Flyers

Flyers-Oilers observations: A win streak!

Flyers-Oilers observations: A win streak!

BOX SCORE

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Flyers have followed up their 10-game skid with their first winning streak in a month and half after defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2, at Rogers Place on Wednesday night.

Jordan Weal, Dale Weise and Michael Raffl all scored for the Flyers, and Wayne Simmonds added an empty-net goal. Weal scored his first goal in 13 games. For Weise, it was his first goal since Nov. 4. 

Raffl has been red hot with goals in four of his last seven games.

Brian Elliott stopped 24 of the Oilers’ 26 shots.

The Flyers completed the season sweep of the Oilers after beating them, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 21. They can sweep the Western Canada portion of this road trip with a win in Vancouver Thursday night. 

• Claude Giroux drew the first penalty when defenseman Matt Benning pretty much bear-hugged the Flyers’ captain. The Flyers’ first PP unit got a good down-low look early on, but not much more after that. The second PP unit moved the puck a little better, but couldn’t generate a shot on net as Travis Konecny’s attempt went just wide.

• Through the opening 10 minutes, there wasn’t much open ice for Connor McDavid and the Oilers’ top line. McDavid had a sliver of daylight entering the Flyers’ zone, but was swallowed up quickly by four Flyers defenders.

• The Flyers’ best chance early on came when Darnell Nurse attempted to clear the zone, but Shayne Gostisbehere jumped on the puck and kept it in before it crossed the line. That set up Jakub Voracek with a shot that Laurent Brossoit was just able to extend his right pad on and make the save.

• The Flyers earned a second power-play opportunity in the first period. The best look came when Weal worked down low on the goal line and fired a saucer pass to Nolan Patrick for a one-time attempt from the left circle.

• Sean Couturier showed why he’s a grade-A defender, essentially taking out McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi with his strip of the puck behind the net. From that moment, the Flyers gained and maintained possession for a duration of 1:40, which resulted in a Voracek slap shot.

• Overall, it was a dreadful first period of action. I can’t remember so many stoppages of play (25 faceoffs) and a period that had very little flow.

• Patrick Maroon went after Taylor Leier with a cheap hit. Maroon received two minutes for interference and the Flyers got their third power play in the first 22 minutes of the game. 

• Not only did the PP look wretched in its two minutes, but Couturier had the puck stripped by McDavid. The result was nothing but open ice and a perfect 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity that ended in a shorthanded goal for Leon Draisaitl. I know McDavid’s a great player, but Couturier has to do a better job of protecting the puck in that situation.

• The Flyers finally got a PP goal on their fourth attempt. Interestingly, Weal was in the spot occupied by Simmonds with the first power-play unit. The Flyers finally had some quick puck movement as Giroux made a slap pass to Couturier on the left wing (see highlights).

• Didn’t you love the perfectly executed hip check Ivan Provorov laid on McDavid? Textbook check!

• Credit Giroux with the Flyers’ second goal. Giroux won a foot race to the puck and left it for Weise. He fired a harmless shot through the legs of Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba that also went through Brossoit five-hole from between the circles in the high slot. A bad goal from a bad goalie.

• It appeared that Giroux lost coverage momentarily during the opening faceoff of the third period as Mark Letestu nearly scored on a shot that deflected off the post.

• Good passing set up the Flyers’ first three goals. For example, Voracek outraced his man to a puck along the boards and saw a streaking Raffl catch the Oilers’ defense flat-footed for a breakaway goal.

• The Flyers lost coverage on the Oilers’ second goal. Travis Sanheim followed his man behind the net and left Mark Alt as the only defender in front of the net. The Flyers just didn’t have the bodies down low as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was able to put in the rebound goal in a wide-open net. 

• Not a smart move on Scott Laughton’s part as he committed a holding penalty on the other end of his own net with three minutes to play and the Flyers nursing a 3-2 lead. Just an unnecessary penalty at that stage of the game.

Lineups, pairings and scratches

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

Scratches: Forward Jori Lehtera (healthy), and defensemen TJ Brennan (healthy) and Radko Gudas (suspended).

Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

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Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

CALGARY, Alberta — Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.

Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and the Flyers from 1987 to 2000.

He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.

"We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family," Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.

"This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family."

Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League's Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.

He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.

'Special play' by Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux highlights Flyers' 4th straight win

'Special play' by Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux highlights Flyers' 4th straight win

BOX SCORE

The entire play was a thing of beauty.  

The only debate was which part was prettier: Claude Giroux’s pass or Sean Couturier’s shot?

“I don’t know," Couturier said. "Ask him and see what he thinks."

“It’s a pretty special play to be able to get that puck into open ice to let Coots skate onto it,” head coach Dave Hakstol said.

After Couturier won a faceoff in the defensive zone, the puck eventually swung towards the far boards in the neutral zone. Giroux delivered a backhand pass between his legs and the legs of Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev before Couturier chased it down and uncorked a perfectly placed shot that found the top-right portion of the net (see highlights).

“The puck was rolling so I just shot as hard as I could,” Couturier said. 

"I saw Coots had a foot race and usually he doesn’t beat the other guy, but he was able to beat him there,” Giroux said half-jokingly. “He’s been playing great hockey and it’s fun to be on his line.

“It’s that kind of play that you can’t really describe. I’ll put it somewhere where he might be able to get it."

Couturier’s game-winner with 2:55 remaining in regulation Tuesday was part of the Flyers' three-goal third-period outburst on the way to a 4-2 win (see observations). It was the team's fourth consecutive victory, making it the first time since February 2014 the Flyers have strung together four straight wins in regulation, improving their record to 12-11-7.

The Flyers also snapped a six-game winless streak at the Wells Fargo Center dating back to Nov. 9.

“The last three games before this one, we had the lead and everybody bought in on how we wanted to play to keep the lead, and now we had a different test,” Giroux said. “We’re down a goal and guys just have a feeling in the room that we’re going to come back. It’s a good feeling right now.”

The Couturier-Giroux combination got the Flyers on the board in the opening period when Couturier won the draw in the offensive zone after sliding the puck behind him and Giroux finished with a one-time blast that beat Frederik Andersen.

“We switch around and try different things offensively,” Couturier said. “Having him on the right side there, G is ready for a one-timer if I win it and lucky enough the puck ended up right on his tape.”

Not only did the Flyers have a pair of first-rounders on their top line, Hakstol also elected to pair fellow first-round picks Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny on the team’s fourth line. Together with Taylor Leier they brought an element of speed and energy that led to the Flyers' game-tying tally in the third period when Konecny’s shot grazed off two Maple Leafs for just his second goal in his last 20 games.

“It was definitely part of our game plan to outskate their D and get in there,” Konecny said. “As a unit of three, we know we can cheat a little bit and get in on the forecheck because we know we can get back and defend in the right spots, so yeah, we were on top of them.”

“You guys can label them whatever you want,” Hakstol said. “They’re just one of our lines. We thought that line combination made sense with the speed and pace that all three of those guys play at. It’s one small tweak to our lineup that we made coming off the road trip out west.”

The Maple Leafs came into the game a little short on star power with top center Auston Matthews day to day with an upper-body injury. However, it hadn’t affected the Leafs in previous games as Toronto had a 5-0 record in contests Matthews had missed. Head coach Mike Babcock believed Tuesday night’s game was more of a missed opportunity.

“To me, we gifted two goals,” Babcock said. “The one tough play the goalie touched the goal and then the play where they come in, we are above those. To me, you can’t do that.”

The Flyers took down the Maple Leafs for the second time this season. They’ll meet one more time on Jan. 18 at the Wells Fargo Center.