Monday, May 18, 2015

Flyers Go Off Board, Hire North Dakota's Dave Hakstol as New Head Coach

The Philadelphia Flyers and GM Ron Hextall announced Monday that they have hired Dave Hakstol as their new head coach. Hakstol, 45, will become the 19th head coach in Flyers franchise history.

From left to right: Holmgren, Hakstol, Hextall, Snider
The decision was a very unexpected one only because there were many big name coaches with a ton of experience who became available in the off season such as Mike Babcock and Todd McLellan. Dave Hakstol on the other hand has zero NHL experience. He has not coached nor played in the NHL in his career. That however, did not slow Hextall down when considering Hakstol for the job.

"I had a list of things I wanted from a head coach and I went down this checklist in my mind. Every box was checked, except for the NHL experience," Hextall told reporters at the press conference. "And quite frankly for me, that’s the least important.” Hakstol was upfront about his inexperience saying, "I don’t have experience at this level and I’m not going to pretend that I do. I do have a great deal of confidence in what we do. You have to go out and do the work. The bottom line is that I have to go out and do the work. That starts as we walk out of this room today, the preparation, hard work and details, all of those things that produce results."

Despite Hakstol not having NHL experience, he has quite the resume and respect when it comes to NCAA Hockey. Hakstol spent the last 11 seasons as the head coach of the University of North Dakota, one of the best hockey schools in the nation. During Hakstol's tenure as head coach, North Dakota had a winning record in each of those 11 seasons while compiling an impressive 289-143-43 record (.654 winning percentage). Hakstol's team qualified for the NCAA tournament championship every year (the longest stretch in program history and the third-longest streak in college hockey history), won three conference titles, four league playoff championships and seven Frozen Four births. The program he ran in North Dakota was phenomenal and extremely pro-like according to Dave Starman of CollegeHockeyNews:
[Hakstol] brought a pro mentality to an NCAA program and it worked. North Dakota is like a pro program. It's on TV all the time, either on their local network or on CBS Sports Network. It was an annual player in ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA tourney. It played to higher attendance figures than some NHL teams the past decade and played for a fan base so passionate about North Dakota hockey it reminded you of SEC football. I’ve always said playing goal for North Dakota is like playing goal for the Montreal Canadiens, it is that high profile a position in the area.

Dave Hakstol was able to succeed year in and year out despite the constant college turnover mainly because his fast paced system and the fact that he has confidence in himself and his players. This mentality helps him get the most out of his players. One of the main reasons why the Philadelphia Flyers fired Craig Berube a month ago, according to GM Ron Hextall, was his inability to get the best effort from his players. "I think in the end a coach's job is to get the most out of his players," Hextall said in April after relieving Berube of his duties. "And in the end that's the conclusion that I came to, was that that wasn't the case.

"Here's the thing with Dave Hakstol at North Dakota, he didn't just get great recruits," said TSN analyst Ryan Kennedy, "He consistently had success with constantly changing roster."

"He pushes his players," Hextall said of Hakstol. "And gets the most out of his players," while Hakstol stated, "Expectations are simple of myself, my staff, and my players: Accountability to ourselves and our organization."


Ron Hextall knew what was at stake, now Dave Hakstol knows whats at stake. They are taking an organization in a new direction for a rebuild. And who better to hire than a man who has only coached players between the ages of 18-24. Currently the Flyers have 7 players listed on their roster page who are 24 or under and 10 more players who haven't turned 28 yet. Philadelphia also has a lot of prospects who have a chance to possibly make it to the big club next season as well, such as Sam Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere, Scott Laughton to name a few. 

Jonathan Toews, TJ Oshie, Matt Greene and Travis Zajac are just a few examples of players Hakstol coached who succeeded at the highest level. In fact Hakstol’s program has produced 20 NHL players and a total of 46 who have played professionally.

Add three more to that list if you include players he coached in the USHL in his time before North Dakota. Prior to his duties at UND, Hakstol coached the Sioux City Musketeers from 1996-2000 amassing a 102-109 record. There he coach Ruslan Fedotenko, Rostislav Klesla and David Hale who combined for a total of 1844 NHL games. 

"The way he prepared us, was a lot like an NHL organization, he prepared us on and off the ice and wanted us to act as individuals. He pushed us to be the best players we were," Travis Zajac, assistant captain of the New Jersey Devils told "I hope he does well. He's a great person. He is a big reason of why I'm here today in the NHL."

Hakstol giving his signature stare
TJ Oshie told, "It's not going to take long for the players to respect what he brings to the table and to want to play for him." Jonathan Toews went further pointing out how much he enjoyed playing for Hakstol, who is usually known for his stern looks and serious nature, "It was a lot of fun to play for him in North Dakota. It was important years for myself and my career, so it's nice to see him have that success and get recognized and get the opportunity at the highest level."


Dave Hakstol, nicknamed Hak, becomes only the fourth college coach to jump directly to a head coaching position in the NHL and first since 1987 when Herb Brooks, legendary 1980 US Olympic Miracle team coach, left St Cloud State to coach the Minnesota North Stars (in his second stint as an NHL coach). According to Starman:
    Hakstol brings the one intangible many others might lack when reaching for the big time — confidence. While not knowing Herb Brooks real well, the times I was in his company for various hockey events I came away with the opinion that Herb was someone who really felt his way was right. I see that in Hakstol and I see someone who is confident his methodology works. For a guy who doesn’t say much, he says everything you need to hear and he says it with conviction. To a pro, that is worth its weight in gold.
    Hakstol becomes the latest piece in Hextall's rebuilding process. Hextall could have made a run at the big names to try to win immediately but instead he hired a man who will grow with his young team. "I was never going to hire the people's choice, the popular choice," Hextall vehemently stated at the press conference. "I was going to hire the best coach for this franchise. He was our target all along."

Ron Hextall got a good look at Dave Hakstol back in 2008 when Hakstol coached his son Brett, who played for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season. Brett Hextall played under Hakstol from 2008-2011. “Watching my son over the years, I grew an appreciation for Dave and the way he coached,” Hextall said. “I’ve thought about him long before this as a head coach in the National Hockey League. I believe he was destined for it. He’s got a lot of pro qualities [and] he’s got a lot of experience as a head coach."

When asked if he considered possible assistant coaches in the NHL for the job, Hextall said, "If you had said to me you can bring in an NHL assistant coach or you can bring in a guy who was a head coach in college for 11 years, I’d take the head coach every time.”

This is when Hextall made himself clear that he wants a leader behind the bench. Without taking a shot at former GM Paul Holmgren or ex coach Craig Berube, Hextall made it obvious that this was something their last coach lacked. Berube, who was hired by Holmgren, was an assistant coach to the Flyers before being upgraded to the head coaching position. Berube struggled to maintain consistency all season and with an extremely young team (only two players were over the age of 32), they needed their coach to be a leader. And since he failed to get his team, one that made the playoffs the previous year, to produce, he clearly lacked in that department, which led to his dismissal. 


Hakstol's system according to experts focuses on controlling the center lane of the ice while being very fast paced. Dave Starman, a leading college hockey analyst, describes Hakstol's system:
His teams go at the net, shoot for rebounds, make plays, and really emphasize the defense being an active part of the offense.
His use of weak side [defensemen] to pinch and extend plays is a huge component to their offensive success, and defensive as well, as they don't retreat and regroup as much as other teams did.
Dave Hakstol built his teams to play with skill, pace, purpose, physicality, and passion.

This style will should help the struggling Flyers defensive corp. Michael Del Zotto, Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald will all most likely see their offensive production increase which will lead to more shots and goals helping the Flyers, who were 22nd in the league in goals per game this season, score more. Also upcoming prospects Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Sanheim, who already play that style should thrive when they eventually see their time in the NHL.

"He's developed young guys and it's pretty cool to see a guy go from college to the NHL," Gostisbehere told Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Dave Hakstol is also a solid communicator who preaches hard work as well as teamwork according to Travis Zajac.  "He was easy to talk to. He's honest. That's the most important thing. He's not going to sugar coat anything. He expects the most out of you," Zajac told "He cares about his players and he wants you to succeed. He put everything he believed in North Dakota. He felt all of the tradition there and he kept that going for us. I think he'll bring that kind of mentality to Philly. He knows what that NHL organization means to the fans and to communities."
Hakstol becomes the 19th coach in Flyers history
Dave Hakstol, the new head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers said he is honored to be part of the organization, "To have the opportunity to join the Philadelphia Flyers organization is an extremely proud moment for me."

More 'Hak' FACTS & QUOTES:
  • Coached 7 Hobey Baker finalists
  • Coached 11 players who were named All-American
  • Stephane Pattyn (UND player Hakstol coached over the last four seasons) took to Twitter: "Huge congrats to coach Hakstol. One of the greatest mentor, leader, coach and man I have ever met. got a heck of a coach."
  • Analyst Billy Jaffe said on Twitter: "Have known Dave Hakstol a while. He will earn respect quickly & adapt where needed. Smart, structured & polished. Shrewd hire by "
  • During the Dave Hakstol era, UND won more games than any program in the nation - two more than Boston College, 12 more than Michigan.
  • Was an 8 time finalist for Spencer Penrose Award (top college coach)
  • In Hakstol's last five seasons with UND his team was a combined plus 178 averaging plus 35.6 per season. His team ranked number 1 in his final season with a plus 44.
  • 2015 UND Stats:
    • Goals Per Game: 3.25 (9th in NCAA)
    • Goals Against: 2.21 (11th)
    • PowerPlay %: 20.36% (12th)
    • Penalty Killing %: 84.02% (24th) - scored 12 short handed goals
    • Tied for most wins in league with 29
  • Erik Fabian, UND defenseman who was coached by Hakstol for 4 seasons told Grand Forks Herald his favorite 'Hak' story, looking behind all the stern stares:
    • Erik Fabian remembers getting swept by Maine at home during his senior season. The coaching staff wasn’t particularly pleased with the team’s play. After talking to the media, Fabian started walking down the hallway back to the locker room when he spotted Hakstol. “He’s in the hallway and all of the sudden he sees [his daughter] Avery, who must have been a year old at the time,” Fabian said. “He instantly lights up, picks her up and gives her a big hug and a kiss. That sums him up in a nutshell. You would never think that man could smile after that game, but he did. That’s my favorite Hak story.”
  • Also mentioned in the Grand Forks Herald article by Brad Elliott Schlossman are more serious and touching moments that Hakstol would never discuss:
      • Hakstol took a terminally ill patient on a charter flight with the team to go to a road trip once. He has done the same with a special needs student, who was a big fan of the team.
      • There was the time that two of his players went to Colorado to be with their mother, who was in her final days. After she passed away, the players walked out of the hospital room and the first person standing there was Hakstol.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Flyers Fire Berube, What Went Wrong?

The Philadelphia Flyers ended their season on Saturday with a disappointing 33-31-18 record, failing to make the NHL Playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons. Prior to 2013, Philadelphia qualified for the playoffs in 16 out of 17 years. And as a result, GM Ron Hextall announce today that he has relieved head coach Craig Berube of his duties. 

So what went wrong?

Three major failures stand out in this season: terrible road play, poor penalty killing and overtime/shootout struggles.

Road Play:
10-21-11 was the Flyers record in games away from home. Only three teams in the NHL had fewer road wins than Philadelphia. It was their worst season on the road in 23 years (1992).  The Flyers, who had 13 more home victories, scored 118 goals at the Wells Fargo Center while giving up just 96; a plus 22 ratio. However, on the road, Philadelphia only scored 94 goals while allowing 127; a minus 33 ratio.

Penalty Killing:
The Flyers ended their season with a poor 77.1% on the penalty kill, 4th worst in the NHL. The 61 PowerPlay goals against was third worst in the league, 37 of them came while on the road, which is the second highest total among all teams.

After regulation, the Flyers posted an 8-18 record; 5-7 in overtime and 3-11 in shootouts. Their 18 losses led the entire league by far, while their eight wins was tied for 7th worst. 11 of their overtime/shootout losses came on the road, also a league worst. In 14 total shootouts this season, incredibly, only two Flyers registered more than one goal (Jake Voracek: 5 for 12; Wayne Simmonds: 4 for 7). The rest of the Flyers who participated in at least one shootout (7 total players) combined for just three goals: 3 for 34 (notables: Claude Giroux: 1 for 12, Sean Couturier: 1 for 8, Matt Read: 0 for 5).

There is more than enough blame to go around. Consistency, leadership, coaching. Much of the blame falls on coach Craig Berube, who was in just his second season and first full season as a head coach with the Flyers organization.

That blame is completely justified. Yes, the players must be held accountable, but when a team plays
well enough to go 12-2-6 in their last 20 games against teams who were in the playoff hunt down the stretch and just 4-9-6 against teams that weren't, someone at the top is to blame. Philadelphia proved they could be a dangerous team, just not all the time. There in lies the problem. For a team that just lost Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, two of their assistant captains in one season, and whose average age is under 28 years old, the team needed their coach to be the strongest voice in the room. And since their consistency was the biggest problem all the way to the end (this was evident in five of their last six games as they defeated Pittsburgh twice and the New York Islanders once, both playoff teams, then turned around and lost to Carolina, the fourth worst team in the league, twice), coaching needs to be blamed.

Last season, the Flyers held the seventh best penalty killing unit in the league at 84.9%, yet this season it completely fell apart. Yes, Kimmo Timonen was a big factor, but he cannot be the excuse. Penalty killing is one of the most worked on situations in practice; therefore, when it goes wrong, time after time, player after player, game after game for an entire season, coaching needs to be blamed.

18-16-7 was the Flyers road record last year, not great, but respectable. This season they barely cracked the double digits in road wins. Why? Home games are easy to get excited and prepared for; players have home cooked meals, they are close to family and friends, they are sleeping in their own beds and most importantly they have a stadium packed with fans helping get them pumped up. While on the road, it all comes back to having a strong voice in the locker room. Not to say that captain Claude Giroux isn't a good leader, but he is still young and he leads by example on the ice. Meanwhile, Mark Streit and Wayne Simmonds were in just their first season as assistant captains. And since they don't have any long term veterans (only two players are older than 32: Vinny Lecavalier, 34, yet he was a healthy scratch for several games, and Mark Streit, 37, yet this is only his 9th season since he broke into the NHL at the age of 28), they needed their coach to be their leader.

Coach Craig Berube was not a terrible coach and did do many good things. His system, which he called a 'Center Lock' was a defensive minded one that actually worked throughout the season, despite the criticism. During 5 on 5 play, the Flyers allowed the 9th fewest goals against, 137, better than some of the best teams in the league, such as the New York Rangers, the Anaheim Ducks and the St. Louis Blues. The problem with this system was it did not create a whole lot of offense. During the same 5 on 5 play, Philadelphia only scored 138 goals, the seventh fewest in the NHL. Behind the 'Center Lock,' a system that relies on a physical and defensive minded center, Claude Giroux only scored 11 even strength goals, his lowest total (not counting the lockout shortened season) since the 2009-10 season.

Berube also did help a few players develop by showing tremendous confidence in them such as Jake Voracek, rookie Pierre Edouard Bellemare, Chris Vandevelde and Michael Del Zotto. Voracek had a career high in assists and points, Bellemare and Vandevelde jelled on a fourth line that proved not to need fighters, and Del Zotto's ice time and point production both increased drastically after a slew of healthy scratches got him back on track. Unfortunately he also may be to blame for slow tracking a few other players developments. Sean Couturier, who's strong finish to his season (seven points in his last six games) helped his stats a bit, had fewer points this season than last with just 37. Couturier even mentioned in his exit interview on Monday that he wants to be known as more than just a defensive center; however, Berube never quite gave him that opportunity. Matt Read went completely backwards this year, having his worst year since turning pro. After scoring 20 goals in two of his first three seasons (the third being the lockout shortened season in which he scored 11 goals in 42 games), Read scored a lowly eight goals. Read was thrown into the same defensive role with the struggling Couturier and despite these troubles on even strength, PowerPlay and the penalty kill, Berube kept the pairing together for much of the season. Vinny Lecavalier was another player who seems to think he was misused. Lecavalier, who appears to be at the end of his career, doesn't have that same mindset. He even went as far as to say that Berube used him incorrectly and doesn't know if he could play for him next season.

On top of all of this looms the Steve Mason story. Whether or not Mason was mishandled, as previously stated by certain reporters, Berube certainly did not show a whole lot of confidence towards Mason, who was arguably one of the best Flyers all season, especially toward the end of the season. On March 19th, Berube pulled Mason after he allowed just two goals against. Some coaches do this to send a message to challenge the team to be better in front of their goaltender. However, after the game, Berube said that was not the reason. He went on to blame Mason for not being able to see through a screen and for simply not playing well. Despite having defensive troubles most of the season and a poor penalty killing unit, Mason still managed to hold the third best save percentage in the NHL with .928. Yet Berube failed to praise him over and over again. Mason, however, has no hard feelings and denies that Berube had anything to do with goalie coach Jeff Reese's strange and sudden exit. Even in the player's exit interview, Mason went as far as to say he wanted Berube back. 

Whether or not Lecavalier is correct in his statements or if Berube mishandled Mason or not, there is an underlying friction, and one thing is true, Berube has seemed to have lost the locker room. After a failed season, most of the time players take full responsibility telling the media not to blame the coach. But that wasn't the message for most of the players during their exit interviews on Monday. Many players talked about leadership issues, consistency and some even questioned their roles, such as the aforementioned Couturier and Lecavalier.

A split and unconfident locker room is the last thing a team needs to be successful moving foreword. 

Due to all of these reasons, GM Ron Hextall was not left with much of a choice and ultimately made the correct decision by firing head coach Craig Berube this morning. 

"Is the coach the right coach for your team now? If the answer is no, you have to move on. That’s what we did here," Hextall told "Craig Berube is a good friend of mine; he’s a terrific man. But professionally I have an obligation to do what I think is best. We’re looking for the right guy. Whether he has connections [to the Flyers] doesn’t matter. We’re looking for the best coach.”

Hextall may have some good options when looking to fill the void. According to Darren Dreger of TSN, two coaches will be the Flyers main targets: Mike Babcock and Todd McLellan. However, currently both of these coaches are still employmented by their respective teams (Babcock with Detroit and McLellan with San Jose). It is rumored that since Babcock's contract is up at the end of the season, he is going to move on from the Red Wings organization. McLellan on the other hand may mutually agree to leave or be let go by the Sharks organization after they failed to make the playoffs this year. 

Other notable coaching options may be: Dan Bylsma (formerly with the Pittsburgh Penguins), Benoit Groulx (Canadian Junior coach in the QMJHL), Dave Tippett (if he is let go by the Arizona Coyotes) Claude Julien (if fired by the Boston Bruins), Peter DeBoer (former New Jersey Devils head coach) among several other candidates.

Hextall stated that he would like to have a coach in place before the draft on June 26th. The Flyers will draft 7th (if a 1-6 placed team wins the lottery), 8th (if 8-14th placed team wins the lottery) or 1st (if the Flyers win the draft lottery). This lottery to see which team obtains the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL entry draft will take place on Saturday; the Flyers have a 6.5% chance of winning. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Flyers Close Out a Season With a Loss

The Philadelphia Flyers ended their season the same way they started it, with a loss. The Ottawa Senators 3-1 victory over the Flyers helps them clinch a spot in the playoffs.

Back in February when the Flyers were nine points out trying desperately to catch the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard spot, the Ottawa Senators were 14 points back. The Flyers will end their season at least 11 points out, while the Senators did what the Flyers couldn't: came all the way back and now find themselves in the 2015 NHL playoffs. 

Ottawa needed a win to clinch the playoffs and got the start they wanted on the scoreboard. Steve Mason turned the puck over while on the PowerPlay and Clarke MacArthur set up a wide open Mark Stone, who scored his first of the night. 

Despite the score, the Flyers outplayed the Senators for much of the first and second period out shooting them 30-13. Matt Read got the Flyers on the board early in the middle stanza after Brayden Schenn made a perfect back door pass. Read ends his rough season with eight goals. 

Before the middle period was out, Jean-Gabriel Pageau put the Senators back into the lead. Marc Methot raced down the ice and centered it close to Mason who made the initial save on Curtis Lazar; however, Pageau was there to scoop up and bury the rebound for the eventual game winning goal. 

Needing at least a point, Ottawa came out in the third period like a team that needed the win. The incredible rookie Mark Stone made that come true scoring his second of the game with just eight minutes left in regulation. Stone stripped Jake Voracek in the defensive zone and went in all alone in Mason beating him for his second of the game and 26th of the year. Stone is tied with Johnny Gaudreau for the rookie scoring lead with 64 points. 

With the 3-1 defeat, the Philadelphia Flyers complete their season with a 33-31-18 record, 24th in the NHL. 

Game Notes:
  • Jake Voracek ends his season leading the Flyers in points with 81 in 82 games. 
  • The Flyers outshot the Senators 35-22. 
  • Philadelphia went 0 for 2 on the PowerPlay and 3 for 4 on the penalty kill. 
  • Vinny Lecavalier missed thee last game with an injury after getting into two fights in Thursday's game versus Carolina. Jason Akeson was called up to replace him. He played 13:21 minutes taking two shots. 
  • Michael Del Zotto led all Flyers ice time with 24:23 minutes. It was the ninth consecutive game that Del Zotto has logged 23 or more minutes. 
Drop The Puck:
Flyers handed out their annual awards today:
  • Bobby Clarke Trophy (MVP): Jake Voracek
  • Barry Ashbee Trophy (best defenseman): Mark Streit
  • Gene Hart Memorial Award (most heart): Jake Voracek 
  • Pelle Lindbergh Trophy (most improved): Chris VandeVelde
  • Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award: Mark Streit
  • Toyota Cup (player with most 'stars of the game'): Claude Giroux

Friday, April 10, 2015

Flyers Drop Fourth Straight to Hurricanes in Penultimate Game of the Season

The Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, the fifth worst team in the league with just 71 points, 3-1 tonight.

This strange trend of Philadelphia beating playoff teams while losing to poor teams continued tonight. Since January 20th, the Flyers are an incredible 12-2-6 (30 points of an available 40) in their last 20 games against teams currently fighting for the playoffs. However the Orange and Black are a terrible 4-9-6 (14 points of an available 38) against teams not fighting for the playoffs. 

Tonight Philadelphia played another uninspired game against another bottom dweller. In the first 14 minutes of the game, not only did the Flyers surrender the first goal against, but they only registered a measly two shots on goal. Brett Bellemore scored the game's first goal 12 minutes in after he tipped in Eric Staal's shot from the point beating Ray Emery for the 1-0 lead. 

After a scoreless second period in which the Flyers took only five shots on goal, Carolina extended their lead on the PowerPlay with just over eight minutes to play in the third. Ryan Murphy's big blast from the point found its way past Emery for the eventual game winning goal. 

Sean Couturier got one back for the Flyers with their net empty, but that would be as close as the Flyers would get. Jordan Staal closed it out with an empty netter sealing the victory at 3-1. 

The Flyers will play their final game of the season on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, who have fought their way back into the playoffs with their victory over the Presidents Trophy winning New York Rangers tonight. 

Game Notes:
  • Vinny Lecavalier got two fighting majors tonight. Both came against the same opponent, rookie Keegan Lowe, who cross checked him in the back at one point. 
  • The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the PowerPlay and 5 for 6 on the penalty kill. 
  • Ray Emery stopped 25 of 27 shots tonight in what's most likely his last game of the season. 
  • Claude Giroux and Mark Streit picked up assists in Couturier's 15th of the season. 
  • Lecavalier left early with an upper body injury and ended up with 4:58 minutes of ice time and 22 minutes of penalties. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will close out their season on Saturday afternoon when they host the Ottawa Senators.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Flyers Score With Three Seconds Left to Defeat the Islanders

Down 4-3 with the goalie pulled, the New York Islanders were able to tie the game up at four apiece with 28 seconds left, off the stick of Anders Lee, seemingly sending this game into overtime. However, Brayden Schenn had other thoughts. Schenn carried the puck across the blue line and fired it through the legs of an Islanders defender on goal. The shot snuck through the pads of New York goalie Jaroslav Halak and into the back of the net with 2.1 seconds left on the clock giving the Philadelphia Flyers a 5-4 victory. 

Brayden Schenn, who was just awarded with the NHL's second star of the week for picking up six points in his last three games, has now scored three game winning goals in his last four games. 

The Flyers got off to a great start tonight with a pair of first period goals from captain Claude Giroux, the first on a one-timer on the PowerPlay, the second on a rush from the high slot. Mark Streit and Jake Voracek picked up assists on both goals. 

Both teams traded second period tallies with John Tavares scoring on the PowerPlay for the Islanders before Pierre Edouard Bellemare responded for the Flyers just 1:12 minutes later. 

The Flyers added to their lead early in the third when Zac Rinaldo made a nice pass to Carlo Colaiacovo, who buried just his second goal of the season. With a 4-1 lead, Philadelphia seemed poised to win, but New York kept edging closer. 

Anders Lee cut the lead in half eight minutes in, however the Flyers held their two goal lead until late in the period. With under two to play, the Islanders pulled their goalie needing two and got one quickly. Johnny Boychuck blasted a shot from the point off a faceoff past Steve Mason narrowing the lead to just one. 

Again with their goalie pulled, New York won an offensive zone faceoff with 30 seconds remaining and Tavares found Lee in front, who tied the game at four, shocking the whole building. 

As the remaining 28 seconds ticked off the clock, most of the players were just going through the motions preparing for overtime when Brayden Schenn took one last shot, a miracle shot, simply to beat the clock. However, it did more than that. The puck trickled under Halak's blocker and over his leg pad setting the building ablaze. 

The victory was Philadelphia's fourth in their last six games. 

Game Notes:
  • Jake Voracek picked up two assists tonight for points 80 and 81. He is currently third in the NHL in points, two behind Tavares and Sidney Crosby. 
  • Mark Streit registered three assists tonight, giving him 51 points on the season. It is just the second 50 point season of his career and first since 2009, when he was with the Islanders. 
  • Steve Mason made 36 saves on 40 shots tonight. 
  • It was the third time in the last five games that Philadelphia has surrendered 40 shots against in a game. 
  • Philadelphia went 1 for 3 on the PowerPlay and 4 for 5 on the penalty kill. 
  • It is the seventh straight game the Flyers have scored a PowerPlay goal. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will play their penultimate game of the season on Thursday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Flyers Sweep Penguins for First Time in 31 Years

The Philadelphia Flyers completed their sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time in 31 years with their 4-1 win this afternoon. 

In 1984, the Flyers defeated the Penguins in seven straight games, essentially sweeping them, a feat they wouldn't accomplish again for over three decades. But today, that all changed. Philadelphia continued to dominate Pittsburgh despite the difference in the standings, winning their eighth straight game versus the Penguins. 4-0 is the Flyers final record against the Penguins this season. 

Despite the score, much of this game was dominated by Pittsburgh. They heavily outshot Philadelphia 47-20, but Steve Mason was the difference maker today stopping 46 of those attempts, many of them highlight reel saves. 

Pittsburgh outshot Philadelphia 22-4 in the opening stanza and took a 1-0 lead on a PowerPlay goal from Brandon Sutter, but that would be the only shot that Mason would surrender. 

One PowerPlay was all that was needed to turn this game around. Late in the first, Pittsburgh was called for an unnecessary cross check, and Philadelphia, who only had three shots in the period at the time at the 19 minute mark, took full advantage. Jake Voracek ripped a one-timer past Penguins back up goalie Thomas Greiss for his 22nd of the season, tying the game at one. The goal was the first of three PowerPlay tallies scored by Philadelphia today. 

The second PowerPlay goal gave the Flyers their first lead of the game and ultimately became the game winning goal. Brayden Schenn redirected Voracek's pass in the slot and the puck careened up and over Greiss. 

Sean Couturier helped extend the Flyers lead late in the third with a beauty of a spin around pass to Ryan White, who continues to play a pivotal role for the Flyers in his career best season. 

"You can't beat us," chanted the Flyer faithful as Philadelphia seemed poised to win their eighth straight against their cross state rival.

Michael Del Zotto added a late goal with just 9 seconds remaining, another PowerPlay goal, to finalize the score at 4-1. 

The implications of this game are far more important that Pittsburgh lost, rather than Philadelphia won. The Flyers are already out of playoff contention, but the Penguins, who have all but clinched a spot of their own, now have their work cut out for them. Pittsburgh has 95 points while Ottawa, hot on their trail, has 93 with a game in hand. And the kicker is that they will face each other on Tuesday. The Flyers will sleep better knowing they may have helped end the Penguins season early. 

Game Notes:
  • The 47 shots against were the most allowed by the Flyers this season. 
  • Mason's 46 saves, however, ties his season high. 
  • The Flyers PowerPlay went 3 for 4 today. They have scored PowerPlay goals in six consecutive games, 8 for 20. 
  • Voracek, who picked up a goal and an assist, is now tied for 3rd in the NHL with 79 points. 
  • Voracek also tied the league lead in assists with 57. 
  • Not one Flyer had more than two shots on goal today, while seven Penguins had three or more. 
  • Braydon Schenn, who had a goal and two assists today, has six points in his last three games. 
  • Referee Paul Devorski officiated his last NHL game today. When announced on the scoreboard, Flyer fans promptly booed, then respected him with a standing ovation. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers get back in action on Tuesday when they host the New York Islanders.

Happy Easter to Everyone!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Flyers Lose in Shootout Again, Fall To Hurricanes

For an NHL leading 18th time this season, the Philadelphia Flyers lost after regulation, in their 3-2 shootout defeat, handed to them by the Carolina Hurricanes today. 

After a sluggish start, the Flyers found themselves down 2-0 early in the second period. Through 27 minutes, Philadelphia was only able to muster five shots on goal. Elias Lindholm scored halfway through the opening period on Ray Emery after burying a loose rebound on a rush up the ice. Then Jordan Staal, who registered the primary assist on the first goal, picked Nicklas Grossmann's pocket in the neutral zone leading to a 2 on 1. Staal finished the play he started putting the Hurricanes up 2-0. 

Philadelphia finally found their groove with the help of a PowerPlay midway through the middle period. With 10 seconds remaining on the PowerPlay, Sean Couturier ripped a shot from the point that was tipped past Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward by Michael Raffl for his 21st of the season. 

The score remained 2-1 for the majority of the rest of the game. But with under two minutes to play in the contest, Couturier was at it again. Michael Del Zotto chipped the puck to the front which bounced past a few Hurricanes and landed right on the stick of Couturier, who found himself alone in front. Couturier made a nice move to beat Ward on the backhand, tying the game at two apiece, sending this one to overtime.

After five minutes of 4 on 4 hockey, a shootout was needed. Carolina scored on their first two attempts thanks to nice moves from Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry. Nick Cousins kept the Flyers alive with his first ever shootout goal, but Claude Giroux was unable to tie it and the Flyers fell for the 10th time in their last 13 games. 

Game Notes:
  • Philadelphia will end the season with a 10-20-11 road record. 
  • Flyers fall to 3-11 in shootout this season.
  • Sean Couturier's 14th goal sets a new career high. 
  • Cousins shootout goal was on his first NHL shootout attempt. 
  • Claude Giroux is 1-12 on shootout attempts this season. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will host the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow afternoon. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Flyers Continue Dominance Over Penguins

The Philadelphia Flyers improved to 11-1-1 tonight at the Consol Energy Center with their 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

No one can quite explain it, but the Flyers always play their best hockey versus the Penguins especially in Pittsburgh. 

Philadelphia came into tonight's game having been officially eliminated from the playoffs yesterday; however, even that didn't stop the Flyers from their continued dominance over the Penguins. 

Pittsburgh got on the board early, as usual, when Sidney Crosby snuck one past Steve Mason on the goal line extending his NHL lead in points to 80. 

The Flyers picked up the pace in the second half of the period and outshot the Penguins 9-1 in the final seven minutes, and one of those shots found the back of the net. Vinny Lecavalier snapped his 27 game goalless drought evening up the score at one. 

Brayden Schenn scored back to back goals, one in the first on a broken three on three rush, and one in the third on the PowerPlay after receiving a perfect pass from Jake Voracek. 

Carlo Colaiacovo extended the Flyers lead to 4-1 in the third period with his first goal of the season and as a Flyer. 

The Flyers have now won seven straight against the Penguins including all three this season. Philadelphia will attempt to sweep Pittsburgh for the first time since the 1983-84 season (7-0; in the 1985-86 season the Flyers went 6-0-1) when they play for the final time on Easter Sunday.

Game Notes:
  • Voracek's assist tonight puts him atop the NHL with 56 assists. His career high 77points are second only to Crosby. 
  • According to Sam Carchidi: Steve Mason improved his save percentage to .928. The Flyers franchise record is .925 (Roman Cechmanek) since that stat became official in 1982.
  • The Flyers improve to 13-2-1 all time (including playoffs) at the Consol Energy Center. 
  • Mason made 24 saves on 25 shots tonight. 
  • Philadelphia outshot Pittsburgh 31-25. 
  • The Flyers went 1 for 5 on the PowerPlay and 2 for 2 on the penalty kill. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers head to Carolina to face the Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sharks Edge Flyers in Shootout

Nine shooters down with the score even at two and the shootout even at one, Brent Burns came down the ice and went forehand to back hand beating Steve Mason giving the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the shootout.

The loss was a league high 17th for Philadelphia in games that required extra time, 10 of those coming from shootout losses. 

Philadelphia started today's game three defenseman short. Andrew MacDonald was deemed finished for the season with a hand injury while both Mark Streit and Carlo Colaiacovo sat out with flu-like symptoms. So the Flyers called up Brandon Manning, Oliver Lauridsen and Mark Alt. Manning and Lauridsen both had little NHL experience, while Alt made his NHL debut. Manning was heavily relied on by coach Craig Berube as he played more minutes than both Alt (9:25) and Lauridsen (10:26) combined logging a career high 25:07 minutes. Manning played all situations and ended the game with a plus 1 rating. 

The only man looked upon more than Manning was Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto logged an incredible 30:18, also a career high, while picking up an assist. Del Zotto stepped up in a big way today when the team really needed him to. 

Despite Manning and Del Zotto's best efforts, the Flyers still couldn't find a victory. Philadelphia has now lost nine of their last 11, and 17 of their last 25 games. 

On Lauridsen and Alt's first shift of the game, they were paired together, San Jose found the back of the net. Matt Irwin's shot from the point made its way through traffic beating Steve Mason 4:38 into the game.

Just over two minutes later, Michael Raffl responded for the Flyers. Raffl found Nicklas Grossmann's rebound and buried his 20th goal of the season, becoming the fourth Flyer to reach that mark this season (Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek). 

Before the first period was out, Joe Pavelski's shot trickled through Mason's pad as the whistle was being blown. No one on the ice or in the stands thought is was a goal; however, the play went under review. And after further review, it was determined a good goal, "The whistle was irrelevant, it was a continuous play as the puck went into the net. It is a good goal," stated the referee and the Sharks led 2-1 after one. 

After a scoreless second period, the Flyers responded in the third. Claude Giroux struck on the PowerPlay notching his 23rd of the season. 

San Jose outplayed Philadelphia throughout much of this contest and had it not been for the terrific goaltending of Steve Mason, the Flyers would not have earned the one point. Mason stopped 17 shots in the third period alone and 42 of 44 including another five in overtime, forcing a shootout. 

And the shootout struggles continued as they have all season. Voracek scored the Flyers lone shootout goal while Melker Karlsson and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks. 

Game Notes:
  • Claude Giroux extended his goal scoring streak to four games, a new career high. 
  • Voracek picked up two assists tonight. He has 76 points, two behind Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead. 
  • The Flyers fall to 9-25-11 in games where their opponent scores first. 
  • The Flyers haven't beaten the Sharks in Philadelphia in 15 years (December 2000). 
  • Michael Del Zotto played 30:18, a career high by more than two minutes over previous high of 28:38 played with the New York Rangers on 10/24/10.
Drop The Puck:
Philadelphia will face their heated rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fans Bid Farewell to Timonen, Beat Blackhawks

Kimmo Timonen Thanking the Flyers Fans
"Kimmo, Kimmo, Kimmo," chanted the Flyers faithful as the clock ran down to zero. The Philadelphia Flyers had just defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1, but the fans chose to cheer their beloved, former defenseman Kimmo Timonen as this would be the last time they would see him in Philadelphia. 

Kimmo Timonen suffered from multiple blood clots in the off-season that would shut him down for over eight months. About a month ago, Timonen was cleared to play and began preparing himself for the season. However, with the Flyers playoff hopes diminishing, GM Ron Hextall and Timonen agreed that a trade was in both parties best interest. So Timonen, who has stated vehemently that he will retire at the end of the season, was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. 

The Blackhawks have picked up a solid 7-1-1 record in the nine games since Timonen, who has been averaging 12:27 minutes of ice time, was traded to Chicago.

Prior to the game, when asked how he would feel if given a nice ovation, Timonen choked up and struggled to get through the answer, finally just saying, "It would be great."

Giroux scoring his 
In a classy move, Chicago's head coach Joel Quenneville choose Kimmo Timonen to be in the starting lineup. And as soon as he took to the ice, every fan in the building stood up and gave him a respectful, long and loud ovation.

After Timonen waved to the fans in thanks and mutual appreciation, the game got underway, and the Flyers showed a glimpse of what the season could have been if they had they played the way they did tonight, all season. 

For inexplicable reasons, the Flyers have played very well against good teams, especially of late, picking up an 8-2-5 record versus teams currently in playoff position. Tonight, that anomaly continued. 

Philadelphia scored the game's first goal 7:20 minutes into the opening period and never looked back. Nick Shultz made a nice play creating a turnover in the offensive zone, which led to Matt Read setting up Wayne Simmonds for his 28th of the season. 

Ryan White added to the Flyers lead in the middle stanza on a deflection off Carlo Colaiacovo's shot from the point for his fifth goal of the year. Prior to this season, White had scored just five total goals in his whole career, which consisted of parts of five seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. 

Less than seven minutes after White's tally, it was Claude Giroux's turn to light the lamp. Jake Voracek made a perfect pass to Giroux, who simply redirected his pass past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford giving the Flyers a commanding 3-0 lead. 

Andrew Shaw reduced the lead to 3-1 early in the third period on a deflection on the PowerPlay; however, the Flyers would respond with a PowerPlay goal of their own on Michael Raffl's 19th of the season. Matt Read sent Raffl up the ice with a nice pass springing him on a 2 on 1. Raffl made a subtle fake pass then wristed a shot that made its way past Crawford for a PowerPlay, giving the Flyers their three goal cushion back.  

Steve Mason took care of the rest stopping 9 of ten shots in the third period and 34 of 35 overall for his 15th victory of the season. 

"I've gone through a lot of games and won a lot of medals and all star games, but that was one the coolest things you can experience as a player," Timonen told reporters after the game referring to the standing ovation. "I just want to say thanks to the fans, that was awesome."

Game Notes:
  • Despite Kimmo Timonen not picking up any points and ultimately losing 4-1, the writers who select the three stars of the game, choose Kimmo Timonen as their third star of the game.
  • The Flyers lost Wayne Simmonds (lower body injury) and Andrew MacDonald (upper body) to injuries tonight. They are both out for the remainder of the season (seven games). 
  • Claude Giroux's goal tonight was incredibly his first even strength goal at home.
  • Both the Blackhawks and the Flyers went 1 for 2 on their respective PowerPlays. 
  • Wayne Simmonds' goal tonight was his 100th as a Flyer. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers get back into action on Saturday when they host the San Jose Sharks. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nugent Hopkins Scores Twice as Oilers Defeat Flyers

Ryan Nugent Hopkins scored in overtime giving the Edmonton Oilers a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers tonight.

The loss is Philadelphia's fourth straight and eighth in their last nine games. The Flyers finish their four game road trip without a win going 0-2-2. 

Goals were aplenty tonight, especially in the first period when six total goals were scored, three by each team. The scoring started almost immediately. Ryan Nugent Hopkins got Edmonton on the board just 51 seconds in with his 21st of the season. 

The Flyers responded by scoring three straight goals in 10 minutes. Claude Giroux tallied twice, the first coming on a nice shot from the high slot while the second came from inside the circle on the PowerPlay. 

Ryan White scored the Flyers third goal on a give go play with Zac Rinaldo on a 2 on 1. 

Teddy Purcell stole the momentum swinging it back into Edmonton's favor when he beat Ray Emery from the slot just two minutes after White's fourth of the season. And with only 31 seconds remaining in the first Matt Hendricks found a loose rebound and deposited it into the net tying the game up at three. 

In all three periods tonight, a goal was scored in the first two minutes. Jordan Eberle lit the lamp 71 seconds into the second putting the Oilers up 4-3. Then Michael Raffl scored just 45 seconds into the start of the third tying the game up for the third time tonight. 

After 60 minutes could not determine a winner, overtime was needed. In the extra session, Nugent Hopkins, who began the scoring tonight, ended it with his game winner after Emery mishandled Nikita Nikitin's initial shot. Nugent Hopkins found the rebound and backhanded it past Emery, giving the Flyers their 16th loss after regulation, the most in the league. 

Game Notes:
  • Steve Mason was scheduled to get the start tonight; however, he pulled himself out due to an illness. 
  • Claude Giroux scored two goals tonight. It was only his third multi-goal game this season and first since December 20th. 
  • Jake Voracek registered three assists tonight. It was his first three assist game since December 20th when he picked up four assists. It was also Voracek's first multipoint game in his last 14 and just his second in his last 26 games.
  • The Flyers went 1 for 4 on the PowerPlay and 4 for 4 on the penalty kill. 
  • Emery made 29 saves on 34 shots. 
Drop The Puck:
Kimmo Timonen returns to Philadelphia when the Flyers host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gaudreau's Three Points Leads Flames Past Slumping Flyers

Johnny Gaudreau scored three points tonight helping the Calgary Flames defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 tonight. 

Gaudreau, the South Jersey native, picked up a goal and two assists and now leads all rookies in the NHL with 56 points. 

The loss for the Flyers is their third straight and seventh in their last eight games. It's also the third straight game the Flyers failed to score more than one goal. 

After a scoreless first 36 minutes, three goals were scored in the next four minutes. Luke Schenn turned the puck over in the neutral zone leading to a Flames rush up the ice resulting in Dennis Wideman's 13th of the season. 1:42 minutes later TJ Brodie added to the lead beating Steve Mason on a long shot from the point.

Steve Mason, who allowed two goals on 16 shots, was pulled after the second tally in favor of Ray Emery in an attempt to spark the Flyers. Under two minutes after the change, with just eight seconds remaining in the middle period, Jake Voracek made a great pass through the slot to Claude Giroux, who snapped his 10 game goalless drought.

The momentum was cut short in the third period due to penalties. The Flyers played undisciplined hockey taking four penalties in the first nine minutes of the period. Calgary took full advantage, striking twice. Sean Monahan scored the first, while Johnny Gaudreau scored the second, on a two man advantage.

"At the end of the day it comes down to pride and we didn't have much of that tonight," Luke Schenn told reporters after the game. "We didn't put enough on the line tonight. It's embarrassing for all of us. Unacceptable."

Game Notes:
  • Voracek's assist was his 70th point of the season. It is Jake's first 70 point season of his career. 
  • Ray Emery allowed two goals on 10 shots after replacing Mason. 
  • Karri Ramo made 26 saves on 27 shots against the Flyers tonight. 
  • The Flames went 2 for 4 on the PowerPlay while the Flyers were 0 for 2. 
  • Michael Del Zotto returned to action tonight after missing the last six games with an upper body injury. The Flyers went 1-3-2 without Del Zotto in the lineup. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will head to Edmonton on Saturday to face the Oilers.

Around the NHL:
Hockey fans around the world were saddened to hear the news of the loss of Matthew Wuest, who passed away after a two and a half year battle with colon cancer. Wuest created one of, if not the greatest non affiliated NHL website, CapGeek. CapGeek was a favorite of all fans, writers and analysts around the NHL. He and his tremendous work will truly be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time. You will be missed. 
RIP Matthew Wuest. 
For more...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Canucks Score Three In Third To Drop Flyers

On the night when Vancouver honored the late great Pat Quinn, the Canucks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1.

Vancouver scored two goals in the span of 17 seconds in the third period snapping the 1-1 tie leading to their 40th victory of the season. 

Before the game, the organization honored Pat Quinn, who coached both the Flyers and Canucks, by bringing out ex players Quinn suited up with, others he coached and even those he drafted as a general manager. Bagpipes played and Mark Donnelly sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling as a montage of pictures were shown and his wife, daughter and granddaughter came on the ice for the ceremonial puck drop. Quinn played in the NHL from 1968-1977, then coached/managed from 1977-2010. Quinn passed away at the age of 71 on November of 2014. 

The Flyers and Canucks played a scoreless first period, then traded goals in the second. Michael Raffl scored the lone goal for the Flyers when Claude Giroux set him up in front for his 17th of the season. Alex Edler responded for the Canucks beating Steve Mason on a rebound tying the game at one. 

In the third period it was the Alex Burrows show. Burrows scored twice in 17 seconds both assisted by Daniel Sedin shocking the Flyers, who instantly found themselves down by two. 

Philadelphia pulled their goalie in an attempt to comeback; however, Radim Vrbata closed the door with his empty net goal. 

Game Notes:
  • Nick Cousins made his NHL debut for the Flyers tonight. 
  • Cousins went scoreless, was even and took 1 shot in 10:04 minutes of ice time. 
  • Matt Read missed the game because he was back at home awaiting the birth of his first child. 
  • Jake Voracek fought Dan Hamhuis tonight. Voracek easily came away with the decision. 
  • The Flyers went 0-2 on the PowerPlay while the Canucks were 0-1. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will travel to Calgary to face the Flames on Thursday.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Senators Remain Hot, Top Flyers in Shootout

The Ottawa Senators won for the 11th time in their last 13 games with tonight's 2-1 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Both teams played an extremely close hockey game tonight scoring the same amount of goals (1), taking the same number of shots (28) and receiving the same amount of penalty minutes (8). And after two shootout rounds, both teams were scoreless. Bobby Ryan's shot was the only thing that separated the two squads.

Ray Emery, who made 27 saves in his first start since February 19th, went for the poke check on Ryan and failed to catch him off guard. Ryan had his head up and took the quick shot scoring the game winning shootout goal. 

Ray Emery and Andrew Hammond both played very well surrendering just one goal each in the second period. Jean Gabriel Pageau beat Emery first for the Senators by batting a rebound out of the air into the back of the net for his fourth of the season. 

Jake Voracek responded for the Flyers about seven minutes later. While double shifting on a line with Chris VandeVelde and Pierre Edouard Bellemare, Voracek found the puck at the top of the circle and blasted it past Hammond, who is an incredible 10-0-1 in his first 11 career games. 

Philadelphia lost in a game that needed an extra session for the 15th time this season. The Flyers are just 8-15 in games that went to either overtime or a shootout. 

Game Notes:
  • Both the Flyers and Senators went 0-3 on their respective PowerPlays. 
  • Jake Voracek scored his first even strength goal in 38 games. 
  • Flyers fall to 3-9 in shootouts this year. 
  • Giroux is 1 for 10 in shootouts this year. 
  • The Flyers recalled Nick Cousins from the AHL last night; however, he was a healthy scratch today after playing games in three of the last four nights for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He will most likely make his NHL debut on Thursday.
  • After the win, a Senators fan threw a hamburger on the ice for goalie Andrew Hammond, who's nickname is The Hamburglar.  
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Thursday night.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Flyers Explode For Seven, Destroy Red Wings

The Philadelphia Flyers tied their season high for most goals in a game when they defeated the Detroit Red Wings 7-2 this afternoon, snapping their four game losing streak. 

The seven goals scored tonight by Philadelphia was more than they scored in the previous four games combined. Since giving up the goal with 14 seconds left against Boston last Saturday, the Flyers have lost four straight, while scoring only five goals. Today was the start of a new week for the Flyers who, despite being back 10 points of the Bruins and likely out of the playoff race, played a solid team game.

Brayden Schenn led the way today scoring two goals and an assist; however, the victory came in a full team effort. 15 of the 18 Flyers skaters picked up at least one point against the Wings, while Steve Mason stopped 31 shots on 33 attempts. 

Wayne Simmonds got the Flyers on the board first on a tip while on the PowerPlay, before Nicklas Grossmann made it 2-0 after receiving a nice feed from Sean Couturier. 

Detroit stole some momentum in the second taking 18 shots in the period, including Justin Abdelkader's goal. Brayden Schenn, however, swung it back in the Flyers favor later in the stanza with his first of the game on the PowerPlay.

Schenn struck again just 11 seconds into the third starting what turned out to be a four goal period for the Flyers. Pierre Edouard Bellemare snapped his 26 game goalless drought when Zac Rinaldo found him opened in the slot for his fifth of the season. 

Erik Cole cut the lead to 5-2 while Detroit was on the PowerPlay, but the Flyers answered again. Matt Read and Rinaldo joined in on the fun scoring goals just 38 seconds apart. 

The 7-2 victory extends the Flyers winning streak over the Red Wings in Philadelphia to 10 games, dating back to 1997. 

Game Notes:
  • Brayden Schenn was originally credited with the first goal before it was changed to Wayne Simmonds; however, this was not announced to the fans. Therefore, when Schenn scored in the third period, all the fans thought it was a hat trick as they littered the ice with their lids. 
  • Today was only the second time in the last 20 games that the Flyers scored four goals or more in a game. 
  • The Flyers went 3 for 4 on the PowerPlay tonight. Philadelphia had scored three PowerPlay goals in their last nine games combined.
  • Schenn and Simmonds led the flyers with three points each today. Schenn had two goals and and assist, while Simmonds had one goal and two assists. 
  • Rinaldo's goal was his first of the season, he also added an assist. It was Rinaldo's first multipoint game since March of 2013. 
  • Claude Giroux picked up two assists. It was the first time in his last eight games, that Giroux registered more than one point in a game. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will go on the road for their next four games starting in Ottawa tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hitchcock Earns 700th Career Win as Blues Defeat Flyers

The St. Louis Blues defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 in a shootout, giving their head coach Ken Hitchcock his 700th career NHL win.

Both the Blues and the Flyers played a defensively tight game tonight keeping each other scoreless after regulation and overtime. Blues goalie Brian Elliot and Flyers' Steve Mason both stood tall making 28 and 35 saves respectively. 

Steve Mason had to stop much better chances than Elliot and made 17 saves in the third period keeping the Flyers alive. 

In the shootout, both Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds failed to score while TJ Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko both beat Mason handing the Flyers their fourth straight defeat. 

With the victory, St. Louis head coach and ex Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock earns his 700th win becoming only the fourth coach in NHL history to reach this feet. 

Game Notes:
  • Last time the Flyers and Blues played in St. Louis, they also played in a scoreless game that needed a shootout. 
  • Per Sam Carchidi, it was the first time in franchise history they played consecutive games in a road building where neither team scored in regulation or overtime. 
  • Despite the loss, Mason still earned a shutout. He now has more road shutouts (2) than he has road wins (1). 
  • The Flyers have scored just five goals during their four game losing streak. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Stars Hand Flyers Their Third Straight Loss

The Philadelphia Flyers dropped their third straight contest after falling to the Dallas Stars 2-1 tonight. 

Vernon Fiddler snapped the 1-1 tie in the third period with just 6:10 minutes remaining scoring the game winning goal off a 2 on 1 against Steve Mason.

"There's no desperation. I don't know about everyone else but I'm embarrassed," Mason said in the post game interview. "We're not in the playoff picture and we've gotta be a lot better."

Three games ago, Philadelphia was four points back of Boston for the final playoff spot with a chance to be just two if they beat the Bruins. However, the Flyers lost on a late goal to the Bruins, then followed that up with two more defeats. Therefore, instead of having a chance to be just two points back, Philadelphia finds themselves nine behind the Bruins tonight. 

Steve Mason played well tonight stopping 37 shots on 39 attempts, but despite his efforts to keep the Flyers alive, they just could not come out on top. 

Philadelphia got off to a solid start tonight scoring on their second shot of the game. Luke Schenn's shot from the point snuck through traffic beating Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen just 1:13 minutes into the game. The Flyers continued to play well in the period outshooting the Stars 14-9, however, were unable to keep the Stars off the board. 

Brett Ritchie got behind the defense on a rush and Curtis McKenzie found him for his fifth of the season. 

After the first period, the Stars began to turn up the heat. Dallas outshot Philadelphia 30-12 in the final two periods, while scoring the only other goal on Fiddler's tally. 

"We had a pretty decent first period but in the second and third period they were the better team," Mason said. "We needed to have a much better effort and it just wasn't there." 

When asked where the Flyers have to be better, Mason honestly stated, "We have to improve in all areas."

Game Notes:
  • Kari Lehtonen won his first career game versus Philadelphia. He had been 0-10-3 in his previous 13 attempts. 
  • Both the Flyers and Stars went 0-3 on their respective PowerPlays. 
  • RJ Umberger, who is currently riding an 18 game scoreless streak, was a healthy scratch tonight. He was replaced by Vincent Lecavalier, who hasn't scored in 21 games. 
  • Jake Voracek picked up an assist on Schenn's goal. It was just his second point in his last five games. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers go on the road to face the St. Louis Blues Thursday night. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Henrique Scores Twice to Lift Devils Over Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers followed up their heartbreaking loss to the Boston Bruins yesterday with a regulation loss to the New Jersey Devils 5-2 today. 

Down 4-1 in the final period, the Flyers mounted a brief comeback when Michael Raffl scored while shorthanded, cutting the lead to two. Moments later, Sean Couturier found himself on a breakaway cleanly beating Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid. Couturier, however, missed the wide open net. Immediately after Couturier's failed attempt, Patrick Elias sprung Stephen Gionta on a breakaway and he beat Mason through the five-hole. Instead of cutting the lead to one, it was now three; a microcosm of their attempted playoff run.  

Yesterday the Flyers were 14 seconds away from being within two points out of a playoff spot. However, the overtime loss compiled with today's defeat and Boston's victory over Detroit, Philadelphia finds themselves seven points back, with only 15 games to play. 

The Flyers and Devils were tied at one early in the second period when the Flyers were given a PowerPlay and the opportunity to take a lead in a game that they had played well. Instead, it was New Jersey who scored while shorthanded and the wheels came off for the Flyers. 

They played like a defeated team and were just unable to pull themselves together after the shorthanded goal, which was their sixth against this season, 21st in the NHL. 

Gionta came away with the puck and skated it out of the zone on the kill. He took a shot that Steve Mason stopped and Jacob Josefson, left uncovered, collected the rebound scoring his fourth goal of the season. 

New Jersey extended their lead to 3-1 late in the period on a long blast from the point from Eric Gelinas on the PowerPlay. The Devils then made it 4-1 early in the third when Steve Bernier set up Adam Henrique on a two on zero, for his second of the game. Henrique's first goal came in the opening period when Mark Streit lost the puck in the slot. Henrique scooped it up and beat Mason on the backhand. 

Ryan White, who was one of the few Flyers to play a solid game, scored the Flyers first goal after tipping in Luke Schenn's shot from the point for his third of the season. 

"Not good enough, today was awful," Wayne Simmonds said after the game. "We left Mason out to dry and it killed us. We'll probably have to run the table and get some help [to make the playoffs.]" 

Game Notes:
  • Mason allowed five goals on 21 shots against today. 
  • Flyers went 0 for 3 on the PowerPlay including some time on a two man advantage. The Devils went 1 for 4. 
  • Both teams scored shorthanded goals, Josefson for the Devils and Raffl for the Flyers. 
  • Michael Del Zotto missed today's game with an injury suffered in yesterday's game. Del Zotto is expected to miss 7-10 days with an upper body injury.  
  • Brandon Manning, who replaced Del Zotto, logged 15:36 minutes and was a plus 1. 
  • Ryan White, one goal and one assist, registered his first multipoint game as a Flyer. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Marchand Scores With 14 Seconds Remaining to Force Overtime, Then Wins It For Bruins

"They found a way to win, and we found a way to lose it," Steve Mason said after the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime this afternoon. "And that hurts."

It hurt so much more, because the Flyers lost their 2-1 lead with just 14 seconds remaining in the game. Boston, who came into today's game four points ahead of the Flyers, had their goalie pulled while on the PowerPlay for a face off with under 20 to play. Claude Giroux and Patrice Bergeron, two of the top face off centers in the league, tied each other up on the draw. Loui Eriksson was the first to the puck sending it back to Dougie Hamilton, who threw it on goal and Brad Marchand deflected it past Mason with only 14 seconds left on the clock tying the game at two apiece. 

Philadelphia desperately needed to steal two points from Boston, who has two games in hand, but were just unable to do so in the end. The Flyers had two prime scoring opportunities in overtime failing to score on both their three on one chance and then Jake Voracek's breakaway. Instead it was Marchand once again. 

Sean Couturier lost the puck in the neutral zone leading to a Bruins rush the other way. Marchand cut to the middle and put the puck on goal which redirected off Michael Del Zotto's skate and over Mason for the game winner. 

"That goal made a three point difference," Voracek said noticeably frustrated to reporters after the game. "It's a tough pill to swallow."

The three point difference Voracek is referring to is the fact that had the Flyers held their 2-1 lead to the end they would have picked up two points on the Bruins and only be back two in the standings. Instead, the Flyers lose in overtime surrendering two points against while only picking up one. This means the Flyers now trail the Bruins by five points while the Bruins still have two games more to play in their season. 

"What do you want me to tell you, the season is over with 16 games left?" Voracek confronted the doom and gloom reporters. "We were 13 points away about a month ago. That's not the way we think. We know what we have in the locker room and we just have to keep going."

Boston got on the board first in this contest on the PowerPlay in the opening period. Zdeno Chara opted not to take his 108mph slap shot for a wrister that found its way through traffic and past Mason, who despite allowing three against, played another outstanding game. Mason skated away with 34 saves on 37 shots. 

The Flyers evened out the score on a PowerPlay of their own. Voracek found Giroux's rebound and buried his 20th of the season midway through the second period. 

Both teams played a hard fought third period trading shots and chances trying to end this game in regulation due to how important these two points were. With 4:30 remaining, it was Philadelphia, who finally broke through. 

Nick Schultz fired the puck towards the goal and Chris VandeVelde deflected it beating Bruins goalie Tuuka Rask, giving the Flyers their first lead of the game.  

There were 2:03 minutes left to play when Wayne Simmonds was called for tripping. Boston spent nearly the entire two minutes in Philadelphia's end, and finally with 14 seconds remaining, broke the hearts of all the Flyers faithful. 

Game Notes:
  • The Flyers had gone 20 games without allowing more than one PowerPlay goal against in a single contest. Today they allowed two huge ones to the Bruins including the game tying goal. 
  • Claude Giroux who has been very good in the faceoffs circle this season, lost a huge draw at the end of regulation that lead directly to the tying goal. He was just 38% it the dot, winning only seven face offs today. 
  • Voracek's goal snapped his seven game scoreless streak. 
  • Voracek also led the Flyers with six shots tonight. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to regroup and put this loss behind them immediately when they go to New Jersey to face the Devils tomorrow afternoon.