No goals and another injury as Flyers fall to Blackhawks

No goals and another injury as Flyers fall to Blackhawks


CHICAGO — Corey Crawford was the reason behind a lack of offense.

Another injury was the reason behind the Flyers' lack of defense.

Crawford stopped all 35 shots he faced, including a handful of breakaways, as the Blackhawks shut out the Flyers, 3-0, at the United Center Wednesday night (see observations). It was the third time in the first 13 games the Flyers were unable to manufacture a single goal.

There was a Valtteri Filppula breakaway, a Travis Sanheim breakaway, a Filppula wraparound, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek had opportunities from point-blank range, and yet, the Flyers were just blanked altogether.

“I really can’t find one guy who was below the bar tonight because of effort,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We had a real good effort throughout. Offensively, we didn’t have anything to show for it, and that’s the difference in the hockey game.”

“The chances we had were quality chances. So many times the puck was just laying there and Crawford found a way to make the save,” Giroux said. “We did a good job of going to the net and getting traffic, getting rebounds and it was just hitting a glove, a skate or something.”

Sanheim, who impressed coaches with three preseason goals, was on the verge of scoring his first NHL goal in the second period when he fired a shot top left corner on Crawford, but the Blackhawks' goalie reached out with his blocker pad to make the save.

“I tried to get it off quickly,” Sanheim said. “Hopefully those bounces start going my way.” 

Every period the Flyers increased their shot total, going from eight to 12 to 15, as they battled desperately to break through with that first goal.

“The third period we had seven or eight really good scoring chances, like I said, we just didn’t have anything to show for it,” Hakstol said. “You've got to give [Crawford] credit for that.”

However, the Flyers can be faulted for helping pump some air into the Blackhawks' power play that had looked completely flat coming into the game. Chicago’s man advantage was 2 for 30 on home ice and ranked 28th overall. On the Blackhawks' fourth opportunity, they finally converted when Brian Elliott’s initial save was a rebound that wasn’t cleared and Artem Anisimov moved past Ivan Provorov for the game’s first goal (see highlights).

“You hope your guys are close enough to battle for it and clear it,” Elliott said. “It’s tough when you’re killing penalties like that. They have one extra guy and you have to figure what to cover.” 

The Flyers were forced to cover for Radko Gudas, who never returned after the first intermission following a hard hit he took from Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad, resulting in an upper-body injury. For the second time in three games, the Flyers' defense was reduced to five players, three of them rookies.

Not only have the Flyers lost three defensemen in the span of 11 days, but three veteran blueliners for a team that was already pushing the youth movement. Combined, the three rookies logged 56:20 of ice time or nearly half of the 120 minutes required of a team’s defense corps. 

“It’s not what you want to see on any team, especially your own,” Elliott said of the injuries to the defense. “We just have to battle through it. It’s just a next-man-up mentality that when one guy goes down, another one picks up the slack.”

“We have to play with those guys that we have right now," rookie Robert Hagg said. “There’s not much we can do about it. We’ll see Thursday (in St. Louis) who’s playing, and whether Gudas is back tomorrow or not.”

Gudas was dressed and standing in the hallway after the game with no residual appearance of an injury. If he can’t play in St. Louis, in all likelihood, 29-year-old Will O’Neill will be pressed into action against the Blues in what would be his NHL debut.

Notes and tidbits
• Provorov continues to log some heavy minutes. Wednesday night, Provorov was on the ice for a career-high 29:51, the second straight night he has posted a career high in ice time. That’s the most playing time in a regulation game for a Flyer with less than 100 career games played.

• Sean Couturier led the Flyers with six shots on net. It’s the third game this season in which Couturier has had six or more shots on goal. Prior to this season, Couturier had that many shots in just four of the 416 games he had played in. He’s currently on pace for 246 shots this season.

Flyers call up budding wing prospect

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Flyers call up budding wing prospect

In somewhat of a surprise move, the Flyers have recalled Oskar Lindblom from Lehigh Valley and have activated goaltender Anthony Stolarz from the injured, non-roster list. 

Lindblom joins the Flyers after failing to make the 23-man roster out of training camp. After a slow start to the season, Lindblom has posted 16 goals and 34 points through 54 games with the Phantoms. 

If head coach Dave Hakstol elects to utilize Lindblom for Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, he would bring some much-needed speed and a solid two-way presence to Valtteri Filppula’s line. An AHL All-Star, Lindblom has also proven to be a streaky scorer. He’s currently on a three-game goal streak and back in December he posted five goals over a six-game stretch (see Future Flyers Report.)

Stolarz joins the Phantoms after spending the entire season recovering from offseason surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee. The 6-foot-6 netminder started skating for the first time this month and just two weeks ago he took shots from defenseman Sam Morin prior to the Flyers' practice at the SkateZone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

With Alex Lyon now with the Flyers for the foreseeable future, Stolarz joins goaltenders John Muse and Dustin Tokarski in Lehigh Valley. 

As of Monday night, the Flyers still haven’t announced a timetable in regards to Michal Neuvirth, who suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday’s game against the Rangers. If Neuvirth is unavailable Tuesday, in all likelihood, Tokarski would be promoted from Lehigh Valley to back up Lyon.

Doing what he does best, Oskar Lindblom catching fire

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Doing what he does best, Oskar Lindblom catching fire

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers' prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Flyers fans can't wait to see this at the NHL level.

Last weekend, Lindblom potted a goal in three straight games for the Phantoms, giving him 16 on the season through 54 contests. All three tallies came within close range as the Swedish winger's scoring IQ continues to grow during his first AHL season.

Since going scoreless in his first six games, the 2014 fifth-round pick hasn't gone more than four straight games without a point.

Lindblom surprised many with his vast development leading up to the 2017-18 season. While some were disappointed he didn't make the Flyers' roster out of training camp, a 20-goal campaign at Lehigh Valley will be a nice accomplishment along his path to Philly.

Travis Sanheim, D, 21, 6-4/199, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Just how much of a difference-maker is Sanheim? The Phantoms are 9-1-2 since the 2014 first-round pick joined them after he was sent down by the Flyers.

Over Lehigh Valley's 3-0-1 week, Sanheim extended his point streak to seven games with five more assists, putting him at 12 helpers in as many games.

Seeing plenty of minutes and responsibility, Sanheim has collected 13 points to go with a plus-11 rating.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, 21, 5-11/187, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Aube-Kubel is another Phantom worth noting here.

The 2014 second-round pick put up five points (one goal, four assists) in four games last week, continuing his surge in Year 2 of his AHL development. He now has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last 12 games.

After a feeling-out process last season, Aube-Kubel is coming on strong in 2017-18, as he's a plus-20 and third on Lehigh Valley with 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists).

Quick hits
• Ho-hum for Morgan Frost, who had a six-point week through three games. At 94 points, Frost is six away from 100, while his plus-54 rating remains best in the OHL.

Here's a glimpse into his vision and skill:

• Goalie Carter Hart picked up a win and a shootout loss over the weekend. In total, he made 60 saves on 65 shots.

Maksim Sushko tallied two goals (including this one below) and two assists through three games last week. A 2017 fourth-round pick, the 19-year-old has 48 points in 47 games for Owen Sound.

• Wingers Isaac Ratcliffe and Matthew Strome, also 2017 draft picks, recorded three points each in a pair of games.

• Playing for the first time since Jan. 31, German Rubtsov returned from an undisclosed injury to notch an assist over three games last week. The Flyers' 2016 first-round pick has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 27 games for Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

• In Michigan's two-game sweep of top-ranked Notre Dame, Cooper Marody tacked on three more assists, giving him 26 overall, which is tied for most in the Big Ten.

Here's his primary helper from Sunday's 1-0 win:

Anthony Salinitri pushed his point streak to seven games with an assist Friday and a goal Saturday. The 2016 sixth-round pick has 25 goals and 25 assists in 56 games.

• During the four-game week for the Phantoms, Mike Vecchione scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season, while adding an assist.

Philippe Myers had an assist Tuesday for his first point since Jan. 26, while Samuel Morin (undisclosed injury), who hasn't played since Jan. 20, remains out.