fourth on Saturday against the Panthers (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
This way, Jones isn't sitting too long and Hart has a breather before finishing the homestand. If Jones didn't play tonight and started Saturday instead, that would have been 14 days between the last time he was in game action, which was the Flyers' preseason finale Oct. 8.
The 31-year-old had some stiff tuneups during the exhibition slate. He allowed 11 goals through four games but saw the third-most shots of any goalie in the NHL preseason with 95, behind only Dan Vladar (121) and Alex Nedeljkovic (116).
Two of Jones' preseason appearances came against the Bruins' regulars at TD Garden and the Islanders' regulars at Webster Bank Arena. In both games, the Flyers had a preseason mix and were at a clear NHL talent disadvantage.
• The Flyers struggled mightily with the Bruins last season. With division realignment, the Flyers faced Boston eight times and went 2-4-2. They allowed the Bruins to score 3.88 goals per game and 10 markers on the power play.
The Flyers believe they're a much different team from 2020-21. On Wednesday night, they'll have eight players in their lineup that weren't here last season.
"There's no doubt that Boston has been the cream of the crop for quite some time throughout the league," Vigneault said Tuesday after practice. "They've been one of the best teams in the last 10 years, they've got experience; it's a good test for us to see where our game is and where our group is. Shouldn't shy away from the test and the opportunity that we have tomorrow. Our guys are excited."
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee-Derick Brassard-Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-James van Riemsdyk
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Nate Thompson-Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov-Ryan Ellis
Travis Sanheim-Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle-Justin Braun
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