Flyers need the guy who 'controls the pulse'

Flyers need the guy who 'controls the pulse'

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers certainly were not coy in their admission they’ve been a different team recently without Brian Elliott.

“He has that presence in the dressing room," head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Very quickly and very quietly he’s become one of the guys that really controls the pulse of our team. That’s an important presence to have back for us in our lineup. His demeanor and the way he goes about his work on a daily basis, and for sure, it’s his seriousness for how he goes about his work on game days.”

Elliott returned to practice Monday morning, and perhaps not a minute too soon, as the Flyers still haven’t won since his last start, which came in a 2-1 overtime victory in Detroit Jan. 23. Prior to the team’s charter flight to Raleigh, North Carolina, the Flyers activated Elliott off injured reserve and reassigned Alex Lyon to Lehigh Valley. 

“It’s huge for us,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said of Elliott's return. “Neuvy (Michal Neuvirth) and Lyon did their best for what they could do. Obviously having Moose back is going to bring our game up a level. Neuvy and Lyon did some good things for us, but Moose is ready.”

“It feels good to be back at a regular practice with these guys,” Elliott said. “I had a couple off skates by myself or only a couple off guys out there. It’s good to have that pace and we had a really good pace today at practice. It was good to get the wind back and see some shots out there.”

Elliott had been dealing with a nagging lower-body injury that flared up not long after the morning skate Jan. 25 prior to the game against the Lightning. Later that afternoon, the Flyers called up Lyon and Elliott used the next seven days to heat and rest. 

“It was something you play through a little bit. The last couple of games you’re feeling it," Elliott said. "We tried to take the smart approach that we have a lot of games left. The All-Star break provided five straight days of rest and we tried to take advantage of that. It took a little bit longer than that break. I think it’s smart to be smart and not push it and make sure that you’re ready to go.

“Yeah, I feel good. You try to take precaution so you’re not trying to come back too early. When you feel good and confident in everything you’re doing, you just want to get out there and play. 

“You never want to watch your team lose at all, and I thought it was really good for our group to come back [against the Senators on Saturday], tie that game up and get that point for us. Hopefully we can take that third-period mentality and take it to the other team, and take it to the last part of the season here. Every game is going to be a battle, especially against Carolina. They’re one point behind us right now and we’ve got them four times right now. Every battle on the ice is going to be big."

The Flyers need Elliott much like the Flames did a year ago. On Jan. 24, 2017, Calgary was 24-24-3 following a pathetic effort against the Canadiens, resulting in a 5-1 loss. Following that game, Elliott and the Flames were lights out over the next two months with a 17-3-1 stretch that propelled them into the playoffs. That’s the level of rock-solid consistency the Flyers are hoping to get out of Elliott over the final two months of this season. 

“I guess it would be kind of similar,” Elliott said. “I think last season we were farther back then we are, so we’re in a really good spot right now. I know our destiny is in our hands. It can go in one of two ways. It’s a really thin line.”

Nothing is finer in Carolina
The Flyers will be staring plenty into the eyes of the Hurricanes between now and the end of the season. Tuesday, the Flyers and 'Canes face each other for the first time this season, and the first of four contests in the remaining 30 games of the schedule.  

Even though the two teams are rubbing shoulders in the Metropolitan Division standings, they couldn’t be more far apart in their approach to Tuesday’s game at PNC Arena. Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters sounded alarm bells following a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks Sunday, questioning the team’s character and wondering if complacency had crept into its game.

“We can't put that group out again after that. It's unacceptable,” Peters said, via the News & Observer. “They let each other down, too, in the room. That's not right.” 

Hakstol believes a strong message can certainly light a fire under the Carolina players, and a regulation win would bump them past the Flyers in the standings.

“They're proud guys and they’re a good hockey team,” Hakstol said. “They’re in the playoff hunt for a reason and when you get a little push from within, their response will be there [Tuesday] night. Again, we control none of that and we have to have the focus on ourselves.”

Morin and Stolarz
Flyers defensive prospect Sam Morin and goaltender Anthony Stolarz skated together at the Skate Zone prior to Monday’s practice. Morin was seen taking shots on Stolarz as both players continue to progress in their return from injury.

Morin has been in and out of the Phantoms' lineup dealing with a myriad of injuries, mostly groin issues. He hasn’t played since the third period of the 2018 AHL Outdoor Classic at Hersheypark Stadium Jan. 20.

Stolarz is slowly working his way back from surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee after sustaining the same injury to his right knee last season. General manager Ron Hextall stated the organization should have more clarity on Stolarz’s situation this month or even next month, but doesn’t expect him to play this season.

Crosby's highlight-reel goal sparks Penguins' rally

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Crosby's highlight-reel goal sparks Penguins' rally

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby ignited a rally with a highlight-reel goal and became the third active player with 700 career assists in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Crosby's picked up his 24th goal of the season when he knocked a pass from Jake Guentzel out of the air, deflected it toward the front of his stick and smacked it by Carey Price to tie it at 3 late in the second period.

Derick Brassard put the Penguins in front to stay, beating Price early in the third period as Pittsburgh avoided dropping both games of a back-to-back against also-rans Montreal and the New York Islanders.

Guentzel had a goal and two assists. His 21st goal of the season came off an assist from Crosby, the 700th of Crosby's career. Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Penguins, who drew within two points of idle first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division. Casey DeSmith finished with 27 saves.

Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Scherbak and Jacob de la Rose scored for the Canadiens, who have dropped nine of their last 10 games. Carey Price made 34 stops in his first start in a month due to a concussion (see full recap).

Schwartz, Blues top Bruins in OT
ST. LOUIS — Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Schwartz skated up the middle and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within a point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.

Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.

Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.

Donato, still a student at Harvard University, returned to Massachusetts on Tuesday to attend class before flying back to St. Louis to rejoin the Bruins. His father, Ted, played 528 games in two stints with the Bruins (1992-99, 2003-04) (see full recap).

Rookie sets record in Coyotes’ victory
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Clayton Keller had two assists to set the Arizona Coyotes' franchise record for most points by a rookie in a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night in a matchup of the NHL's two worst teams.

Rookie Dylan Strome scored in his first game after being called up from the minors. Derek Stepan had a goal and assist, and Richard Panik and Max Domi, with an empty-netter, also scored. Antti Raanta stopped 29 shots to improve to 12-4-4 in his past 20 starts.

Keller, Arizona's 2016 first-round draft pick, extended his points streak to six games, in which he has two goals and five assists. He has 55 points, one more than Peter Mueller had in setting the rookie team record in 2007-08. And Keller has 35 assists, one more than teammate Max Domi had in his rookie season two years ago.

Arizona improved to 13-5-2 in its past 20, and earned its 61st point in leaving Vancouver alone at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Jordan Nolan scored for Buffalo, which dropped to 23-38-12 to remain in last place in the overall standings (see full recap).

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

Michigan Athletics

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

The Flyers on Wednesday traded NCAA prospect Cooper Marody’s rights to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2019 third-round draft pick that originally belonged to the New Jersey Devils.

Marody enjoyed a breakout junior season at Michigan University in 2017-18. The 21-year-old led the Wolverines with 32 assists, 46 points and 1.24 points per game.

His 32 assists were tied for third-most in the nation, while his 46 points were tied for ninth most. He made the Big Ten All-Tournament team and was the Big Ten scoring champion.

Let’s make sense of why the Flyers moved Marody and why it’s a good return.

One, he was a 2015 sixth-round draft pick with little NHL upside. Essentially, this boils down to a sixth-round pick netting you a third-rounder, which has a higher probability of hitting.

Two, the Flyers’ pipeline is loaded with forwards, and the book on Marody doesn’t project him to be a top-six forward. Think of him as a solid AHL player with bottom-six NHL potential.

Three, the contract limit. The Flyers are currently at 47 contracts, three under the limit. Sure, four players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer with four more hitting restricted free agency. They could easily fit Marody under the contract limit but it goes back to No. 2.

Another potential factor is the 2019 third-rounder the Flyers owe the Red Wings if they make the playoffs since Petr Mrazek has won five games already with the team. They now have a third-rounder in that draft.

Any way we slice it, the Flyers turned a sixth-rounder into a third-rounder. If Marody proves the Flyers wrong, so be it. If not, it's no big deal. The chances of winning this trade are higher than losing it.