Flyers

Instant Replay: Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3 (SO)

Instant Replay: Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3 (SO)

BOX SCORE

The Flyers hit the ice one final time Sunday night and suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center.

And in doing so, Dave Hakstol's club avoided a very dubious record. Had the Flyers won, they would have been the third team in NHL history to obtain 56 points at home during a regular season and not make the playoffs.
 
Vancouver did it in 2005-06, and the Los Angeles Kings matched it in 2014-15.

The Flyers finished the season 39-33-10 with 88 points.

Brock McGinn scored two goals and tallied the game-winner in the shootout.

Dale Weise had two goals for the Flyers. Weise finished the season with six goals and 10 points in his final 13 games after scoring just two goals in his first 51 games. He had eight goals in 64 games in his first season as a Flyer.

Debut
Robert Hagg made his NHL debut on defense and was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere. As the game went along, he was moved up to a pair with fellow rookie Ivan Provorov.

Hagg impressed in his first NHL game, playing 21:19, nine shots -- five on goal -- four hits and three blocked shots. He did not get a shift in overtime.

Notable goals
The spin move by Gostisbehere at the blue line to retain the puck and then feeding Wayne Simmonds in the slot for a backhander -- Simmonds' 31st goal of the season -- gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead. It was a pretty goal.
 
Goalie report
Anthony Stolarz made his final start of the season. He appeared in seven games this season and came into this one with a 2-1 record and a 1.93 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He had an excellent outstretched right leg save in the second period on Elias Lindholm to keep the game tied at 1-1.

Stolarz finished the game with 32 saves.
 
Power play
The Flyers didn't get one until the very end of the second period and had one good scoring chance from Jakub Voracek in the slot. The Flyers were 0 for 1.
 
Penalty kill
Hagg generated a scoring chance on the Flyers' first penalty kill off the rush, but Carolina goalie Eddie Lack made a glove save. The Flyers did allow a power-play goal and were 2 for 3 on the PK on Sunday.
 
Scratches
Forwards Matt Read (broken right arm), Michael Raffl (left knee), Chris VandeVelde (healthy) and Roman Lyubimov (healthy); defensemen Radko Gudas (concussion) and Brandon Manning (healthy); and goalie Michal Neuvirth (sinus infection/concussion).
 
Up next
The season is over. The Flyers will hold their breakup day on Tuesday at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Flyers GM Ron Hextall talks coaching staff, free agents, draft and more

Flyers GM Ron Hextall talks coaching staff, free agents, draft and more

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall spoke to the media at his season-ending press conference on Thursday. 

What exactly did he have to say? We decipher the GM’s answers right here.

Question: Will there be any changes within the coaching staff?

Answer: “The coaches will all be back. We’re still doing a little bit of evaluating on the entire organization, but yes (in the same roles). We’re not going to make a change to appease people because we’re suppose to. We’re going to make change to get better. We’re not going to do what makes us popular. I think Hak (Dave Hakstol) has done a really good job.”

Translation: Hextall believes Hakstol has done a solid job in his first three years and has worked well with the development of the young players and the prospects. Hextall also believes the penalty kill saw improvements over the second half of the season and the problems early on were more personnel related than the coverage systems that assistant coach Ian Laperriere implemented.

Question: Where do things stand with the pending free agents (Brandon Manning, Valtteri Filppula, Matt Read)?

Answer: “My conversations with most of those guys were the plan right now is not to bring you back. Things can change because we don’t know what happens over the summer. Filppula is one guy where he have interest and we’re going to see what happens here. The other guys, unless something changes, we don’t plan on bringing them back right now.”

Translation: Manning and Read have played their final games with the Flyers. If Hextall doesn’t find an upgrade through free agency, then they’ll explore a very team-friendly, one-year contract with the 34-year-old Filppula, who certainly lost a step this past season.

Question: Will goalie Carter Hart have a chance to make the Flyers next season?

Answer: “I’m comfortable where we’re at with our goaltending. Neuvy (Michal Neuvirth) had some injury issues. I’m excited about Neuvy’s commitment. We got our kids coming. We got the kids up at Lehigh. We feel very comfortable with where we’re at. In saying that, we need some growth.” 

Translation: Ideally, the organization would like to see Hart start next season with the Phantoms. However, Hextall refuses to put an absolute on any situation. If Hart lights up the AHL and proves to have a maturity and a game beyond his years, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could play with the Flyers nest season. Goaltending may be the toughest position to master for any 20-year-old. As a rookie, Hextall was 22 years of age and admitted he shed a few tears in 1986.

Question: Will the Flyers be a big player in free agency?

Answer: “If someone thinks that we’re going to add three players or four players this summer to make us the top team in the league, I don’t know where we’re going to get those players from, nor the cap space, nor anything else. You would like to find another centerman. Your goaltending, your D and your centers. If we could upgrade there, that would be great.”

Translation: John Tavares is a long shot. For starters, he may never make it to July 1 as a free agent and the Flyers won’t engage in a bidding war with other teams. Hextall is frugal and fiscally responsible. If they did elect to chase a big fish, then they might be more inclined to look at John Carlson, a right-handed defenseman. Still, even that’s a stretch considering how much he would command on the open market. Think smaller, affordable role players to fill in the gaps. 

Question: Will you buy out Jori Lehtera? If not, how do you justify his $4.7 million?

Answer: “There’s a lot of reasons why you just don’t buy a guy out. He makes a little bit more than maybe that role should make. Jori was a good role player for us. He’s a terrific human being. He works hard. He’s really, really good with our young kids. There’s a lot more to it than saying Jori Lehtera was playing center and playing eight to 10 minutes. The plan is to have him back.” 

Translation: This is a head-scratcher for me. The St. Louis Blues forked over a first-round pick just to rid themselves of Lehtera and his salary. There’s a lot of terrific human beings in the league who work hard. Those aren’t qualities worth paying top dollar for. It’s a production-based business and the bottom line is Lehtera finished wth eight points while averaging 10½ minutes of ice time and lacks the foot speed to keep up in today’s NHL.

Question: In terms of depth of the draft and having two possible first-round picks, what options does that give you?

Answer: “It’s a solid draft. We’ve seen enough players where it’s a good draft and we’re going to get a couple of good players if we make those picks. If you want to move up, I would envision the chance to move up. We’re a little bit more defined in terms of the pieces we have.” 

Translation: Hextall and his scouts have done a solid job in four years of replenishing their prospect pool, so now they’re in a position to get creative. Don’t be surprised if the GM makes major noise at the June draft in Dallas. He attempted to pull off a mega deal with the Florida Panthers in 2014 in an effort to land defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Hextall could get bold and he has the assets to make that type of move. 

Flyers' defensemen grades and outlook for next season — Part 1

Flyers' defensemen grades and outlook for next season — Part 1

Over the next several days, we’ll evaluate the Flyers at each position, give a regular season and postseason grade and provide an outlook for their roster status for the 2018-19 season. Next up, Part 1 of the defensemen:

The 2017-18 season was one of growth for the Flyers' young defense with half of that six-man unit in their first or second years of NHL service. After the Flyers' three consecutive years of drafting defensemen in the first round, we finally received a glimpse of how the defensive core will look like over the next few years. 

Shayne Gostisbehere

Regular season: A-

Playoffs: D     

Gostisbehere’s season took off when he was paired with Ivan Provorov in the second half of the season. His defensive stickwork and positioning improved significantly and he even developed a physical side at times. Had a terrible six-game playoff against the Pens, forcing Dave Hakstol to break up his top pair. Interestingly, his goal production dipped as the power play struggled. "Ghost" scored five goals in December, or the same number from January through April.

2018-19 outlook: He enters the second year of his six-year, $27 million extension he signed last summer. A deal that looks very team friendly comparative to the other contracts of players his age. I expect "Ghost" to start next season on the top pair with Provorov after showing great improvements in the defensive side of his game. 

Robert Hagg

Regular season: B-

Playoffs: Incomplete

Surprisingly solid while playing in the Flyers' first 70 games of the season. A strong physical presence that still needed work positionally as he hit a wall midseason. Didn’t deserve to be a healthy scratch over the final month of the regular season, but the Flyers liked what they saw out of Travis Sanheim throughout March and refused to break up the Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas pairing. Played only the final two games of the playoffs.  

2018-19 outlook: A restricted free agent, Hagg should get a two- to three-year deal for next season and should start the season out of camp. Playing three seasons in the AHL was a significant part of Hagg’s development and he should comprise one of the Flyers' three defense pairings next season. 

Ivan Provorov

Regular season: A

Playoffs: C+  

When asked to assess his season, Provorov said there were three to five games during the regular season in which he didn’t play like himself. He experienced some puck-handling struggles during the second half, but nothing that impaired the team defensively. He suffers the occasional bad read or breakdown in his own end, but the Flyers are blessed that Provorov hasn’t been forced to miss any time over his first two seasons. A shoulder separation was a tough way to end the season (see story).

2018-19 outlook: Provorov is the workhorse on the blue line after displaying an immunity to the sophomore slump. Can he expand on his offensive numbers and potentially reach the 20-goal mark? If so, Provorov’s third NHL season could be the year he enters the Norris Trophy discussion.   

Travis Sanheim

Regular season: C

Playoffs: B-

Sanheim looked like a different player once he returned to the team from Lehigh Valley on March 10, with four points and a plus-7 rating in his first eight games back. He started seeing the ice much better and making the smart, low-risk plays that the coaching staff was looking for out of a young player. Did not look out of place throughout the first four games of the Flyers' first-round series. Unfortunately, his best game was part of a 5-1 loss in Game 4. 

2018-19 outlook: With one more season remaining on his entry-level contract, Sanheim will be expected to make the season-opening roster straight out of training camp. He should be paired with a steady veteran while also seeing time on the second power-play unit.

In Friday's Part 2, we will look at Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning.