Flyers

Morgan Frost, the other 1st-round pick, can help Flyers, too

Morgan Frost, the other 1st-round pick, can help Flyers, too

VOORHEES, N.J. — Morgan Frost was teeming with nerves.

The Flyers had just called his name on the night of the NHL draft, so emotions were running wild as he made his way to the spectacle's forefront at the United Center.

"It was pretty crazy," Frost said last week. "Walking up the stage, I thought I was going to fall over."

Unlike that concern, Frost has no trouble staying upright on the ice. His speed, skating and skills are what made him attractive to the Flyers, who selected the 18-year-old in the June draft with the 27th pick acquired via the Brayden Schenn trade.

With the deal, Frost became the Flyers' second first-round choice of the night, joining No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick. And similar to Patrick, Frost is a skilled forward that thrives when skill surrounds him. Put Frost with talent, and he'll make it better.

"I think I'm definitely a playmaker first," Frost said. "I think you're always going to see me with more assists than goals."

That rung true last season when Frost put up 42 assists compared to 20 goals in 67 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. Alongside Bruins 2015 first-round pick Zach Senyshyn, a bona-fide goal-scoring winger, Frost dished the puck plenty and also produced a 22-assist increase from his first year of junior play.

"Playing with a guy like Senyshyn definitely helps that stat because he's a goal scorer," Frost said. "I think for me, playing with a goal scorer is part of the best thing because I'm a guy that likes to distribute. At the same time, I feel like I can contribute offensively in terms of scoring, but I'm definitely a playmaker."

Frost provided glimpses of that ability through a variety of drills and competition at Flyers development camp, his first real taste of the NHL.

"It's super special," Frost said. "The first step on that ice obviously meant a lot to me. It's still pretty surreal for me to be here. I'm definitely excited."

Now with an NHL organization, Frost hopes to grow both physically and defensively. An offensive stalwart listed at 5-foot-11, 172 pounds, Frost was able to see how he can improve those areas after spending six days with the Flyers.

"Giving them an early view of our expectations as an organization of ways to improve their game, whether it's skill-wise or strength-wise," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said of development camp.

"Being a pro and showing them ways to develop physically and as an athlete."

Over time, Frost wants to show he can be an all-situation center. He feels he has already started to with the Greyhounds, who will continue to give him greater responsibilities in 2017-18, including penalty-kill minutes.

"They kind of stressed that to me right when I got there," Frost said. "I was kind of a one-dimensional player, offensive. They stressed that it wasn't all about that, it's not about scoring goals or setting up goals all the time if you're going to be on the ice for goals against. So plus-minus was something I wanted to improve on and just be harder to play against, play defense. They turned me into more of a well-rounded player."

Over 65 games in 2015-16, Frost was a minus-6. He went to a plus-15 in 2016-17. And while he wants to become more complete, making a difference with the puck on his stick will be his ticket to the Flyers.

"I think that's a skill I've had ever since I was a little kid, just being able to see the ice and slow the play down a little," Frost said. "But at the same time, I think that's developed with coaching and practice."

After getting to know the Flyers, he found new ways to work on those strengths.

"We're watching video, watching just little things that you can do with your skates — ways to change your angle, use your edges," Frost said. "That's one thing that I definitely want to do and I want to be able to accelerate better.

"The first three steps and once I get up to speed, I'm fast and I can use my speed to my advantage."

And to help his teammates, too. That's what Frost does best.

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets shut out Rangers

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AP Images

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets shut out Rangers

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves for his 21st career shutout and Zach Werenski and Artemi Panarin scored in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday night.

New York ran into a hot goalie in Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner who notched his second shutout of the season in powering Columbus to its third straight victory.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was nearly as good against the increasingly aggressive Blue Jackets, stopping 40 shots on the night. The Rangers (11-8-1) lost their second straight following a six-game win streak.

After a scoreless first period in which both goalies made some slick, sprawling saves, Werenski found the back of the net with his sixth goal of the season 13:34 into the second.

Brandon Dubinsky lost the handle of the puck in the slot, and Werenski picked it up just inside the right circle and beat Lundqvist with a one-timer.

Columbus (12-7-1) was the aggressor in the second frame, outshooting the Rangers 19-9, and kept up the pressure in the third.

Panarin scored his fourth goal of the season on a power play 7:14 into the third period, rocketing a slap shot from the high slot that ricocheted off the bar and in.

The Blue Jackets are 9-1-0 this season when allowing two goals or fewer (see full recap).

Red Wings’ 3rd-period goals enough to top Sabres
DETROIT -- Tomas Tatar scored a go-ahead goal midway through third period and the Detroit Red Wings went on to beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Friday night.

Detroit's Luke Glendening broke a scoreless tie late in the second period. Ryan O'Reilly pulled Buffalo into a 1-all tie 5:50 into the third.

Dylan Larkin scored late in the game and Jimmy Howard had 19 saves for the Red Wings. They have won consecutive games at home for the first time this season.

Buffalo's Robin Lehner stopped the first 20 shots he faced and finished with 30 saves.

The Sabres have lost four straight, one away from their longest losing streak of the season, but were thankful they didn't lose more than a game in Detroit.

Jack Eichel went to the dressing room late in the second period after coming off the ice slowly, keeping weight off his right skate following a collision with Glendening, and making a brief stop on the bench. Buffalo's standout center was cleared to return at the start of the third period.

After a scoreless first period with a combined 14 shots, Detroit outshot Buffalo 13-4 in the second and took control without that translating to a big lead (see full recap).

End to End: How to solve the Flyers' scoring woes

End to End: How to solve the Flyers' scoring woes

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: How to solve the Flyers' scoring woes.

Dougherty
If Thursday night's 3-2 shootout loss in Winnipeg confirmed anything, it's the Flyers cannot break up their top line. They might not be able to score much, but their only scoring is coming from Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

The Couturier line accounts for 48 percent of the Flyers' offense, or 25 goals. Factor the defense and top line together, and that's 59 percent, as the blue line has produced six tallies this season.

Of the 21 goals the Flyers have scored that do not come from the top line or blue line, 12 have come from two players, Wayne Simmonds and Valtteri Filppula. Simmonds hasn't scored in 11 games, and Filppula has one goal in his past nine games.

Two lines have stayed intact since Day 1 — the Couturier line and the fourth line of Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl. Head coach Dave Hakstol has been hesitant about breaking up his fourth line, and rightfully so. Laughton, Leier and Raffl have chemistry, and they're almost always cycling in the offensive zone.

Nolan Patrick just returned after missing three weeks because of a "suspected" concussion and played sparingly against the Jets. He should help the Flyers' scoring woes, but he won't solve them. I think it's time to break up the fourth line, and based on the Winnipeg game, it looks like a possibility Hakstol is considering.

Here's why. Raffl played on the second power-play unit against the Jets, which was a first this season. Perhaps Hakstol didn't want to throw Patrick back into the fire and watched the rookie's minutes.

Breaking up lines Nos. 2, 3 and 4 is the best course of action. Travis Konecny is struggling with confidence, Jordan Weal hasn't been great, and those are two players the Flyers need to get going. It's time to end the Dale Weise in the top-nine experiment.

With what the Flyers have, here is what I would do:

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Michael Raffl
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Dale Weise

Hall
There's no need to panic if you're the Flyers.

First, you finally have a no-doubt-about-it top line. Voracek, Couturier and Giroux have blended beautifully and are doing damage, as the Flyers entered Friday one of only three teams in the NHL with a trio of players over 20 points each. Don't break that up just because there's an imbalance below it. 

And second, it's a long season. Ups and downs are common and things can change quickly. Just look at last season. The Flyers ripped off 10 straight wins and scored the NHL's second-most goals through the first two months of 2016-17. As we all know, they didn't make the postseason and finished as a bottom-third goal-scoring club.

The Flyers simply need to continue experimenting with their middle six and see what eventually works best. A little patience was going to be required when you're relying on a 19-year-old rookie in Patrick, a 20-year-old still finding himself at this level in Konecny and a 25-year-old facing his first full NHL season in Weal.

And let's not forget, the defense is exceptionally young with two rookies (Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim), a 20-year-old leader (Ivan Provorov) and a third-year player coming off a sophomore slump (Shayne Gostisbehere).

But back to the forwards. 

If you recall, a stretch from Oct. 10-17 featured Filppula centering Weal and Simmonds on the second line, with Patrick centering Konecny and Weise on the third unit. It resulted in a pretty productive three-game span in which the Flyers picked up two wins and outscored the opposition 18-9.

I really liked the dynamic of that middle six. And the Flyers can now return to it with Patrick suiting up. He will be eased back into heavier minutes, but he can make a difference when healthy and comfortable. Patrick and Konecny can still play plenty of minutes on the third line with less pressure and potentially more favorable matchups.

We've seen Weal and Simmonds work well together, and Filppula adds smarts and steadiness down the middle.

But the important thing to remember is the Flyers are only 19 games into an 82-game grind. Scoring can come and go at times, and there's no reason it can't come down the line.

So, here's what I like best for the Flyers right now:

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Travis Konecny-Nolan Patrick-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl