Flyers

Michal Neuvirth details scary collapse, thoughts on expansion draft, future with Flyers

Michal Neuvirth details scary collapse, thoughts on expansion draft, future with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Not so vividly, Michal Neuvirth recalls staring up at the Wells Fargo Center rafters and seeing concerned faces peering down.

He had no idea why he lay on the ice in front 19,911 fans, arms and legs widespread covering the blue-painted goalie crease.

All he knows now is that he doesn't want a clearer picture of that April 1 night when he suddenly collapsed playing in net during the first period of the Flyers' 3-0 win over the Devils.

"To be honest, I didn't watch it," Neuvirth said Tuesday at Flyers Skate Zone. "I heard about it a lot. I didn't watch it. I haven't seen it -- I don't think I'm going to watch it.

"It was scary, a lot of people were afraid. It was a tough situation. I didn't watch it."

Ten days after the incident, at his end-of-the-season interview, Neuvirth said he is "feeling good, feeling better," aside from "little headaches." He explained everything he could from his hellish final game of a 2016-17 season he would like to forget.

"I remember getting dizzy and my vision was a little off," he said. "I was seeing double. … The first thing I really remember was sitting in the locker room."

Neuvirth, who said he suffered a slight concussion and neck injury from the fall, was trying to play while still overcoming a sickness. Starting goalie Steve Mason was unavailable because of illness, while emergency call-up Anthony Stolarz was not yet in Philadelphia.

"I didn't feel good," he said. "I was battling flu or some cold, sinus virus for a few days. As a hockey player, you want to be tough, you want to play through injuries, through sickness. Sometimes you have to be smarter.

"It was kind of a tough situation with Mase sick, Stolie not even at the game. It was only me, the only goalie to play.

"I thought I could do it, I was drinking a lot of fluids, I had a good nap before the game and I thought I was good enough to go."

After being hospitalized and undergoing multiple tests, it's still uncertain if there was an exact cause to Neuvirth's fainting.

"Some of it [dehydration], fever," he said. "They don't really know. They did all the testing: they checked my heart, my lungs, they scanned my head. All the tests, the results were good. I'm healthy and that's really huge for me."

In a contract season, Neuvirth did not have the year he expected. Ironically, though, he got a two-year contract extension at the March 1 trade deadline. He missed nearly two months with a left knee injury, played only two full games after re-signing, and finished 11-11-1 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. Among goalies with 15 or more games played, his save percentage was an NHL worst.

"It was extra pressure, contract year, all the speculating of who's the guy, who's not the guy," Neuvirth said. "But for me, I was trying to put all those things behind me and just try to focus on myself. I know it was a tough season for me, a lot of ups and downs. I know I can be better and more consistent than I was this year. I'm going to use this year as motivation and work hard in the summer and come back and be ready to go."

Despite his contract extension, Neuvirth's future remains somewhat murky, as is the Flyers' situation in net. Stolarz, 23, looks like the franchise's goalie in grooming. Mason, who turns 29 in May, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 but said Tuesday general manager Ron Hextall wasn't ruling out keeping him on a new contract (see story).

Neuvirth, 29, could be exposed and selected in the June expansion draft as the NHL welcomes the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18. Vegas general manager George McPhee was GM of the Capitals when they selected Neuvirth in the second round of the 2006 entry draft.

It's unknown which players Hextall plans to protect or leave exposed. The Flyers' GM is scheduled to address the media on Thursday and that will be a topic of discussion.

Does Neuvirth think about it?

"Not really," he said. "It's out of my control. I have learned in this business that I can only focus on things that are in my control. For me, I am just going to go home, work hard and hope that come August, I'm going to be a Flyer.

"My mindset is that I'm coming back to play for the Flyers and that's what it is. I love the team here, I love the guys, it's a great organization. Even when I was getting sick here in the last week, they took such good care of me, starting from the trainers to the doctors -- just high class."

And Neuvirth believes he can return to 2015-16 form, his first season with the Flyers in which he went 18-8-4 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .924 save percentage, as well as 2-1-0 with 103 saves on 105 shots in the playoffs.

"That's my motivation," he said. "Just to prove to everyone that I can be the same goalie I was last year."

Vegas feeling golden after moving atop NHL standings

uspresswire-goldenknights-team-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

Vegas feeling golden after moving atop NHL standings

LAS VEGAS -- Alex Tuch scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period and the Vegas Golden Knights pulled away for a 7-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

With the win, the Golden Knights moved back atop the NHL standings with 84 points -- one ahead of Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay.

Ryan Carpenter, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Luca Sbisa, Erik Haula and Cody Eakin also scored for Vegas, which improved to 23-4-2 at home to set the record for home wins by a team in its inaugural season. It topped the previous mark set by the Gordie Howe-lead 1979-80 Whalers (22-12-6).

Tuch also had an assist and his first fight of the season, giving him the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick.

Marc-Andre Fleury, starting his ninth straight game, made 28 saves for the Golden Knights.

TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton and Matthew Tkachuk scored for Calgary, which was 8-2-1 in its previous 11 road games. David Rittich finished with 19 saves (see full recap).

Blackhawks need lengthy shootout for win over Sens 
CHICAGO -- Nick Schmaltz scored the deciding goal in the seventh round of the shootout to give Chicago a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, just the Blackhawks' second victory in 11 games.

Schmaltz fired a wrist shot between the legs of Mike Condon after Patrick Kane and rookie Alex DeBrincat connected earlier in the tiebreaker. Matt Duchene and Mike Hoffman scored in the shootout for the Senators, who lost their second straight.

Kane scored his team-leading 23rd goal and set up Artem Anisimov's 16th in regulation for theBlackhawks. Anton Forsberg stopped 32 shots through overtime and five of seven in the shootout, including final stop on Mark Stone.

Duchene and Zack Smith scored for the Senators in regulation, Stone had two assists, and Condon finished with 36 saves through overtime.

Chicago's Joel Quenneville coached his 1,600th NHL game. Only Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour have coached more.

The Senators and last-place Blackhawks, two teams well out of playoff contention heading into the NHL's trade deadline on Monday, both played their first of three games in four nights (see full recap).

Miller helps streaking Ducks blank Stars
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ryan Miller couldn't help but crack a smile when remembering the mess the Anaheim Ducks found themselves in.

After two Ducks players put the puck over the glass on back-to-back plays while already on the penalty kill in the third period, Miller just dug in and helped drag Anaheim to its longest winning streak of the season.

Miller stopped 41 shots for his 42nd career shutout as the Ducks beat the Dallas Stars 2-0 Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

"We can laugh about it now, but when you watch those two float out of the rink you get a little anxious," said Miller, who picked up his third shutout of the season.

Ryan Getzlaf scored short-handed and Hampus Lindholm had a power-play goal for the Ducks, who took sole possession of third place in the Pacific Division.

It was the Ducks' second straight shutout, after Miller came on for the third period in relief of an injured John Gibson in a 2-0 win at Vegas on Monday (see full recap).

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Petr Mrazek was the first Flyer on the ice for Wednesday's practice, spending considerable time with goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh.

"We talked about strategy a little bit, how to square up to the puck, how to help the D and the PK and how to manage things," Mrazek said. "I think we had a good conversation and I'm looking forward to working with him and try and help the team."

Mrazek was also the first guy off the ice, an early indication that he'll make his Flyers debut Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. Mrazek spent his first day in Philadelphia serving as Alex Lyon's backup and watched his new team from the bench, quickly noticing how the Flyers moved the puck from zone to zone.  

"Everyone was really fast in transition yesterday," Mrazek said. "We were trying to get the puck out of the zone as quick as we can."

Mrazek believes he can help facilitate quick breakouts with the way he plays the puck and working the puck to his defensemen.

"I'm really confident in playing the puck and helping the defense," Mrazek said. "I like to be involved behind the net and put the puck on their sticks and get the puck out of the zone. Especially on the road, it's very important when teams chip the puck behind the net and try to make a play out there."

Playing the puck efficiently will certainly help Mrazek rest easier, as was his first night in Philadelphia. Staying at a nearby hotel, Mrazek was able to get a good night's rest after barely getting any sleep the night he was traded to Philadelphia. 

"I was fine today," he said, "but yesterday when I woke up at four in the morning, I asked myself, 'Is this really happening?'"