Flyers felt Travis Hamonic deserved match penalty

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Flyers felt Travis Hamonic deserved match penalty

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Flyers believe Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic deserved every bit of the match penalty and automatic ejection that came with it following his illegal hit to the head of Dale Weise Monday night in Calgary.

"I think for sure [it was deserving]," Weise said Tuesday. "I don't think he once tries to play the puck there. I'm not even looking at him. I'm looking at the puck and he just beelines straight for me. I saw a couple of his comments after the game where he says he's just trying to finish his check, but I don't even think he makes an attempt to make a play on the puck. I think it's a pretty dirty play."

Added head coach Dave Hakstol: "I think they got the call right on the ice. It's hockey, it's a tough sport. I do think the right call was made on the ice. It's hard when you're looking at things at full speed in this game. Obviously, we have the luxury of video to look at things in slow motion from all different angles, and that makes it a lot easier to agree or disagree with calls. Having done that, I think they got the call right on the ice."

A match penalty is assessed when a player is deemed to have "deliberately" injured or attempted to injure an opponent. Referees Brad Watson and Trevor Hanson conferred with linesmen Michel Cormier and Ryan Gibbons before ultimately making the decision. Hamonic is now suspended pending league review of the hit, but he believes there was never an intent to injure Weise.

"For me personally, I was kind of surprised I guess," Hamonic said. "Things happen quick out there. I felt like I kept my arms down. I didn't really move out of position. It's unfortunate that he kind of jumps out of the way like that, but certainly no malicious attempt. I think I'm a pretty honest player." 

The hit came on the faceoff following Scott Laughton's goal that gave the Flyers a 5-2 lead in the third period. Watching the replay, Hamonic's elbow gets up high hitting Weise's shoulder and chin but narrowly misses his head. Weise had to be helped off the ice by trainer Jimmy McCrossin and you could see Weise signal to teammates that he was fine as he skated off the ice. 

"I feel good, yeah," Weise said. "I kind of got spun around ballerina-like, so I had to get my bearings. Once I walked off, I was fine. I was cleared and passed the tests." 

Weise returned to the bench after he was evaluated but never returned to action. On Tuesday, Weise participated in the Flyers' optional skate at Rogers Place in Edmonton along with defenseman Radko Gudas, who teammates say would be facing a significant suspension if he was the one delivering that hit.

"Yeah, these guys joke about all this stuff right now," Gudas said. "I've seen it happen. I'm not sure it was really a dirty hit. I don't think he had a lot of time to get out of the way. I don't think it was anything intentional, to be honest with you."

Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

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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 leap-frogging 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.

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time


DETROIT — The Flyers brought a cold engine to the Motor City and it took a good 40 minutes to finally get it started.

Sure, Dave Hakstol’s team rallied back from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to earn a point at a time when every point is critical, but losing a 5-4 shootout to a fragile Detroit team is unacceptable and unexplainable (see observations).

“Maybe we thought it was going to be an easy game,” Sean Couturier said. “We didn’t play the right way. We didn’t play hard. We wasted 40 minutes. We came back and got a big point, but we can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”

On a night when the Flyers could have officially eliminated the Red Wings from postseason contention, they turned back the clock and made this Detroit team look more like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships 20 years ago. 

At least through the first two periods.

“The second period was god-awful,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We really didn’t help our cause out. We weren’t pushing plays and we just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass. It’s tough like that when you dig yourself a hole and you come back, you expend a lot of energy. The positive we can take is that we got a point out of it.”

You may have never known this was the same Red Wings team that, like the Flyers in the first half of the season, had dropped 10 straight with an 0-9-1 record. Detroit had been outscored a whopping 41-19 from Feb. 28-March 18.

The Red Wings had also returned from a four-game Western Conference road trip less than 48 hours prior to the opening faceoff.

With eight games remaining on the Flyers' schedule, Hakstol is also mired in a goaltending dilemma. Petr Mrazek was rescued from Detroit to be the savior in Philadelphia following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. 

After winning his first three starts, Mrazek’s numbers reek of mediocrity: a 2-5-1 record, 3.72 GAA and an .860 save percentage. Most recently, he’s been pulled in favor of Alex Lyon in two of his last three games.

“The second one is a bad-angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, he wants that one back, but we gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”

Mrazek was pulled from the game at 3-1, and before heading to the locker room, he expressed his disappointment with the coaching staff over a non-goaltender interference call during the Red Wings' third goal.

“I talked to Coach and I was just wondering about the goalie interference because someone had bumped in there during the shot,” Mrazek said. “It wasn’t anything like I was mad or something that I got pulled. I was just asking him if there was a goalie interference or not.”

The Flyers' shootout loss coupled with the Blue Jackets' ninth straight victory now drops the orange and black into wild-card territory (see standings).

If this is indeed a playoff team, it needs to repair what’s under the hood and fix it fast.