Nolan Patrick opens up about injury history, mindset at NHL combine

Nolan Patrick opens up about injury history, mindset at NHL combine

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nolan Patrick took a timeout toward the end of his shift with reporters on Friday at the NHL Scouting Combine.

The top-ranked draft prospect was feeling the heat inside the NHL's Centennial Museum track and had to remove his jacket before answering the last few questions.

Patrick is not sweating his draft status after meeting with the Flyers and a dozen other teams this week and reaffirming his health heading into Saturday's fitness testing.  

"I'm not going to try to prove anything," Patrick said. "I'm just going to try and do the tests to the best of my abilities."

Along with Swiss skater Nico Hischier, the Winnipeg-born Patrick is one of two 18-year-old centers the Flyers are expected to select with the No. 2 pick in the June 23-24 draft. The New Jersey Devils hold the first pick and have not yet revealed their plans.

Patrick said he informed teams this week that he has recovered from a misdiagnosed double sports hernia injury that limited him during his last season of junior hockey. He had surgery on his right groin muscle last July, but a similar injury on his left side went undetected and did not heal until after the season.

After leading Brandon to the Western Hockey League championship in 2016, Patrick missed more than half of this past season, including all four WHL playoff games, with various injuries. He has been medically cleared for combine testing and expects to be able to participate in an NHL training camp in September.

"Obviously, it wasn't the ideal season for me," Patrick said. "I don't think any hockey player wants something like that, especially in your draft year."

But now that he is healthy, Patrick believes the injury helped his development.

"I don't think it was the worst thing for me," he said. "I think a little adversity for a young kid makes you stronger as a player. I didn't talk about it during the year in the media, that I was misdiagnosed. This is the first time I've really said anything about it."

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Patrick still produced 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games last season and won the Top Prospect Award as the best draft-eligible player in the Canadian Hockey League. Hischier, who played in Halifax, was also a finalist for the award.

The NHL teams try to get to know them better this week, while the consensus top two prospects in the draft have spent time getting to know each other.

"It's good to see that he's a really good guy," Patrick said of Hischier.

Patrick said he got no "vibes" from his meeting with the Devils on which player they were leaning toward with the No. 1 pick.

Does Patrick believe he should be the one?

"That's not up for to decide, so I guess I'll see what the NHL teams think," Patrick said. "Obviously, that would be a huge honor. … But I'd be honored to go anywhere."

Patrick is also unconcerned with the perception that the top prospects in this year's draft are not as good as the prizes from 2015 (Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel) or 2016 (Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine).

"At the end of the day, I'm just trying to make the NHL and contribute as much I can," Patrick said. "I'm not putting any added pressure on myself. … I try not to compare myself to those guys. I don't expect to come in and put 40 goals up, or score four goals in my first game. I don't think that happens very often."

Patrick's father, Steve, played 250 games for the Sabres, Rangers and Nordiques from 1980-86. His uncle, James, played 1,280 games with the Rangers, Whalers, Flames and Sabres from 1983-2006 and was an assistant coach for the Stars the past four seasons.

Patrick said his father and uncle have taught him that how he carries himself off the ice will be as important to his success and his skills on the ice.

"They have been huge for me since I was really young," he said.

Unfamiliar with Philadelphia, Patrick does have a friend on the Flyers.

"I've never been there, but one of my good buddies, Ivan Provorov, plays there," Patrick said. "I've talked to him a bit and he loves it."

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time


DETROIT — The Flyers brought a cold engine to the Motor City and it took a good 40 minutes to finally get it started.

Sure, Dave Hakstol’s team rallied back from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to earn a point at a time when every point is critical, but losing a 5-4 shootout to a fragile Detroit team is unacceptable and unexplainable (see observations).

“Maybe we thought it was going to be an easy game,” Sean Couturier said. “We didn’t play the right way. We didn’t play hard. We wasted 40 minutes. We came back and got a big point, but we can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”

On a night when the Flyers could have officially eliminated the Red Wings from postseason contention, they turned back the clock and made this Detroit team look more like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships 20 years ago. 

At least through the first two periods.

“The second period was god-awful,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We really didn’t help our cause out. We weren’t pushing plays and we just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass. It’s tough like that when you dig yourself a hole and you come back, you expend a lot of energy. The positive we can take is that we got a point out of it.”

You may have never known this was the same Red Wings team that, like the Flyers in the first half of the season, had dropped 10 straight with an 0-9-1 record. Detroit had been outscored a whopping 41-19 from Feb. 28-March 18.

The Red Wings had also returned from a four-game Western Conference road trip less than 48 hours prior to the opening faceoff.

With eight games remaining on the Flyers' schedule, Hakstol is also mired in a goaltending dilemma. Petr Mrazek was rescued from Detroit to be the savior in Philadelphia following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. 

After winning his first three starts, Mrazek’s numbers reek of mediocrity: a 2-5-1 record, 3.72 GAA and an .860 save percentage. Most recently, he’s been pulled in favor of Alex Lyon in two of his last three games.

“The second one is a bad-angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, he wants that one back, but we gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”

Mrazek was pulled from the game at 3-1, and before heading to the locker room, he expressed his disappointment with the coaching staff over a non-goaltender interference call during the Red Wings' third goal.

“I talked to Coach and I was just wondering about the goalie interference because someone had bumped in there during the shot,” Mrazek said. “It wasn’t anything like I was mad or something that I got pulled. I was just asking him if there was a goalie interference or not.”

The Flyers' shootout loss coupled with the Blue Jackets' ninth straight victory now drops the orange and black into wild-card territory (see standings).

If this is indeed a playoff team, it needs to repair what’s under the hood and fix it fast.

Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

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Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jared McCann had a goal and two assists to lead the Florida Panthers over the Senators 7-2 on Tuesday night as Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson sat out following the death of his son.

The team announced the death of Karlsson's son before the game. Erik and Melinda Karlsson were married last year and announced in November they were expecting their first child in the spring. The team released a statement offering its "collective thoughts and prayers" and requested privacy for the family.

Keith Yandle, Nick Bjugstad, Evgeni Dadonov, Jamie McGinn and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist for Florida. Colton Sceviour had the other goal while James Reimer made 33 saves.

Patrick Sieloff and Marian Gaborik scored for the Senators, who lost their second straight. Craig Anderson started in goal but was replaced by Mike Condon after allowing four goals on 17 shots. Condon made 19 saves (see full recap).

Blue Jackets extend win streak to 9
NEW YORK -- Artemi Panarin had three goals and an assist, Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to nine games with a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Markus Nutivaara and Alexander Wennberg also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have surged into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It is Columbus' longest winning streak since its 16-game run last season from Nov. 29, 2016, to Jan. 3, 2017.

Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad scored power-play goals and Kevin Hayes had a short-handed goal for the Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in his first start since March 10 against Florida. Lundqvist was briefly shaken up when Matt Calvert upended him and knocked his helmet off with five minutes remaining.

With Columbus leading 3-2 in the third period, Lundqvist made a nice save as Cam Atkinson drove toward the net, but Panarin poked the puck free and in for his 24th goal at 11:19.

Kreider scored his 14th with 1:52 remaining to get the Rangers to 4-3.

Panarin added an empty-netter for the hat trick and his 25th of the season (see full recap).

Islanders jump all over Pens to snap skid
NEW YORK -- Mathew Barzal and Adam Pelech scored in the first period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Anders Lee had a goal in the third period and Jordan Eberle added an empty-netter to help the Islanders snap a three-game skid with just their second win in 13 games (2-7-4).

Christopher Gibson, pulled in his last start after giving up five goals on 12 shots against Washington last Thursday, stopped 36 shots and has both wins for New York in its recent stretch.

Conor Sheary scored for Pittsburgh, which was 5-1-1 in its previous seven but fell four points behind first-place Washington in the tight Metropolitan Division. Columbus pulled into a tie with the Penguins for second at 87 points -- Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker over the Blue Jackets.

Matt Murray, returning after missing nine games due to a concussion, finished with 36 saves for the Penguins (see full recap).