Flyers

Flyers look to regroup after rough weekend

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Flyers look to regroup after rough weekend

NEW YORK -- They talked about using the weekend as a bit of a barometer on their season.

Flying high, 10 wins in a row at home, a 9-2 record in their previous 11 games going into Saturday’s matinee against Tampa Bay.

Then ... a collapse. A stunning, 6-3 loss to a very, very fast club at Wells Fargo Center, followed by a bad 4-1 loss Sunday night to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Just like that, the Flyers went from second in the Metropolitan Division to fourth. Just like that, they looked very average against two very good clubs.

The bubble burst on Craig Berube’s team.

“We allowed 10 goals,” Jakub Voracek said. “We didn’t play very well defensively. I wouldn’t say we lost the games in the first period but we were half a step slower than them. They came out with some jam.”

You could almost sense the Flyers were toast after that first period, too.

“You’ve got to work really hard without the puck in this league, especially in this building,” Mark Streit said. “We didn’t do that. Once you’re behind by two or three goals, it’s tough to catch up. The last period obviously was better.

“You can’t turn around every game in this league. It doesn’t work like that. You can do it a few times but we have to make sure we’re ready to go on Tuesday and shake this one off and learn from our mistakes.”

This marked the first time since mid-October that the Flyers lost back-to-back games. That it came to really good teams, including one that has been a thorn in the Flyers' side for a long time now -- the Rangers -- is disconcerting.

“It hasn’t cost us anything yet,” Kimmo Timonen said. “We still have [37] games left. But every game matters. Obviously, it’s been a tough stretch. It feels like eight weeks we’ve been on the road.

“That’s not an excuse but sometimes you find these moments when the energy is not there and it wasn’t there tonight for whatever reason.”

Timonen continued to say that the Flyers aren’t skating enough against quick teams.

“It’s all about skating energy,” he said. “They came out hard and we didn’t. That’s what happens when they do a good job coming at you and hanging onto the puck. And skating.

“This game these days is all about skating. It’s not about what kind of defense you have or who you have on defense. It’s all about skating, putting the puck behind the other D and go get it.

“The last two games, against Tampa Bay we skated but didn’t play any defense. Today, we didn’t do any of that.”

As Wayne Simmonds said, “Ray [Emery] was under siege at the start. A slow start.”

And when it became 3-0, it was over.

Three wins in succession in early January give way to two bad losses in a row. The mood has quickly shifted in Flyerdom.

“You don’t want to lose two in a row but we still have a lot of hockey left,” Brayden Schenn said. “What’s left is a lot of division games to make up ground.”

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 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.