Flyers-Bruins observations: Flyers drop 10th straight in ugly fashion

Flyers-Bruins observations: Flyers drop 10th straight in ugly fashion


The Flyers' winless streak reached 10 games Saturday after the Boston Bruins shutout the Flyers 3-0 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The 10-game winless stretch matches the team’s 10-game streak in 2008.

Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak took over with a pair of second-period goals.

Claude Giroux had his five-game point streak snapped when his 12th goal of the season was taken off the board in the second after on-ice officials determined there was goaltender interference on Wayne Simmonds after he made slight contact to the helmet of Tuukka Rask. 

The Flyers were shutout for the sixth time this season, but the first against an Eastern Conference team.

Brian Elliott stopped 24 of 27 shots. 

Immediately after the game, the Flyers leave for Calgary where they’ll begin a three-game Western Canadian road trip with games against the Flames, Oilers and Canucks.
Here are observations from today’s loss.

• Ryan Spooner got the Bruins going with his first-period goal. The play all started with Nolan Patrick’s sloppy backhand pass along the boards that Noel Acciari intercepted and then fed a breaking Spooner who raced down the right side and beat Elliott easily through the five hole. Andrew MacDonald simply didn’t have the foot speed to catch up to Spooner. 

• Unlike the Sharks game Tuesday, the Flyers brought some early emotion. Simmonds dropped the gloves and got in some quality shots with the left on Boston’s Kevan Miller. Later in the first period, Ivan Provorov leveled Marchand with what appeared to be a clean open-ice hit, but Provorov was called for an illegal check to the head with the 5-foot-9 Marchand skating with his head down. In any other era, that play never gets called.

• The Flyers got an early power play when Sean Couturier drew a holding penalty against Pastrnak. However, give the Bruins' top two lines the early edge over the Flyers first and second lines. Boston had a 13-6 edge in even-strength shots.

• Elliott made his best pad save of the season on David Backes’ redirected shot. Elliott extended the left pad just enough that the puck shot off the left post and was swatted out of the crease, otherwise, the Bruins would have had a 2-0 first-period lead.

• The Bruins grabbed a 2-0 lead when Patrick lost a defensive zone faceoff. A rather odd play where the puck went off Patrick’s skate, Marchand alertly stepped in and beat Robert Hagg to the puck and then quickly fed it to Pastrnak for the quick shot that caught Elliott leaning to his left. 

• After their first period fight, Simmonds outdueled Miller once again and drew a holding penalty, and much like the first period, the Flyers completely squandered the opportunity. In their first two power play opportunities, the five-man unit was kept around the perimeter, sat back and didn’t really attack the Bruins’ penalty kill.  

• Marchand gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead after the Flyers lost a pivotal board battle, where they had four orange sweaters to the Bruins three. Pastrnak came away with the puck and fed it to the point where Charlie McAvoy took a slap shot that Marchand intercepted in front of the crease, and then backhanded a shot into an open net. Two hustle plays for Marchand gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead.

• The Flyers' third line provided the team’s two best even strength chances in the second period, both provided by Travis Konecny. One was a drop pass to Brandon Manning, who fired a shot right into the chest of Rask. Konecny provided the other when he had a wide-open look off the right wing, but his shot directly rebounded off Rask’s left pad. 

• Shayne Gostisbehere took a frustration penalty when he took his stick and crosschecked Marchand, who was merely looking to dump the puck and get off the ice for a change. It also erased the final minute of the Flyers' power play. Not a smart penalty from Gostisbehere, but he got one back when he drew a tripping call from Boston defenseman Charlie McCoy.

• Giroux sniped a power play goal top shelf, a perfectly placed shot, in the second period but it was taken off the board as Simmonds barely clipped Rask with his elbow. The officials determined he made some sort of contact, but overall it shouldn’t have disallowed the goal as Simmonds was skating away from the crease. It seems as if all these goaltender interference calls have gone against the Flyers this season.   

Lines, pairings and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valterri Filppula-Travis Konecny
Jori Lehtera-Scott Laughton-Dale Weise

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Brandon Manning

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Radko Gudas, Taylor Leier and Mark Alt.

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

Michigan Athletics

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

The Flyers on Wednesday traded NCAA prospect Cooper Marody’s rights to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2019 third-round draft pick that originally belonged to the New Jersey Devils.

Marody enjoyed a breakout junior season at Michigan University in 2017-18. The 21-year-old led the Wolverines with 32 assists, 46 points and 1.24 points per game.

His 32 assists were tied for third-most in the nation, while his 46 points were tied for ninth most. He made the Big Ten All-Tournament team and was the Big Ten scoring champion.

Let’s make sense of why the Flyers moved Marody and why it’s a good return.

One, he was a 2015 sixth-round draft pick with little NHL upside. Essentially, this boils down to a sixth-round pick netting you a third-rounder, which has a higher probability of hitting.

Two, the Flyers’ pipeline is loaded with forwards, and the book on Marody doesn’t project him to be a top-six forward. Think of him as a solid AHL player with bottom-six NHL potential.

Three, the contract limit. The Flyers are currently at 47 contracts, three under the limit. Sure, four players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer with four more hitting restricted free agency. They could easily fit Marody under the contract limit but it goes back to No. 2.

Another potential factor is the 2019 third-rounder the Flyers owe the Red Wings if they make the playoffs since Petr Mrazek has won five games already with the team. They now have a third-rounder in that draft.

Any way we slice it, the Flyers turned a sixth-rounder into a third-rounder. If Marody proves the Flyers wrong, so be it. If not, it's no big deal. The chances of winning this trade are higher than losing it.

Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

USA Today Images

Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

When the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek from Detroit out of necessity in February, Ron Hextall explained the trade as a reward for his players’ hard work.

“We’re in a tough situation — you lose your top two goalies when you’re fighting for a playoff spot,” Hextall said then, “and our players have worked hard for a long time now. I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team.”

One month later, Mrazek has been erratic, and the Flyers’ grip on a playoff spot is loosening. With eight games remaining, Dave Hakstol owes it to his players to ride the steadier goalie, and that's not the proven NHL goaltender.

For the second time in six days, Hakstol was forced to pull Mrazek on Tuesday night, and for the second time in six days, Alex Lyon battled in relief, giving the Flyers a chance in a game they otherwise had no business being in.

Lyon stopped 11 of 12 shots Tuesday, holding off a determined Red Wings team and allowing the Flyers to fight back from a 3-1 deficit and force overtime. They lost, 5-4, in a shootout, but the point was huge.

We’re tired of hearing that too. But at this stage, and with how the Flyers have played in March, any point is needed. The goal is the playoffs, and right now, the Flyers cannot trust Mrazek.

What we’ve seen from Mrazek in his short time here explains why the Red Wings soured on him.

Mrazek showed glimpses of his potential in his first three starts as a Flyer, but since, he’s been inconsistent and unreliable.

In his last nine games, Mrazek’s 2-5-1 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .865 save percentage. He's allowed fewer than three goals just once. There have been far too many bad goals along the way too.

Last Thursday, Mrazek was pulled after yielding his fourth goal against the Blue Jackets, a team the Flyers are jockeying with for playoff position in the Metropolitan Division.

That relief appearance earned Lyon the start Saturday in Carolina, where he was again steady. Hakstol went back to Mrazek on Sunday and then again Tuesday.

Now, it’s time to ride Lyon until the rookie shows wear on his tires and until either Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth is healthy enough to return, which likely will not be until closer to the final week of the season.

Lyon has not looked out of place since his second call-up of the season Feb. 11. In six games — three starts — he has a .933 save percentage.

The 25-year-old passes both the numbers and eye test, and it’s time to show faith in him.

After Tuesday’s loss, the Flyers dropped to the top wild-card spot, with Columbus leapfrogging them to third in the Metro. Both teams have eight games left. The Flyers are four points ahead of the Devils, who have one game in hand.

Then, there are the Panthers, five points behind the Flyers with three games in hand. Per Hockey-Reference, the Flyers have an 88.8 percent chance at the postseason.

We’ve seen crazier collapses happen, though. When March began, the Flyers were one point behind the first-place Capitals. They’ve picked up just eight of a possible 22 points this month.

At this point, it’s about surviving, and Lyon gives the Flyers a better shot to stay above the line than Mrazek.