Flyers

Flyers-Predators thoughts: Looking for something they couldn't do last season

Flyers-Predators thoughts: Looking for something they couldn't do last season

Flyers (2-1-0) at Predators (0-2-0)
8 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 7:30

Another day, another home opener.

To close out a season-opening four-game road trip, the Flyers will help the Nashville Predators open their home slate Tuesday night by taking on the defending Western Conference champions at Bridgestone Arena.

It marks the third time in seven days the Flyers have taken part in an opponent's commencement festivities.

Then, the Flyers finally come home for their own party. But before that, they've got this one, so let's get you set with some thoughts as the Flyers wrap up the road swing.

• Tonight should be a fun atmosphere, flooded with yellow rally towels. The Predators are raising their 2016-17 Western Conference champs banner. They'll be back on home ice for the first time since last season's spirited playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final as the West's second wild-card berth. Nashville ultimately succumbed to Pittsburgh in six games.

The Predators feed off their rowdy home crowd, which was evident during the postseason when Nashville went 9-1-1 at Bridgestone Arena. They've also won eight of their last 10 home openers. Nashville is coming off two straight road losses in which it allowed four goals in each defeat, so juices should be flowing from the get-go tonight.

The Flyers, however, have won their last two visits to Nashville by a combined score of 10-5.

• With a third straight victory on the Predators' home ice, the Flyers would secure a winning four-game road trip. Last season, they failed to do so in three tries, finishing with these records:

0-3-1

1-2-1

2-2-0

• How great was it to see to Nolan Patrick working behind the net? In last Saturday's 3-2 OT win over the Ducks, the No. 2 overall pick tallied his first point off a nice pass from behind the red line to Ivan Provorov, who buried the shot.

The Flyers can certainly use more offense created from that area and it suits Patrick well given his vision and passing ability.

Sean Couturier is off to a really positive start, similar to last season when he opened with three goals in three games. Couturier is providing offense as the top-line center (one goal, two assists), but he's doing everything else, as well. He's eating up ice time with key penalty-kill minutes, while also sustaining possession and controlling play. He's a team-best plus-5 right now and the Flyers hope it continues.

• Key Predators defenseman Roman Josi (undisclosed injury) did not practice Monday or partake in Tuesday's morning skate. He is considered a game-time decision. Josi was second on Nashville with 37 assists last season despite missing 10 regular-season games. If the Flyers don't see Josi, that will be on top of not having to deal with blueliner Ryan Ellis, who opened the season on injured reserve following knee surgery.

• A look at the goalies: Brian Elliott goes for the Flyers. He's 2-0-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in his first two outings. He's been good against the Predators in his career, posting an 8-4-0 record in 12 games with a 2.25 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts.

Pekka Rinne is in net for Nashville. He was superb at home last season, going 21-6-5 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .920 save percentage compared to 10-13-4 on the road with a 2.66 GAA and .916 save percentage.

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup:

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Jordan Weal-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
Brian Elliott

Michal Neuvirth

Scratches
Forward Jori Lehtera and defensemen Brandon Manning and Sam Morin.

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

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AP Images

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Schwartz has four goals and six assists this season and has at least one point in six of the Blues' first seven games. It was his 51st career multi-point game and fourth this season.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kyle Brodziak also scored, and Jake Allen made 22 saves. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak

Duncan Keith and Ryan Hartman had late goals for Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves (see full recap).

Maple Leafs ride big 1st period to win
TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves in his season debut and the Toronto Maple Leafs scored four times in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Starting in place of Frederik Andersen, McElhinney stopped 14 shots in the third period to hold off the Red Wings.

Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored to help Toronto improve to an NHL-best 6-1-0. The Maple Leafs were coming off a 2-0 victory at Washington on Tuesday night.

Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Ericsson scored for the Red Wings, and Nick Jensen had three assists.

Jimmy Howard gave up three goals on four shots before getting yanked in favor of Petr Mrazek late in the first period (see full recap).

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

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USA Today Images

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

For the first time in his nine-year career, Michal Neuvirth knows when he gets home at night after a game, there will be someone waiting for him with a smile.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter to Neuvirth, or especially to his one-month-old daughter, Emily Gudasová Carolina.

“When you come home, there’s a baby waiting and it's such an amazing feeling that someone is waiting for you at home,” Neuvirth said after Tuesday's 5-1 win over Florida. “Last year, I was mostly here by myself, so I definitely like it better having a family with me now.”

Family now consists of his newborn daughter, his fiancee Karolína Gudasová and uncle Radko Gudas, Gudasová’s older brother and Neuvirth’s Flyers teammate.

To those of us on the outside, the responsibility of fatherhood seemingly has altered Neuvirth’s disposition. He smiles more, cracks a few jokes and elaborates just a little more with his answers to the media. Perhaps, he can tolerate us because there’s a deeper purpose and a sense of providing that comes with fatherhood.  

“It’s an amazing feeling being a dad,” Neuvirth said. “For me, I just have another motivation to play for my family now.”

Of course, it also helps I’ve yet to see Neuvirth yawn or show up to practice with bags under his eyes. He has escaped any late-night drama with an eight-day road trip to start the season, and for now, he apparently has a rare lifetime pass for any early morning feedings.  

“I have an amazing fiancee. She takes care of her (Emily) as much as she needs to,” Neuvirth said. “I usually put her to bed at 10-10:30. During the night, Karolina goes and feeds her in the living room, and I’m a deep sleeper, so she doesn’t wake me up.”

As Gudasová has kept an eye on the cradle, Neuvirth has secured the crease. He’s allowed three goals in his two starts this season with a .956 save percentage, which has initiated the debate for more playing time.

Interestingly, adapting to a new addition is something Neuvirth has also discussed with teammate and fellow netminder, Brian Elliott, who went through a similar set of circumstances with his son, Owen, last season in Calgary. Elliott called that first month with the Flames “a huge adjustment” and his October numbers reflected that.

Six games into the season, Neuvirth apparently has it all figured out. 

Of course, a good night’s sleep has a way of bringing clarity to the situation.