Flyers

Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know

Success at home hasn’t come easy for the Flyers this season. They’ve mustered just 15 goals and have dropped seven of their first 10 games at the Wells Fargo Center.

The suddenly resurgent Flyers (7-10-2) will try to reverse that trend when they open a three-game homestand against the Ottawa Senators (8-8-4) on Tuesday night.

With puck drop set for 7 p.m., here are five things you need to know for the Flyers’ second meeting with Ottawa in the past week:

1. Familiar foe
These two clubs met last Tuesday, and the Flyers put together one of their best performances of the season in a 5-0 victory at Canadian Tire Centre.

Jakub Voracek netted a pair of goals for the Flyers and Steve Mason turned aside all 24 shots fired his way. Matt Read, Vinny Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn also scored, while Claude Giroux picked up two helpers.

The Flyers peppered Senators netminder Craig Anderson, who returned to the lineup after missing more than a week with a neck injury, throughout the game, firing 31 shots on net.

Nicklas Grossmann and Luke Schenn spearheaded a strong effort from the Flyers’ defensive corps. The two defensemen combined for six hits and three blocked shots. In all, the Flyers registered 30 hits and 13 blocks and also limited stars Jason Spezza, Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson to five combined shots.

Ottawa enters this rematch having lost its last two matchups with the Flyers. However, the Sens have collected wins in two of their last three visits to Philadelphia.

2. New-look Flyers
The Flyers, who will play their 20th game of the season on Tuesday, have looked like a completely different team over the past week. They’ve collected at least a point in four consecutive games and have potted 13 goals during that stretch.

More importantly, the Flyers aren’t making the same mistakes -- careless turnovers, dumb penalties etc. -- that plagued them in their 3-9-0 start to the season. They’re consistently winning battles and have shown a better awareness of where teammates are on the ice.

Now, it’s time for the Flyers to carry over the success from their road trip to the Wells Fargo Center ice. They’ve been outscored 29-15 at home this season and have heard far more boos than cheers from the Flyers faithful.  

3. Struggling special teams
The Flyers are on a bit of a hot streak while on the man advantage. They’ve collected power-play goals in four of their last eight opportunities. However, the orange and black still rank toward the bottom of the NHL at PP effectiveness (13.9 percent).

What’s more concerning is the Flyers’ recent struggles while shorthanded. They’ve yielded four goals over the last 13 times they’ve been a man down, including two in Friday’s shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

“The two [power-play] goals in Winnipeg should have been defended,” head coach Craig Berube admitted Monday (see story). “There was a line change, and they shouldn’t have changed. The puck wasn’t in deep enough to change. The other one, I think we have to do a better job of getting a stick on that shot.”

Ottawa hasn’t fared much better on special teams as of late, either. The Senators got a power-play marker from Karlsson in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but have gone just 2 for 21 on the man advantage over their last six games.

The Senators’ penalty kill is having problems, as well. They’ve allowed opponents to connect on 7 of 23 power-play attempts in six games.

4. Keep an eye on
The Flyers may have shut out the Senators in their last meeting, but that doesn’t mean Ottawa’s offensive attack should be taken lightly.

Ryan, a first-year Senator, has collected four goals and 11 points in his past nine games. The New Jersey native is tied with Karlsson for the team-lead in points with 20.

And don’t forget about Spezza. The Senators’ captain has registered eight goals and 16 assists in 28 career games against the Flyers.

5. This and that
• The last time Ottawa visited Philadelphia, Colin Grenning scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:36 remaining in a 3-1 victory for the Sens on April 11.

• Mason is 2-0-2 in his past four starts and has allowed two goals or fewer during that stretch.

• Erik Condra is the only Senator on the team’s injury report. He’s out with a pulled muscle in his right leg.

• Voracek has four goals over his last four games against Ottawa.

• Adam Hall’s faceoff percentage is 85.7 percent (30 for 35) over his past five games.

Flyers-Penguins Game 6 essentials

Flyers-Penguins Game 6 essentials

Here's everything you need to know Sunday afternoon for Game 6 of the Flyers-Penguins best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

Flyers vs. Penguins (Penguins lead series 3-2)
3 p.m. on NBC; Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSP+ with Postgame Live after final buzzer

Live stream
Live stats
Social media
Series schedule

Projected lineups

Flyers
Forwards
Claude Giroux-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Forwards Oskar Lindblom, Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier; defensemen Travis Sanheim and Johnny Oduya; goalie Petr Mrazek.

Penguins
Forwards
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin-Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel
Conor Sheary-Derick Brassard-Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese-Riley Sheahan-Tom Kuhnhackl

Defensemen
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Olli Maatta-Justin Schultz
Jamie Oleksiak-Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies
Matt Murray
Casey DeSmith

Scratches: Forwards Dominik Simon, Josh Jooris and Carter Rowney (injured); defenseman Matt Hunwick.

What to watch for …

John Boruk
Keep an eye on: 
Ivan Provorov
The Flyers' minute-munching defenseman was dinged up in the final 90 seconds of the Game 5 win. Provorov's presence is vital if the Flyers want to push the series to a Game 7. He logged 30 minutes in Game 5 and the Flyers needed him on the ice during the final minute when Sidney Crosby nearly tied the game. Provorov hasn’t missed a game in his two-year career, and while I don’t expect him to miss Game 6, watch closely to see if he’s limited in any way.

Bold prediction: Game 6 will be decided in overtime. You have to go back to the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Devils to find the Flyers' last playoff game decided in overtime — a stretch of 20 straight in the postseason. As poorly as the Flyers have played on home ice in this series, Game 6 will be competitive as Michal Neuvirth will turn in another solid effort to keep the game close.

Tom Dougherty
Keep an eye on:
Flyers on home ice​
The Penguins have outscored the Flyers, 20-4, in eight games at the Wells Fargo Center this season, including the playoffs. No one thought there would be a Game 6, yet here we are. The Flyers extended their season one more game, but how will they fare on home ice? Home ice hasn't treated the Flyers well vs. Pittsburgh; they have to figure it out today.

Bold prediction: The Flyers are so unpredictable. With that said, I don't see this series going back to Pittsburgh. This one will be close; perhaps the Flyers even take the lead. But in the end, the Penguins come out on top, and the Flyers schedule their vacations.

Jordan Hall
Keep an eye on: Michal Neuvirth
Neuvirth is arguably the most important player on the ice for the Flyers. With the lineup employed, the Flyers are trying to muddy things up in an attempt to force the Penguins out of their style. A more physical, low-risk approach keeps the Flyers in it, but to play such a game, you desperately need your goalie to do his part. Neuvirth is 3-1-0 with 133 saves on 137 shots for a 1.01 goals-against average in his last four playoff starts. Can he have sustained success against these Penguins?

Bold prediction: The team that has scored first has won every game of the series. That will change in Game 6 as momentum swings will be felt at a lively, pressure-filled Wells Fargo Center.

Recommended reading
• Flyers' fate lies with Neuvirth ... and that's a good thing

• Hakstol's unconventional decisions keep season alive

• With Giroux's story, heroic Couturier pulls a Pronger

Michal Neuvirth gives the Flyers hope against Penguins

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AP Images

Michal Neuvirth gives the Flyers hope against Penguins

VOORHEES, N.J. — And now comes the real test.

Watch the Flyers one night and they may look unbeatable. The next night they’ll come out flatter than Kyrie Irving’s view of Earth.  

The Flyers, maddeningly inconsistent at times — OK, most of the time — will need to build off of Friday’s Game 5 win to keep the series alive with a win in Sunday’s Game 6.

It’s now or never for these Flyers.

After steamrolling the Penguins in Game 2 in Pittsburgh, the Flyers returned to home ice with all the momentum in the world. And we all know what happened next. A 5-1 drubbing in Game 3, a loss seemingly dolled out before the horn sounded after the first period.

This time around, though, the orange and black will have a huge upgrade they were dearly missing in Games 3 and 4.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth. Yes, that’s right, the oft-injured Neuvirth is the Flyers’ best and only hope of forcing a Game 7. That’s not a hot take, either. Just check out the numbers.

Neuvirth’s playoff numbers are staggering. His .930 career playoff save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average rank third and fourth, respectively, among active goalies. 

“I just enjoy playing in the playoffs,” Neuvirth said of his ability to ramp up his play in the postseason. “Crowds been unreal in Pittsburgh and at home so it’s just so fun playing in the playoffs. I had success in the past, even in the AHL so I believe in myself that I can bring my A-game on the big stage.”

The fact is, Neuvirth — when healthy — is the only goalie on the Flyers’ roster capable of delivering that brick-wall, game-stealing performance for the team.

Playing his first full game since Feb. 16, Neuvirth stopped 30 of 32 shots in Game 5, including the ones that mattered most. 

The 30-year-old stoned the Pens’ blazing powerplay, as the penalty kill went a perfect 5 for 5. The Pens came into the game 5 for 19 with the man advantage, but the stability of Neuvirth, as well as the return of Sean Couturier, stifled the attack.

“We knew Neuvy was gonna come in and play big for us,” Shayne Gostisbehere said. “He’s a playoff goaltender.”

And he did just that in Game 5. With the extra attacker, Neuvirth robbed Sidney Crosby of a soul-crushing, game-tying goal in the waning seconds of the game to send the series back to Philly.

“He made some huge saves the end of the third period there to able to go across (robbing Crosby)," Giroux said after the 4-2 win. "When he plays cocky, he’s pretty good.”

Of course, that was all just one game. 

But with the Flyers facing elimination, one more game is all the team can ask for.