Flyers

Goulbourne 'shot in the arm' Flyers needed

Goulbourne 'shot in the arm' Flyers needed

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An NHL tough guy is born … or should we say bourne?

Flyers rookie winger Tyrell Goulbourne took his opening NHL shift and made it a rather memorable one, leveling one of the league’s top defensemen, Alex Pietrangelo, which set up Scott Laughton and the team's first goal Saturday afternoon.

Surprisingly, it was Goulbourne who had a sense of fear coming in.

“It was amazing,” Goulbourne said. “I can’t really explain how it felt. I was scared before the game. My legs were shaking. It felt really good after that first shift. I just wanted to get a hit in there. Laughts kind of teed him up nice. I just wanted to finish my check. I’ve always been an energy type player.”

“Everybody’s excited for a player to go out and have success on his first shift,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It empowers him and for sure it’s a shot in the arm for the entire bench. Obviously, he had a big impact on that first shift to go out and play the way he plays.”

While the Flyers certainly don’t need to resort to overpowering teams physically, Goulbourne’s intensity and toughness are an element embraced when coaches and GMs are looking for a lift at some point throughout an 82-game schedule.

“You see him coming and you kind of want to get out of the way,” goalie Brian Elliott said. “I didn’t know what happened on his first shift, but the boys were saying that it was definitely a good one.”

Before Pietrangelo and the Blues knew what hit them, they were trailing 4-0 just 31 minutes and 45 seconds into the game, as the Flyers cruised to a 6-3 victory (see observations).

A game that also proved to be a not-so-memorable return for Blues center Brayden Schenn, who played for the first time in Philadelphia since the offseason trade.

Schenn was held pointless, finished as a minus-1  and won just five of 17 draws. Not only did the Flyers own Schenn in the faceoff circle, but Claude Giroux welcomed him back with a surprising check that knocked him down at center ice.

“He kind of gave me a shot and I gave him a shot right back," said Giroux, who scored his 14th goal, matching his scoring output from last season. "I think he just fell, but it was pretty funny."

Officially the midway point of the season, Giroux is once again top five in scoring and on pace for a 100-point season.

“You want to be the best player you can be at all times,” Giroux said. “Being able to have that chemistry with Coots makes my job a lot easier. I think when you get older you kind of learn from your mistakes.”

The Flyers scored six goals in back-to-back games for the first time since February 2013 after defeating the Islanders, 6-4, Thursday. Finally, consistency is beginning to set in within the team’s secondary scoring lines.

“I think we got everyone going early in the game and guys are ready,” said center Sean Couturier, who scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season. “Guys come out strong and we established our game, and I think it obviously helps a lot when you get a good start and go from there.”

Slow starts have been a Flyers trademark over the first half of the season. Their 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes was the first Flyers first-period lead since Dec. 7 at Vancouver.

Now just cut and paste that first shift from Goulbourne moving forward.

Trip to Voorhees brings up old memories for Lindros

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Photo: Zack Hill | Flyers

Trip to Voorhees brings up old memories for Lindros

VOORHEES, N.J. — Eric Lindros doesn’t have to lace up the skates and go through a physically exhausting practice, but the Flyers' Hall of Famer hasn’t had much time to catch his breath either, as he attempts to squeeze in as many activities and appearances during his week-long stay in the Delaware Valley.

Lindros on Wednesday stopped by the Skate Zone in Voorhees to visit with members of the organization and players on the team. It was his first visit to the practice facility since December 2011 when he returned for the Alumni Game at Citizens Bank Park.

“This is a beautiful facility they have here. We got off the highway and there’s Vito’s Pizza. That used to be the spot we’d pop in after practice,” Lindros said, realizing how landmarks have changed while others remain the same. “I always realized it was a big part (of my life). I came here as a 19-year-old with some great vets I had a chance to play with.”

Lindros made numerous commitments, including Tuesday night’s “Skate with 88” event in West Chester, the Flyers' Alumni outdoor game in Hershey Friday night, a sold-out appearance at Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne on Saturday all sandwiched around the marquee event — the No. 88 retirement ceremony prior to Thursday’s game against the Maple Leafs.

“It’s an honor,” said Wayne Simmonds, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Ontario. “He’s one of my favorite players growing up so to get a chance to watch his number raised to the rafters at Wells Fargo is going to be special. He’s one of the all-time greats if you ask me.”

Along with Lindros' wife and three kids, Lindros’ family will be in attendance, including his father Carl and his mother Bonnie, as well as, his brother Brett and sister Robin.

“Wonderful thrill. I just went through the walkthrough this morning,” Lindros said, “Certainly excited, really excited. I feel honored to be part of it. I feel like the names that are up in the rafters are incredible names and after tomorrow it will be extremely special.”

Since sharing the stage with Legion of Doom teammate John LeClair during their induction into the Flyers' Hall of Fame in November 2014, Lindros was also enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in November 2016, and Thursday night, he will become the sixth player in the organization to have his jersey number retired.

“It’s been great," Lindros said. "The last year and a bit has been spectacular for us and our family. It gives you a chance to reflect and think back to good times and just how lucky you are to have played with certain guys.”

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway

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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.