Flyers

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Strong all-around effort in 5-1 win

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Strong all-around effort in 5-1 win

BOX SCORE

Did Nolan Patrick receive his NHL initiation Thursday night? 

The No. 2 overall pick in the NHL draft dropped the gloves for the first time in his brief NHL career as he engaged in a brawl with Bruins center David Krejci, who hadn’t fought since 2011, during a scrum that involved several players exchanging barbs.

As Patrick returned to the bench after serving his five-minute major, the Wells Fargo Center gave him a round of applause.

Every phase of the Flyers’ offense came to life Thursday night as the team scored on the power play, shorthanded and at even strength in a 5-1 blowout of the Boston Bruins.

• Claude Giroux registered a pair of assists as the top line continues to create quality scoring chances with the captain at left wing (see story). Giroux now has four assists in his last two preseason games. 

• The Flyers jumped on the board first as the power play snapped an 0-for-21 drought when it successfully connected on a set play. Sean Couturier lasered a pass in front of the crease to Travis Konecny. The Flyers were 1 for 4 with the man advantage in the first period.

• Brandon Manning increased the Flyers’ lead to 3-0 when he worked his way down low, took a pass from Jakub Voracek and wristed a shot over the shoulder of Tuukka Rask. 

• Wayne Simmonds picked up a shorthanded tally on a perfect cross-ice feed from rookie defenseman Sam Morin that extended the Flyers’ lead to 4-0 after two periods.

• There were three first-period goals disallowed. Simmonds was called for deflecting the puck with a high stick. The Bruins had a pair of first-period goals wiped away. Head coach Dave Hakstol challenged a goal-scoring play that saw Krejci clip Alex Lyon’s skate as he was going across the crease. Earlier in the opening period, the Bruins were denied a goal on a hand pass.  

• The Bruins swapped out goaltenders prior to the third period. Rask was replaced by Malcolm Subban, the younger brother of Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.

• Konecny leads the Flyers in scoring this preseason with six points (three goals, three assists) in six games.

• Lyon wasn’t on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate as he was still back in Allentown, Pennsylvania. However, by mid-afternoon he was the Flyers’ starter in net against the Bruins. Michal Neuvirth was scheduled to start but came down with an illness and served as Lyon’s backup. Lyon saved 31 of 32 shots.   

• Lyon was recalled Thursday from Lehigh Valley with goaltender Brian Elliott traveling to Wisconsin to be inducted into University of Wisconsin's Athletics Hall of Fame Friday night. Elliott was the Badgers’ starting goaltender on the 2006 NCAA championship team, earning first-team All-America honors. Elliott was also a finalist for the 2006 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s best player. He also set school records for career GAA (1.78) and save percentage (.931).

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Valtteri Filppula-Travis Konecny
Jori Lehtera-Scott Laughton-Matt Read

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Sam Morin-Shayne Gostisbehere
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Alex Lyon
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Taylor Leier, Oskar Lindblom, Michael Raffl, Robert Hagg, Andrew MacDonald, Brian Elliott.

Travis Sanheim's defense quickly progressing on the fly

ap-travis-sanheim.jpg
AP Images

Travis Sanheim's defense quickly progressing on the fly

The Flyers had a complete off day Friday and you couldn’t blame Travis Sanheim if he wanted to lounge around all day and just scroll through the TV channels.

For the first time since Philadelphia became his permanent residence, Sanheim now has a connection to the outside world. His television is finally hooked up to hundreds of channels. When asked if there’s one show or program he’s looking forward to watching Sanheim replied, “Just hockey games. I just love to watch hockey, even if we’re not playing.”

Until now, that’s been Sanheim’s only option.

With the help of video coach Adam Patterson, the Flyers have wired each player’s home so they can review each game, and more importantly, shuttle through shift-by-shift so players like Sanheim can perform some self-assessment when they’re not at the rink. 

Travis will probably go back and evaluate the second-period play during Thursday night’s game against the Jets when he lost control of the puck at the blueline, couldn’t recover and was caught up ice, which led to Winnipeg scoring a 2-on-1 goal, cutting the Flyers lead to 2-1.   

“I think I have a good ability to turn the page when I do make mistakes, whether its big or small and not letting it affect and creep into my game,” Sanheim said. “Right now, I’m just focusing on the little areas of my game defensively and trying to make smart reads and not try to give up too much defensively.”

There has been a significant progression in Sanheim’s game just over the past few weeks coming off some early season growing pains starting in his NHL debut in Los Angeles. There have been some coverage and positional breakdowns, but like any rookie, he’s beginning to clean up those areas of his game. 

After the 4-game road trip to begin the season, Sanheim was pulled for a few games in favor of Brandon Manning, but he was reinserted in the game against the Predators and hasn’t been a healthy scratch since. 

“Sanny just keeps becoming more and more consistent and more and more comfortable,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “Travis is a player that really had to earn his way onto this team. Everybody does, but coming into camp he just put one day after another of good performances and he’s continued that as we’ve gone on into the regular season here. He’s an exciting young player.”

“I’m starting to settle in a little more, Sanheim said. “I’m happy with how my play has been growing as a player over the last couple of weeks. I think just my confidence. Being able to make plays with the puck, seeing the ice.” 

The numbers also suggest the defensive aspect of his game is coming together. After a rocky month of October that saw him finish with a minus-6 rating, Sanheim has bounced back in November and is currently a plus-2. While positionally he’s still learning the game at the NHL level, he has shown tremendous control with the puck on his stick. 

At 5-on-5 play, Sanheim has been credited with just four giveaways in nearly 226 minutes of ice time, or a ratio of one giveaway every 56:29 of ice time, which is by far, the best on the team. Comparatively, Shayne Gostisbehere has struggled in this area recently and has 14 giveaways this season in almost 262 minutes, an average of one giveaway every 18:47. 

While we’re still waiting to see the dynamic element of Sanheim’s offensive game that he displayed during the preseason, he’s picking his spots and finding those seams when he can take advantage of the defense. As Travis found out, the recent home-and-home series against the Wild was not one of those opportunities when he was held without a shot in both games. 

“You learn how little space you have out there,” Sanheim said. “Just the other night against Minnesota, how good they are defensively. You don’t get a lot of space. When you get your chances, you got to try and make the most of them.

“Obviously, I’m not allowed to do the offensive stuff that I could in junior and skating the puck up. I think it’s something I learned last year was making a good first pass and having an ability to read the play and jump up and find seams in areas that create space and offense as well.”

Thursday, more than 50 family and friends made the three-hour drive from Elkhorn, Manitoba, to Winnipeg to watch Travis play for the first time.

They may not notice it right away, but the kid from the tiny town on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border is already making great strides in a short amount of time in his first full NHL season. 

Radko Gudas facing suspension, offered in-person hearing for slash

Radko Gudas facing suspension, offered in-person hearing for slash

Here we go again.

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas has been offered an in-person hearing by the NHL for his dangerous slash to the back of the head of Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault in Thursday's loss. The date and time of the hearing is TBD.

Gudas was handed a game misconduct — the sixth of his career — and was tossed for his unnecessary slash. Was it dirty? Judge for yourself in the video above.

The NHL certainly seems to think it was intentional, however. An in-person hearing means Gudas is staring down a suspension — and a lengthy one, too — should the NHL discipline him. In-person hearings warrant a suspension of at least six games, as opposed to a suspension of five games or fewer that would be discussed in a phone call.

While the slash was certainly grounds for a suspension, Gudas' reputation is also working against him. The D-man is a repeat offender and was last suspended for six games in Oct. 2016 for a late hit. 

In his absence (Gudas can't play until the hearing is held), the Flyers figure to get Andrew MacDonald back from a lower-body injury within the next week or so. MacDonald injured his leg while blocking a shot Oct. 21 vs. Edmonton. The Flyers are 3-5-3 in his absence. Mark Alt, who is currently serving as the team's seventh defenseman, also figures to step in should MacDonald not be ready for Saturday's game vs. Calgary.