Flyers

Flyers prospects heating up as new year rings in

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Photo: Aaron Bell | OHL Images

Flyers prospects heating up as new year rings in

With the playoff round of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships beginning Tuesday, we’re going to hold off on touching on the U-20 tournament until it’s over.

Four Flyers prospects are participating, with three — Carter Hart (Canada), German Rubtsov (Russia) and Linus Högberg (Sweden) — still in play to medal.

Maksim Sushko starred for Belarus but will be part of the relegation round. Belarus failed to win a game in the preliminary round.

Here is the playoff round TV schedule.

Let’s kick off the new year with our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/172, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
It was another week of pure dominance for Frost and his Greyhounds, who won three more games and extended their winning streak to 23 games. Frost had another monster week, collecting two multi-point games and lengthening his point streak to 14 games, during which he has 10 goals and 22 assists. He now leads the OHL with 60 points, is tied for the league lead in assists with 39 and leads the league with a plus-46 rating.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Lindblom added two more goals to his résumé last week, and the 21-year-old winger now is creeping into the AHL leaders in points. Lindblom had an effective game during the Phantoms’ 3-1 win Friday over Charlotte, potting his third power-play goal of the year. Then in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Checkers, Lindblom added a late tally. With 25 points, Lindblom is now tied for sixth in the AHL in rookie scoring.

Alex Lyon, G, 25, 6-1/200, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
While Lyon may have been the most disappointing prospect before the Christmas break, the second-year goaltender had a solid rebound last week after returning to the AHL. Lyon served as the Flyers’ backup for three weeks on an emergency basis as Michal Neuvirth healed from a lower-body injury.

Lyon made his first start Friday night since Dec. 1 and lost his shutout bid with 9:07 left in Lehigh Valley’s 3-1 win over Charlotte. The 25-year-old turned away 28 shots in the first game of a back-to-back set with the Checkers. Then on Saturday, Lyon was solid again for the Phantoms, stopping 39 shots in a 4-2 loss.

Still, an encouraging sign for Lyon. Perhaps the time spent with the Flyers served Lyon well. Let’s see if he can carry the momentum forward.

Philippe Myers, D, 20, 6-5/209, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
One concern surrounding Myers coming into this season was his health. He battled a concussion and a whiplash in his final season of junior, but when he was healthy, his stock skyrocketed. In his first pro season, Myers has dealt with a lower-body injury, believed to be a groin, and has missed 17 games. He returned on Dec. 23 and picked up two assists in three games last week. In four games back, he has two assists with a minus-1 rating. Myers remains a high-end prospect, but injuries have slowed the hype.

Quick hits
Wade Allison picked up his 15th goal of the season Thursday in No. 12 Western Michigan’s 5-2 win over Bowling Green. Allison leads the NCAA with 28 points.

• Ohio State’s Tanner Laczynski extended his point streak to four games, with a goal Friday and an assist Saturday. Laczynski leads OSU with 16 assists and 25 points.

• Phantoms injury hits: Samuel Morin and Mikhail Vorobyev remain out. Both haven’t played since Dec. 12.

Matthew Strome stayed hot for Hamilton, extending his point streak to eight games. Strome now has 21 goals and 40 points in 35 games this season.

Mike Vecchione picked up a goal and an assist in three games last week after sitting out since Dec. 9. He has eight goals and 23 points in 29 games with the Phantoms.

Pascal Laberge made his Quebec debut Saturday in a 4-1 loss to Baie-Comeau, finishing as a minus-2. In his second game Sunday, he was also pointless.

Isaac Ratcliffe, of the Guelph Storm, had back-to-back two-goal games over the weekend. He was pointless Sunday but now has 18 goals in 35 games this season.

• Kitchener’s Connor Bunnaman extended his point streak to seven games with a two-point game Thursday and a goal Friday. He has 10 points during this point streak.

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Flyers players lifted their massive equipment bags onto carts outside the visiting locker room of Madison Square Garden.

There wasn't much energy or zealousness to such a mundane task.

Shortly before doing so, the Flyers made skating in the world's most famous arena seem just as mundane, allowing the New York Rangers to turn Broadway into breakaway on Tuesday night to the tune of a 5-1 loss (see observations).

"We just made too many mistakes that cost us," Jakub Voracek said. "Four goals out of five came off our mistakes, so it's tough."

The Rangers, not once, but twice during the first period, bolted behind the Flyers' slow-reacting coverage for nothing but open ice and Brian Elliott to beat. On both occasions, New York scored easily and took control of the evening.

It was a full exploitation of a Flyers team that had won four straight but wasn't "engaged in this game enough," as head coach Dave Hakstol put it.

With the Flyers holding a 1-0 lead just over six minutes into the contest, Pavel Buchnevich fed a stretch pass to Rick Nash streaking up the middle of the ice, leaving defensemen Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning in the dust. Both the delivery from Buchnevich and the speed of Nash appeared to catch Gudas and Manning by surprise.

"The first one, probably a better read by me and Gudy," Manning said. "We talked before the game, we knew that's what they were going to do, they were going to try and stretch us out. That one we can probably eliminate."

The second was deflating in every way imaginable. As the Flyers sputtered through their first man advantage, a pass behind Jordan Weal bounced off the side boards and right to Peter Holland. With most of the Flyers' second power-play unit pinching on the attack, New York rushed up ice and beat Manning in retreat as Holland hit Paul Carey for a shorthanded marker.

Whatever life the Flyers still had, it was sucked out of them.

At the time, before it unfolded, they seemed to be in OK position. The Flyers were down, 2-1, but vying for an equalizer by turning to their power play, which had been 7 for 14 over the four-game winning streak. However, what transpired was New York taking a surprising 3-1 lead with 10 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

"Those are ones we can prevent," Hakstol said. "They're a good transition team, so when you give them opportunities, whether it's a turnover out of their defensive zone or a turnover entering the zone, they're a good transition team. But our awareness on those plays was not what it needs to be.

"I just thought in the first half of the game, in all the areas of the game that mattered, they were the quicker and hungrier team."

The Rangers showed it some more when they went on another semi-breakaway, this time midway through the second period for a 4-1 edge. Michael Grabner came swooping in to pick Voracek's pocket before quickly flicking a shot past Elliott, who watched another blue jersey barrel down untouched toward his crease.

"We put him in pretty tough spots tonight with the opportunities that we gave up in the first 30 minutes of the game," Hakstol said.

The goalie making his 18th start in the last 19 games still took blame.

"It's not the easiest way, but that's my job," Elliott, who was yanked ahead of the third period, said. "I didn't have them tonight. Go back to work and try to feel good about my game. That's not where I wanted to be tonight. I didn't really give ourselves a chance to win and I've got to own a lot of that."

Tuesday marked the Flyers' first outing against the Rangers this season.

Were they surprised by the opposition's transition game?

"No," Hakstol said.

Manning sounded like he will be far more ready when the Flyers come back to Madison Square Garden on Feb. 18 for the second of four meetings.

"I don't know if surprising is the right word, they have some guys who can skate and I think we were expecting that," Manning said. "We haven't played them this year, it's the first time. When you see it for the first time, it's something a little different."

The Flyers on Thursday night will see the Maple Leafs for the third time. The previous two matchups were won by the Flyers. Interestingly enough, Manning had his best game of the season with a goal, an assist and three hits in the October victory, while rookie blueliner Travis Sanheim played in the December win.

Hakstol will have to decide between the two for Thursday.

One will be an extra, the other will want to make sure breakaways are at a minimum.

Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

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USA Today Images

Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

NEW YORK -- Damon Severson scored twice 1:26 apart in New Jersey's three-goal second period, and the Devils ended a six-game skid with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall also scored for New Jersey, which was 0-3-3 since beating Detroit at home on Dec. 27. Keith Kinkaid, getting the start after Cory Schneider was a late scratch due to illness, stopped 25 shots.

Anders Lee scored and Jaroslav Halak made 38 saves as the Islanders snapped a three-game winning streak that started with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Devils here on Jan. 7.

New Jersey trailed less than two minutes in but got four straight goals starting with Palmieri's score late in the first period.

Halak, who faced more than 35 shots on goal for his 10th straight start, made nice stops on in-close tries by Brian Boyle and Brian Gibbons with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the middle period to keep the score tied.

However, Severson gave the Devils the lead about 30 seconds later as he got the rebound of a shot by Gibbons and beat Halak from the right circle. It was the defenseman's fifth goal of the season and first in 12 games (see full recap).

Spezza scores 2 after benching in Stars’ win
DETROIT -- Jason Spezza responded to being benched by scoring two tiebreaking goals on power plays, helping the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Spezza scored on a lunging, one-timer below the left circle with 5:52 left in the second period. His first goal came on a redirected shot midway through the first.

The 33-year-old forward was a healthy scratch on Monday when Dallas won at Boston in overtime. He bounced back by ending his 14-game goal drought, scoring twice in a game for the first time since March 12, 2016. Spezza scored 33 goals just two years ago and has 323 career goals.

Dallas' Radek Faksa and Martin Hanzal also scored. Ben Bishop stopped 13 shots for the Stars, who have won six of eight.

Trevor Daley put Detroit ahead in the opening minute, but Faksa redirected a shot past Jimmy Howard at 2:48. Andreas Athanasiou pulled the Red Wings into a 2-all tie midway through the second period and Spezza's second goal 2:25 later put Dallas ahead 3-2.

Howard had 22 saves for the Red Wings, who had won five of their previous seven games (see full recap).

Blues rally late for overtime victory
TORONTO -- Alexander Steen tied it with 57 seconds left and Vince Dunn scored 1:43 into overtime, lifting the St. Louis Blues over the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Connor Brown put Toronto ahead on a short-handed breakaway midway through the third period, but Steen scored with goalie Carter Hutton pulled for an extra attacker by backhanding Alex Pieterangelo's rebound past Frederik Andersen.

Dunn snapped a low shot past Andersen after choosing to keep the puck on a 2-on-1.

Andersen stopped 40 shots and Hutton had 30 saves.

It was the Maple Leafs' first game back after the bye week. Their last game was a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 10 (see full recap).