Radko Gudas maintaining physical presence for Flyers after learning from past mistakes

Radko Gudas maintaining physical presence for Flyers after learning from past mistakes

You don’t have to work at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to realize Flyers blueliner Radko Gudas has toned down his act.
That the league hasn’t had to review any of his hits — legal or suspicious — is positive reinforcement that it’s finally beginning to sink in with the 6-foot, 204-pound defenseman what he can and can’t get away with on the ice.
“In general, he’s kinda gone back to the adjustment he made in his game last couple months of last season,” coach Dave Hakstol said after the Flyers' 3-0 loss to Tampa on Saturday. “He’s most effective when he is playing good, solid defensive hockey and letting plays come to him .”
Both Hakstol and general manager Ron Hextall sat Gudas down prior to the start of the season after he was hit with a six-game suspension to begin 2016-17 for a preseason incident.
Gudas has also been watching video of what is clean, borderline and illegal in terms of hits.
“One of those things, having to figure out because guys are smaller than they used to be,” Gudas said. “Four years ago, when I came into the league, guys were 6-foot plus and 220-plus and now it’s slowly going back to smaller, lighter guys. You have to learn how to hit these guys, too.
“I’m still trying to be as physical as I can. If you hit them hard enough, he’s going to get hurt or stay down. I don’t want to say it’s a lot different, but there are some changes to be made, that’s for sure.”
During Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa, Gudas had a tremendous legal check off the boards on the Senators’ Mark Stone. He simply waited for Stone to come into the Flyers' end moving directly at him, turned his body and drove a hard shoulder into Stone without touching any part of the neck or head.
“The biggest thing is letting the play come to him,” Hakstol said. "The hits, the physical side of the game. He is a physical presence for us and we need that. He’s done a very good job of just letting the physical game that is naturally there come to him.” 
On Saturday, he had a tough clean hit on Ryan Callahan in the second period and J.T. Brown took exception and went after him. Gudas tuned him up in his first fight of the season.
Gudas leads the Flyers with 53 hits despite missing the first six games of the season. He came into Saturday’s game 20th overall in the NHL. 
Toronto’s Matt Martin, who has been the league’s leading hitter five years in succession, is the current leader this year, too, with 76.
Imagine where Gudas would rank now if he had not begun the season suspended for six games after a preseason hit on Boston’s Austin Czarnik.  He avoided a previous suspension for a hit on the Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey.
“I didn’t want to change a lot in my game,” Gudas said. “Just be smarter with those hits. There is nothing I can do about the suspension now except be the best I can for my team.”
Brandon Manning is second on the Flyers in hits with 42 and has played 17 of 18 games.  
Gudas does, however, lead the Flyers with 36 blocked shots and is 24th overall in the NHL in that department. Rookie Ivan Provorov is next with 30.
“I am trying to do the best possible,” Gudas said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody out there either, but still play that hard, physical game. It’s part of my hockey. For me, staying physical was an important thing. I’ve got to learn from my own mistakes.”
For now, he certainly seems to be doing that.
Power play
The Flyers are 0 for 10 in the last three games. It’s the first time this season they’ve gone three games without scoring on the power play.
The Flyers were shut out by the Lightning for only the fifth time since Tampa Bay came into the NHL in 1992. One of those previous shutouts was a 0-0 tie on Feb. 24, 2001. 
Four of the five shutouts have been witnessed in South Philly. The last time the Lightning shut out the Flyers was Feb. 1, 2011, in Tampa (4-0 loss). The last time it happened at the Wells Fargo Center was Jan. 28, 2006, (6-0 loss). The next day, the Flyers named Derian Hatcher their 13th captain.

It was also the Flyers' first shutout loss of the season.
Chris VandeVelde took a high hit from Braydon Coburn early in the game that resulted in a boarding penalty. VandeVelde did not return.
Review coming? 
Brayden Schenn had a legal shoulder hit on Jonathan Drouin in the final 4:40 of the opening period that caught the Lightning forward with his head down. Schenn’s shoulder appeared to make contact into Drouin’s chest. 
Initially, Drouin looked hurt going to the bench but did not go through the concussion protocol until the spotter alerted Tampa before the start of the second period. Drouin went to the quiet room but did return to play later in the period. 
Regardless, you can expect the Department of Player Safety to review the hit Sunday, as Drouin was concussed earlier this season.
The Flyers Alumni Association will make a Thanksgiving food donation to the St. Francis Inn in Kensington on Monday. This is the 11th consecutive year the association has performed this charity event. On hand will be Brian Boucher, Danny Briere, Terry Carkner, Doug Crossman, Todd Fedoruk, Bob Kelly, Brian Propp, and Brad Marsh.

Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

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Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Brandon Montour scored a power-play goal, helping lift the Anaheim Ducks into third place in the Pacific Division with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell each had a goal and an assist, and Jakob Silfverberg also scored for the Ducks, who lead Los Angeles by two points in the division. Anaheim won its third straight game and is 6-1-0 in its last seven at home.

John Gibson made 15 saves, improving to 9-2-0 in his last 11 starts.

Kyle Palmieri had a power-play goal and Patrick Maroon also scored for the Devils, who had won the first three games of their six-game road trip. Keith Kinkaid made 32 saves, ending a four-start winning streak.

New Jersey holds the second wild-card in the Eastern Conference, five points ahead of Florida (see full recap).

Karlsson's hat trick helps Vegas beat Flames
LAS VEGAS -- William Karlsson scored a natural hat trick to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

Colin Miller also scored as Vegas snapped a four-game home losing streak and improved to 25-9-2 at T Mobile Arena.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who made his 20th start in 21 games, made 42 saves. In getting his 48th career shutout and fourth of the season, Fleury moved into a tie with Chris Osgood for 12th all-time amongst goaltenders at 401.

Vegas improved to 3-0-0 against Calgary while outscoring the Flames 15-5. The teams meet once more, in the regular-season finale at Calgary on April 7 (see full recap).

Laine scores twice, matches Ovechkin for NHL goal lead
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Patrik Laine scored twice to extend his point streak to 15 games and tie Alex Ovechkin for the NHL goal lead, and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Sunday night to match the franchise wins record at 43.

The second-year sniper has 43 goals, matching the total from Ovechkin, the Washington star and Laine's boyhood favorite. Laine's point streak is the longest active run in the NHL and adds to his league record for the longest point streak by a teenager. The streak includes 18 goals and eight assists.

Ben Chiarot also scored and Blake Wheeler added an empty-netter for Winnipeg.

Mattias Janmark and Jamie Benn each scored for Dallas (see full recap).

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

If there was an NHL handbook on how to score goals in the most competitive hockey league in the world, you would have thought Oskar Lindblom would have read it forward and backward, on the charter to the Flyers' next road game and at night before bedtime.

From effort to playing at both ends of the ice, Lindblom had done everything to score a goal, except actually score one.

Prior to Saturday’s game against Carolina, Lindblom had played his first 12 games without registering a single point and it was starting to become a source of playful dissing and mockery in the Flyers' locker room.

“Teammates keep him loose,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think Alex Lyon was giving him the gears. I think Alex should have had an assist last night (in Carolina). I don’t know if he was credited with one or not, but I think Alex was chirping (Oskar) about having more points per game than he did, and that’s what guys do.”

However, the official scoresheet from the 4-2 win in Carolina had Lindblom credited with his first NHL assist and Lyon still looking for one. Prior to that, the zeroes next to Lindblom’s game were starting to add up and Hakstol sensed the 21-year-old rookie was taking notice.  

“I don’t remember the game last week, but he had a great opportunity off a rebound at net front,” Hakstol said. “That was the first time I saw a little bit of frustration creep in where he let it show. Oskar is a good offensive player. He wants to help by doing his part offensively, but I think what he just continued to concentrate on is just playing good hockey.”

Sunday that first goal finally arrived in the form of a snapshot that beat Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer up high. It gave the Flyers a lead they never relinquished in a 6-3 win over Washington.

“I don’t want to think about it anymore,” Lindblom said. “Got the first one today and it was a huge one in the game so it was good.”

And with that, the Swede slipped on the Ric Flair victory robe for the first time, handed down from the Finnish Valtteri Filppula, who was presented the feather-laced garment the night before in Carolina. 

Prior to that, the only thing Lindblom had received was encouragement and support from his teammates who knew his time would eventually come. With an easy-going smile and a personality to match, Lindblom’s fellow Flyers couldn’t help but root for him. 

“We’re all happy for him," Travis Konecny said. “It’s been paying off for him. He deserves it. He works hard at both ends of the ice. I’m personally happy for him.

“He’s got that offensive skill that’s far and few between that a lot of guys don’t have. He just has a knack around the net, he’s always around the puck. We all knew it was coming sooner or later.”

Apparently, everyone seemed to know and especially Jake Voracek, who’s been assisting in every way possible.

“He talks to me a lot,” Lindblom said. “He tried to calm me down a little bit. It’s good for me.”