Flyers

Nolan Patrick makes it, Oskar Lindblom doesn't as Flyers have 1 more cut coming

Nolan Patrick makes it, Oskar Lindblom doesn't as Flyers have 1 more cut coming

Nolan Patrick and Robert Hagg smiled and exchanged handshakes in the Flyers' hallway Sunday after they were told they had made the team’s opening roster. Both guys described their respective meetings with management as “short and sweet.”

Patrick, the second overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft, becomes the first rookie since Sean Couturier in 2011 to make the team straight out of training camp in their draft year.

“It was pretty exciting to find that out and I’m looking forward to the first game,” Patrick said as he follows in the footsteps of his father and uncle who played in the league as well. “It was really exciting growing up. My goal is to play in the NHL, so to get that news is really exciting. I know my family is pretty excited for me.”

Patrick’s father, Steve, played 250 career games, and his uncle, James, now an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars, endured a 20-year career in the league. While Nolan Patrick has the pedigree, he likely won’t match the production of other players selected second overall. Jets winger Patrick Laine scored 36 goals and 64 points in 2016-17, his first season in Winnipeg.

“I think when I get the first one (goal), I think they’ll come," Patrick said. "It’s a tough thing for me. I always start the year slow on the goals, hopefully, I can get a bounce and get that first one out of the way. My main focus isn’t scoring. I’m just trying to hold onto pucks and make plays and be a good defensive player, so that’s what I’m focusing on.”

Patrick, who wore No. 19 with the Brandon Wheat Kings, is ready to shed the No. 64 he’s worn in the preseason. He says he has another number in mind but didn't elaborate.

Hagg’s path to the NHL wasn’t nearly as direct as Patrick’s. The Flyers' 2013 second-round pick spent three-plus seasons, 202 regular-season games, in the AHL before receiving word Sunday his hard work had finally paid off.

“Pretty happy. I was kinda nervous when I walked in there," Hagg said, "but after the meeting, I was extremely happy to make the team. I’ve just tried to simplify everything and not trying to look for the home run play. I just try to get the puck out of the D-zone as quick as I can and just making sure the puck isn't going in our nets.”   

With Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov mainstays on the left side of the ice, positioning played a major factor in how Hakstol elected to set up his defense pairings. Outside of Radko Gudas, the Flyers' left-handed heavy defensive corps doesn’t have a right-handed shot on the ride side, and that’s where Hagg’s comfortability and flexibility was a key factor in the decision-making.   

“[Hagg's] ability to play the right side or the left side in a 5-on-5 role as well as penalty kill role," Hakstol said, "that versatility is an asset.”

With Patrick and Hagg packing their bags for San Jose, general manager Ron Hextall had to be the bearer of bad news in regards to Flyers' 2014 fifth-round pick, Oskar Lindblom, who has been assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to begin the season.

“It’s not tough,” Hextall said on the move to send down Lindblom. “Oskar did a good job in camp, but right now, the best thing for you and the team is for you to go up there (Lehigh Valley) and play well. He was great. He took it very well. Oskar is a good player and American League time hasn’t hurt one player in the history of professional hockey.”

As it stands, the Flyers' roster is currently at 24, and management needs to make one more additional move prior to the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline when the cap-compliant rosters for all 31 teams have to be submitted to the league office.

To complicate matters, Gostisbehere left Sunday’s game with 11:30 remaining in the third period and never returned (see observations). Hextall listed Gostisbehere with an upper-body injury while also saying, “We’ll know more in the next day or two.” With that, it’s believed Gostisbehere could be evaluated further for any possible concussion symptoms.

With Gostisbehere’s availability uncertain, the Flyers likely will take eight defensemen on their opening four-game road trip to start the season, including rookies Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim, who were healthy scratches in the team’s preseason finale against the Islanders.

“They’re all going to California, probably," Hextall said. "We’ll see.”

Or the Flyers could place one of the team’s veteran forwards, likely Matt Read or Jori Lehtera, on waivers with the option of sending them to Lehigh Valley in the event they clear.

Decisions. Decisions. It’s been this way for the past month. What’s one more day … or two.

Best of NHL: Vladimir Tarasenko records 4 points as Blues rip Oilers

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Best of NHL: Vladimir Tarasenko records 4 points as Blues rip Oilers

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko had two goals and two assists and got in a rare fight Tuesday night, helping the St. Louis Blues to an 8-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Brayden Schenn also had two goals and two assists, and Jake Allen stopped 26 shots for the NHL-leading Blues.

Tarasenko's fight came in the second period. In just the third scrap of his six-year career, Tarasenko tangled with Matt Benning and landed a solid right hand much to the crowd's delight.

Tarasenko was reacting to Benning's near-collision with Schenn that was almost a knee-on-knee hit.

It was Tarasenko's second career Gordie Howe hat trick -- a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. The other one came on Nov. 13, 2014, against Nashville.

St. Louis (16-5-1) scored two goals in each of the first two periods before adding four in a wide-open third.

Tarasenko got his 11th goal 3:16 into the first period on two deflections. Shooting from the slot, he scored when his shot hit Connor McDavid's stick and then Adam Larsson's stick for a 1-0 lead.

Tarasenko has 14 points in his last 13 games (nine goals, five assists) against the Oilers (see full recap).

Stars rally for home win over Canadiens
DALLAS -- Devin Shore and Jason Spezza scored 59 seconds apart late in the second period to lift the Dallas Stars over the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Shore had no goals in the first 19 games this season, but scored for the second straight game to tie it 1-all at 18:22 of the second. Spezza, who also has scored in consecutive games after netting only one goal in the first 19, put in a rebound just less than a minute later.

Shore had an assist on Spezza's goal. So did Tyler Seguin, who scored into an empty net with 27 seconds to play.

Ben Bishop made 29 saves for Dallas on his 31st birthday. He allowed only a power-play goal by Brendan Gallagher at 12:04 of the second. Gallagher scored on a rebound after Charles Hudon sent a slap shot from the blue line.

After that, the Stars killed off all three Montreal power plays in the third period.

Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren had 26 saves.

Neither team scored in the first period. The best chance came with 2:15 remaining, when Mattias Janmark skated in alone on Lindgren, who stopped the shot with his glove and smothered the puck on the ice.

Montreal had a 4-on-3 power play to end the first period and start the second. The Stars killed off that penalty and finished 4 for 5 on the penalty kill.

The Canadiens had a scoring chance 4 minutes into the second when Brandon Davidson's wrist shot trickled past Bishop. Gemel Smith knocked the loose puck out of the crease for the Stars.

Gallagher had two close-in chances on rebounds after Hudon's shot and poked the second into the net for the game's first goal (see full recap).

Flyers blitzed by Canucks as losing skid extends to 5 straight games

Flyers blitzed by Canucks as losing skid extends to 5 straight games

BOX SCORE

There were so many mistakes to be found in the Flyers’ 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night that head coach Dave Hakstol surprisingly admitted even he could have done things differently by pulling Michal Neuvirth after the goalie gave up a third goal in the opening minutes of the second period.

“That one was on me,” Hakstol said. “I should have done that after the third goal to give our team the best opportunity. Once it got to four (4-1), it’s tough to dig out of that hole. The change after three may have been the spark that our team would have needed, but hindsight is 20/20.”

Starting for the first time in 17 days, Neuvirth was pulled with 5:20 remaining in the second period after making 18 of 22 stops. He wasn’t nearly a sharp as he’s been in his previous outings.

“Obviously, I need to be better than I showed today,” Neuvirth said. “It was difficult not skating. I had three days off over the weekend and I had one practice (Monday), so it was difficult. I need to be better.”

With Radko Gudas serving the second game of a 10-game suspension, the Flyers turned in one of the worst defensive games of the season as they allowed the Canucks a handful of prime opportunities based on turnovers, missed assignments and even a poor line change (see observations).

“We had a tough time starting in the neutral zone,” Jake Voracek said. “A couple of times, the defense tried to skate it through. We just didn’t generate enough speed. On the odd-man rush we had a couple of good looks in the second [period]. It is always more open in the second.”

The pairing of Brandon Manning and Shayne Gostisbehere had an especially tough time and it started when Daniel Sedin snuck behind Gostisbehere for an early, first-period breakaway goal.

“That first goal is probably preventable,” Manning said. “Me and Ghost talked about it and we can probably sniff that one out a little bit better. The second one is tough with the young guys trying to get off for a matchup.”

Canucks leading scorer Brock Boeser capitalized on a bad change from the Flyers’ defense when he rifled the first of his two goals far post over Neuvirth’s blocker.

“We gave up two easy goals that we didn’t make our opponent work for,” Hakstol said. “You’ve got to have one defenseman out there. You can’t have two D going. That’s the reality of it.”

“It’s just little details that are costing us games right now, and I think the PK needs to be better,” Sean Couturier said. “On the defensive side, we need to be sharper. Little details, whether that’s picking up your guy or chipping it out or line change. It’s all those little things that add up.” 

For a team that has been in every game at some point of the third period this season, that simply was not the case Tuesday night. Forward Wayne Simmonds admitted some bad habits are creeping into the Flyers’ game.

“I would agree with that,” Simmonds said. “We have to find a way to break those habits. We have to find a way to get a win here, no matter what it takes. We can’t be leaving them for 2-on-1s, 3-on-1s, 3-on-2s or whatever it may be. That’s going to hurt and it did.”

After winning their season opener in San Jose, the Flyers’ abysmal record against the Western Conference dropped to 5-8-4. They’re currently the only team in the Metropolitan Division with more regulation losses than regulation wins. 

“You’ve got to own it,” Hakstol said. “We’ve got to do better. You can’t sit back and rest on a lack of confidence. You give yourself confidence by preparation, work ethic, togetherness and those are things we have to put back into our game tomorrow night.” 

On Wednesday, the Flyers will travel to Brooklyn to face the Islanders for just the second divisional game of the season after blowing out the Washington Capitals, 8-2, in the home opener at the Wells Fargo Center.

Changes coming?
While the rest of the team loaded up for Wednesday night’s game on Long Island, Flyers defenseman Mark Alt took his equipment with him as he’ll rejoin the Phantoms. With Matt Read clearing waivers, general manager Ron Hextall could quite possibly make a couple of call-ups from Lehigh Valley.

“You evaluate everything on a daily basis depending on what happens,” Hextall  said. “You just don’t know. Someone gets hurt, we just can’t put them on IR. We need the flexibility for tomorrow.”

Don’t expect defenseman Andrew MacDonald to be available until Friday at the earliest. MacDonald’s skating still isn’t 100 percent even though he has practiced with the team since last Thursday. 

“It’s kind of a progression thing and we’ll see where it goes and we’ll see how he progresses,” Hextall said.