Saturday, February 28, 2015

Del Zotto's Goal Lifts Flyers Over Rangers

Michael Del Zotto snapped the tie early in the third period while shorthanded helping the Philadelphia Flyers defeat the New York Rangers 4-2 tonight. 

Steve Mason got the nod to start in goal for the Flyers for the first time since his arthroscopic knee surgery on February 10th, and he did not miss a beat. Mason was exceptional tonight stopping 34 of 36 shots including all 16 faced in the third period helping Philadelphia hang onto their 3-2 lead. 

But the game didn't start out this way for the Flyers goalie. Just seven seconds into the game, the Rangers got one past Steve Mason from center ice on a bouncing puck. However, upon further review, it was determined that the Rangers were offsides giving Mason and the Flyers a huge break early on. 

Both teams traded goals 24 seconds apart midway through the first. Matt Read scored first for the Flyers after corralling Sean Couturier's rebound and sneaking it past Rangers goalie Cam Talbot, while JT Miller responded for the Rangers less than a half-minute later. Luke Schenn turned the puck over to Carl Hagelin deep in his zone and Hagelin found Miller, who was initially stopped by Mason, but then buried his own rebound. 

John Moore broke the tie momentarily halfway through the second period when his shot from the point ricocheted off Braydon Coburn's foot and past Mason. But less than three minutes later, it was the Flyers turn to respond. Michael Raffl tipped in Coburn's shot from the point and the game was tied again.

Before the period was out, Claude Giroux was called for a slashing penalty giving the Rangers a PowerPlay to start the third. Instead of the Rangers taking advantage of their man-advantage, it was the Flyers who capitalized. Sean Couturier was terrific all night especially on the penalty kill, which went 3 for 3. Couturier even provided offense while shorthanded when he made a nice move in the offensive zone to find a cutting Del Zotto. The defenseman made no mistake scoring from his favorite spot on the ice, the faceoff dot, against his former team giving the Flyers the lead. 

Then it became the Steve Mason show. Mason stopped all 16 Rangers shots in the period including a late barrage that consisted of six shots in a 34 second span.

Wayne Simmonds tacked on an empty net goal with under a second remaining finalizing the score at 4-2. 

Due to two victories by the eighth seeded Boston Bruins, the Flyers are now six points back in the standings. 

Game Notes:
  • Del Zotto scored his fourth game winning goal of the season. He had three in his whole career prior to this year. 
  • Couturier picked up two assists tonight snapping his four game pointless streak. It was his first multipoint game since  December 29th, 27 games ago. 
  • Vinny Lecavalier returned to action after being scratched four games. He picked up an assist after going scoreless in his last six. 
  • The Rangers outshot the Flyers 36-34 tonight. 
  • Nicklas Grossmann left the game early. He went down to block a shot which appeared to hit him near his back or the side of his head. He was helped off the ice and did not return.
  • Philadelphia went 0 for 3 on the PowerPlay. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to start a winning streak when they host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

Flyers Trade Kimmo Timonen

The Philadelphia Flyers announces that they have traded defenseman Kimmo Timonen to the Chicago Blackhawks for a second round pick in the 2015 NHL draft and a conditional fourth round pick in 2016. 

Timonen, who played eight seasons with the Flyers, hasn't played a single game this season due to blood clots found in August. 

I want to thank the Flyers organization as well as the great flyers fans for their support over the last 8 years," Timonen said on Twitter. "It's been a great ride!"

According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun the L parameters of the conditional 4th-round pick is: 
If Chicago wins two rounds and Timonen plays in 50% or more of their games then it goes to a 3rd-rounder in 2016. 
If Tyne Blackhawks win three rounds and Timonen plays in 50% or more of their games then it changes to a 2nd-round pick in 2016. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bernier Stops 47 as Leafs Top Flyers

Jonathan Bernier stopped 47 shots tonight helping the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. 

The main story again is: the Flyers failed to gain points against a lesser team in the standings, thus remain four points back of a playoff spot. The difference tonight was that Philadelphia played a much better hockey game than they had in the last few losses. 

The Flyers dominated this game from start to finish; however, they did not get the desired results. Toronto, who was held to just nine shots in the first two periods combined, came away with two goals, while the Flyers, who took 31 shots were held scoreless. 

"It's hard when you can't score a goal and they have eight shots and score two goals," Jake Voracek told reporters after the game. "In the end, it's zero points in the playoff battle."

Phil Kessel got things started for the Maple Leafs, who have only won five times in their last 28 games, late in the first period. Tyler Bozak made a perfect backhand pass which sprung Kessel through the neutral zone outracing Nicklas Grossmann. Kessel beat Rob Zepp with a laser from the top of the circle and despite outshooting the Leafs 16-7, the Flyers were down 1-0 after one. 

Philadelphia played even better in the second period, yet they came away with the exact same result. Toronto took only one shot in the first 16 minutes of the middle stanza, unfortunately for Zepp and the Flyers, it went into the back of the net. Tyler Bozak cherry-picked getting behind the Flyers defense and James vanRiemsdyk found him. Bozak went in all alone on Zepp and beat him high putting the Leafs up 2-0 ended Zepp's night. The Flyers went on to outshoot the Leafs 15-2 in the period. 

Steve Mason, who missed the last eight games with a knee injury, replaced Zepp in an attempt to shift momentum. The Flyers did fight back in the third period but not before allowing yet another goal. 

While on the PowerPlay in the opening minutes of the third period, Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, who returned tonight after missing the last 12 games with an injury, blasted a shot past Mason extending Toronto's lead to three.

Philadelphia got a few PowerPlay chances of their own in the period and cashed in twice. Claude Giroux scored the first after receiving a nice fake shot pass from Michael Del Zotto while Brayden Schenn buried the second on a rebound from Mark Streit's shot and the Flyers were within one with five minutes remaining. 

But that would be as close as they would get. The Flyers took four shots in the last four minutes but were unable to get another past Bernier who was excellent all game. 

"We did battle in the end but it doesn't matter, we lost the game," Voracek said  noticeably frustrated. "The only positive we can take is that we were the better team, but [again] in the end it doesn't matter, we lost the game.

Game Notes:
  • Claude Giroux (6), Jake Voracek (5), and Mark Streit (10) combined for 21 shots, more than the entire Leafs team combines.
  • Flyers ended up outshooting the Leafs 49-17. 
  • The 49 shots taken was the most by the Flyers all season. 
  • Streit's led all players with 10 shots, his career high. 
  • The 2 shots allowed in the second period is the fewest allowed in any period by the Flyers all season. 
  • Philadelphia went 2 for 6 on the PowerPlay and 3 for 4 on the penalty kill. 
  • Giroux's PowerPlay goal came just seconds after a two man advantage ended. 
  • Zepp allowed two goals on eight shots, while Mason allowed one goal on nine shots.
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will need to get back on track when they host the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hurricanes Hand Flyers Just Second Regulation Loss in 13 Games

The Metropolitan division's worst, Carolina Hurricanes upset the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 tonight.

Just as they did against Columbus and Buffalo, Philadelphia once again played down to a team much lower in the standings. The Flyers have lost four of their last five games against teams that are 25th or lower in the league standings. Tonight was more of the same. 

The Flyers came out slow and sluggish, while the Hurricanes were on their game and ready to play. Philadelphia was never quite able to find their game, seeing Carolina control this game throughout. The Hurricanes also dominated special team scoring twice on the man advantage while shutting down the Flyers on both of their opportunities. 

This weekend, Philadelphia was phenomenal defeating the number one seeded Nashville Predators, while  following that up with another solid victory against the red hot Washington Capitals, snapping their four game winning streak. Yet today, the energy and drive to win was again noticeably absent as it was in the few games before the weekend against the lower teams. 

"We need every point out there," Jake Voracek said after the game. "We just didn't play good enough, we were a step slower [and] we didn't skate well enough today."

Carolina got off to an early lead when Justin Faulk blasted a shot off the crossbar and in on the Hurricane's first PowerPlay of the game. 

Nicklas Grossmann tied the game up before the period was out after Jake Voracek did some good work along the boards and behind the net, allowing him to find the defenseman for his fourth of the season. 

Then the wheels fell off in the second period. Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal each scored for the Hurricanes helping build a solid 3-1 lead. Skinner's goal came off a 3 on 2 rush while Staal's came on a rebound on another PowerPlay. 

Despite being down by two in the third period, the Flyers were still outshot, as they were in every period, 10-7. 

Late in the game, Jay McClement added to the Hurricanes lead after Voracek turned the puck over deep in his own zone all but securing the win. Turnovers killed the Flyers all game long. Whether it led directly to a goal or not, Carolina took advantage of these misplays keeping the momentum throughout most of the game. 

"I don't know how many times I can say the same thing," Wayne Simmonds responded when asked about losing to teams with poor records. "It sucks. We should be getting those points."

Game Notes:
  • Depending on how you look at it, the Flyers either were fortunate or missed a big opportunity tonight as Boston lost. The Flyers remain four points back of Boston for the final playoff seed.
  • RJ Umberger left the game early with what appeared to be a knee injury. Umberger's knee collided with Ryan's White and he went down hard. He did not return. 
  • Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who played in his 500th career start, earned his 240th victory. 
  • Rob Zepp started for a third consecutive game for the first time in his career. 
  • Zepp made 31 saves on 35 shots in tonight's loss.  
  • Alexander Semin (7) took more shots than Claude Giroux (3), Jake Voracek (1) and Michael Raffl (2) combined. 
Drop The Puck:
"We have to look at what we did wrong, get better and play better Thursday," Voracek said about their next opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Del Zotto Scores Late Goal as Flyers Defeat Capitals

Michael Del Zotto snapped the 2-2 tie with 4:13 minutes left, scoring the game winning goal in the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Hockey Day in America.

Del Zotto scores the GWG
Philadelphia and Washington played another close hard fought hockey game today. But in the end, it was the Flyers who found a way to win, picking up two more points in the standings. They have now gained points in 11 of their last 12 contests as they continue to inch closer in the playoff hunt. Philadelphia is currently one point behind Florida and two behind Boston, who holds the final playoff spot; both of these clubs play later today. 

The Flyers held a 2-0 lead in the middle period by capitalizing on two PowerPlay opportunities, one in the first by Claude Giroux and another in the second from Wayne Simmonds. The Capitals, however, wasted little time evaporating that lead, as they were able to tie the game before the period was out.

The final period was full of grit, both teams playing like the next goal would win it. Philadelphia successfully killed off two penalties in the period and were finally able to break through with under five to play. 

While Jake Voracek was double shifting on the fourth line, he made an excellent pass from the boards to a cutting Del Zotto, who scored from what is quickly becoming 'his office' at the faceoff dot. Del Zotto sniped a shot to the top corner over Capitals goalie Brayden Holtby's glove, scoring the eventual game winning goal. 

Special teams play won the game for the Flyers today. Philadelphia dominated on both sides scoring on two of four PowerPlay opportunities, while shutting Washington down, the second best PowerPlay percentage team in the league, on all five chances. 

Simmonds batting puck out of midair
Claude Giroux finally broke through on the Flyers first PowerPlay of the game just 4:39 minutes into the game. Giroux's goal from the circle snapped his 11 game goalless drought.  

Philadelphia extended their lead on another PowerPlay early in the second period. Simmonds screened Holtby on Mark Streit's shot, then batted the rebound out of midair into the back of the cage. Simmonds' team leading 24th goal extended his personal best point streak to eight games. 

The Capitals battled hard and got one back quickly. Brayden Schenn made a sloppy turnover in his own end, which led directly to John Carlson, who was the recipient of that turnover, to set up Tom Wilson all alone in front, cutting the lead in half. 

Before the period was out, Joel Ward found the equalizer. Ward spun around and chopped at the puck, which appeared to deflect off Zac Rinaldo's stick and over Rob Zepp's shoulder. Despite the two goals, Zepp played a good game stopping 21 shots in 23 attempts earning wins on back to back nights for the first time in his short career. 

Philadelphia somewhat made up for losing twice to Columbus and once to Buffalo, winning their double header against top seeded Nashville and second placed Washington. Picking up back to back wins against great teams is a positive, as is gaining points in 11 of 12, but the Flyers still have played two more games than the teams ahead of them, still leaving a lot of work to be done. However, they are on the right track. 

Game Notes:
  • Giroux snapped his four game pointless streak with a goal and an assist today. 
  • Voracek's two points today sets a new career high with 63. 
  • Zepp now has a 5-1 record this season. 
  • Simmonds has 10 points during his eight game streak. And has 14 points in his last 12 games. 
  • Ryan White's four game point streak was snapped today. 
  • The new first line, Giroux, Simmonds and Michael Raffl, combined for 12 of the Flyers 28 shots.  
  • Since Rinaldo returned yesterday, he has received a 10 minute misconduct, a two minute minor for elbowing, and a fighting major when he never dropped his gloves. 
  • The Flyers have gone three straight games without surrendering a PowerPlay goal against, 10 for 10. They have also killed 34 of the last 38 penalties (90%) in their last 13 games. 
  • The last three Flyers games have ended in a 3-2 score. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to keep up their solid play when they head to Carolina to face the Hurricanes on Tuesday. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Flyers Take Down First Place Predators

A full 60 minute effort was used in the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 shootout victory this afternoon over the Nashville Predators.

Zepp wins it with huge save in the SO
Coach Craig Berube made some changes to his lineup in an attempt to get a better effort from his team that just dropped two to Columbus and another to Buffalo, the league's worst team. All of his lines were restructured today including the separation of Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, who have been on the same line all season. Also Andrew MacDonald (out one game due to personal reasons and three more from healthy scratches) and Zac Rinaldo (suspended eight games and healthily scratched two more) were inserted into the lineup while Luke Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier were scratched.

The shakeup appeared to work right out of the gates. Philadelphia outshot Nashville 13-1 at one point in the opening period and took an early lead on a nice deflection by Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds, who has been on fire picking up points in seven straight, tipped Michael Del Zotto's shot from the point past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, giving the Flyers the all important first goal of the game.  

On just their second shot of the period, with just over a minute to go, Nashville found the equalizer. Del Zotto made a poor pass through the neutral zone leading to a turnover sending Nashville in on a two on two rush. Colin Wilson took a relatively harmless shot that somehow handcuffed Rob Zepp, who got his first start since January 17th, and despite the dominating first period, the score was tied at the end.

Simmonds scored in SO
Philadelphia continued to work hard in the middle stanza and it finally payed off. Ryan White forced a turnover behind Nashville's net, which ultimately lead to him getting the puck in the slot and he buried his second goal of the season. At the end of the period, the Flyers led 2-1 in goals and 21-7 in shots.

That lead quickly evaporated in the third period as Predator's forward Craig Smith beat Zepp just 23 seconds in and the score was knotted up at two. 

Neither team was able to break the tie in the remainder of the period nor in overtime; therefore, a shootout was necessary. It was the seventh time in the last 12 games that Philadelphia has needed overtime and the fourth shootout during that span.

Jake Voracek went first making a nifty forehand to backhand move beating Rinne. After Zepp made a nice save it was Simmonds turn. Simmonds came in slowly appearing to deke, then simply went five-hole surprising Rinne, putting the Flyers up 2-0, forcing the Predators to score on their next attempt to stay alive. Smith, who beat Zepp once already today, skated in and was robbed by the glove of Zepp securing the victory and much needed two points for the Flyers.

The win over their former coach Peter Laviolette and his first placed Nashville Predators brings the Flyers to a 25-23-11 record on the season accumulating 61 points, four behind the final wildcard spot currently held by the Boston Bruins.

Game Notes:
  • The seven game point streak for Wayne Simmonds is the longest of his career. 
  • Ryan White is also riding a career high point streak. His goal extended his streak to four games. 
  • The Flyers outshot the Predators 33-22. 
  • Philadelphia held Nashville to 17 shots in regulation. 
  • The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the PowerPlay and 2 for 2 on the penalty kill. Philadelphia has just scored two PowerPlay goals in their last six games, 2 for 14. 
  • Simmonds and White (not on the same line) combined for two goals, seven shots and 14 hits. 
  • Claude Giroux has now gone four games without a point and 11 without a goal. 
  • The Flyers improve to a 3-8 record in shootouts this season. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will get right back into action tomorrow at 12:30 against the Washington Capitals.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Flyers Induct Desjardins Into The Hall, Lose Valuable Point to Sabres

The Philadelphia Flyers lost another valuable point tonight in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres. 

Desjardins Induction Ceremony
On the night in which Philadelphia honored one of their best defenseman, Eric Desjardins, they could not buy a win against the league's worst team. 

Desjardins, who played 11 seasons for the Flyers, was someone they could have used tonight. The man they call Rico, led his team to the playoffs in each of the 11 seasons he suited up for the Orange and Black. Not only did he bring skill, talent and excellent defensive play, but he also brought heart grit and leadership on land off the ice. And those are some of the things the current Flyers lineup is lacking.

Chris Therrien, long time defensive partner of Eric Desjardins made a very special speech saying, "Rico you were my Wayne Gretzky. Someone asked me at the time who was the best player you've ever played with, it was Eric Desjardins. Far and away."

Down seven points to the Boston Bruins in the standings, coming into tonight's game, Philadelphia absolutely needed to secure two points against one of the worst teams in NHL history. Buffalo had only one road win since November 29th. Yet the Flyers made them look like a good hockey team. 

It was no coincidence that the Flyers failed to make the playoffs the year before Desjardins arrived and the year after he left. He was a staple on their back end: another thing the 2015 squad is missing. 

None of the Flyers defenseman has stepped up into that role, or even a leadership role. Claude Giroux has been a decent leader, but he is still very young and is now slumping at the worst time possible in this season.

"We need to find a way to get two points," Giroux barked after the game while Mark Streit simply stated, "It's unacceptable!" 

Desjardins thanking the fans
They can utter these words as many times as possible, but their not changing their game. Positively thinking, the Flyers have picked up points in 10 of their last 11 games despite having lost four of their last five. The Flyers are now seven points behind the Bruins, with the saving grace being that they will face Boston one more time with the chance to steal two points. 

In seven of the last eight games, the Flyers have failed to score more than two goals (excluding empty netters) against the opposing goaltenders. Tonight was more of the same. 

"We didn't find a way to get the next goal tonight," coach Craig Berube told reporters after that game. "That's what it boils down to."

Two goals were all the Flyers could muster once again and they never held a lead. 

Buffalo got off to an early start when Nicolas Deslauriers beat Ray Emery just 4:41 into the game. Deslauriers swatted at the lose puck in front of Emery which bounced over his leg pad. 

Ryan White responded for the Flyers less than three minutes later. White deposited Braydon Coburn's rebound for his first goal as a Flyer. 

The Sabres reclaimed their lead early in the second period on a goal by Brian Gionta. 38 seconds in, Emery struggled to control a rebound and Gionta registered his 500th career point.  

Jake Voracek, who played a very solid game, finally broke through with a PowerPlay goal. The tally was Voracek's first non empty net goal in his last 14 games. 

After Voracek's goal, neither team was able to solve the opposing goaltender as 31 shots were taking in the final period and overtime, 16 by the Flyers. 

Thus a shootout was needed. Voracek continued his solid night scoring first; however, the next three Flyers failed to find the back of the cage, while Brian Gionta and Brian Flynn beat Emery securing victory and the extra point.

Tonight will instead be remembered as Eric Desjardins night as it was Eric Lindros and John Leclair's only a few months ago, both who were also in attendance tonight.

"Ever since I got to Philly, I always felt I was part of the family and this feeling is precious to me," Desjardins said. "And you the fans are part of this great family, you are loyal, you are honest, you are certainly demanding, and you make it tough for opponents to play in this building. And you sure inspired us. I love you guys."

Game Notes:
  • Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth earned his first win since November.
  • Wayne Simmonds, who picked up an assist, led the Flyers with seven shots. 
  • Philadelphia outshot Buffalo 38-32. 
  • The Flyers went 1 for 4 on the PowerPlay and 3 for 3 on the penalty kill. 
  • Luke Schenn led the Flyers with seven hits. 

Drop The Puck:
The Flyers get back into action on Saturday when they host former coach Peter Laviolette and his Nashville Predators.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Blue Jackets Snap Flyers Point Streak

The Columbus Blue Jackets snapped the Philadelphia Flyers nine game point streak with their 5-2 victory tonight despite being heavily outplayed.

On Sunday, it was the Flyers who were outplayed by the Buffalo Sabres yet were able to squeeze out a win. It appeared that karma caught up to the Flyers as they dominated portions of the game tonight, however, were unable to get any points. 

Philadelphia outshot Columbus 44-25, but it all came down to a simple turnover halfway through the third period. Tied at two, Vincent Lecavalier began to breakout of the zone when he made a terrible pass that was intercepted and immediately went the other way. Because the Flyers were moving due to the breakout they were caught up ice. Columbus had two men all alone in front of Ray Emery and with one pass from Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert buried the puck, and essentially the Flyers. 

Following the goal, Philadelphia was scrambling to catch up when Jake Voracek's pass in the offensive zone went off the official's skate sending the Blue Jackets on a rush the other way. Emery made the initial save on Scott Hartnell's shot but fumbled the rebound and Brandon Dubinkski pounced on it giving Columbus a commanding 4-2 lead. 

Philadelphia pushed hard to tie it taking 10 shots in the final 10 minutes but were unable to get another one past Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney, who played very well tonight stopping 42 shots. 

Columbus got the two points tonight because they took advantage of mistakes and good fortunes while the Flyers were unable to do so. All four Columbus goals resulted from strange bounces plus Lecavalier's turnover. 

The nine game point streak comes to a close with the loss and the Flyers have gone 6-1-3 in their last 10. Realistically, for the Flyers to make the playoffs, assuming Boston doesn't tank, they will have to pick up a record close to 16-5-4.

Columbus got off to a great start tonight scoring the game's first two goals in the opening period. James Wisniewski scored the first on the PowerPlay after Alex Wennberg misplayed the puck in front before Wisniewski found it with a wide opened net staring him down. Ryan Johansen picked up the Blue Jackets second goal when the puck bounced off his shoulder. And within 6:39 minutes at home, Philadelphia found themselves down 2-0. 

The Flyers picked up the pace in the second period outshooting the Blue Jackets 20-6 and were able to tie the game up late. Wayne Simmonds got the Flyers on the board late in the period on a deflection in the high slot before Michael Del Zotto tied the game just 1:43 minutes later. 

After the slow start, being tied at two heading into the third period at home was all the Flyers could have asked for. But instead of taking advantage of the comeback momentum they skated away without any points. Lecavalier's turnover was absolutely unacceptable, especially at this crucial moment in the season, where the team needs points in the standings. This one dreadful and lazy play cost the team the game. One can blame the start of the game, however the Flyers fought back, or the poor rebound control on the fourth goal allowed by Emery, but that came after the Lecavalier mistake. So it all boils down to one easily avoidable play that may have cost one or two points in the standings. 

Despite the nine game point streak that got snapped, the Flyers have now lost three of their last four and four of their last six. 

Game Notes:
  • The 44 shots taken by the Flyers is their season high. 
  • Philadelphia went 0-3 on their PowerPlay and 1-1 on the penalty kill. 
  • The Flyers have lost seven of their last eight against the Blue Jackets. 
  • Del Zotto picked up a goal and an assist along with three shots and four hits. 
  • Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds led the team with five shots apiece. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to start a new point streak when they face the Buffalo Sabres once again on Thursday. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Raffl Scores in Return As Flyers Defeat Sabres

The Philadelphia Flyers extended their point streak to nine games tonight with their 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. 

Michael Raffl, who missed the last 7 games with pneumonia, returned tonight and scored the game winning goal for the Flyers with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. 

Tied at one, Raffl's line began cycling the puck when Ryan White found the Austrian and he wrapped it around beating Michal Neuvirth putting the Flyers in the lead with 7:15 minutes to go. 

After the goal, Ray Emery, who made 21 saves on 22 shots, stopped all four shots faced securing the all-important two points in the standings. 

With the victory, the Flyers improve to a 24-22-10 record, just five points behind the Boston Bruins. 

Matt Read got the Flyers on the board early in the opening period. Wayne Simmonds took a shot from a distance that Read deflected in the slot for his fifth of the season. Philadelphia easily outplayed the Sabres in the first outshooting them 15-5. 

The second period was an entirely different story as the Sabres started to fight back while the Flyers lost their discipline. Philadelphia took three penalties in the period and Buffalo finally took advantage. 

Braydon Coburn and Claude Giroux took simultaneous penalties in the latter part of the period giving the Sabres a full two minutes of two man advantage time. After failing to score in the first minute Buffalo finally cashed in on a big blast from the point off Nikita Zadorov's stick tying the game at one apiece. 

The final period was a very defensive one as both teams combined for only 12 shots. But it was the Flyers who came away with the big goal when they needed it. 

Philadelphia now boasts a 6-0-3 record in their last nine games; their longest point streak since they went 7-0-2 in 2011. 

Game Notes:
  • Michael Raffl picked up one goal, three shots, three hits and logged 11:35 minutes of ice time in his return. 
  • Braydon Coburn also returned to the lineup tonight after missing 12 games with a lower body injury. Coburn, however, was bench throughout a lot of the third period for his poor play. Despite averaging over 20 minutes a game, he only logged 11:27 minutes. 
  • After scoring two goals in a 46 game span, Matt Read has himself two goals in his last three games. 
  • Philadelphia went 0-2 on PowerPlay and 2 for 3 on the penalty kill. 
  • The Flyers outshot the Sabres 30-22. Claude Giroux and Chris VandeVelde led the team with five each. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to keep their point streak alive and get a little redemption when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets again on Tuesday, this time at home.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blue Jackets Honor Hartnell, Then Top Flyers in Overtime

The Philadelphia Flyers lost a 3-1 lead in the third period before losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime tonight. 

On the night the Blue Jackets honored Scott Hartnell for having played his 1000th game (which actually took place last week), Columbus outplayed Philadelphia throughout most of this contest. Ray Emery was exceptional all night allowing the Flyers to lead for most of the game; however, he was left out to dry on numerous occasions, especially in the final period and overtime.

The Flyers have now lost six straight games at Columbus and six of seven overall against the Blue Jackets dating back to last season. Tonight was no different. The Blue Jackets were all over the Flyers outshooting them 33-25 tonight. Philadelphia is at a point in their season where they have to win as many games and pick up as many points as possible to make a run for the playoffs. And for the third time in the last four games, the Flyers squandered an opportunity to get the extra point in losing in extra time in games they held a lead. 

Other than Ray Emery, Wayne Simmonds was one of the few Flyers to step up tonight. Simmonds, the third star of the game, picked up two goals and an assist helping the Flyers at least pick up one point for their eighth straight game. 

Simmonds got the Flyers on the board in the first period on a 2 on 1 rush with Sean Couturier. Matt Read made a nice pass to start the rush and Simmonds finished putting Philadelphia in the lead after one. 

Both teams traded goals in the middle period; Columbus got their first from Brandon Dubinsky, who was wide open in front, a common theme in tonight's game, while Sean Couturier responded for Philadelphia by batting the puck out of midair into the back of the net.

Early in the third period, Simmonds put the Flyers up by two while on the PowerPlay. Jake Voracek set up Claude Giroux for the one-timer and Simmonds was able to find the rebound in front for his 21st of the season. 

Then it all came crashing down for the Flyers, who surrendered the next three goals to a team who had never won a game all season when trailing heading into the third period, 0-20. 

Just a few minutes after Simmonds' tally, Jared Boll, who hadn't scored a goal all season, somehow snuck behind the Flyers defense and Corey Tropp found him all alone in front of Emery and the lead was cut to one. 

With under five to go, Emery stopped Scott Hartnell's bid; however, Cam Atkinson beat the Flyers defense to the rebound and cashed in tying the game at three apiece. 

In overtime, the Flyers defense continued to drop their coverage and just over two minutes in, two Blue Jackets were left all alone in front of Emery and they made no mistake. Emery stopped James Wisniewski's initial shot yet Artem Anisimov, with no Flyer in the same zip code, picked up the rebound and made a move to beat Emery and win the game. 

"Anytime you have a 3-1 lead in the third you want to put that away," Emery told reporters after the game. "That's not a lead you want to let go. So it's frustrating."

Game Notes:
  • Andrew MacDonald was a late scratch tonight due to the sad news that his grandmother passed away. 
  • Even though the Flyers have lost three of their last four,  they have still picked up points in eight straight games, the most in over three years. They are 5-0-3 during that stretch. 
  • Philadelphia went 1 for 3 on the PowerPlay and 1 for 1 on the penalty kill. 
  • Simmonds has points in six of his last seven games. He has nine points during that stretch. He also led the Flyers with four shots and blocked two more and had two hits. 
  • Michael Del Zotto led the Flyers in ice time with 24:55 minutes. It is the seventh straight game that he has logged 22+ minutes. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to get back on the winning track when they face the league worst Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Desharnais Scores Game Winner in OT to Helps Canadiens Top Flyers

The Montreal Canadiens, who hold the second best record in the East, tied the score late in the third period erasing the Philadelphia Flyers lead which lasted over 51 minutes. Then in overtime, David Desharnais won it for the Canadiens, defeating the Flyers 2-1.

The Flyers played a solid game tonight but it was not enough. One goal was never going to beat Montreal and Philadelphia just could not cash in for a second or third time despite a few breakaways and odd man rush chances. The Canadiens fought hard to tie this game and ultimately outshot the Flyers 41-24. 

Ray Emery was exceptional making 39 saves holding the Canadiens off the board for 53 minutes. It wasn't until Montreal's 33rd shot that they finally got one past Emery. Emery stopped Alex Galchenyuk's wrap around attempt, before Tomas Plekanec found the loose puck tying the game at one. 

Matt Read initially put the Flyers on top just 55 seconds into the game. Read beat Carey Price on a rush from the top of the circle. Despite scoring on their first shot of the game, the Flyers were unable to beat Price for the rest of the contest. 

Tied at one, this game would required overtime. The Canadiens were buzzing in the extra session picking up five shots including Desharnais' winner. The forward went in one on one with Michael Del Zotto, who blocked his first attempt; however, Desharnais got to the rebound quicker and buried it past Emery for the win. 

"Every point matters," Matt Read, who snapped a 25 game goalless streak, said after the game. "It's tough to swallow. We have to find a way to win that game."

Despite the loss, Philadelphia was still able to pick up a point extending their point streak to seven games, 5-0-2. They are currently eight points back of the Boston Bruins for the final Wild Card spot. 

Game Notes:
  • The Flyers blocked 25 shots tonight. 
  • Philadelphia went 0-1 on the PowerPlay and 3 for 3 on the penalty kill. 
  • They have now killed 21 of their last 23 penalties in their last seven games. 
  • It was the third consecutive game that the Flyers have only had one PowerPlay. The last time Philadelphia had more than two PowerPlays was seven games ago. 
  • The Flyers have picked up points in 11 of their last 15 games, 9-4-2. 
  • Luke Schenn was a late scratch tonight with an upper body injury. He was replaced with Carlo Colaiacovo. Schenn is listed as day to day. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to extend their point streak when they go to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Flyers Defeat Capitals, Lose Mason

The Philadelphia Flyers scored two goals in the final period to defeat the Washington Capitals 3-1 this afternoon. 

The win, however, may have come with a big loss. Flyers goalie Steve Mason left the game in the second period with a lower body injury and did not return. The injury came during a TV timeout while Mason was over near the bench. He innocently turned to go back to his net when it appeared like he tweaked a muscle and was in instant pain. Mason was then helped off the ice and did not return. 

Ray Emery stepped in and played well; however, it was the Flyers defense who played even better. Philadelphia only surrendered six shots against in the second half of the game (30 minutes). Emery stopped five of those six shots allowing only a PowerPlay goal that came just seconds after a two man disadvantage. 

"He'll be evaluated tomorrow," GM Ron Hextall said regarding Steve Mason. "He won't be coming to Montreal. At this point I'd be surprised [if he plays any of the upcoming road games.]"

Philadelphia's defense wasn't just solid after the injury but it was throughout the entire contest. The 14 shots taken by the Capitals was not only the least amount given up all season for the Flyers, but it was also the fewest taken by Washington in their season. This was also evident in their penalty kill in which they killed five out of six chances off the third best PowerPlay team in the league. 

The Flyers and Capitals played yet another close game this afternoon, 12 of their last 18 games since 2010 have been decided by one goal. 

After a scoreless opening period, Mark Streit and Alex Ovechkin traded goals in the middle stanza. Streit's goal came from a long shot from the point that looked like a curve ball as it dipped halfway in, beating Brayden Holtby just 50 seconds into the period. Ovechkin responded on the Capitals sixth PowerPlay of the game. Just seconds after a two man advantage, Ovechkin found himself all alone at the bottom of the circle on Ray Emery and beat him with a deadly wrist shot knotting the game at one apiece. 

The Flyers took over in the third period outshooting the Capitals 10-4. Wayne Simmonds broke the tie just under four minutes in on a one on one play beating Holtby under the glove from the circle dot. 

Emery stopped all four shots in the period and Jake Voracek secured the victory with an empty net goal lifting the Flyers over a .500 record for the first time since November 14th, 23-22-8. 

Game Notes:
  • Claude Giroux picked up two assists tonight snapping a three game pointless streak. 
  • Voracek's goal was his first in 10 games and was his first point in his last three games. 
  • Voracek's empty net goal was on the PowerPlay. It was the first PowerPlay of the game for the Flyers. They went 1 for 1 on the PowerPlay and 5 for 6 on the penalty kill.  
  • Scott Laughton, who was concussed by Capitals Mat Niskaken three weeks ago, fought the defenseman tonight to regain some dignity. After the fight, Laughton, who told reporters after the game, thanked Niskanen. 
  • Rob Zepp, who has stepped up during Mason's other injuries, suffered an injury of his own in the last Phantoms game after a collision appearing to injure his right leg. Other than Mason (injured), Zepp (injured), and Emery, the only other goalie signed to an NHL contract is Anthony Stolarz. The rookie is playing for the Phantoms in his first professional season.  
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers, who have picked up points in six straight games, will look to extend that streak when they head to Montreal to face the Canadiens.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Looking Back at the First Half of the Season, Plus a Peak at What Lies Ahead for the Flyers

First Half of the Season

The first half of the season came to an end at All Star break last week, and after 48 games, the Flyers have been fairly disappointing, picking up a 19-22-7 record for 45 total points (now 22-22-8, 51 points), fifth in the Metropolitan Division. They are currently 9 points outside of a wild card spot chasing the Boston Bruins and 12 points away from a divisional playoff seed, currently held by the New York Rangers.

Last season at the 48 game mark, Philadelphia had a 24-19-5 record for 53 points. They were able to go 18-11-5 for the rest of season amassing a 42-30-10 record for the full season, 94 points, one point ahead of the final playoff spot. If this year's playoff standing are somewhat similar in points then Philadelphia will have to go something close to 23-8-3 or better to make the post season in 2015. So far they have gotten off to a good start going 3-0-1 since the break, but have a long way to go.  

The Flyers ended the break positively putting forth an effort that has been largely absent throughout most of the season. They defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in overtime in a fight filled contest. But it was not about the fights, it was the passion and the drive to win. The players stood up for themselves and each other and played like they wanted to win. That is the attitude they will need moving ahead if they want to make a run at the playoffs. Because in the first half, it simply was not there. 


Changes from Last Season

The main difference between last year's team and this year's is the loss of Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) on the back end and the trade of Scott Hartnell for RJ Umberger (still scratching our heads). Losing just two players may not seem like a big difference, yet when you look closer, it is. The biggest loss here is leadership and experience. Timonen and Hartnell combined for 28 years of NHL experience and were not only leaders on the ice but in the locker room as well, both serving as alternate captains. Philadelphia is a very young and generally inexperienced team only carrying two players who are older that 32; one, Vinny Lecavalier, 34, has been on the bench or on the fourth line for much of the season, while the other, Mark Streit, 37, didn't start his NHL career until he was 28. Leadership and experience can calm a room down during a slump or make the big play when the young guys are tense and need it the most. Chris Pronger helped a few years back, then Jaromir Jagr provided that experience, then it was Kimmo Timonen and even Scott Hartnell who could settle the room down. The team is left there with a gaping hole.  

Scott Hartnell was a focal point on the PowerPlay along with Kimmo TImonen, who was the anchor. The Flyers have been very good on the man advantage this year and are fourth in the NHL at 23.4%. Mark Streit, who has the sixth most points by a defenseman in the league (35 points), replaced Timonen, while Brayden Schenn took over Hartnell's spot and has 10 PowerPlay points thus far; Hartnell had 12 at this point last season. 

Timonen, however, also led the first penalty killing unit.  The penalty kill has suffered dramatically with the absence of Timonen. Last season, the Flyers were seventh in the NHL with an 84.8% kill rate as Timonen averaged 3:24 minutes per game killing penalties, 9th most in the NHL.  This season, Philadelphia is second to last at a pitiful 74.9%. To put that into perspective, the worst penalty killing percentage in league history was 68% by the LA Kings in 1980. 


Defensive Woes

Philadelphia's defense has been subpar all season. The Flyers have surrendered 154 goals against, 2.85 per game, 24th in the league, and only two of their regular defenseman are plus players, Nick Schultz, who has been a pleasant surprise all season, and Nicklas Grossmann; the rest of their defensive corps are a collective -14. The main issue the defense is having trouble with, other than the obvious penalty killing, is their inability to consistently get the puck out of their zone starting solid breakouts. This results in too many turnovers taking away important opportunities for the Flyers to generate offense while continuously putting a strain right back on the defense and goaltending.

The goalies, Steve Mason and Ray Emery, have not been the problem for Philadelphia despite allowing almost three goals a game. Goalies can only stop so many point blank shots and solid chances. In fact, Mason still has a terrific .925 save percentage, tied for fourth in the league (among goalies who have played 30 games or more).

On occasion, Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto have successfully carried the puck up the ice, but those times are few and far between. Once in the offensive zone, however, the Flyers have shown that they are capable of putting up decent offensive numbers, a la Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux, who have been one of the few bright spots of the first half. 


Offensive Numbers

Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux have been nothing short of spectacular this season. Voracek leads the NHL in points with 58, while Giroux is following closely behind with 52, tied for sixth. They are the most dynamic duo in the league, topping the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The two have also combined for 47 PowerPlay points, the most in the league.

The rest of the Flyers offense has been very sporadic. Brayden Schenn has played generally well picking up 31 points and is on pace for 50, which would be a career high. Wayne Simmonds has 32 points and is on pace for 51, compared to his 60 last season. Sean Couturier, who many were hoping would have a breakout year, has only 23 points; he had 39 last year. However, the biggest disappointment has been Matt Read. After scoring 20+ goals in two of his first three seasons, averaging .28 goals per game (the other was during a shortened campaign), Read has just three goals thus far, plummeting his average to .05. 

Again, one of the main reasons why the offense has had so much trouble is their inability to breakout of the defensive zone cleanly paired with their atrocious neutral zone play. Because of these struggles, the Flyers get caught in the neutral zone over and over again, because their play is either too slow in development, starting usually with the defense, or is attributed to poor passing. Solid breakouts and good passing can lead directly to offense and possession which ultimately wins hockey games. 


Trade Deadline

March 2nd is the official trade deadline for the NHL, yet don't look for the Flyers to make a big splash, like they have in previous years. A month from now, the Flyers will most likely know if the playoffs are out of range and then the question will become, will they be able to unload any contracts? 

Philadelphia is already in a tight spot with their cap space due to too many bloated deals. 
  • Braydon Coburn, who looks lost without Kimmo Timonen, and is a turnover machine, has a cap hit of $4.5 million with one year left.
  • Andrew MacDonald, who has been a healthy scratch for several games this season, comes with a $5 million hit with five years remaining. 
  • RJ Umberger, along with his 13 points and -11 goals for/against, is the second highest paid forward on the Flyers at $4.6 million for two more years.
  • Vinny Lecavalier, 16 points with a -8, has a cap hit of $4.5 million. 
If GM Ron Hextall gets any offer for any of these players he will most likely jump at the opportunity to clear cap space.  Coburn holds the most value, therefore, becoming the most likely candidate to be moved at the deadline. As of yesterday, a source in Calgary told DropThePuck that the Flames have interest in Coburn as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009. They would likely be willing to give up a pick and prospect for the defenseman. According to the source, a few of the offensive prospects that Calgary may be willing to move are centers Markus Granlund, Bill Arnold, Max Reinhart, and Mark Jankowski or wingers Sven Baertschi and Morgan Klimchuk. 

Hextall is known to be very patient with his young players development so it is highly unlikely (although not impossible) that he will shop Sean Couturier, Matt Read or even Brayden Schenn. That said, a Luke and Brayden Schenn combo deal might hold some weight if given the right offer. 


Flyers Future

As poor as the present Flyers defense has been, the future is very bright. Philadelphia is grooming four recently drafted, highly touted prospects which they have drafted in the past three years.  Three of them made NHL insider analyst, Craig Button's 'Top NHL Affiliated Prospect List.' Only 9 defenseman made that list and three of them belong to Philadelphia. The Flyers are the only team with more than one defenseman on the list and is also only one of two teams to have three prospects in the top 20 (Winnipeg being the other). 

  • Former Union Dutchmen star defenseman turned Lehigh Valley Phantom, Shayne Gostisbehere came in at number 19 on Button's list. The man they call Ghost, only played five games with the Phantoms and two with the Flyers, picking up five points, all assists while on the Phantoms, before tearing his ACL. Gostisbehere has resumed skating and is expected to be back in the Phantoms lineup in mid February. 
  • 2013 1st round pick, Samuel Morin, who helped Canada win Gold medal at the World Junior Championship this year, came in at number 14. Morin, the 6' 7" 210 pound defenseman, who also suffered an injury early in his season playing for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL when he was struck in the face with the puck, has picked up 20 points in 22 games. 
  • Flyers 2014 1st round draft pick, Travis Sanheim ranked the highest of the group at number 10. Sanheim, who is still just 18 years old, is having a terrific season in the WHL for the Calgary Hitmen, picking up 47 points in 46 games and is a plus 23. Sanheim is second in the league among scoring as a defenseman. 
  • Robert Hagg (pronounced Heyg) is the fourth solid defensive prospect in the Flyers system. In his first season with the Phantoms, Hagg, who was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has 16 points in 39 games. 
  • Another defenseman who may be worth keeping an eye on is Philadelphia's 3rd round pick in 2014, Mark Friedman. The Bowling Green freshman is quietly putting together a solid first season at the collegiate level. Friedman has 15 points in 26 games and is a plus 6, helping the Falcons to a 6th ranking in the national polls. He should be worth keeping an eye on in the next few years.

When it comes to offensive prospects, the Flyers pool is a bit more shallow. However, their current roster is filled with a ton of youth. 10 of the Flyers top 12 forwards are under the age of 30. 

A few of their offensive prospects are currently playing for the Phantoms right now. 
  • Nick Cousins was just awarded the AHL's star of the month. Cousins scored 17 points in 13 games in the month of January becoming the first Phantom to win the award since Claude Giroux in 2008. In his second professional season, Cousins leads the Phantoms in scoring with 36 points in 45 games. 
  • Petr Straka, who made his first NHL call up last week, picked up 2 assists in 3 games with the Flyers. Straka, a free agent signing in 2012, has 44 points in 100 games with the Phantoms in the past 2 seasons.
  • Taylor Leier, drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, has 22 points in 42 games in his first pro season.
  • Jason Akeson led the Phantoms in scoring in each of the past three seasons compiling 172 points during that span, not including the 18 he has this year in 23 games. 
The Flyers also have a few prospect in the amateur leagues.
  • Nicolas Aube Kubel, 2nd round pick in the 2014 draft, has 53 points in 43 games for the Val d'Or Foreurs in the QMJHL. Aube Kubel has really caught fire of late having scored a point in 17 of his last 19 games, amassing 33 points during that stretch. The 18 year old has also scored 14 goals in his last 14 games. 
  • Michael Parks, 5th round pick in the 2010 NHL draft, plays for the nation's second ranked college hockey team, the University of North Dakota. Parks, 22, leads the Fighting Sioux with 27 points in 27 games. 
  • Oskar Lindblom, also a 5th round pick but in 2014, had a solid showing at the 2015 World Junior Championship.  The 18 year old Swedish born forward, registered nine points in seven games. Lindblom has scored 10 points in 26 games while playing for Brynäs of the SHL (Swedish Hockey League).
  • Tyrell Goulbourne was drafted by the Flyers in the 3rd round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Goulbourne, in his fourth full season with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, has 17 goals and 34 points in 43 games. In his four plus seasons with the Rockets, Goulbourne has accumulated 446 penalty minutes. 
  • Radel Fazleev (pronounced Foz-ley-ev) is the Flyers 6th round pick from 2014.  The Russian born forward has had a decent season in his second year with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL tripling his goal total from last year.  He has 16 goals and 39 points in 50 games so far.  

Looking Ahead 

The road ahead will not be an easy task as the Flyers attempt to rebuild. Salary will need to be shed moving into next season while certain young players such as Morin and/or Gostisbehere may be given a chance to help the big club.  Also if the Flyers struggle to make up ground by the end of the this season, the organization may become impatient with coach Craig Berube, but that's a discussion for another article. 

Moving forward in this season, the Flyers will split their final 30 games evenly with 15 home and 15 away games.  The Flyers will have to improve on the road if they want to make a run as they have a far better record at Philadelphia, 15-7-4, than they do everywhere else, 7-15-4.

17 is the number of games that the Flyers will play against teams currently in a playoff position. Making a run for the playoffs will not be easy, but stranger things have happened, San Jose erased a 9 point deficit in the standings to make the playoffs only about a decade ago.  If the Flyers show the passion and fight they did against Pittsburgh and on this recent home stand for the rest of the season, it may be possible to get back into the mix. 

However, if the Flyers are unable to make the playoffs, they will most likely get a high draft pick in the very deep 2015 NHL Entry Draft, who may be able to provide instant relief by jumping directly into their starting lineup come October. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kimmo Timonen to Return

Timonen and Hextall at the Press Conference
During the first intermission of the Flyers Islanders game, Kimmo Timonen and GM Ron Hextall held a press conference to announce that Kimmo Timonen will begin skating tomorrow.

In a tweet prior to the conference, Timonen excitedly stated, "Finally got some good news today!! Back to skating tomorrow after 8 months of RESTING. I will probably feel like I am 25 again!"

In early August while in Finland, Kimmo Timonen was diagnosed with multiple blood clot in his lungs and legs. Recently Timonen was given the good news that his lungs are clear of any clots, yet he still had them in his legs. However, Timonen informed reporters today that those clots are considered 'chronic' and will remain there for the rest of his life.

"I feel really confident about skating and coming back," Timonen said in the press conference. "It's called chronic. Chronic means [the blood clots] won't move ever. So they stay in there forever. There not moving around." He also pointed out that he won't be on medication during game days, therefore, won't be at anymore risk than any other player who may get cut.

With that said, the doctors have cleared him to start skating again on Friday. Timonen will skate on his own for about 7-10 days before joining the team for practices and then take it from there.

Islanders Snap Flyers Four Game Winning Streak in Shootout

The Philadelphia Flyers held a two goal lead after 36 minutes of play before letting it all slip away. The Islanders netted two goals in 1:59 minutes late in the middle period evening out the tilt. After 65 minutes still knotted at two apiece, a shootout was needed. It took seven rounds before the Islanders got the better of the Flyers topping them 3-2 tonight. 

Despite the two goals, the Flyers struggled offensively all night picking up no more than six shots in any period. However, Steve Mason was excellent keeping the Flyers alive all game. Mason made 28 saves on 30 shots while also stopping five shootout attempts.

Philadelphia picked up an early lead in the opening period after Vinny Lecavalier set up Nick Schultz from the behind the net for his second goal in the last three games. 

Chris VandeVelde extended that lead halfway through the second period on a 2 on 1 with Pierre Edouard Bellemare. VandeVelde looked shot all the way and beat Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak to the glove side. 

The Islanders had outshot the Flyers 18-8 after 36 minutes, but it was Philadelphia who had the 2-0 lead. But all that would change very quickly. 

The game ultimately came down to a two minute stretch late in the second period where the Islanders would pick up two goals in under two minutes. And it all started with a defensive zone turnover. Luke Schenn had possession of the puck before turning it over to Mikhail Grabovski, who took full advantage finally getting one past Mason. 

Just 1:49 minutes later, Cal Clutterbuck found and buried a juicy rebound left by Mason after stopping Brock Nelson's initial shot and just like that, the game was tied at two. 

"We had the two nothing lead and gave it back to them," coach Craig Berube told reporters. "We didn't execute with the puck good enough."

After a scoreless third period and overtime a shootout was needed. 

Frans Nielsen, arguably the best shootout player in the league at 55%, scored on the Islanders first attempt on a nice deke. Wayne Simmonds responded for the Flyers on their third and final chance extending the shootout. 

After three scoreless rounds, Clutterbuck broke the tie in the seventh round leaving it up to Sean Couturier, who was stopped in the final seconds of overtime on a breakaway. Couturier was stopped again by Halak and the Islanders stole the all important second point snapping the Flyers four game winning streak. 

"Overall we have to have a much stronger effort, we shouldn't be happy with that game," Mason said. "We left the extra point out there."

Game Notes:
  • Kimmo Timonen made an announcement during the intermission tonight that he would resume skating tomorrow. He went on to say that he will skate alone for about 7-10 days before joining the team for practice. "I feel really confident about skating and coming back," Timonen said in the press conference. "It's called chronic. Chronic means [the blood clots] won't move ever. So they stay in there forever. There not moving around." He also pointed out that he won't be on medication during game days, therefore won't be at anymore risk than any other player who may get cut. 
  • Wayne Simmonds scored his third consecutive shootout goal. 
  • Michael Del Zotto's six game point streak was snapped tonight. 
  • Both teams only had one PowerPlay tonight and neither team capitalized. 
  • The Flyers got back both Scott Laughton and Nicklas Grossmann tonight after missing seven and ten games respectively. 
  • The Islanders outshot the Flyers 30-18 tonight. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will stay on the comeback trail when they go on the road to face the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Flyers Shutout Leafs, Win Fourth Straight

The Philadelphia Flyers shutout the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0 tonight. 

Michael Del Zotto scored for the lone goal of the game just 4:05 minutes in for the Flyers, while Steve Mason backstopped the Leafs stopping all 30 shots faced. 

The victory is the fourth straight for the Flyers, their longest of the season, pulling them to an even .500 record again. 

Game Notes:
Tonight was Mason's first shutout of the season and 25th of his career. 
Del Zotto's goal extended his point streak to six games. 
Petr Straka and Wayne Simmonds picked up the assists on Del Zotto's goal. 
The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the PowerPlay and 1 for 1 on the penalty kill. They have killed 12 of ther last 13 penalties in the last four games. 
The Leafs outshot the Flyers 30-18. 

Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to make it five in a row on Thursday when they face the New York Islanders. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Flyers Top Jets, Win Third Straight

The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 this evening. 

Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn both picked up two points in tonight's victory, giving the Flyers three straight. 

The Flyers and Jets netted two goals each in the first period. Chris VandeVelde scored first for the Flyers, while Simmonds picked up the second while on the PowerPlay. Matthieu Perreault responded both times for Winnipeg. 

Philadelphia took the lead on a tally from Nick Schultz's first of the season in the 2nd period and never looked back. 

Brayden Schenn extended that lead in the 3rd before Sean Couturier wrapped it up with his empty net goal. 

Game Notes:
Steve Mason started for the Flyers tonight. He made 36 saves in 38 shots. 
The Flyers were outshot 38-32. 
Petr Straka picked up his first NHL point on an assist on Schultz's goal. 
Shultz's tally snapped a 125 game goalless drought. His last goal was on February of 2012. 
Ryan White picked up his first point of the season and as a Flyer, also on an assist on Schultz's goal. 
Flyers went 1 for 2 on the PowerPlay and 4 for 5 on the penalty kill. 

Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Flyers Comeback From Early Deficit to Defeat Coyotes in Shootout

Wayne Simmonds skated in all alone across the blue line needing to score for the win. Simmonds deliberately stick handled the puck in close to the Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, knowing Smith had made an incredible 39 saves plus already two shootout attempts on All Stars Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek moments earlier. Not letting that mess with his psyche, Simmonds made a nifty forehand-backhand deke in the crease bringing the puck back to his forehand. Smith went down and the puck went over top of his leg pad into the back of the net; and the Flyers beat the Coyotes 4-3 in the shootout. 

"I just went in had a move in mind and stuck with it," Simmonds told Chris Therien right after the game. "I think to come back tonight to get the two points to start off the unofficial back half of the season is really nice."

Coming out of the All Star break, Philadelphia got off to a terrible start in this contest seeing the Coyotes jump out to a 2-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. 

Connor Murphy, Flyers assistant coach Gord Murphy's son, scored on the very first shot for the Coyotes from the point. Just over two minutes later, on their fourth shot, Martin Erat corralled a huge rebound and deposited it past Ray Emery. And 5:50 minutes into the game, Emery's night was over. Steve Mason, who had missed the last six games with a lower body injury, replaced Emery. As if not having missed a beat, Mason stopped 22 shots on 23 attempts. 

The goaltending switch was meant to be a message sent from coach Craig Berube to his team to play harder. "I just made a change," said Berube. "Felt we needed a boost, for some life." And the message was well received. A little over three minutes after the switch, the Flyers got one back on the PowerPlay cutting the lead in half. Wayne Simmonds scored one of his typical goals in front for the 17th of his season. Philadelphia went on to outshoot the Coyotes 16-10 in the period. 

The Flyers continued their strong play into the next period continuing to heavily outshoot their opposition. Before long, RJ Umberger cashed in tying the game. Andrew MacDonald made a perfect east to west pass to Umberger, who played one of his best games this season leading the Flyers in shots with five, an he beat Smith with a perfect shot up high for his 9th of the season. 

In the final minute of the period, the Flyers and Coyotes traded goals separated by just 23 seconds. Michael Del Zotto put the Flyers on top momentarily, before Tobias Rieder tied it up again on a breakaway. 

After a scoreless but entertaining 3rd period and overtime a shootout was necessary. And for the second consecutive time, Wayne Simmonds won it for the Flyers in the shootout. 

"Mase was very good in the shootout, he stopped all three and simmer won it again for us," Voracek said after the game. "Twice in a row is huge. It gives us confidence for the future. We feel very confident that we can make it to the playoffs. One down twenty or more to go."

Game Notes:
  • Michael Raffl missed tonight's game with an illness, while Zac Rinaldo was suspended. The Flyers called up Ryan White and Petr Straka for replacements. It was both of their first games in a Flyers uniform and Straka's first career NHL game. 
  • Andrew MacDonald, who got married over the All Star break, recorded an assist tonight. 
  • Flyers outshot the Coyotes 42-27.
  • Philadelphia has picked up 82 shots in their last two games. It was the first time all season that they had back to back 40+ shot games.
  • The Flyers went 1 for 2 on the PowerPlay and 1 for 1 on the penalty kill. 
  • With a goal tonight, Del Zotto now has a four game point streak. 
Drop The Puck:
The Flyers will look to keep playing well when they host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rinaldo Suspended

The National Hockey League's Director of Players Safety have announced that Philadelphia Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo is suspended eight games for his illegal hit on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. 

The hit took place on the Flyers final game before the All Star break. The steepness of the penalty was a result of Rinaldo being a two time repeat offender piled on top of the fact that Letang is injured due to the hit. 

The Flyers have recalled forward Ryan White to replace Rinaldo. White was sign led by the flyers in the off season to provide some depth however got injured in the preseason and never got a chance to play for the Flyers. White will wear number 25. 

Philadelphia has also recalled forward Petr Straka. This is the Czech born forward's first career call up. Straka had 11 goals and 17 points in 39 games for the Phantoms this season. He is eligible for tonight's game and will wear number 51 if he suits up.  

Voracek Sets All Star Record

The All Star festivities got underway Friday night. Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek were chosen to represented the Flyers.  It was the third All Star appearance for Giroux in his young career while it was Voracek's first. 

Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux
Friday night was the All Star Draft.  Players were selected one by one as Jonathan Toews and Nick Foligno, players chosen to captain the two teams, filled up their rosters. Voracek was chosen by Toews in the third round while Giroux was picked by Foligno in the seventh, thus becoming oppositions for the weekend. 

Saturday night was the NHL Skills Competition.  Highlights include Shea Weber winning the hardest/fastest shot competition with an absolute bomb of 108.5 mph.  Ryan Johansen won the Breakaway Challenge.  On his first attempt, he took his jersey off and wore an Ohio State jersey to the fans delight, while on his second attempt he carried Blue Jackets trainer's young son on the ice to score.  On his third and final attempt, Johansen gathered a few friends to come down the ice in the Flying V formation.  Later Voracek responded to Johansen's move by grabbing rookie Johnny Gaudreau taking him in on net. Also Giroux took some creative chances on the breakaway challenge using Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos as aids flipping pucks around and switching sticks and then even used multiple pucks to score two goals on his final chance. When it was all said and done, Team Foligno ultimately won the Skills Competition 25-19.

Finally on Sunday it was time for the actual game, and it did not disappoint. Jake Voracek absolutely stole the show playing on a line with Jonathan Toews. The duo combined for an incredible 11 points in the 17-12 win over Team Foligno. Voracek's 6 point night tied an NHL All Star record with Mario Lemieux. The game set all kinds of records including Voracek's points total. The 29 combined goals were the most ever scored in an All Star game, 17 goals set the record for the most scored by any one team, and John Tavares' four tallies tied several others players including Wayne Gretzky and Lemieux for most goals in a single All Star game. Also the six points by Voracek set a new high for the most points by a Flyer surpassing Mark Recchi's five point previous record.  Claude Giroux finished the game with a goal and two assists.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Flyers Score in Overtime to Beat Penguins in Fight Filled Game

Four fights, nine major penalties, a 10 minute misconduct, a game misconduct, a total of 93 penalty minutes, 75 shots, and five goals including an overtime winner took place in the city of Brotherly Love tonight. 

Giroux scores the winner in OT
When it was all said and done the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in overtime in this wild and exciting hockey game. 

"It was a little crazy. It's always fun to play them," Claude Giroux said in an interview after scoring the game winning goal in overtime while on the PowerPlay. "Obviously we enjoy playing in these games and we're pretty happy to get this win."

Tempers rose early in the game after Zac Rinaldo destroyed Penguins defenseman Kris Letang on a vicious and dirty hit from behind. Letang's head hit the boards and he stayed on the ice for a while. He left the game and did not return. Rinaldo was given a five minute major and a game misconduct. 

Despite being the worst penalty killing team in the NHL, the Flyers got out of the major unscathed and miraculously walked away with a 1-0 lead at the end of the period. Philadelphia played one of their worst periods only registering three shots on goal (one came from the defensive zone on a clearing attempt); however, one of those shots found the back of the cage. Luke Schenn squeezed a shot through traffic and despite being outshot 17-3 and down a man for five straight minutes, the Flyers led 1-0 after one. 

Less than two minutes to start the next period the rough stuff continued. Craig Adam's cross checked Michael Raffl, who took exception to that and the two dropped the mitts. On the ensuing PowerPlay, it was the Penguins who capitalized while shorthanded. Chris Kunitz took advantage of a misplay from Mark Streit and went in on a two on one with Sidney Crosby. Kunitz looked Crosby off, then ripped a shot past Ray Emery tying the game at 1. 

Voracek fights Scuderi
Just over a couple minutes later, Emery got in on the action. Newly acquired David Perron got his stick tied up in Emery's equipment so he took a swing  at Perron. Nothing more materialized except a Penguins PowerPlay which Philadelphia was able to kill off. 

30 seconds after the flyers killed Emery's roughing penalty, Rob Scuderi hit Jake Voracek with a hip check that Voracek thought was out of line. So Jake angrily went after him dropping the gloves, proceeding to pound Scuderi. Voracek, however, was given a two minute minor for instigation, a five minute major for fighting and a ten minute misconduct, forcing the NHL's leading scorer to sit out 17 minutes of the game. 

During the ensuing penalty, Luke Schenn dropped the gloves with Steve Downie protecting Michael Del Zotto, who took a heavy slash from Downie seconds earlier. 

Moments later, it was Del Zotto who took a penalty for charging Robert Bortuzzo. There were only about six to seven minutes of full strength hockey played in this wild middle period; however, not one PowerPlay goal was scored. 

Before the period was complete, there was one more tussle. Pierre Edouard Bellemare squared off with tough guy Bobby Farnham. And in his first National Hockey League fight, Bellemare laid out Farnham. 

The 3rd period began and there was still some hockey to be played. Pittsburgh's leading scorer Evgeni Malkin helped put the Penguins in the lead for the first time in this game. Malkin came in on the odd man rush and slammed on the breaks patiently out waiting the Flyers defense, then found Beau Bennett for a wide open net.

Refusing to go down quietly, the Flyers stuck with their game plan, and it payed off. 2:01 after Pittsburgh's tally, Chris VandeVelde deflected Del Zotto's shot tying the game a two apiece. 

Giroux finds the loose puck, scoring the GWG
The Flyers and the Penguins traded PowerPlays late in the game yet neither team could break the tie and this game was headed to overtime. 

In overtime after failing to score on a carryover penalty, the Flyers were given another chance when the Penguins were caught with too many men on the ice. 

With under 10 second left in that PowerPlay and just over a minute left in OT, Voracek took a blast that somehow went threw Penguins goalie Thomas Greiss' jersey then proceeded to fall out the back of his sweater. Giroux was the first to locate the loose puck and buried it for the game winning goal.  

Philadelphia played tonight's game with passion and fire in their eyes as they usually do when facing Pittsburgh. Seeing players stand up for each other and themselves, killing penalties when it mattered the most and scoring the big goals is something the Flyers have been missing up to this point. Hopefully, Philadelphia will be able to carry over this emotion and passion into the rest of their season moving forward. 

Game Notes:
  • Tonight was the sixth straight win for the Flyers against the Penguins. 
  • Claude Giroux tied a career high 10 shots on goal. It was the first time since February 21, 2012, that Giroux took 10 shots in a game. 
  • Philadelphia went a perfect 6 for 6 on the penalty kill including a five minute major. 
  • Their PowerPlay went 1 for 6. 
  • Despite the Flyers only picking up three shots in the first period, they still managed to outshoot the Penguins 40-35. 
  • It was only the fourth time this season and first since December 20th that the Flyers took 40+ shots. 
  • Voracek's 17 penalty minutes tonight is the second highest total he has ever accumulated in a game throughout his career and the highest since picking up 19 PIM in a game against Washington on March 31, 2013, when he got into his first NHL fight. 
Drop The Puck:
Due to the NHL All Star break, the Flyers have off until next Tuesday the 27th when they host the Arizona Coyotes.