Flyers

Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

flyers-hurricanes-matchup.jpg

Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

Flyers vs. Hurricanes
7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet

The Flyers (33-29-18) will try for a third straight win when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes (29-40-11) at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

Here are five things you should know before puck drop:

1. Feeling right
Have the Flyers finally figured out the best way to utilize Brayden Schenn?

After moving Schenn from his natural center position to left wing, sliding him up and down the lineup and giving him numerous different linemates over the past three seasons, the Flyers may have struck gold by placing the 23-year-old on the right wing with Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

Schenn has collected four goals and three assists during a four-game point streak and is enjoying his first opportunity to play on a different side of the ice.

“Just off the rush, you are able to make more plays and see more of the ice,” he said of his transition to right wing. “I’m able to get off the boards a little more. It’s a change but whatever position Chief (Craig Berube) puts me in, I will be comfortable at. I’m going to do the best job I can.”

Consistency has been Schenn’s biggest crutch at the NHL level. He tends to go through lengthy scoring droughts despite receiving significant playing time at even strength and on the power play in a top-six forward role. The Flyers would love to see Schenn carry over his recent production into next season, but, with one more year on his contract after this season, his future with the organization remains cloudy as ever.

2. Power surge
One aspect of the game that has rarely been an issue for the Flyers in 2014-15 is the power play.

The Flyers boast the league’s third-best PP unit at 23.8 percent. The team has been especially strong on the man advantage over its last seven games, too. The Flyers have tallied at least one power-play goal in each of those tilts and haven’t missed a beat even after losing key PP contributor Wayne Simmonds to a season-ending leg injury two weeks ago.

Believe it or not, the Hurricanes are in a good position to put an end to the Flyers’ recent surge on the power play. Despite its horrid play this season, Carolina is actually the fourth-best team on the penalty kill in the NHL at 84.5 percent.

3. Injuries
Forwards R.J. Umberger (hip/abdomen) and Simmonds (leg) are out for the rest of the season.

Defensemen Andrew MacDonald (hand), Luke Schenn (abdomen) and Radko Gudas (knee) are also sidelined for the Flyers.

The Hurricanes will be without defensemen Jack Hillen (concussion) and Rasmus Rissanen (knee) and forward Riley Nash (concussion).

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Mark Streit has been mighty generous as of late. The veteran defenseman has collected six assists in his last four games, and now ranks third on the Flyers in scoring with 51 points in 79 games. The 37-year-old, who is the first Flyers blueliner to record 50 points in a season since Chris Pronger accomplished the feat in 2009-10, is also just one goal away from recording back-to-back campaigns with at least 10 markers.

Hurricanes: Eric Staal is one of those players who just kills the Flyers. The Hurricanes’ captain has four goals and four assists during his current seven-game point streak against the orange and black, and enters Thursday with nine points in his last eight contests overall. He’s having a down season, but he doesn’t really have much to work with right now. The 30-year-old can still light up any team on any night when he’s on though.

5. This and that
• Dating back to the start of last season, the Flyers have dropped seven of their last eight meetings with the Hurricanes, including three straight.

• Carolina has been outscored, 21-11, excluding shootout goals, during its current 1-4-1 slide.

• The Flyers have averaged 4.4 goals during their current 4-0-1 stretch at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Claude Giroux has seven goals and four assists in his last 11 games.

• Eric and Jordan Staal each have two goals and two assists against the Flyers this season.

3 reasons why Flyers shut down 'best player in the world' Connor McDavid

3 reasons why Flyers shut down 'best player in the world' Connor McDavid

BOX SCORE

A stat line of 0 goals, 0 assists and 0 points has never looked so good.

That's how Connor McDavid will remember his 22:03 of ice time Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

In another tight-checking defensive battle, it was Wayne Simmonds who scored the game-winner with 2:15 remaining in the third period to give the Flyers a 2-1 victory over the Oilers (see observations).

"Pretty big emphasis," Simmonds said of McDavid. "He's probably the best player in the world right now, so you know, we just didn't want him getting the puck in full flight.

"We just wanted to keep him on the outside and kind of limit the touches he was getting."

Aside from the broken collarbone game during his rookie season, when he was forced to leave in the second period, this marked the first time the Flyers held the 20-year-old superstar without a single point.

Prior to Saturday, McDavid had registered six points against the Flyers with at least one point in three straight games.

So, how did the orange and black bottle up the Art Ross Trophy winner — the only NHL player to top 100 points last season?

1. Deploy a multitude of forward lines and defensive pairings
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol started the game matching McDavid's line with Scott Laughton's line. In the final two periods, the task of slowing down McDavid — for the most part — was left to Sean Couturier and the Flyers' top line.

McDavid had five extended shifts of 1:30 or longer, requiring the Flyers to use a combination of lines and bodies against McDavid. Last year, McDavid may have capitalized against a slower Flyers team but this season, there is more balance across the four lines.

"It's real important," Hakstol said. "And it's not just the extended shifts. He's got an ability to finish a long shift, take one off and come right back, and that can be challenging."

2. Ensure Ivan Provorov was on the ice
After the Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg pairing handled some of the first-period shifts against McDavid, it was Provorov who primarily handled those duties in the final 40 minutes. Paired mostly with Andrew MacDonald, Provorov also saw ice time with Hagg, Radko Gudas and even Gostisbehere in the third period.

Fronted by Provorov, McDavid failed to register a single shot on Brian Elliott in the third period. Not surprisingly, Provorov played a season-high 25:54.

"His skating ability and his positioning on the ice is so good he's able to slow guys down to kind of put him on his back, just kind of angle them into parts of the ice they don't want to go into," MacDonald said. "It makes it a lot easier when you're playing with a guy who's capable of doing that so well and covering so much ground. It's great to see and he just keeps getting better."

3. Flyers took away his world-class speed
McDavid may be the fastest player in the world with the puck on his stick in the open ice. In fact, McDavid's glide has more speed to it than most players' stride. If you didn't know that prior to the Flyers-Oilers game, you certainly didn't walk away with the belief that McDavid possesses the acceleration of an Italian-engineered sports car. There wasn't one time Saturday you could recall McDavid flying into the offensive zone with the puck on his stick.

"You can't let him get speed because if he does, he's gone," Laughton said. "I think that's the biggest thing. Take away his speed early, so he can't get that puck and take it away down low too. I thought we did a good job."

For Hakstol and Co., bottle up this game plan for the future. It will come in handy when the Flyers take on the Oilers on Dec. 6 in Edmonton.

The Guy
Guy Lanzi has been the Flyers' oral surgeon since 1993. In that time, Lanzi has pulled, repaired or replaced hundreds of chiclets and Friday afternoon was no different.

Simmonds sat in Lanzi's dentist chair for nearly four hours to have some extensive dental work after taking a puck to the mouth while sitting on the bench Thursday against the Predators.

"No surgery — just a lot of work," Simmonds said Saturday. "I was in the doctor's office for a while there. Couple of root canals, couple of pulled teeth replaced, couple teeth bridged. Work is not done yet. I got to go back soon."

Because of that, Simmonds was forced to wear the protective face guard to ensure a puck or stick doesn't do any more damage.

“I can't be getting hit in the mouth again or the rest of my teeth are going to fall out,” Simmonds said.

The reward for Simmonds' mouth-numbing procedure was his fist-pumping, crowd-roaring game-winner and his team-leading sixth goal and fourth game-winner of the season.

“I don’t know how many people would want to go through that and then come back and play a hockey game," Hakstol said, "but he did it, and he scored the game-winner.”

“I think just getting two points satisfies me," Simmonds said. "I’m in a lot better spirits today.”

Flyers-Oilers observations: Red-hot Wayne Simmonds plays hero in win

Flyers-Oilers observations: Red-hot Wayne Simmonds plays hero in win

BOX SCORE

For the second straight game, the Flyers were forced to get defensive, and this time, they found a way to come out on top Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Wayne Simmonds produced the game-winner after taking a pass from Valtteri Filppula and snapping it past Cam Talbot with 2:15 remaining in the third period.

It was a tight-checking game that played out similar to what we saw Thursday against the Predators, as the Flyers held the Oilers to 24 shots on net. Connor McDavid registered four shots on net but wasn’t much of a factor offensively.

• The Flyers jumped on the board first with the help of their first power play when Shayne Gostisbehere’s blast from the point was deflected out front by Wayne Simmonds right to Claude Giroux, who corralled the loose puck and punched it into a wide-open net for his fifth goal of the season. 

Following an 0 for 5 effort against Nashville, the Flyers needed to capitalize on the man advantage chances.  

“We just have a lot of different looks this year,” Gostisbehere said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Chris Therien during the first intermission. “We have so many plays out there. It’s harder for other teams to prepare for us. We’re getting pucks to the net and our guys are doing what they're supposed to do.”

• Former Phantom Patrick Maroon finally got the Oilers on the board with 4:23 remaining in the second period when he outmuscled rookie Nolan Patrick along the corner boards, coming away with the puck and making a move past Ivan Provorov, before putting a shot between Brian Elliott’s pads. 

Patrick appeared to have been distracted by a broken stick along the boards that made him hesitate with the puck. The Flyers' rookie center could have elevated the puck with his backhand, but by holding onto to it for a split second too long, he allowed Maroon to come up with the takeaway.

• The Flyers got careless defensively in the opening 10 minutes of the second period as defensive breakdowns led to some quality scoring chances for the Oilers.

• The Flyers did a solid job of containing last year’s Art Ross Trophy winner McDavid, primarily deploying Scott Laughton’s line along with the Sean Couturier line sometimes during the same shift. McDavid had some extended shifts — three even-strength shifts over 1:30 — requiring the Flyers to use a multitude of forwards and defense pairs.

• McDavid left the game briefly in the first period and returned midway through.

• Jori Lehtera produced his best scoring chance of the season when he took Radko Gudas’ outlet pass and attempted to squeeze through a pair of defenders. The plodding Lehtera was unable to gain enough speed for an uncontested shot, but with his strong forearms and hands, he was able to draw a slashing penalty and still put a shot on net. 

• Last season, Giroux didn’t score his fifth goal until Nov. 29th. 

• Both Taylor Leier and Jordan Weal missed Saturday’s game with upper-body injuries. According to general manager Ron Hextall, both forwards are day-to-day. 

• Referee Ian Walsh was honored prior to the game for officiating his 1,000th career game. Flyers captain Claude Giroux presented Walsh with a framed autographed jersey signed by the team with the No. 1,000 on the back.

Lines, pairings and scratches
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jori Lehtera-Valterri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Matt Read-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hägg
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier and Brandon Manning