Flyers

Minus a goalie, Flyers treading murky water

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AP Images

Minus a goalie, Flyers treading murky water

We are flooded by so many good Philadelphia sports vibes these days, it’s almost kind of weird. We’re not used to this. We don’t know what to do with it. It’s like this unheard of fog we never want to shake.

And the Flyers did their part last week to make sure the fog didn’t lift and that the good vibes kept rolling into town.

The Flyers went 3-0 last week with a frantic 2-1 OT win over the Hurricanes in Carolina on Tuesday night, a sound 5-3 victory back home over the Montreal Canadiens to cap parade day and then finished things up with a hard-fought 4-3 shootout victory in Arizona over the Coyotes on Saturday night.

Let’s continue to express our feelings in a deeper manner with this week’s Flyers observations.

• On Saturday night, the Flyers got over whatever it is about the lowly Coyotes that brings out the worst in them as they topped Arizona for the first time in four tries. And in a shootout no less. But the obvious black mark is how Brian Elliott skated gingerly off the ice during the shootout with what GM Ron Hextall is calling a lower-body injury.

A big reason for the Flyers’ success this week was the play of Elliot, a rock-solid presence in net who was clearly sorely missed in the four-game losing streak that extended across the All-Star break. He was excellent in Carolina on Tuesday with 27 saves. And then he gave the Flyers what they needed against Montreal and Arizona. Simply put, he’s been very reliable and the results have shown for the Flyers.

Conversely, Michal Neuvirth hasn’t been all that reliable this season Again, injuries have played a role, as his career arc continues to dictate. But when he’s been healthy in net, the consistency just hasn’t been there. And as the Flyers head into an important stretch with four of the next six games against teams nipping at their heels in the Metropolitan Division, they need consistency in net.

With as jumbled as things are, if Neuvirth can’t provide that this time around as Elliott is on the shelf, the Flyers could be looking up again in the standings.

• What a beautiful mess that OT was in Carolina on Tuesday night. The Flyers had no business coming out on top in that overtime session as the Hurricanes carried play, controlled the puck, skated circles around the sloppy Flyers and fired six shots on Elliott in the 4:56 played.

That sequence late where Elliott made a save and then Claude Giroux batted the puck out of the air to prevent the winner from going in behind Elliott was a wacky as it gets, but it worked.

Jordan Weal then scooted down the wing and slipped a softie past Cam Ward for the winner.

The 3-on-3 is designed to be fast-paced and action-packed, but that was a disaster that you just couldn’t take your eyes off of. And it worked.

• Remember how discombobulated the Flyers’ power play seemed prior to Thursday’s game vs. the Habs? The power play was just 3 for 30 in the previous 10 games prior to Thursday and things were not smooth, to say the least.

Enter a scoop of the perfect medicine, the Montreal PK, a unit that entered Sunday ranked 25th in the league and surrendered power-play goals to Giroux, in his office at the dot, and Jake Voracek, who whistled one off Carey Price’s ear on Thursday.

The power play struck two more times in the desert on Saturday courtesy of Giroux and Wayne Simmonds.

When this power play is clicking, it can carry the Flyers. With questions looming in net, the power play is going to come more in focus as the Flyers may find themselves in offensive barnburners more often than not. If the last two games are any indication, that’ll be just fine. But we know how streaky this power play is and things can turn sour again in the blink of an eye.

• Ok, so maybe I’m thinking too much into this, but I was watching the shootout in Arizona on Saturday night and it just seems like most of the Flyers’ shootout attempts are missing something. It’s like they struggle to get the goalie moving and then have no option but to shoot right into him.

I watch other teams’ shootouts and their shooters are getting the goalies shifting around the crease. So many times, the Flyers have nothing to shoot at because the goalie isn’t moving.

Am I crazy?

• Seriously, though… let’s take a peek at the Metropolitan Division standings. There are so many cooks in the kitchen right now. Washington is ahead of the pack with 69 points. After Pittsburgh won Sunday afternoon, the Penguins are second in line with 66 points. Prior to Sunday night’s contest in Vegas, the Flyers check in at third with 63 points. And then there’s New Jersey (62 points) and Carolina (61 points) in the wild-card spots. And Columbus and both New York teams are lurking just behind.

The Flyers just happen to play the Devils, Blue Jackets and Rangers in four of the next six games. Those are eight critical points on the table for all those teams.

Yes, these games have incredible importance and the pressure is on because heading south could happen quickly. But on the other hand, destiny is in your hands. And that’s true for the Flyers here.

Coming up this week: Sunday at Vegas (8 p.m. on NBCSP), Tuesday vs. New Jersey (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Friday at Columbus (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Sunday at the New York Rangers (12 p.m. on NBC).

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

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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.