Flyers

10 observations from Flyers-Canadiens

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10 observations from Flyers-Canadiens

Ten random observations from the Flyers’ 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

1. The Flyers started out strong Wednesday night. In fact, it wasn’t just one of their strongest first periods in a while, but they also scored in the opening period for the first time since Dec. 31 in Calgary. Sean Couturier’s goal at 6:27 wasn’t even the Flyers' first solid chance of the game -- had Brayden Schenn not whiffed on a shot a few minutes earlier, the Flyers likely could have been up 2-0 before the first 10 minutes had ticked off the clock. That’s encouraging; while it’s nice to see the Flyers fight back, they're not always going to be able to dig themselves out of early holes like they have recently.

2. It wasn’t pretty, but Zac Rinaldo’s goal was the result of some solid hard work in the Canadiens’ zone. He fought to get his initial shot, then regained control and held on long enough to get a shot off on the backhand. And sometimes, it doesn’t have to be a snipe to go in. The goal was Rinaldo’s first of the season. After two periods, somehow, he led the Flyers with four shots -- in just 4:22 of ice time.

3. What’s with the difference between the Flyers’ power play at home and on the road? It’s really striking. At home, the Flyers’ power play is 29th in the NHL. Away from the Wells Fargo Center, it’s sixth-best in the league. What could possibly make the same players play so well on the man advantage when they’re anywhere other than in Philadelphia?

4. Discipline, however, continued to be a problem for the Flyers on Wednesday. Even on the strongest nights during their recent six-game road trip, coach Craig Berube pointed to the needless penalties the Flyers have been incurring lately. He called them “bonehead plays.” The Flyers were very lucky that their penalty kill continued to be strong in front of the home crowd and that Steve Mason had yet another good game.

5. Danny Briere returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the second time as a Canadien, and hit the ice with some energy, which was nice to see. Briere’s struggles in Montreal are well-documented -- he hasn’t been able to figure out his role on the team, and he’s even been benched a few times. He had the first shot of the game on a partial breakaway, but remained off the stat sheet.

6. Andrej Meszaros is feeling comfortable, and that’s huge for the Flyers. Remember when Meszaros was somewhat of an offensive threat on the team’s blue line? It feels like ancient history, since the defenseman has spent much of this season as a scratch. He had his first three-assist game Wednesday since March 2, 2006. “It's not just me,” Meszaros said. “All the defensemen are trying to jump up into the play, whoever has the chance.”

7. With the victory, the Flyers won their 10th consecutive game on home ice for the first time since 2003-04. Fun fact: That year’s team went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m just saying …

8. Who turned the volume up at the Center? Lou Nolan’s announcements, the National Anthem and warm-up music were loud in 2013, but they’re even louder now. By the end of this season, the press corps might need hearing aids.

9. The Flyers got a loud round of applause from the crowd at the end of the first and second periods. How far we’ve come from October and November, when it seemed like nothing but boos rained down from the stands at the Wells Fargo Center.

10. Wednesday wasn’t Steve Downie’s best night. It was his turnover that led to Tomas Pleckanic’s second-period short-handed goal, and he also incurred a needless tripping penalty earlier in the game – exactly the kind of thing the Flyers know they need to cut down on. It’s not that bringing Downie in earlier in the season didn’t make sense, but the Flyers have reached a point where they need him to contribute in ways he hasn’t been. Or, at least, be more reliable.

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

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Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Schwartz has four goals and six assists this season and has at least one point in six of the Blues' first seven games. It was his 51st career multi-point game and fourth this season.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kyle Brodziak also scored, and Jake Allen made 22 saves. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak

Duncan Keith and Ryan Hartman had late goals for Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves (see full recap).

Maple Leafs ride big 1st period to win
TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves in his season debut and the Toronto Maple Leafs scored four times in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Starting in place of Frederik Andersen, McElhinney stopped 14 shots in the third period to hold off the Red Wings.

Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored to help Toronto improve to an NHL-best 6-1-0. The Maple Leafs were coming off a 2-0 victory at Washington on Tuesday night.

Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Ericsson scored for the Red Wings, and Nick Jensen had three assists.

Jimmy Howard gave up three goals on four shots before getting yanked in favor of Petr Mrazek late in the first period (see full recap).

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

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How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

For the first time in his nine-year career, Michal Neuvirth knows when he gets home at night after a game, there will be someone waiting for him with a smile.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter to Neuvirth, or especially to his one-month-old daughter, Emily Gudasová Carolina.

“When you come home, there’s a baby waiting and it's such an amazing feeling that someone is waiting for you at home,” Neuvirth said after Tuesday's 5-1 win over Florida. “Last year, I was mostly here by myself, so I definitely like it better having a family with me now.”

Family now consists of his newborn daughter, his fiancee Karolína Gudasová and uncle Radko Gudas, Gudasová’s older brother and Neuvirth’s Flyers teammate.

To those of us on the outside, the responsibility of fatherhood seemingly has altered Neuvirth’s disposition. He smiles more, cracks a few jokes and elaborates just a little more with his answers to the media. Perhaps, he can tolerate us because there’s a deeper purpose and a sense of providing that comes with fatherhood.  

“It’s an amazing feeling being a dad,” Neuvirth said. “For me, I just have another motivation to play for my family now.”

Of course, it also helps I’ve yet to see Neuvirth yawn or show up to practice with bags under his eyes. He has escaped any late-night drama with an eight-day road trip to start the season, and for now, he apparently has a rare lifetime pass for any early morning feedings.  

“I have an amazing fiancee. She takes care of her (Emily) as much as she needs to,” Neuvirth said. “I usually put her to bed at 10-10:30. During the night, Karolina goes and feeds her in the living room, and I’m a deep sleeper, so she doesn’t wake me up.”

As Gudasová has kept an eye on the cradle, Neuvirth has secured the crease. He’s allowed three goals in his two starts this season with a .956 save percentage, which has initiated the debate for more playing time.

Interestingly, adapting to a new addition is something Neuvirth has also discussed with teammate and fellow netminder, Brian Elliott, who went through a similar set of circumstances with his son, Owen, last season in Calgary. Elliott called that first month with the Flames “a huge adjustment” and his October numbers reflected that.

Six games into the season, Neuvirth apparently has it all figured out. 

Of course, a good night’s sleep has a way of bringing clarity to the situation.