Flyers

'Special day' for Nolan Patrick after being selected by Flyers at No. 2

'Special day' for Nolan Patrick after being selected by Flyers at No. 2

CHICAGO — Nolan Patrick was ready for this moment as far back as being a youngster, sitting on a sofa with his father Steve and uncle James, both former NHL players.
 
The youngster wasn't watching videotape of hockey players.
 
He was dissecting them.
 
"I was watching hockey more than other kids," said the 18-year-old centerman from the Brandon Wheat Kings, who was chosen No. 2 overall by the Flyers during the first round of the NHL on Friday at United Center (see story).
 
"Not just watching it with my dad and uncle, but I was picking apart the game when I was 5, 6 and 7. I think that might have helped me now. I always loved the game and always wanted to be in the NHL. I studied the game, where players go on the ice and things."
 
Steve and James Patrick were his biggest role models (see story). Obviously, the family lineage here bodes well for the Flyers.
 
Patrick was in a two-man race with Nico Hischier to go No. 1 overall to New Jersey. However, Devils general manager Ray Shero, who usually picks North American players, chose the Swiss-born Hischier, who played in North America just one season (see story).
 
"I kind of had a feeling I was going to end up in Philly," Patrick, who is 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, said. "I'm real excited about the chance to go there. It's tough to put in words right now, but it's a special day for me and my family.
 
"Me and Nico are completely different players. He might be a little more offensively dynamic than me. I might be more defensive than him. [The Devils] wanted him. It's not like I'm sitting here mad because they didn't want me."
 
There were question marks about Patrick's health and whether that would impact Shero's decision.
 
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was equally concerned. So much so, he brought Patrick into Skate Zone this month to be medically tested by the club's own physicians. Patrick missed a large portion of games this past season with two sports hernias and a knee injury.
 
Asked if he felt he was almost having to sell himself to the Flyers as a healthy player, Patrick replied absolutely not.
 
"It doesn't really matter to me," he said. "If you don't want to draft me, then don't draft me. I'm really happy I am here. I think they just wanted me to see their doctors."
 
Injuries limited him to just 33 games last season. And yet, Patrick still scored 20 goals for the Wheat Kings with 46 points. He had 41 goals and 102 points the previous season.
 
When judging a prospect, Hextall said it's important to weigh the entire body of work — not just one season. Same with injuries (see story).
 
"I guess I showed as much as I could that [previous] year," Patrick said. "Watching hockey [when injured] sucks. No one ever wants to be injured. I hate watching and not being able to contribute to my team.
 
"And then playing and not being a 100 percent. I didn't play one game this year feeling [like] myself. I've got the summer to get where I need to be.
 
“My skating was kind of bugging me throughout the season. I needed to get my conditioning back to where I wanted it to be. I did as much as I could, but I wasn't pouting about it.
 
Scouts are unanimous in predicting Patrick will play this season in the NHL. He turns 19 during training camp.
 
“I need a good summer of training to get bigger and stronger,” he said. “Everyone in the NHL can skate. I’m a strong player, so that’s my main thing.”
 
Patrick said he became friends with Hischier hanging out this week and was happy that the latter became the first player in Swiss history to go No. 1 overall in the draft.
 
Patrick lauded his coaches, past and present, at Brandon for helping push him to achieve more and become a top NHL draft pick. 
 
His teammate two seasons ago was Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov. They’re close friends and have been talking regularly in the weeks leading up to this draft.
 
He’s also close with Brayden Schenn, another former Brandon player of years earlier, who was actually traded by the Flyers to the Blues on draft night (see story).

Patrick feels having at least one familiar face in training camp this fall could be beneficial.
 
“When you’re going somewhere and don’t know anyone, it’s tough for a guy to step in,” Patrick said. “[Knowing Provorov], it will help me make the transition.”

Best of NHL: Johnny Gaudreau extends point streak to 10 games

usa-johnny-gaudreau.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Johnny Gaudreau extends point streak to 10 games

WASHINGTON -- Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist to extend his career-best point streak to 10 games and the Calgary Flames beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Monday night.

Gaudreau scored and assisted on Sean Monahan's goal, one of two on the power play for Calgary, which has won four of its past five. Mikael Backlund and captain Mark Giordano also scored for the Flames, who got 29 saves from Mike Smith.

Gaudreau, nicknamed "Johnny Hockey," has eight goals and 11 assists during his point streak. Led by the Carneys Point, New Jersey, native, the Flames are 7-3-0 in that time.

Lars Eller scored the only goal for the Capitals, who took five minor penalties and lost for the third time in four games. Braden Holtby allowed four goals on 39 shots.

The Flames came in feeling good after a comeback victory in Philadelphia and a 1950s-themed train ride to Washington. But the Capitals took a 1-0 lead just 62 seconds in when Jakub Vrana found Eller for his fourth goal of the season.

Calgary controlled much of the play from that point on, tying it on Gaudreau's goal 4:49 in and taking a lead on Monahan's power-play goal 5:22 into the second. Monahan had a goal and an assist after a power-play hat trick Saturday against the Flyers.

Washington's parade to the penalty box gave the Flames momentum and then their third goal at 4:38 of the second when Backlund buried a loose puck. Giordano's goal to make it 4-1 was effectively a third power-play goal as it came 1 second after ex-Flames forward Alex Chiasson's penalty expired (see full recap).

Blue Jackets edge Sabres for 4th straight win
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sergei Bobrovsky made three of his 30 saves on a power play in the final two minutes, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Boone Jenner scored for the Blue Jackets. Markus Nutivaara had two assists.

Buffalo dropped its sixth straight game. Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres, and Robin Lehner stopped 25 shots.

Bobrovsky made his biggest save when he slid across the crease to kick away a Ryan O'Reilly one-timer with 1:49 remaining. Bobrovsky got a piece of Kyle Okposo's shot off the rebound and the puck trickled across the goal line while Okposo fell into the net. Officials determined on replay that the goal did not count.

The Blue Jackets scored first for the fifth straight game when Dubois collected a loose puck in the slot and lifted a wrist shot over Lehner four minutes into the second period. Oliver Bjorkstrand set up Dubois' third goal of the season with a pass from behind the net.

Panarin scored his fifth on a high wrist shot from the right circle 5:47 into the third. Jenner added his third goal of the year on a play in front of the net midway through the period (see full recap).

Raanta, Coyotes end Maple Leafs' win streak
TORONTO -- Antti Raanta made 26 saves and the Arizona Coyotes ended the Toronto Maple Leafs' winning streak at six games with a 4-1 victory Monday night.

Brendan Perlini, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi and Tobias Rieder scored for the Coyotes (5-15-3), who have won three in a row for the first time this season.

Arizona rookie Clayton Keller had two assists to give him 20 points in 23 games.

James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs (14-8-0).

Frederik Andersen had his shutout streak snapped at 1:41:28 when the Coyotes scored in the first period. Andersen, who made 28 saves, had blanked the opponent in back-to-back games.

Toronto star Auston Matthews, playing in his 100th career game, appeared to tie it 2-all with 3:50 to play but the goal was overturned after a replay review because of goalie interference by Zach Hyman (see full recap).

Wayne Simmonds issues timely reminder about Flyers

usa-wayne-simmonds.jpg
USA Today Images

Wayne Simmonds issues timely reminder about Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Wayne Simmonds would make a pretty good salesman.

He speaks with conviction and knows how to convey a point.

On Monday, he was selling the 2017-18 Flyers.

None of it was fluff. In fact, the sales pitch was completely valid.

Many clamored for the Flyers to become younger, and they did. Nolan Patrick, 19, is just getting healthy again after missing nine straight games. The fourth line features two 23-year-olds (Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier) that developed last season in the AHL. And half of the current defense is made up of rookies.

That's not to mention Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov are only 20 years old, while Jordan Weal is in his first full NHL season.

After losing four straight games, the Flyers are 8-8-4 and still only five points out of first place despite sitting in last in the Metropolitan Division.

Things could be worse. Really, they're not all that bad.

"The season's not even close to being over," Simmonds said after practice at Flyers Skate Zone. "That's the way I'm thinking about it, guys. There's no need to be worried, we're a .500 hockey team right now, we've played 20 games, we have 62 games left, we've got a really young team and we're growing every single day. Yeah, we're going to have our struggles, but we're also going to have points in the season where we make huge strides. We've got to stick with it and we've got to keep going and going."

The Flyers were 9-8-3 after 20 games last season. Two games later, they were starting a 10-game winning streak. The run didn't accomplish much by season's end, but it's an example of how quickly trends can turn in the NHL.

Simmonds is experiencing his own negative trend of 12 straight games without a goal after scoring six in eight games to start the season.

"Sometimes you score 10 goals, then you don't score again for 20 games or something like that," Simmonds said. "Like I said, it's a long year, you keep going, you keep grinding, you guys want to jump to conclusions, that's your job. You guys have got to make decisions on a game-to-game basis, but for us, we just have to make sure we're coming to the rink and doing our job every single day and continuing to try and get better."

Throughout much of his drought, Simmonds has not looked himself, likely banged up from the style in which he plays and excels.

With time and patience, Simmonds is building himself up again physically.

"You think you can do some things and sometimes your body just tells you no," Simmonds said.

"I've been feeling better the last little bit. I feel like I've started to play better, things aren't coming offensively for me. I think as an individual, I've just got to keep working hard. The only way to break yourself out of a bad streak is to continue to work hard and hopefully things eventually go your way."

When does he know his game is coming to him?

"When I'm aggressive," Simmonds said. "When I'm battling in the corners, I'm hitting — I think earlier this year, I wasn't fully engaging in battles and stuff like that, and that's not me, that's not my game. I think the last little bit here, I've felt a lot better, I've been doing a lot more battling, a lot more hitting, a lot more physical things. It's nice and we've got to continue that. As a team, we've got to continue to do the same thing, to get to the front of the net and continue to put pucks in."

Aside from the first line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, scoring struggles have permeated the middle six and secondary options. Konecny and Weal, two players the Flyers expected jumps from in production, have combined for four goals and nine assists. Konecny is without a goal over his previous 10 games, while Weal has scored one in his last 12.

"It's been a lot of hard work and not much to show for it," Weal said. "No matter what line we've been on, it seems like we've been getting three or four chances every game to put something in and nothing right now seems to be going in. It's one of those things that happens during a season.

"When it breaks open, hopefully it'll break wide open.

"When we have all four lines scoring, we're a really dangerous team."

Both Konecny and Weal are frequently the last two players off the practice ice.

Monday was no different.

"I just need to make sure I'm battling and creating more offense," Konecny said. "I feel like the opportunities are there, I'm not worried about that."

Nor is Simmonds worried about the Flyers with 62 games to go, the next coming Tuesday night at home against the Canucks.

Similar to building up strength and good health, patience is important to a season, especially with the makeup of this Flyers team.

Simmonds believes you'll buy in … just give it some time.

"You can look at the standings, you can do whatever you want, but we've played 20 games," Simmonds said. "There's still a long time to go in the season. We've got work to do.

"I'm definitely feeling better. It's up to me to get going."

When he does, the Flyers hope the rest follow.