Flyers

Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Dave Hakstol showing confidence in Travis Sanheim

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Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Dave Hakstol showing confidence in Travis Sanheim

Flyers (1-1-0) at Ducks (1-0-0)
10 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 9:30

The Flyers continue their season-opening road trip in Anaheim against a Ducks team that rallied from a 4-1 deficit in their opener Thursday for a 5-4 win against Arizona.

After tonight, the Flyers head to Nashville Tuesday before their home opener next Saturday against Washington. Coming back east with two wins would be the ideal start for the orange and black, but a point tonight would also make for a successful trip.

Let’s get you set for puck drop with some pregame thoughts for Game 3 of the season.

• As the road trip nears its end, we’ll soon find out which young defenseman won the second spot on the Flyers’ blue line. Perhaps a move will be made Sunday or Monday.

It sure looks like Travis Sanheim has has secured a spot over Sam Morin. Thursday was an indication of that and since Sanheim draws back in tonight, it’s safe to bet Sanheim is here to stay.
 
Sanheim made his NHL debut Thursday and the 21-year-old had his struggles. In the second period, Sanheim was at fault for the Kings’ first goal. Sanheim had a neutral-zone turnover and then allowed Trevor Lewis to get behind him for a one-timer.
 
But Hakstol chose to trust Sanheim in the third period with the game on the line. That was refreshing to see. Sanheim will make his mistakes, but he has to learn from them. The only way he will is to keep playing. For that reason, I’m happy to see him in tonight.

• How impressive has the Flyers’ fourth line been? Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl is a huge improvement from last year’s unit. The trio creates energy, plays responsible defensively and always seems to be in the opponent’s zone. There’s so much to like from the line and the chemistry between Laughton and Leier is uncanny.

They’re going to break out for some goals sooner or later. I’m betting it’s tonight.

• It’s been a quiet start for Nolan Patrick, but I haven’t been disappointed with his play. I think he’s flashed some positive signs as he adjusts to the NHL regular-season pace, but there’s still more to be desired. I believe it will come shortly. 
 
From a possession standpoint, however, the Patrick line with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds has been dominated in the early going. We saw it in San Jose as the Logan Couture line was matched up against them and in L.A., with the Carter line.

It appears Hakstol has decided to switch things up for tonight’s game in Anaheim. Patrick was skating with Travis Konecny and Dale Weise during the morning skate while Valtteri Filppula moved up to the second line. 

I don’t view this as a demotion per say. Second or third line is where Patrick will be this season, and I still have faith we’ll see him back with Weal and Simmonds at some point. But for now, it looks like he’ll be skating with Konecny. That should be fun.

• The Flyers will avoid Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who will miss his second straight game with one of those famous part-of-the-body injuries. In fact, Anaheim is banged up. The Ducks also will be without Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen.

Getzlaf, 32, has five goals and 17 points in 14 career games against the Flyers.

• You might remember John Gibson’s performance against the Flyers the last time they were in Anaheim. Gibson turned away 51 shots in a 4-3 shootout win on Jan. 1.

In three career games against the Flyers, Gibson is 3-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He allowed four goals on 30 shots Thursday against Arizona and even challenged Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue to a fight.

• Even without Getzlaf and Kesler, the Ducks survived an improved Arizona team Thursday with much thanks to Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell.

Perry had two goals and an assist, while Rakell scored the game-winner and gathered two helpers himself. Perry has five goals and 16 points in 15 career games against the Flyers. He’s one of those players you’d love to have but absolutely just despise when he's your opponent.

Ed Snider statue a special reminder for Flyers and so many more

Ed Snider statue a special reminder for Flyers and so many more

Boldly, Ed Snider will forever stand stoic and distinguished overlooking the empire he created — an iconic portrayal of a pioneer entrepreneur who exuded authority and resolve.

A statue commemorating the late Flyers founder and Comcast Spectacor chairman was unveiled Thursday, facing the southwest corner of Broad Street between the Wells Fargo Center and the previous location of The Spectrum, his two homes away from home.

“Not just the likeness but the character of Dad is so incredibly real in this sculpture that it’s almost scary,” Snider's oldest daughter Lindy Snider said. “You can see his focused and determined look and that drive in him, and we kids always called it ‘The Eye.’ And believe me, it was very scary.”  

The ceremony was attended by an impressive list of dignitaries, including a long list of "Broad Street Bullies," Hockey Hall of Famers and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“He was a consummate ball of energy,” Bettman said. “Ironically, his memory will stand here idly for us all to see and to remember because he was a man who was constantly, constantly in motion, and that’s how I will always think of him and remember him.”

Philadelphia will now remember him always in the perfect spot.

“Ed Snider was a visionary,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “What a fitting place for the Mr. Snider statue to be on this piece of property where he can overlook his building here, The Spectrum was behind him, and this area he envisioned — that he built for all of us.” 

For the city of Philadelphia, it has an equivalency to the Blarney Stone. Snider's family requested the inclusion of a Stanley Cup ring on Snider’s finger so fans could pay tribute to the legendary owner by rubbing the ring as a good luck charm.  

Unintentionally, but certainly symbolic, Snider has his back turned to the direction of New York, home to the Rangers team he and so many of the players despised for decades.

“We all hated the Rangers in those days, probably still do,” Bob Clarke said with a laugh. “It’s a beautiful statue. It represents him so well, everything that he stood for and accomplished."

From Clarke to Bernie Parent hoisting the Stanley Cup, to Gary Dornhoefer’s legendary goal in the 1973 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Kate Smith singing “God Bless America,” all of those statues located throughout the sports complex wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for Snider’s dogged determination to bring the game of hockey to the Delaware Valley in the 1960s. 

Dillsburg, Pennsylvania’s Chad Fisher commissioned the 1,300-pound bronze statue that stands on a three-foot granite base, and over the last seven weeks it became a labor of love, working endlessly seven days a week, 12 hours a day to ensure the project’s completion.

“You’re closing in and everything needs to be solidified and you've got to look over everything,” Fisher said. “It gets very intense in the end.” 

Three and a half years ago, the 34-year-old Fisher unveiled his meticulous representation of former Flyers head coach Fred “The Fog” Shero located just outside XFINITY Live! right off Ed Snider Way. One man called upon to create a likeness of the two most influential figures in the 51-year history of the Flyers franchise. 

“We had a chance to meet with Mr. Snider during the Fred Shero unveiling, and he was so gracious to my family and I, especially my kids,” Fisher said. “This was more than just a statue. It was really a chance to do this for someone who meant something, not only to this city, but to me and my family. He really gave us our start.”

For then general managers Clarke and Holmgren, who strived to bring “one more cup” to Snider, they know the chairman would be proud of the team current GM Ron Hextall has assembled behind an organizational approach that has been radically amended over the past few years. 

“It’s not only a terrific honor, but it’s fitting and somehow it’s comforting,” Lindy Snider said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s been watching over us all along anyway, and Paul, especially you. He wants a Stanley Cup, and the pressure’s on and you’re not off the hook.”

And now there’s a likeness of Mr. Snider that will forever serve as that constant reminder.

Flyers-Predators observations: Offense finally cools off in shutout

Flyers-Predators observations: Offense finally cools off in shutout

BOX SCORE

Nine days after an electrifying and yet controversial finish at Bridgestone Arena, the Flyers and Predators left all the offensive fireworks back in Nashville.

The Wells Fargo Center crowd Thursday was treated to a ho-hum defensive duel that saw the Predators prevail, 1-0, to sweep the season series.

Third-line center Colton Sissons, who did not play in the first game between these two teams, fired a slap shot that beat Michal Neuvirth far post during the third period.

Pekka Rinne stopped all 28 shots for his second win over the Flyers this season.

• Sissons' goal was the result of a multitude of breakdowns. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald got tied up on the play. Wayne Simmonds, who was playing back, whiffed as he tried to play the puck on Kevin Fiala, and from there the Flyers were in disarray. Valtteri Filppula couldn’t keep up with Sissons, who loaded the shot that beat Neuvirth.

• Neuvirth has one win in his three starts. Then again, victories are hard to come by when the Flyers are shut out in two of those games. The other occasion was was Oct. 5 in Los Angeles, a 2-0 loss to the Kings.

• Dave Hakstol did quite a bit of mixing and matching in the third period. He paired Scott Laughton with Simmonds and Filppula, Simmonds with Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick, and a Laughton-Konecny-Patrick combo.

• Overall, this was Travis Sanheim’s best effort through four NHL games. While he proved to be turnover-prone at times, he recovered nicely to minimize the damage.

• Simmonds left Tuesday’s game against Florida with a lower-body injury and was uncertain to play prior to the morning skate. “The Wayne Train” hadn’t missed a game since he suffered a leg injury at the end of the 2014-15 season. Whatever the ailment, and it appears to be midsection related, Simmonds clearly wasn’t himself and didn’t quite have the same tenacity he usually brings.

• Simmonds missed a shift early in the second and left the bench, only to return late in the period when he took a 15-second shift and came back off. If Simmonds doesn’t improve by Saturday afternoon’s game against the Oilers, we may see Matt Read for the first time this season.

• Predators defenseman P.K. Subban still receives a smattering of boos from the Wells Fargo Center crowd. With Nashville making just one trip to Philadelphia every season, you have to think the animosity toward Subban is a residual from his days with Montreal when his feistiness would conflict with former Flyer Chris Pronger. 

• He missed the first meeting at Bridgestone Arena nine days ago, but you can see what Roman Josi brings to the Predators’ blue line. Arguably Nashville’s top two-way defenseman (although I really like Ekholm), Josi led the Preds with four shots on goal after two periods, and has a real knack of finding the open seams in the defense. 

• I completely agreed with Hakstol’s decision to insert Jori Lehtera right into the spot occupied by Jordan Weal (see below). With the offensive balance we’ve seen over the past several games, why disrupt the flow and chemistry of the other three lines to accomomdate one player? 

Weal out, Read recalled
After taking the ice in the morning skate, Weal was not available for the game against the Predators. Weal suffered an upper-body injury and is considered day to day. The Flyers also recalled Matt Read from Lehigh Valley in a move that brought the Flyers’ active roster to 23 players.

Lines, pairings and scratches

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Brandon Manning, Matt Read, Jordan Weal.