Flyers' rivalry turns to rout in the blink of an eye

Flyers' rivalry turns to rout in the blink of an eye


Whatever that proverbial hump looks like, wherever you may find it and however high it stands, the Flyers just can’t seem to get over it this season.

Tuesday’s night’s 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins was all the proof you needed as the Flyers had a prime opportunity to pass up their cross-state rival in the wild-card standings, only to watch it come crashing down in a span of two minutes and 17 seconds when the Pens scored three unanswered goals (see observations).

“We know [there are] big points for grabs, especially tonight,” Sean Couturier said. “It was a good chance to make a statement and get back in the standings, but we lost that chance. We still have 40-something games left, so there’s still lots of hockey left.” 

Coming off their most impressive win of the season, a 5-3 victory last Friday in Tampa over the NHL’s best team at the midway point, the Flyers reverted back to the team that brings the required effort but can’t seem to pair that with the necessary goals or sound defensive play.

“We can’t have off nights like this,” said Brian Elliott, who was pulled after two periods once he surrendered four goals on 14 shots. “It didn’t seem like we had it tonight for whatever reason. We got caught in the second period there, but not what we want to see tonight.”

On this particular night, the Penguins didn’t even need the All-Star services of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Surprisingly, it was the play of their fourth line that made the difference as Tom Kuhnhackl and Ryan Reaves (two goals combined entering the game) both scored in that decisive second period (see highlights).

“Well, they’re a big, heavy line,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “They’re hard to handle down low, but you have to defend hard on the right side of them with your feet, sticks and at the right time physically.”

One play may have summed up the breakdowns perfectly. The Penguins won a puck battle in their end of the ice and chipped it out to forward Conor Sheary, who broke in all alone for an easy goal after rookie defenseman Robert Hagg was caught up on the wrong side of the ice.

“We just made some consecutive, critical mistakes,” Andrew MacDonald said. “We had some shifts where we made some errors, not just one but multiple, and they ended up in the back of our net. That kind of summed it up.”

It was also the first time this season the Flyers allowed four goals in one period, as the Penguins ripped off all four of those goals in four minutes and 29 seconds to put the game well out of reach.

One team converted its chances and the other simply did not. The Flyers were also the recipients of odd-man rushes, open looks and power-play opportunities, but they came up short. At some point, the process of playing hard-nose hockey has to yield offensive production. 

Sometimes the Flyers find the back of the net, but more often than not, they come up empty.

“First period, we had a lot of chances. It just didn’t really go in and we’ve got to find a way for it to go in,” captain Claude Giroux said. “It’s frustrating. We know we can play better. We know we’re a better team than that and we’ll have to answer next game.” 

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot we would change in the first 30 minutes,” Hakstol said. “It’s the next two, two and a half minutes that cost us the game.”

If they don’t correct the necessary flaws and mistakes, that hump the Flyers have attempted to repeatedly climb will grow into an unscalable mountain.

Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

USA Today Images

Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

BOSTON — Tyler Seguin made a move at the left circle to get past one defender, then skated into the slot as the other two Bruins went to the ice.

He swooped wide to Anton Khudobin's glove side, inducing the goalie to leave his skates as well, and then flipped the puck into the net for the game-winner.

"I feel like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass," Seguin said after his goal with a delayed penalty man-advantage gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over Boston on Monday.

"I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it," the former Bruins first-round draft pick said. "I just kind of shot it, and luckily, it went in."

Stephen Johns and Alexander Radulov also scored for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots (see full recap).

Tavares' 2nd goal lifts Islanders past Canadiens in OT
MONTREAL — John Tavares scored his second goal of the game 1:51 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Mathew Barzal, coming off his second five-point game of the season, had a goal and two assists to keep up his scoring binge for New York. Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech also scored to help the Islanders win their third straight after a season-high five-game losing streak, and Thomas Greiss finished with a career-high 52 saves.

Nicolas Deslauriers, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which twice tied the scored after falling behind by two goals. Carey Price stopped 19 shots.

Pelech gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead 2:37 into the second period as he pounced on a loose puck after Barzal's shot was blocked and swept it in fromt eh slot for his first of the season (see full recap).

MacKinnon helps Avs beat Ducks for 7th straight win
DENVER — The save by Jonathan Bernier that sticks out the most was the one where he simply stuck out his stick.

Out of sheer desperation, no less. To thwart what looked to be a sure goal, too. It's just another sign of how well things have been going for the Colorado Avalanche in recent weeks.

Nathan MacKinnon kept up his torrid home scoring with a goal, Bernier turned back 33 shots and the Avalanche beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday for their seventh straight win.

Matt Nieto and Colin Wilson also scored for the Avs, who are outscoring opponents 29-10 during their longest win streak since the 2005-06 season (see full recap).

Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

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Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

You could say the life of “88” has completed a lifelong figure 8, where you ultimately come back to the point where it all started.  

That starting point for Eric Lindros was sometime at an early age when life was simple, friendships were forming and the game of hockey wasn’t tugging him in a hundred different directions. Not that Lindros feels like a kid now, but clearly he views life rather buoyantly.

He smiles, he laughs, he tells stories and enjoys living essentially burden-free. 

“I’m seeing things from a different perspective,” said Lindros during my visit with him at his new home in the Toronto suburbs. “I think when you’re playing, and for good reason, you’re focused on your game. You live, eat, breathe the sport and the game. You have the blinders on. You might not be aware of what’s going on politically. You might not be aware of what’s going on with some of your friends back home.

“Now, I have no blinders. I’m not restricted. If I choose to look left or choose to look right, I can. It’s a different mindset. It’s a different way of going about it. It’s a whole new world.”

Lindros left Philadelphia unceremoniously sitting out an entire season before he was eventually traded to the New York Rangers in August 2001, and even after he stopped playing six years later, a lot of those old wounds still hadn’t healed and the relationship between himself and the organization was scarred. A once tight relationship with former Flyers GM Bobby Clarke was seemingly frayed beyond repair.

The 2012 Winter Classic alumni game at Citizens Bank Park was the first step in the rehabilitation between a stubbornly proud organization and its franchise center the city once cherished. Then came Lindros’ induction into the Flyers Wall of Fame in 2014, his 2016 induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and now, the latest culmination is the retirement of his legendary No. 88 along with other events surrounding the former superstar. 

There’s now a renewed sense that Philadelphia will always be Lindros’ hockey home.  

“Listen, hockey was great for a long time and where I could give the most was in Philly. From start to finish, I never played as well anywhere else. I really enjoyed it. There’s ups and downs with everything that you do, but overall I truly enjoyed playing there,” Lindros said.

“Eric doesn’t have a home,” Clarke told me in 2011 prior to the Winter Classic alumni game. “Eric needs a home and the Flyers are his home.”
Of course, it’s not exactly a home surrounded by a white picket fence, but rather one that had a fence that needed to be mended. Retirement for Lindros and Clarke, who both coincidentally stepped down as player and executive in 2007, helped gain perspective and patch some damaged feelings. 

“We see each other at all these events and Bob’s been very nice," Lindros said. “We can joke around. What’s happened, happened. Let’s move forward and go on.”

Eric has done that while also discovering why the present should be cherished so much more than what has transpired in the past. Whenever Lindros spends time at alumni functions, he’s easily immersed in the aura surrounding Bernie Parent and how it can easily rub off on him. 
“What a fun-loving spirit. He gets it,” Lindros said of Parent. “You know where some people have that vibe and you want to be in the room with him. He’s got a gift. Bernie’s a terrific, terrific man. He’s got to get me out on the boat.” 

After Thursday's ceremony prior to the Flyers' game against Lindros' hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, Lindros and Parent can hang together all they want, at least, in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.

However, Lindros doesn’t need those types of reminders. Nowhere in his brand-new home will you find any connection between himself and his playing days — no photos on the wall, no replica of the Hart Trophy he won in 1995 and no sign of his Olympic gold medal. Nor does Lindros believe his career was any more distinguishable from that of his wife Kina Lamarche, who was a very successful businesswoman.  

As you enter the basement, there’s a painting of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate. Turn the corner and down the hall you’ll find a newly-installed locker room and a synthetic ice surface that currently serves as a playroom for his three kids: Carl Pierre, Sophie and Ryan. This is Eric Lindros now, a man with a greater purpose in life.   

“Same way my dad was with me,” Lindros said. “My dad took a lot of heat for looking out for me and representing me and my brother. People would be lucky to have my dad as a representative. I’m very lucky to come from where I did. I got big shoes to fill. I’m around the house quite a bit now. I got lucky. I really did. I don’t think it could have worked out better.”