Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Nolan Patrick, Valtteri Filppula trading spaces

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Nolan Patrick, Valtteri Filppula trading spaces

ANAHEIM, Calif. — It appears Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol is switching up his second and third lines for tonight's game against the Anaheim Ducks.

During today's morning skate, Nolan Patrick and Valtteri Filppula swapped spots. Patrick was centering Dale Weise and Travis Konecny, while Filppula was with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds.

Patrick had his hands full Wednesday with Logan Couture's line in San Jose and then endured a heavy workload the following night against "That 70's Line," arguably the Kings' best line with Jeff Carter at center.

The line of Weal, Filppula and Simmonds caught fire in the final few weeks of last season, and perhaps Hakstol is looking for that line to spark some offensive firepower again. 

“We’re definitely more familiar,” Filppula said. “We played quite a bit at the end of last season. That’s always something that helps.”

“I don’t know (why it worked). We just built chemistry really quickly — me and Wealsy,” Simmonds said. “We started off with (Claude) Giroux and then switched to Filppula and I don’t think we missed a beat. Filppula’s a veteran player with great awareness and he’s always in the right spots. The way he plays the game, you just get open and he’s going to put the puck on your stick. For me, I think that’s a great thing.”  

It’s easy to look at the move as a demotion for the 19-year-old rookie Patrick, but it could allow him to open up his game offensively playing alongside Konecny.

“Just continue to grow your game,” Hakstol said of Patrick. “He’s a confident player. He’s doing a good job. He’s going to experience a lot of firsts along the way. First game in San Jose, I thought he did a really good job — with the puck, without the puck. The following night he has the experience of his first back-to-back with a little bit of travel in between, and he’s going to continue to learn through a lot of these firsts.”

Power wingers
Whenever the Ducks and Flyers do battle, it’s typically a matchup of two of the premier power forwards at the right wing position. Since Simmonds joined the Flyers in 2011, Corey Perry ranks second in goals in the NHL with 183 amongst right wing and Simmonds is fourth with 166. The "Wayne Train" has patterned himself after Perry over the years. 

“I actually used to hate his guts (when I was in L.A.),” Simmonds said of Perry. “But we spend a lot of time now in the London (Ontario) area during the offseason. He’s one of the guys I’ve tried to emulate his game since coming to Philadelphia — playing that net-front presence. He’s probably been the best in the league over the last 10 years in that area. There’s lot of his game that I’ve tried to take and incorporate into my own.

“He’s a good player. He’s strong, he’s physical. He can skate. He’s got good hand-eye coordination,” Perry said. “You put all of those together, you’ve got a pretty good hockey player. He’s a player I know quite well. He loves the game and he just wants to be out there and help the team win.”

Playoff redemption
Brian Elliott will be back in net, and this time, looking to wash out the bad taste of last year’s playoff series against the Ducks, who swept Elliott’s Flames out of the playoffs, essentially ending his brief one-year stint in Calgary.

Elliott started all four games and finished with a 0-3 record, a 3.89 goals-against average and an .880 save percentage. It was, by far, the worst playoff series in his 10-year NHL career.

Hakstol believes, though, Elliott can build off his season-opening victory in San Jose.  

“There were several key (third period) saves in that game,” Hakstol said. “He fought hard to make those saves. Beyond that, I thought he had a good presence. The end result is what really matters. He helped us get a win in a tough building on the road in night No. 1" 

Coach speak
In studying game tape of the Flyers' first two games, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle has definitely noticed the speed and agility of the Flyers’ blue line.

“The one thing you do notice that stands out is the ability of their back end,” Carlyle said. “That’s probably the biggest change I can see from the two games that I’ve watched. I think that the (Shayne) Gostisbehere kid is a special player in the back end, and (Ivan) Provorov seems to have a comfort zone in doing that and playing that type of game, and they have some young kids who can move up and down the ice.”

A day off in paradise
Nothing beats a complete day off on a road trip in Southern California.

Filppula lounged around Newport Beach. Sean Couturier hit the stores for some shopping, where he purchased a pair of dress shoes. However, none of that topped the excitement of the Jakub Voracek-led group that spent the day at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Voracek drove a “soccer-mom” style minivan toting around teammates Radko Gudas, Michal Neuvirth and Gostisbehere to name a few.

Projected lineups and pairings
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

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

Brian Elliott

Late rally gives Flyers something to show for strong effort

Late rally gives Flyers something to show for strong effort


RALEIGH, N.C. – Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol commended his team for a complete 60-minute effort that was needed to overtake and defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 at PNC Arena on Saturday night (see observations).

“It’s an important two points, but I guess, as important I thought it was a really hard-working, start-to-finish win for us,” he said.

Placing Alex Lyon in net to lead from the back end, the young netminder made 23 stops, many critical, that allowed the Flyers to generate momentum to strike all at once in the third period.

Trailing 1-0, containing the Hurricanes’ speed and ability to maintain puck possession was a priority – somewhat of ‘survive and advance’ mindset to have in March.

The Flyers won 27 of 48 draws, a stat that eventually evened out, but was a critical one that the Flyers led in for two periods, before taking advantage of Carolina turnovers in the third.

 “It was a grind,” Hakstol said. “I liked the way we played in the first two periods. We talked about a couple of little things we can maybe improve going into the third, but the biggest thing was making sure we went out and got a big penalty kill to start with and just go back at it.”

For 40 minutes, Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward stymied shooters like Jakub Voracek and crease cleaners like Wayne Simmonds, among others, but the force of the shield he presented eventually diminished late in the game. The Flyers scored all four of their goals in the final 11-plus minutes.

While giving the puck away 10 times, 15 takeaways allowed the Flyers to regain possessions and capitalize on their chances when it counted most. 

“I don’t know if there was a catalyst,” Hakstol said when asked to identify the turning point in the game for his team.

“A lot of times it’s the simple, hard things that you do. That’s what it takes to score at this time of year.”

The win pulled the Flyers back into a tie for third place in the Metropolitan Division, a floating buoy line extending to the wild-card spot they will tread beside for the remainder of the season, unless they can compile more wins like this one.

“We needed a win for a lot of different reasons,” Hakstol said. “We needed the two points in every respect, but we needed a win for our group in here to have something to show for their hard work. When you lose games and can’t put wins together, the negatives really start to magnify, even though there’s a ton of positives. On a couple of different levels, this was an important two points.”

Both teams in wild-card spots keep close to Flyers

AP Images

Both teams in wild-card spots keep close to Flyers

LOS ANGELES — Keith Kincaid stopped 38 saves for his first shutout of the season, helping the New Jersey Devils improve their playoff positioning with a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Michael Grabner, Nico Hischier and Miles Wood each scored for the Devils, who moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division. New Jersey leads Philadelphia and Columbus by one point with both the Flyers and Blue Jackets playing later.

The Devils have won three in a row and four of five.

Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for the Kings, who are tied with Anaheim for third in the Pacific (see full recap).

Nutivaara's second-period goal lifts Columbus past Ottawa
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Markus Nutivaara scored a power-play goal in the second period, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 22 shots, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 on Saturday night.

Boone Jenner also scored -- his third tally in three games -- for the Blue Jackets, who have won a season-high seven straight and are holding on to the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 83 points, tied with Philadelphia and one point ahead of New Jersey.

Alexandre Burrows scored his fifth of the year and Mike Condon stopped 33 shots for Ottawa, which saw a three-game winning streak snapped on the second night of a back-to-back (see full recap).

McDavid's 3 points get Oilers past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. — Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists in the third period and the Edmonton Oilers rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ty Rattie and Adam Larsson also scored for the Oilers, who are 4-1-1 in their past six games.

Cam Talbot made 40 saves for the Oilers.

Frank Vatrano and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida.

Roberto Luongo made 32 saves for the Panthers, who lost for the first time this season when leading after two periods (23-1).

With Edmonton trailing 2-1, McDavid scored his 34th on a shot from the right circle 38 seconds into the third period, and Larsson's fourth of the season at 6:13 gave Edmonton the 3-2 lead (see full recap).