Flyers

Flyers' top line stalling on all cylinders

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Flyers' top line stalling on all cylinders

Scott Hartnell isn’t entirely sure what his line can do to get the scoring flowing for the Flyers in Game 4 on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
He and linemate Jakub Voracek have a combined six points but only one goal in the series, and centerman Claude Giroux has just two shots.
 
This much, however, Hartnell does know: Things have to be better with their top line given the Flyers aren’t getting much scoring help, even though they had seven 20-goal guys during the regular season.
 
“We’ve played some decent stretches, but we can elevate our line a little more,” Hartnell said. “I don’t know if we are complacent or what, but we can play more in-your-face, go-after-you hockey.
 
“It’s frustrating that we have not done that a whole game. Our third period we did a lot of great things [in Game 3], but when you are down 2-0, it’s tough to come back against a team that plays great defense and blocks a lot of shots and has [Henrik] Lundqvist in net.”
 
Complacent may not be the right word. But how about hesitant? That was displayed in Giroux’s hesitation to shoot pucks in Tuesday's 4-1 loss when he had a chance.
 
Hartnell also said the Flyers need one thing to improve across the board among all lines: Make it harder on Lundqvist to see shots.
 
“He’s seeing too many pucks,” Hartnell said. “Shots we are taking are getting blocked. Even though we had 30-some shots last game, there were [28] blocks. You’re not going to win too many games when you don’t get shots through.
 
“When they do block 'em, they are usually going the other way with them. Whether it’s faking a shot or missing the net on purpose to get the bounce out, it’s a bunch of different things. You are going to see a very competitive game [tonight]. A very excited team to even up this series.”
 
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he would like to see the Flyers not take so many shots. Besides the 28 blocked, the Flyers also had 32 on net.
 
“I do think in certain areas we found ways during the game to get better,” Vigneault said. “Like the last game. You’ve got to give Philly credit. They had the puck so much because they had the puck so often.
 
“We had to block more shots, but I’m hoping that [tonight] we can maybe set a faster pace to the game and go north-south a little bit quicker. If we can do that then I think we’ll be better. That being said, there’s so little separating teams, so what you have to get is your best performances from your players.”

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

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AP Images

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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USA Today Images

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.