Alex Lyon lets 1st start literally slip right through his grasp

Alex Lyon lets 1st start literally slip right through his grasp


NEWARK, N.J. — Alex Lyon’s first NHL start was a memorable one, although right now it’s one he’d rather forget.

Devils rookie Nico Hischier scored the game-winner with 1:27 remaining in regulation to give the Devils a 4-3 victory over the Flyers on Thursday. Hischier redirected a pass that seeped through Lyon’s five-hole and across the line.

Lyon finished the night with 18 saves on 22 shots, as the Flyers failed to pick up a point when leading after two periods for the first time this season.

The Flyers and Devils combined for four power-play goals in the first period alone. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds connected for the Flyers, while Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford found the back of the net for New Jersey.

Shayne Gostisbehere hit double digits with his 10th goal that gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead.

This was the third matchup between the Metropolitan Division rivals in a span of just 17 days.

• Let’s start with the Radko Gudas interference call. If you watched him all the way down the ice, Gudas skated hard into the Devils’ zone and fired a shot on goal. Afterward, he was simply looking to get back to his right side spot on defense. I don’t think there was intent to plow over Palmieri. I believe Gudas saw him at the last second and made a last-ditch effort to protect himself. However, by leaving his feet, it certainly didn’t look good. Two minutes for interference was the right call.

• For Gudas, that was his first penalty of any kind dating all the way back to Nov. 16 when he was tossed from the game in Winnipeg for his vicious slash on Mathieu Perreault. If the league looks at this and hands down a suspension, it’s only because of reputation.

• Gudas also had a horrendous turnover in the defensive zone right on the stick of Blake Coleman in the second period. Considering the play of Brandon Manning in the game against the Capitals, I’m a little surprised Dave Hakstol elected to stick with this pairing again.

• The Flyers’ penalty kill has been the best tonic for any struggling power play. The Devils’ PP came into this game scoreless in its last 11 tries. However, it must feel like its clicking now after scoring on the first two attempts. The first goal was really bothersome for a couple of reasons: Why is Jori Lehtera still killing penalties? Lehtera was out there for the Devils’ first PP goal with Valtteri Filppula as they gave New Jersey all sorts of room to operate in the offensive zone. Lyon simply couldn’t move to the near post and reposition himself for Palmieri's shot. Outside of Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl, the Flyers are running out of dependable forwards on the PK.

• The second power-play goal was a shot Brian Elliott is so good at reading and stopping and probably one Lyon wishes he could have had back. Stafford was manning the high slot area when he was able to redirect the pass that slid through Lyon’s five-hole. Of course, the Flyers could have done a better job at defending the pass as well.

• Four first-period power-play goals. Giroux scored his 15th goal on a 5-on-3, an easy tap-in from the left side circle. Then Simmonds netted the game-tying goal later in the period. Simmonds did a solid job of knocking a New Jersey penalty killer off the puck from behind the net and keeping the play alive in the zone. That was a key as the Flyers worked around to Jakub Voracek, who created a low-angled shot that set up Simmonds’ rebound goal. I’m still not sure how he was able to switch over and wrist a backhand sandwiched between two defenders.

• Gostisbehere had a very silent night offensively in Washington as he failed to register a shot on net in over 24 minutes of ice time. “Ghost” more than made up for it against the Devils. He has had six shots on net and jumped in the play with the fourth line to score the go-ahead goal. New Jersey’s Coleman made no effort to play effective defense on this play.

• The Devils tied it up at 3-3 with nine minutes remaining in regulation on a play that started with the puck tied up along the boards. Once the Devils’ Pavel Zacha broke out of the pack with the puck, the Flyers were in scramble mode and lost coverage. Defenseman Damon Severson pinched in from his right defense position and Travis Konecny simply failed to pick him up in time.

• It was a rough opening 20 minutes for Lyon in his first NHL start, but he certainly wasn’t helped out by the guys in front of him. It was important for Lyon to come out in the second period and make some big saves early on. I liked how he skated to the top of his crease and cut down the angle on Mirco Mueller. Then midway through the second, Lyon challenged Jesper Bratt and cut down the angle. I thought it was important how the two power-play goals didn’t deter his confidence.

• There was a working man’s shift from the Nolan Patrick line that kept the puck in the Devils’ zone in the neighborhood of 45 to 50 seconds. That spread out the Devils’ defense and allowed firing from just about every angle. Hakstol looked smart for putting Patrick, Simmonds and Voracek together as the rookie is playing with more confidence. All three forwards are really strong on pucks.

• The Flyers took over a five-minute stretch late in the second period, as they outshot the Devils, 8-0, until they were forced to kill Konecny’s penalty. The penalty kill made a few adjustments after the first period to confuse the Devils with a 1-3 formation in the neutral zone and didn’t allow New Jersey to skate freely into the offensive zone with the puck.

Lineups, pairings and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Jakub Voracek-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl
Taylor Leier-Valtteri Filppula-Jori Lehtera

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

Alex Lyon
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forwards Dale Weise (healthy) and Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy), and defenseman Mark Alt (healthy).

Flyers call up budding wing prospect

USA Today Images

Flyers call up budding wing prospect

In somewhat of a surprise move, the Flyers have recalled Oskar Lindblom from Lehigh Valley and have activated goaltender Anthony Stolarz from the injured, non-roster list. 

Lindblom joins the Flyers after failing to make the 23-man roster out of training camp. After a slow start to the season, Lindblom has posted 16 goals and 34 points through 54 games with the Phantoms. 

If head coach Dave Hakstol elects to utilize Lindblom for Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, he would bring some much-needed speed and a solid two-way presence to Valtteri Filppula’s line. An AHL All-Star, Lindblom has also proven to be a streaky scorer. He’s currently on a three-game goal streak and back in December he posted five goals over a six-game stretch (see Future Flyers Report).

Stolarz joins the Phantoms after spending the entire season recovering from offseason surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee. The 6-foot-6 netminder started skating for the first time this month and just two weeks ago he took shots from defenseman Sam Morin prior to the Flyers' practice at the SkateZone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

With Alex Lyon now with the Flyers for the foreseeable future, Stolarz joins goaltenders John Muse and Dustin Tokarski in Lehigh Valley. 

As of Monday night, the Flyers still haven’t announced a timetable in regards to Michal Neuvirth, who suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday’s game against the Rangers. If Neuvirth is unavailable Tuesday, in all likelihood, Tokarski would be promoted from Lehigh Valley to back up Lyon.

Doing what he does best, Oskar Lindblom catching fire

USA Today Images

Doing what he does best, Oskar Lindblom catching fire

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers' prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Flyers fans can't wait to see this at the NHL level.

Last weekend, Lindblom potted a goal in three straight games for the Phantoms, giving him 16 on the season through 54 contests. All three tallies came within close range as the Swedish winger's scoring IQ continues to grow during his first AHL season.

Since going scoreless in his first six games, the 2014 fifth-round pick hasn't gone more than four straight games without a point.

Lindblom surprised many with his vast development leading up to the 2017-18 season. While some were disappointed he didn't make the Flyers' roster out of training camp, a 20-goal campaign at Lehigh Valley will be a nice accomplishment along his path to Philly.

Travis Sanheim, D, 21, 6-4/199, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Just how much of a difference-maker is Sanheim? The Phantoms are 9-1-2 since the 2014 first-round pick joined them after he was sent down by the Flyers.

Over Lehigh Valley's 3-0-1 week, Sanheim extended his point streak to seven games with five more assists, putting him at 12 helpers in as many games.

Seeing plenty of minutes and responsibility, Sanheim has collected 13 points to go with a plus-11 rating.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, 21, 5-11/187, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Aube-Kubel is another Phantom worth noting here.

The 2014 second-round pick put up five points (one goal, four assists) in four games last week, continuing his surge in Year 2 of his AHL development. He now has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last 12 games.

After a feeling-out process last season, Aube-Kubel is coming on strong in 2017-18, as he's a plus-20 and third on Lehigh Valley with 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists).

Quick hits
• Ho-hum for Morgan Frost, who had a six-point week through three games. At 94 points, Frost is six away from 100, while his plus-54 rating remains best in the OHL.

Here's a glimpse into his vision and skill:

• Goalie Carter Hart picked up a win and a shootout loss over the weekend. In total, he made 60 saves on 65 shots.

Maksim Sushko tallied two goals (including this one below) and two assists through three games last week. A 2017 fourth-round pick, the 19-year-old has 48 points in 47 games for Owen Sound.

• Wingers Isaac Ratcliffe and Matthew Strome, also 2017 draft picks, recorded three points each in a pair of games.

• Playing for the first time since Jan. 31, German Rubtsov returned from an undisclosed injury to notch an assist over three games last week. The Flyers' 2016 first-round pick has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 27 games for Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

• In Michigan's two-game sweep of top-ranked Notre Dame, Cooper Marody tacked on three more assists, giving him 26 overall, which is tied for most in the Big Ten.

Here's his primary helper from Sunday's 1-0 win:

Anthony Salinitri pushed his point streak to seven games with an assist Friday and a goal Saturday. The 2016 sixth-round pick has 25 goals and 25 assists in 56 games.

• During the four-game week for the Phantoms, Mike Vecchione scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season, while adding an assist.

Philippe Myers had an assist Tuesday for his first point since Jan. 26, while Samuel Morin (undisclosed injury), who hasn't played since Jan. 20, remains out.