Future Flyers Report: Taylor Leier, Jordan Weal earn AHL All-Star honors

Future Flyers Report: Taylor Leier, Jordan Weal earn AHL All-Star honors

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this edition, we move on from the world juniors and check-in on some Phantoms, collegiate prospects and another check-up on a 20-year-old force in Sweden.

Taylor Leier, LW, 5-10/176, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
After spending most of December with the big club, Leier was returned to Lehigh Valley last Sunday when the Flyers activated Matt Read from injured reserve. Shortly upon his return, Leier received news he will be one of three Phantoms to participate in the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be hosted in Lehigh Valley. Leier has a goal in three games since his return to the AHL, registering nine shots and finishing the week as a plus-1. He has 21 points in 25 games this season, scoring at a 0.84 point-per-game pace and sits third among Phantoms in plus/minus at plus-eight.

Jordan Weal, C, 5-10/179, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Joining Leier in Allentown for the All-Star Classic on Jan. 30 is Weal, whom the Flyers acquired last season from Los Angeles in the Vinny Lecavalier trade. The 24-year-old is tied for fifth in the league lead in points with 33 — 11 goals, 22 assists. His 33 points are three points ahead of the Phantoms’ second-leading scorer, defenseman T.J. Brennan, who is the third Phantom to make the All-Star team this year. Last week, Weal had a goal and an assist, and going back before the holiday break, the centerman has three points in his last five games and nine points in his last 10 games.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
While his goaltender, Felix Sandstrom, was away at the world juniors earning Goalie of the Tournament recognition, Lindblom continued to show that he is not mismatched as a 20-year-old playing in the third-best professional league in the world. In Brynäs’ 1-0 win over Färjestad BK on Thursday, Lindblom unleashed a quick wrist shot as he entered the slot via the left faceoff circle to beat Färjestad goalie Stefan Steen for the game’s only goal. Lindblom was credited with just two shots on goal, but the winger created several quality scoring chances for both himself and his linemates. On Saturday, Lindblom was held pointless in 16:45 in a 4-1 loss to Växjö. His goal Thursday briefly gave him the SHL scoring lead at 29 points, but he now trails Broc Little (32 points) in the point race.

Merrick Madsen, G, 6-5/190, Harvard (NCAA)
Much has been written in this space about the Flyers’ future in net, specifically highlighting Carter Hart, Alex Lyon, Anthony Stolarz and Sandstrom, and rightfully so. General manager Ron Hextall made it a priority to make organizational goaltending depth atop his agenda, and we can add Madsen, a junior, to the list of intriguing prospects. The Acton, New Jersey, native is a major reason Harvard sits No. 4 in the country at 11-2-1. Madsen led the Crimson to two more victories last week, with an impressive 34-save showing in a 5-2 Harvard win over No. 15 Quinnipiac on Friday night. QU forward Thomas Aldworth beat Madsen at 10:31 of the first period, on a mini-break, but then Madsen held the fort down until late in the third period. He withheld a 13-save second period, and stopped 12 of 13 shots in the final stanza en route to his 11th win. Both Quinnipiac goals came on the power play, with the second coming with Madsen screened. Madsen’s 2.14 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 14 games ranks second in the ECAC behind St. Lawrence’s Kyle Hayton.

Quick hits
• Ron Hextall provided the latest on the German Rubtsov contract situation Saturday, saying he doesn’t know if Rubtsov’s KHL contract has been terminated.

• Clarkson defenseman Terrance Amorosa sparked a 6-1 Golden Knights victory over Rensselaer on Saturday with a power-play one-timer for his second marker of the year.

Mark Friedman added another goal and an assist in a weekend split against No. 17 Bemidji State. The junior is now third on Bowling Green with 17 points in 24 games.

• The Flyers returned Stolarz to the Phantoms last Tuesday, and he made his first AHL start since Nov. 12 on Friday, a 2-1 loss to Hartford in which he stopped 21 of 23 shots.

• Lyon continues to be a workhorse for the Phantoms, starting both of Lehigh Valley’s weekend games. He pitched a 31-save shutout Saturday against Albany, and followed that up with a terrific performance against Utica on Sunday night, stopping 22 of 23 shots in a 4-1 win, his AHL-leading 16th win.

• Rouyn-Noranda defenseman Philippe Myers will reportedly miss one to two more weeks because of a concussion he suffered during the world juniors.

• Another productive week for Pascal Laberge, who added three more assists to his season total. Laberge now has 10 points in his last 11 games for Victoriaville.

• Two goals and an assist for Samuel Dove-McFalls last week. The Saint John’s centerman has 15 points in his last 12 games for the Sea Dogs.

• Kitchener center Connor Bunnaman has four goals in four games last week, with goals in back-to-back games for the Rangers.

Late rally gives Flyers something to show for strong effort

Late rally gives Flyers something to show for strong effort


RALEIGH, N.C. – Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol commended his team for a complete 60-minute effort that was needed to overtake and defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 at PNC Arena on Saturday night (see observations).

“It’s an important two points, but I guess, as important I thought it was a really hard-working, start-to-finish win for us,” he said.

Placing Alex Lyon in net to lead from the back end, the young netminder made 23 stops, many critical, that allowed the Flyers to generate momentum to strike all at once in the third period.

Trailing 1-0, containing the Hurricanes’ speed and ability to maintain puck possession was a priority – somewhat of ‘survive and advance’ mindset to have in March.

The Flyers won 27 of 48 draws, a stat that eventually evened out, but was a critical one that the Flyers led in for two periods, before taking advantage of Carolina turnovers in the third.

 “It was a grind,” Hakstol said. “I liked the way we played in the first two periods. We talked about a couple of little things we can maybe improve going into the third, but the biggest thing was making sure we went out and got a big penalty kill to start with and just go back at it.”

For 40 minutes, Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward stymied shooters like Jakub Voracek and crease cleaners like Wayne Simmonds, among others, but the force of the shield he presented eventually diminished late in the game. The Flyers scored all four of their goals in the final 11-plus minutes.

While giving the puck away 10 times, 15 takeaways allowed the Flyers to regain possessions and capitalize on their chances when it counted most. 

“I don’t know if there was a catalyst,” Hakstol said when asked to identify the turning point in the game for his team.

“A lot of times it’s the simple, hard things that you do. That’s what it takes to score at this time of year.”

The win pulled the Flyers back into a tie for third place in the Metropolitan Division, a floating buoy line extending to the wild-card spot they will tread beside for the remainder of the season, unless they can compile more wins like this one.

“We needed a win for a lot of different reasons,” Hakstol said. “We needed the two points in every respect, but we needed a win for our group in here to have something to show for their hard work. When you lose games and can’t put wins together, the negatives really start to magnify, even though there’s a ton of positives. On a couple of different levels, this was an important two points.”

Both teams in wild-card spots keep close to Flyers

AP Images

Both teams in wild-card spots keep close to Flyers

LOS ANGELES — Keith Kincaid stopped 38 saves for his first shutout of the season, helping the New Jersey Devils improve their playoff positioning with a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Michael Grabner, Nico Hischier and Miles Wood each scored for the Devils, who moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division. New Jersey leads Philadelphia and Columbus by one point with both the Flyers and Blue Jackets playing later.

The Devils have won three in a row and four of five.

Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for the Kings, who are tied with Anaheim for third in the Pacific (see full recap).

Nutivaara's second-period goal lifts Columbus past Ottawa
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Markus Nutivaara scored a power-play goal in the second period, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 22 shots, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 on Saturday night.

Boone Jenner also scored -- his third tally in three games -- for the Blue Jackets, who have won a season-high seven straight and are holding on to the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 83 points, tied with Philadelphia and one point ahead of New Jersey.

Alexandre Burrows scored his fifth of the year and Mike Condon stopped 33 shots for Ottawa, which saw a three-game winning streak snapped on the second night of a back-to-back (see full recap).

McDavid's 3 points get Oilers past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. — Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists in the third period and the Edmonton Oilers rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ty Rattie and Adam Larsson also scored for the Oilers, who are 4-1-1 in their past six games.

Cam Talbot made 40 saves for the Oilers.

Frank Vatrano and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida.

Roberto Luongo made 32 saves for the Panthers, who lost for the first time this season when leading after two periods (23-1).

With Edmonton trailing 2-1, McDavid scored his 34th on a shot from the right circle 38 seconds into the third period, and Larsson's fourth of the season at 6:13 gave Edmonton the 3-2 lead (see full recap).