Flyers

Flyers' win streak gone in a New York minute

Flyers' win streak gone in a New York minute

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Flyers looked lost on Broadway while the Rangers put on a show.

A four-game win streak vanished into the New York night for the Flyers, who lost badly to the Rangers, 5-1, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Not long after Jordan Weal handed the Flyers a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the game, things went south and never got better.

Dave Hakstol's club was slipshod in all phases, from the power play (which had been terrific) to neutral-zone coverage. You name the area and the Flyers were not sharp. They allowed three breakaway goals, one of which was a shorthanded marker.

At first intermission, the Flyers trailed 3-1. By second intermission, it was 5-1 and all but over. Goalie Brian Elliott was pulled ahead of the third period as Michal Neuvirth finished off the ugly loss.

The Flyers (20-16-8) are now 1-5-2 in their last eight games against New York.

The Rangers (23-17-5), who had lost two straight out of the bye week by a combined score of 12-4, regrouped rather impressively.

The defeat was also not the way the Flyers wanted to kick off their four-game regular-season series with the Rangers. They missed an opportunity to catapult past New York in the Metropolitan Division standings as a regulation win would have done the trick. Instead, the Flyers (48 points) remain behind the Rangers (51) and Islanders (50).

With that said, let's get into the observations:

• Over the four-game winning streak, Sean Couturier had four goals and nine points, Claude Giroux seven assists and eight points, and Jakub Voracek seven assists. Those three were neutralized as the trio went scoreless and had only four shots on goal.

Voracek had an ugly sequence of events in the second period, resulting in the Flyers' deficit ballooning to 4-1. Voracek committed a questionable hooking penalty (he visibly disagreed with the call) and when he left the box after the Flyers had killed off his infraction, the right winger was stripped of the puck by Michael Grabner, who netted his 20th of the season on a semi-breakaway look. The goal felt like a dagger in the fashion it was scored halfway through the middle stanza.

• Third-pair defenseman Brandon Manning had a rough first period. New York scored a pair of breakaway goals (Rick Nash at even strength, Paul Carey at shorthanded) and Manning was on the ice for both in which a Ranger snuck behind the defense for broad daylight. On the first, Nash beat both Manning and Radko Gudas. On the second, Manning was seeing some power-play time and a miscue by the Flyers resulted in a rush for the Rangers as a lead pass beat Manning.

The 27-year-old undrafted Manning hasn't been as bad as the criticism he receives, but he'll have to be better than Tuesday's performance if he wants to keep 21-year-old Travis Sanheim in the press box.

• The Flyers' power play was out of sync on its first chance late in the first period. The first unit nearly allowed a shorthanded marker before the second unit actually did. Overall, the man advantage looked passive at times and went 0 for 3. In its defense, the power play was 7 for 14 over the team's four-game winning streak with the NHL's best percentage since Jan. 4, the start of its run. Meanwhile, the Rangers' power play was 3 for its last 31 but went 1 for 2.

• Weal likes to play with speed and shiftiness, but when things haven't gone his way, he's worked his tail off around the net, where he's found production. He did it just over two minutes into Tuesday's game by standing right on Henrik Lundqvist's doorstep and deflecting a shot for the 1-0 lead. Give the 5-foot-10, 179-pounder credit for his willingness to adjust styles in order to make an impact as he has three goals and five points in his last six games. That was one of few positives on Tuesday for the Flyers.

• The NHL's sixth-ranked power play of the Flyers was going up against the league's third-ranked penalty kill of the Rangers. New York clearly won the matchup of this special teams battle.

• Travis Konecny, now on the first line, entered with six points (two goals, four assists) in his previous seven games, but went scoreless against New York.

• Elliott, making his 18th start in the last 19 games, did not have much help from his defense. The Rangers also got a power-play tally in which two bodies lined up in front Elliott, with J.T. Miller redirecting a point shot by Ryan McDonagh. Elliott's final goal allowed was one he'd like to have had back as Nash beat him on a straight shot from the circle late in the second period for the 5-1 hole.

• Lundqvist, who turns 36 years old on March 2, is now 35-14-4 in 55 career games against the Flyers. He made 25 saves on 26 shots.

• Since their 10-game losing streak, the Flyers were 12-4-1 with a plus-15 goal differential, outscoring the opposition, 58-43, coming into Tuesday. This was a clunker but the Flyers can't afford to keep this up against divisional opponents because that's the majority of the remaining schedule. The Flyers are 3-2-4 against Metropolitan competition thus far.

• The Flyers practice Wednesday and then host the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday (7 p.m./NBCSP). Before puck drop, the Flyers will hold a special ceremony honoring Eric Lindros, who is having his No. 88 retired by the club (see story).

How Flyers prepare for life without Simmonds, Neuvirth

How Flyers prepare for life without Simmonds, Neuvirth

One Czech is out, and another has checked in.

Petr Mrazek has endured a rather eventful past 24 hours. Following news of the trade to the Flyers, Mrazek didn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. and was awake at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Philadelphia that had him at the Wells Fargo Center in time for the Flyers' morning skate.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Mrazek said. “I got a call at 9:30 from (Red Wings GM) Ken Holland and then Ron Hextall. Yeah, I’m excited. A couple of months ago I had a good conversation with Ken Holland about it and he said if he had a good opportunity to do it, he was going to try and move me. I was really happy.”

With Michal Neuvirth now expected to miss the next 4 to 6 weeks with a lower-body injury, and Brian Elliott scheduled to be out until late March recovering from core muscle surgery, Mrazek will now be the Flyers' go-to guy in net. 

“Petr’s a proven guy,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That goes without saying. We’ve said all along we have confidence in Alex and he’s starting tonight, but Hexy alluded to it, going out and getting an established veteran NHL goaltender and that’s what Petr is.”

Mrazek’s game has definitely reached another level since the calendar flipped to 2018. The 26-year-old netminder has a 5-3-2 record to go along with a 2.29 GAA and a .925 save percentage since Jan. 1. 

“I changed a couple of things during the summer,” Mrazek said. “I didn’t play much the first half of the season and it was tough for me to find my game playing once in two weeks or once in three weeks. It was tough but I worked hard during that stretch on the ice to try and improve my game, and I think over the past few months it was going in the right direction.”

Mrazek will also find comfort in a clubhouse with three Czech teammates: forward Jake Voracek, defenseman Radko Gudas and Neuvirth. They’ve played together at the IIHF World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey.

“I won’t be surprised if we signed Jags after the Olympics,” said Voracek, jokingly regarding Jaromir Jagr. “Obviously, something needs to be done regarding Neuvy and Elliott. Petr’s a great goalie and I think we’re having a great season this year. Obviously, he’s very competitive. As long as we find a way to win with him in the net, that’s all that matters.”  

“They’re different style goalies for sure,” Gudas said of the differences between Mrazek and Neuvirth. “He’s a great goaltender who challenges a lot. That’s a good thing for us to have someone who cares as much as he does. I think our goalies were doing a really good job of keeping our defense intact and keeping them honest, and I think Petr is going to do the same thing, especially our young D corps, and help them out.” 

In Bloom
Many expected Oskar Lindblom to make the Flyers out of training camp. Few expected the call-up to come during the heat of a playoff race. 

Regardless, the 21-year-old Swede will make his NHL debut Tuesday against the Canadiens and should see an extended look into March following an upper-body injury to Wayne Simmonds. The Flyers' power forward is expected to miss the next 2 to 3 weeks of action.

“I’ve grown as a person and as a player,” Lindblom said. “I just felt I had to go down there (Lehigh Valley) and just do my thing and get better every day.”

“It’s so valuable going into the American League and have the opportunity to gain that experience, especially for Oskar being his first year in the smaller NHL rink,” Hakstol said. “He’s grown as a player. I think his confidence has always been good.”

Certainly, confidence won’t be lacking as Lindblom was lighting it up with the Phantoms, scoring a goal in three straight games, along with another scoring streak that included five goals in a six-game span.  

“I don’t know why I’ve been that way this season,” said Lindblom. “But it’s good when it comes and I need to keep riding on that wave a little bit.”

“He’s got a great shot, great hockey sense,” Claude Giroux said. “He’s been playing some great hockey with the Phantoms, and he’s a great guy in the locker room too, so I’m pretty excited to see him on the ice since I haven’t seen him in awhile.”

Lindblom will be on the Flyers' third line along with center Scott Laughton and winger Michael Raffl.

“He’s a smart player, a really heady player,” Laughton said. “I’m excited to play with him. I haven’t talked to him too much. I’m sure we’ll talk more before the game with what me and Raffl like to do and we’ll go out there and continue to push forward and look for him in the slot where he likes to score goals.”

Projected lines and pairings
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny

Jake Voracek-Nolan Patrick-Jordan Weal

Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Jori Lehtera-Valtteri Filppula-Dale Weise


Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Andrew MacDonald-Robert Hägg

Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas


Alex Lyon

Petr Mrazek

2 more key Flyers out with injuries

ap-michal-neuvirth-flyers.jpg
USA Today Images

2 more key Flyers out with injuries

There's more bad news on the injury front for the Flyers.

Winger Wayne Simmonds (upper-body injury) will miss two to three weeks and goalie Michal Neuvirth (lower-body injury) will be out the next four to five weeks.

With yesterday's news that the Flyers had recalled surging forward prospect Oskar Lindblom (see story), a corresponding move seemed imminent. With Simmonds out, Jordan Weal took his place on Nolan Patrick's line, which had been clicking lately, during the morning skate. It appears Lindblom will see his first NHL action on Scott Laughton's line along with Michael Raffl.

With Brian Elliott likely out for the rest of the regular season and Neuvirth's status, the Flyers' trade for goalie Petr Mrazek makes obvious sense (see story). Mrazek was on the ice for morning skate and will be available tonight vs. the Canadiens (7 p.m./NBCSP), according to GM Ron Hextall, who was a guest on 97.5 The Fanatic's midday show.