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.

Flyers-Penguins Game 6 essentials

Flyers-Penguins Game 6 essentials

Here's everything you need to know Sunday afternoon for Game 6 of the Flyers-Penguins best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

Flyers at Penguins (Penguins lead series 3-2)
3 p.m. on NBC; Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSP+ with Postgame Live after final buzzer

Live stream
Live stats
Social media
Series schedule

Projected lineups

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Forwards Oskar Lindblom, Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier; defensemen Travis Sanheim and Johnny Oduya; goalie Petr Mrazek.

Penguins
Forwards
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin-Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel
Conor Sheary-Derick Brassard-Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese-Riley Sheahan-Tom Kuhnhackl

Defensemen
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Olli Maatta-Justin Schultz
Jamie Oleksiak-Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies
Matt Murray
Casey DeSmith

Scratches: Forwards Dominik Simon, Josh Jooris and Carter Rowney (injured); defenseman Matt Hunwick.

What to watch for …

John Boruk
Keep an eye on: 
Ivan Provorov
The Flyers' minute-munching defenseman was dinged up in the final 90 seconds of the Game 5 win. Provorov's presence is vital if the Flyers want to push the series to a Game 7. He logged 30 minutes in Game 5 and the Flyers needed him on the ice during the final minute when Sidney Crosby nearly tied the game. Provorov hasn’t missed a game in his two-year career, and while I don’t expect him to miss Game 6, watch closely to see if he’s limited in any way.

Bold prediction: Game 6 will be decided in overtime. You have to go back to the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Devils to find the Flyers' last playoff game decided in overtime — a stretch of 20 straight in the postseason. As poorly as the Flyers have played on home ice in this series, Game 6 will be competitive as Michal Neuvirth will turn in another solid effort to keep the game close.

Tom Dougherty
Keep an eye on:
Flyers on home ice​
The Penguins have outscored the Flyers, 20-4, in eight games at the Wells Fargo Center this season, including the playoffs. No one thought there would be a Game 6, yet here we are. The Flyers extended their season one more game, but how will they fare on home ice? Home ice hasn't treated the Flyers well vs. Pittsburgh; they have to figure it out today.

Bold prediction: The Flyers are so unpredictable. With that said, I don't see this series going back to Pittsburgh. This one will be close; perhaps the Flyers even take the lead. But in the end, the Penguins come out on top, and the Flyers schedule their vacations.

Jordan Hall
Keep an eye on: Michal Neuvirth
Neuvirth is arguably the most important player on the ice for the Flyers. With the lineup employed, the Flyers are trying to muddy things up in an attempt to force the Penguins out of their style. A more physical, low-risk approach keeps the Flyers in it, but to play such a game, you desperately need your goalie to do his part. Neuvirth is 3-1-0 with 133 saves on 137 shots for a 1.01 goals-against average in his last four playoff starts. Can he have sustained success against these Penguins?

Bold prediction: The team that has scored first has won every game of the series. That will change in Game 6 as momentum swings will be felt at a lively, pressure-filled Wells Fargo Center.

Recommended reading
• Flyers' fate lies with Neuvirth ... and that's a good thing

• Hakstol's unconventional decisions keep season alive

• With Giroux's story, heroic Couturier pulls a Pronger

Michal Neuvirth gives the Flyers hope against Penguins

ap-michal-neuvirth-sidney-crosby.jpg
AP Images

Michal Neuvirth gives the Flyers hope against Penguins

VOORHEES, N.J. — And now comes the real test.

Watch the Flyers one night and they may look unbeatable. The next night they’ll come out flatter than Kyrie Irving’s view of Earth.  

The Flyers, maddeningly inconsistent at times — OK, most of the time — will need to build off of Friday’s Game 5 win to keep the series alive with a win in Sunday’s Game 6.

It’s now or never for these Flyers.

After steamrolling the Penguins in Game 2 in Pittsburgh, the Flyers returned to home ice with all the momentum in the world. And we all know what happened next. A 5-1 drubbing in Game 3, a loss seemingly dolled out before the horn sounded after the first period.

This time around, though, the orange and black will have a huge upgrade they were dearly missing in Games 3 and 4.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth. Yes, that’s right, the oft-injured Neuvirth is the Flyers’ best and only hope of forcing a Game 7. That’s not a hot take, either. Just check out the numbers.

Neuvirth’s playoff numbers are staggering. His .930 career playoff save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average rank third and fourth, respectively, among active goalies. 

“I just enjoy playing in the playoffs,” Neuvirth said of his ability to ramp up his play in the postseason. “Crowds been unreal in Pittsburgh and at home so it’s just so fun playing in the playoffs. I had success in the past, even in the AHL so I believe in myself that I can bring my A-game on the big stage.”

The fact is, Neuvirth — when healthy — is the only goalie on the Flyers’ roster capable of delivering that brick-wall, game-stealing performance for the team.

Playing his first full game since Feb. 16, Neuvirth stopped 30 of 32 shots in Game 5, including the ones that mattered most. 

The 30-year-old stoned the Pens’ blazing powerplay, as the penalty kill went a perfect 5 for 5. The Pens came into the game 5 for 19 with the man advantage, but the stability of Neuvirth, as well as the return of Sean Couturier, stifled the attack.

“We knew Neuvy was gonna come in and play big for us,” Shayne Gostisbehere said. “He’s a playoff goaltender.”

And he did just that in Game 5. With the extra attacker, Neuvirth robbed Sidney Crosby of a soul-crushing, game-tying goal in the waning seconds of the game to send the series back to Philly.

“He made some huge saves the end of the third period there to able to go across (robbing Crosby)," Giroux said after the 4-2 win. "When he plays cocky, he’s pretty good.”

Of course, that was all just one game. 

But with the Flyers facing elimination, one more game is all the team can ask for.