Alex Lyon

Future Flyers Report: Bad news for Carter Hart; German Rubtsov makes immediate impact

zack-hill-flyers-carter-hart.jpg
Zack Hill/Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Bad news for Carter Hart; German Rubtsov makes immediate impact

This week sees the Flyers conclude their season-opening four-game road trip Tuesday in Nashville for the Predators’ home opener and their own home opener Saturday against Washington.

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this edition, we’ll check in on three members of the 2016 draft class and a goalie prospect who’s one injury away from reaching the NHL.

Carter Hart, G, 19, 6-1/177, Everett (WHL)
Let’s begin with the undesirable news first. Hart, the consensus top goaltending prospect in the Flyers’ organization, will be out of action for some time because of mononucleosis, according to The Herald’s Jesse Geleynse. The Silvertips last Wednesday signed goalie Kyle Dumba to back up Dorrin Luding while Hart recuperates.

It might be a while before we see Hart back in net. Mono can take serious time to recover from — just ask Sean Couturier, who battled it during the 2010-11 offseason and it potentially cost him from being drafted in the top three. While missing significant time would stunt his development, mono probably shouldn’t raise any major red flags long term.

Hart has appeared in just two games this season. He stopped 35 of 38 shots in his first start in picking up a win against Kelowna on Sept. 29. Then, Hart allowed three goals on 25 shots in relief in a loss to Tri-City on Sept. 30. What will be worth watching when he returns is how quickly will he get back to looking like his normal self.

German Rubtsov, C, 19, 6-0/187, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
After missing the Saguenéens’ first four games because of paperwork issues, Rubtsov made his 2017-18 campaign debut last week and made an immediate impact for Chicoutimi. Rubtsov picked up third-star honors and a dandy of an assist in his season debut last Wednesday, a 4-0 win over Victoriaville. On Sunday, Rubtsov added two more assists, both secondary, in the Saguenéens’ 5-0 shutout of Shawinigan.

Rubtsov faces his first full season in North America. He finally came over from Russia near the end of last season once he was able to negotiate a release from the KHL, where he couldn't cement a significant role. Once with Chicoutimi, Rubtsov flashed the hockey sense and ability that caught the Flyers' eye in the 2016 draft. An injury cut his QMJHL season short, though. Now in North America full time and after a summer and preseason with the Flyers, Rubtsov will become more comfortable as he goes along. The skills are there, and if you caught him during development camp or even rookie camp, you saw the speed and playmaking. He's still a prospect fans should be excited about.

Wade Allison, RW, 19, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Allison, who turns 20 on Saturday, had quite the start to his sophomore season with the Broncos this past Friday. Allison, one of three 2016 second-round picks, netted two goals and an assist in No. 20 Western Michigan’s 6-1 win over Ferris State. On the first goal, Allison beat Ferris State goalie Justin Kapelmaster, tapping home a 2-on-1 pass. The second goal was more impressive. With a 3-0 lead late in the second period, Allison showcased his howitzer with a long slap shot goal on the power play. After a decent freshman campaign, Allison could be in line for a big jump in his second year.

Alex Lyon, G, 24, 6-1/200, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
With Anthony Stolarz out for the foreseeable future, Lyon will carry the brunt of the workload for the Phantoms in his second professional season, which has gotten off of to a busy start. Lyon started both games this past weekend, turning away 61 shots in two games. He allowed two goals on 31 shots in the Phantoms’ 7-2 season-opening win in Allentown Saturday night against Hershey and then stopped 35 of 36 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss Sunday at Hartford. That’s 125 minutes on back-to-back nights with travel.

Lyon looked sharp in the preseason with the Flyers, which should comfort the front office should an injury hit either Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth. It’s a big season for Lyon, who’s on his second one-year contract. A strong second season and Lyon could position himself for an NHL backup role next year, whether it’s in Philly or elsewhere.

Quick hits
Carsen Twarynski, who returned to Kelowna from Phantoms training camp last week, registered a goal, three assists, and points in each of his first three games this season. Dating back to last season, Twarynski now has an eight-point, six-game streak going.

• This is worth noting: Isaac Ratcliffe appears to be a volume shooter, which the Flyers certainly could use in the future. Ratcliffe had an assist in each of his two games this past weekend for Guelph, and on Friday night, he fired eight shots on goal. He had just one shot Saturday but on the season, he has 28 in six games — 4.6 shots per game.

• Not exactly the best week for Morgan Frost, who went pointless in two games. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds centerman also struggled in the faceoff circle. Frost was 10 for 34 (29.4 percent) in the dot, with a 3 for 16 game Thursday and 7 for 18 Friday. On the season, he’s won just 44.4 percent (56 for 126) of his faceoffs.

Phil Myers recorded his first pro point in his first game Saturday night, a primary assist on Danick Martel’s hat trick goal in the Phantoms’ 7-2 opening win over Hershey.

Mike Vecchione also recorded his first pro point Saturday night and followed up with another assist Sunday. In two games, Vecchione has centered Martel and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Both of Vecchione’s assists have come on Martel goals.

• And let’s talk about Mikhail Vorobyev picking up his first career North American point. Vorobyev had the lone assist on Greg Carey’s third-period marker Saturday. He’s the pivot on a line with Carey and Corban Knight.

• Owen Sound winger Maksim Sushko had his first multipoint game of the season last Wednesday against Sarnia, registering a goal on his only shot and a primary assist on the Attack’s game-tying goal in the third period. Owen Sound lost, 6-5, in a shootout. Sushko, a 2017 fourth-round pick, has points in three straight games. However, he did not play Saturday. He has points in three consecutive games and a goal in two straight.

• Pascal Laberge missed a game last week because of a lower-body injury that wasn’t serious enough for him to sit out Sunday’s game against Sherbrooke in which he picked up a goal — his third of the season — and an assist in Victoriaville’s 5-4 win.

Noah Cates recorded a secondary assist with two shots in the Omaha Lancers’ 2-1 loss to the Tri-City Storm in their season opener Friday night.

• Remember Matej Tomek? Sure you do. The Slovak goalie prospect recruited to North Dakota who then failed to earn playing time before leaving for the USHL this season. Tomek is now with the Waterloo Black Hawks and stopped 22 of 24 shots in his first game. Playing time is important for Tomek and he’ll get it with the Black Hawks.

• Brynäs IF goalie Felix Sandstrom stopped 14 of 15 shots in his only game last week, picking up a win Thursday against Karlskrona.

• Two more assists for David Kase, whose SHL career is off to a solid start. Kase has four assists and seven points in his first seven games with Mora IK.

Claude Giroux's move to wing for Flyers keeps paying off in win

Claude Giroux's move to wing for Flyers keeps paying off in win

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What many believed was just crazy science is now a proven hypothesis. Dave Hakstol’s preseason lab experiment of putting Claude Giroux on left wing has encouraging test results. 

“That’s what we were looking for, and if you think back to it, those guys had a practice together and then we went away from it a bit,” Hakstol said. “There’s obviously some big changes there for ‘G’ and a different look with those three guys together. Give credit to those three guys. They’ve dug in and they’ve worked hard at it. Looking at it tonight, for sure, it’s an option.”

With one more preseason test run, the next true phase of the “G to the wing” project alongside Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek will begin Oct. 4 in San Jose. 

Thursday night’s 5-1 win over the Bruins was the proof the coaching staff and the front office needed to see against the most complete NHL level of competition the Flyers have played against during the preseason (see observations).

“I think today was our best game,” Giroux said. “We found each other a little bit better. We keep playing together, building on what we’re doing. Obviously, we’ve got some room for improvement, but we did a lot of good things out there.”

Giroux had a pair of assists in the victory. The trio of Giroux, Couturier and Voracek combined for six points and a plus-3 rating as each player turned in multi-point nights. If you were to chart the efficiency of this line over the course of this week's three games, the unit has continued to move in an upward trajectory.

“Yeah, I think we’ve gotten better every single game, especially on the turnovers,” Voracek said. “When we turn the puck over in the neutral zone, we go forward, which is really important. I think we can do it better.”

The move from center alleviates Giroux’s defensive responsibilities. In turn, Giroux can take more chances in the offensive zone while potentially increasing his shot production from the off wing.

“It’s different with ‘G’ on the left plank. I think he can risk a little bit more than when he was at center,” Voracek said. “For his advantage I think it’s real important that he can use the boards because he’s a very smart player. If you know how to use the boards, it’s a big advantage. I think we’ve been very good and we’ve just got to keep going.“ 

From that first day of the experiment, Giroux has seemed to embrace the change. Now he has the results to show for it with a pair of assists in each of his last two games at wing.

“When you play with two good players like that, and our D corps is playing great right now, it makes everybody’s job a lot easier,” Giroux said. “We like playing with each other, so hopefully we keep playing together.”

Welcome to the fight club
Picking on someone his own age is somewhat difficult to find for 19-year-old Nolan Patrick, so Thursday night he elected to go after a veteran 12 years his senior when he dropped the gloves with Boston center David Krejci (see video). Krejci had not fought in the regular season since 2011. 

“Not that old,” Patrick said jokingly when asked who was the oldest opponent he’s fought. “Kind of happened, I really wasn’t thinking too much. It kind of happens fast on the ice. Adrenaline kicks in. I’m not scared to do it if it happens, but it’s not a huge part of my game.”

“That wasn’t a necessity, but he did what he had to do in that situation,” Hakstol said. “There’s a couple other teammates that got in there and did a real good job, and for Nolan’s part, he did his part.”

Krejci even admitted he had some respect for the rookie for being willing to fight.

“Yeah, I don’t want to speak for him, but I felt like he was little over the line. He was willing to go, too,” Krejci said. “It wasn’t like I dropped and he was surprised. He was expecting that, so I kind of got to give him respect for that. First year in the league, so good for him. But at the same time, I thought he crossed the line a little bit. We fought and now it’s over with.”

When Patrick left the box approximately 4:30 into the third period, the home crowd gave the rookie a nice applause for the effort, and somewhere, Ed Snider was smiling.

In like a Lyon
Goalie Alex Lyon skated in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Thursday morning preparing as the backup for the Flyers’ game against Boston. Afterward, Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon informed Lyon that Michal Neuvirth was sick and he would be called on to start against the Bruins. So, Lyon and Phantoms backup Leland Irving carpooled from Allentown to Philadelphia during the afternoon.

Lyon responded by stopping 31 of 32 shots in earning the win, and perhaps leaving him with some confidence that he can fill in at a moment’s notice.

“Every minute I can get in here is big for confidence,” Lyon said. “It’s nice whenever you get up here to get that chemistry going with the guys, too. I felt good tonight, but the team was fabulous tonight. They played so well in front of me and made it easy.”

Lyon was expected to be back in the driver’s seat for the car ride back to Allentown since Irving is the projected starter for the Phantoms’ preseason game at the PPL Center against the Charlotte Checkers on Friday.

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Strong all-around effort in 5-1 win

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Strong all-around effort in 5-1 win

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Did Nolan Patrick receive his NHL initiation Thursday night? 

The No. 2 overall pick in the NHL draft dropped the gloves for the first time in his brief NHL career as he engaged in a brawl with Bruins center David Krejci, who hadn’t fought since 2011, during a scrum that involved several players exchanging barbs.

As Patrick returned to the bench after serving his five-minute major, the Wells Fargo Center gave him a round of applause.

Every phase of the Flyers’ offense came to life Thursday night as the team scored on the power play, shorthanded and at even strength in a 5-1 blowout of the Boston Bruins.

• Claude Giroux registered a pair of assists as the top line continues to create quality scoring chances with the captain at left wing (see story). Giroux now has four assists in his last two preseason games. 

• The Flyers jumped on the board first as the power play snapped an 0-for-21 drought when it successfully connected on a set play. Sean Couturier lasered a pass in front of the crease to Travis Konecny. The Flyers were 1 for 4 with the man advantage in the first period.

• Brandon Manning increased the Flyers’ lead to 3-0 when he worked his way down low, took a pass from Jakub Voracek and wristed a shot over the shoulder of Tuukka Rask. 

• Wayne Simmonds picked up a shorthanded tally on a perfect cross-ice feed from rookie defenseman Sam Morin that extended the Flyers’ lead to 4-0 after two periods.

• There were three first-period goals disallowed. Simmonds was called for deflecting the puck with a high stick. The Bruins had a pair of first-period goals wiped away. Head coach Dave Hakstol challenged a goal-scoring play that saw Krejci clip Alex Lyon’s skate as he was going across the crease. Earlier in the opening period, the Bruins were denied a goal on a hand pass.  

• The Bruins swapped out goaltenders prior to the third period. Rask was replaced by Malcolm Subban, the younger brother of Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.

• Konecny leads the Flyers in scoring this preseason with six points (three goals, three assists) in six games.

• Lyon wasn’t on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate as he was still back in Allentown, Pennsylvania. However, by mid-afternoon he was the Flyers’ starter in net against the Bruins. Michal Neuvirth was scheduled to start but came down with an illness and served as Lyon’s backup. Lyon saved 31 of 32 shots.   

• Lyon was recalled Thursday from Lehigh Valley with goaltender Brian Elliott traveling to Wisconsin to be inducted into University of Wisconsin's Athletics Hall of Fame Friday night. Elliott was the Badgers’ starting goaltender on the 2006 NCAA championship team, earning first-team All-America honors. Elliott was also a finalist for the 2006 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s best player. He also set school records for career GAA (1.78) and save percentage (.931).

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Valtteri Filppula-Travis Konecny
Jori Lehtera-Scott Laughton-Matt Read

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Sam Morin-Shayne Gostisbehere
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Alex Lyon
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Taylor Leier, Oskar Lindblom, Michael Raffl, Robert Hagg, Andrew MacDonald, Brian Elliott.