Flyers

With final cuts looming, Flyers' lineup at practice may give glimpse of roster

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With final cuts looming, Flyers' lineup at practice may give glimpse of roster

VOORHEES, N.J. — Ron Hextall is still sweating it out.

With three days remaining before the NHL roster deadline, the Flyers elected not to make final cuts prior to Saturday’s lengthy practice, keeping their extended roster through Sunday’s preseason finale against the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center. 

“We’ve got a lot of good players here,” the Flyers' general manager said. “Two players have to go for your roster size, we’ll see how tomorrow night’s game goes, see if we have injuries and then we’ll finalize a couple decisions.”

Hextall said he will the final cuts following Sunday's game.

It seems as though the Flyers will use Sunday’s game as less of a dress rehearsal for the regular season opener Wednesday and more of a final exam for bubble players. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol denied that assumption.

“I wouldn’t read into it,” he said. “We’re going to try to get as close to our game night lineup as we can but we still have some pretty tough decisions to make.”

Hextall also pushed back. 

“You don’t make decisions based on one game,” he said. “It can play a small part of it but not a big part.” 

Either way, the decisions are expected to be grueling on both sides of the ice. 

On defense, Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning are expected to make the roster in some capacity, leaving prospects Sam Morin, Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim battling for two potential spots. 

“There’s a lot of factors that factor into these decisions,” Hextall said. “It’s not just the obvious of who played best. A lot of things play into it — the future, the past, a role, the type of player we need to finish off our roster. There’s a lot of things that go into it.”

As of Saturday, those things were looking good for Hagg. The 22-year-old was working with Gostisbehere, signaling that the team views him as a regular. Meanwhile, bubble players Morin and Sanheim were matched together as an extra pairing.

“I think I had a pretty good camp so far and seems like the coaches and staff are happy with me,” Hagg said. “I’m still here, so I guess I’m doing something good. I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far.” 

At forward, it’s a more complicated picture.

Two of Taylor Leier, Jori Lehtera, Oskar Lindblom and Matt Read will not make the starting roster Wednesday, with 21-year-old Lindblom, exempt from waivers, appearing like the odd-man out. The highly touted winger spent practice on an extra line with Lehtera and Read.

“Everyone wants to play in the NHL,” Lindblom said. “If the coaches want you here, you stay. I haven’t thought about it too much. Coaches decide. Hexy decides.” 

Meanwhile, Scott Laughton centered the fourth line featuring Leier and Michael Raffl.

“That line brings a lot of speed and it’s pretty exciting,” Laughton said. “Raffl gets in there on the forecheck. Leier is pretty good at making plays and finding you, so it felt good out there.”

Leier, who is not waiver exempt, appeared to be the big winner Saturday, working on the fourth line and heading the Flyers' 5-on-3 penalty kill unit. 

“I feel very comfortable,” he said. “Like I’m ready.”

But like many of the young guys pressing for an NHL job, Leier enters Sunday's finale feeling an elevated sense of urgency.

“There’s been anxiety throughout the whole camp,” he said. “That comes with the territory and business we're in. Everyone goes through it, but it’s something you have to push aside and get through.”

Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

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Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

BOSTON — Tyler Seguin made a move at the left circle to get past one defender, then skated into the slot as the other two Bruins went to the ice.

He swooped wide to Anton Khudobin's glove side, inducing the goalie to leave his skates as well, and then flipped the puck into the net for the game-winner.

"I feel like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass," Seguin said after his goal with a delayed penalty man-advantage gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over Boston on Monday.

"I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it," the former Bruins first-round draft pick said. "I just kind of shot it, and luckily, it went in."

Stephen Johns and Alexander Radulov also scored for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots (see full recap).

Tavares' 2nd goal lifts Islanders past Canadiens in OT
MONTREAL — John Tavares scored his second goal of the game 1:51 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Mathew Barzal, coming off his second five-point game of the season, had a goal and two assists to keep up his scoring binge for New York. Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech also scored to help the Islanders win their third straight after a season-high five-game losing streak, and Thomas Greiss finished with a career-high 52 saves.

Nicolas Deslauriers, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which twice tied the scored after falling behind by two goals. Carey Price stopped 19 shots.

Pelech gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead 2:37 into the second period as he pounced on a loose puck after Barzal's shot was blocked and swept it in fromt eh slot for his first of the season (see full recap).

MacKinnon helps Avs beat Ducks for 7th straight win
DENVER — The save by Jonathan Bernier that sticks out the most was the one where he simply stuck out his stick.

Out of sheer desperation, no less. To thwart what looked to be a sure goal, too. It's just another sign of how well things have been going for the Colorado Avalanche in recent weeks.

Nathan MacKinnon kept up his torrid home scoring with a goal, Bernier turned back 33 shots and the Avalanche beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday for their seventh straight win.

Matt Nieto and Colin Wilson also scored for the Avs, who are outscoring opponents 29-10 during their longest win streak since the 2005-06 season (see full recap).

Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

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Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

You could say the life of “88” has completed a lifelong figure 8, where you ultimately come back to the point where it all started.  

That starting point for Eric Lindros was sometime at an early age when life was simple, friendships were forming and the game of hockey wasn’t tugging him in a hundred different directions. Not that Lindros feels like a kid now, but clearly he views life rather buoyantly.

He smiles, he laughs, he tells stories and enjoys living essentially burden-free. 

“I’m seeing things from a different perspective,” said Lindros during my visit with him at his new home in the Toronto suburbs. “I think when you’re playing, and for good reason, you’re focused on your game. You live, eat, breathe the sport and the game. You have the blinders on. You might not be aware of what’s going on politically. You might not be aware of what’s going on with some of your friends back home.

“Now, I have no blinders. I’m not restricted. If I choose to look left or choose to look right, I can. It’s a different mindset. It’s a different way of going about it. It’s a whole new world.”

Lindros left Philadelphia unceremoniously sitting out an entire season before he was eventually traded to the New York Rangers in August 2001, and even after he stopped playing six years later, a lot of those old wounds still hadn’t healed and the relationship between himself and the organization was scarred. A once tight relationship with former Flyers GM Bobby Clarke was seemingly frayed beyond repair.

The 2012 Winter Classic alumni game at Citizens Bank Park was the first step in the rehabilitation between a stubbornly proud organization and its franchise center the city once cherished. Then came Lindros’ induction into the Flyers Wall of Fame in 2014, his 2016 induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and now, the latest culmination is the retirement of his legendary No. 88 along with other events surrounding the former superstar. 

There’s now a renewed sense that Philadelphia will always be Lindros’ hockey home.  

“Listen, hockey was great for a long time and where I could give the most was in Philly. From start to finish, I never played as well anywhere else. I really enjoyed it. There’s ups and downs with everything that you do, but overall I truly enjoyed playing there,” Lindros said.

“Eric doesn’t have a home,” Clarke told me in 2011 prior to the Winter Classic alumni game. “Eric needs a home and the Flyers are his home.”
 
Of course, it’s not exactly a home surrounded by a white picket fence, but rather one that had a fence that needed to be mended. Retirement for Lindros and Clarke, who both coincidentally stepped down as player and executive in 2007, helped gain perspective and patch some damaged feelings. 

“We see each other at all these events and Bob’s been very nice," Lindros said. “We can joke around. What’s happened, happened. Let’s move forward and go on.”

Eric has done that while also discovering why the present should be cherished so much more than what has transpired in the past. Whenever Lindros spends time at alumni functions, he’s easily immersed in the aura surrounding Bernie Parent and how it can easily rub off on him. 
   
“What a fun-loving spirit. He gets it,” Lindros said of Parent. “You know where some people have that vibe and you want to be in the room with him. He’s got a gift. Bernie’s a terrific, terrific man. He’s got to get me out on the boat.” 

After Thursday's ceremony prior to the Flyers' game against Lindros' hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, Lindros and Parent can hang together all they want, at least, in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.

However, Lindros doesn’t need those types of reminders. Nowhere in his brand-new home will you find any connection between himself and his playing days — no photos on the wall, no replica of the Hart Trophy he won in 1995 and no sign of his Olympic gold medal. Nor does Lindros believe his career was any more distinguishable from that of his wife Kina Lamarche, who was a very successful businesswoman.  

As you enter the basement, there’s a painting of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate. Turn the corner and down the hall you’ll find a newly-installed locker room and a synthetic ice surface that currently serves as a playroom for his three kids: Carl Pierre, Sophie and Ryan. This is Eric Lindros now, a man with a greater purpose in life.   

“Same way my dad was with me,” Lindros said. “My dad took a lot of heat for looking out for me and representing me and my brother. People would be lucky to have my dad as a representative. I’m very lucky to come from where I did. I got big shoes to fill. I’m around the house quite a bit now. I got lucky. I really did. I don’t think it could have worked out better.”