Flyers game notes

Flyers-Predators thoughts: Looking for something they couldn't do last season

Flyers-Predators thoughts: Looking for something they couldn't do last season

Flyers (2-1-0) at Predators (0-2-0)
8 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 7:30

Another day, another home opener.

To close out a season-opening four-game road trip, the Flyers will help the Nashville Predators open their home slate Tuesday night by taking on the defending Western Conference champions at Bridgestone Arena.

It marks the third time in seven days the Flyers have taken part in an opponent's commencement festivities.

Then, the Flyers finally come home for their own party. But before that, they've got this one, so let's get you set with some thoughts as the Flyers wrap up the road swing.

• Tonight should be a fun atmosphere, flooded with yellow rally towels. The Predators are raising their 2016-17 Western Conference champs banner. They'll be back on home ice for the first time since last season's spirited playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final as the West's second wild-card berth. Nashville ultimately succumbed to Pittsburgh in six games.

The Predators feed off their rowdy home crowd, which was evident during the postseason when Nashville went 9-1-1 at Bridgestone Arena. They've also won eight of their last 10 home openers. Nashville is coming off two straight road losses in which it allowed four goals in each defeat, so juices should be flowing from the get-go tonight.

The Flyers, however, have won their last two visits to Nashville by a combined score of 10-5.

• With a third straight victory on the Predators' home ice, the Flyers would secure a winning four-game road trip. Last season, they failed to do so in three tries, finishing with these records:

0-3-1

1-2-1

2-2-0

• How great was it to see to Nolan Patrick working behind the net? In last Saturday's 3-2 OT win over the Ducks, the No. 2 overall pick tallied his first point off a nice pass from behind the red line to Ivan Provorov, who buried the shot.

The Flyers can certainly use more offense created from that area and it suits Patrick well given his vision and passing ability.

Sean Couturier is off to a really positive start, similar to last season when he opened with three goals in three games. Couturier is providing offense as the top-line center (one goal, two assists), but he's doing everything else, as well. He's eating up ice time with key penalty-kill minutes, while also sustaining possession and controlling play. He's a team-best plus-5 right now and the Flyers hope it continues.

• Key Predators defenseman Roman Josi (undisclosed injury) did not practice Monday or partake in Tuesday's morning skate. He is considered a game-time decision. Josi was second on Nashville with 37 assists last season despite missing 10 regular-season games. If the Flyers don't see Josi, that will be on top of not having to deal with blueliner Ryan Ellis, who opened the season on injured reserve following knee surgery.

• A look at the goalies: Brian Elliott goes for the Flyers. He's 2-0-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in his first two outings. He's been good against the Predators in his career, posting an 8-4-0 record in 12 games with a 2.25 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts.

Pekka Rinne is in net for Nashville. He was superb at home last season, going 21-6-5 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .920 save percentage compared to 10-13-4 on the road with a 2.66 GAA and .916 save percentage.

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup:

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds

Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny

Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald

Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott

Michal Neuvirth

Scratches
Forward Jori Lehtera and defensemen Brandon Manning and Sam Morin.

Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Finding meaning in the season finale

Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Finding meaning in the season finale

Flyers vs. Hurricanes
7 p.m. on CSN, streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app. Pregame Live begins at 6:30.

And so we've reached the final curtain.

The Flyers will cap off an underwhelming campaign when they host the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday evening in the season finale for both Metropolitan Division clubs.

But just because this is the final game of the year for two teams out of the playoff picture doesn't mean we're without things to keep an eye on.

Let's take a closer look at the final NHL game in Philadelphia until October.

1. Remember the name
Players taking part in Sunday's finale have pride to play for. Some have more than that to play for -- they have jobs on the line, whether here in Philadelphia or in another NHL city.

Sunday marks the Flyers' last chance to make an impression on Ron Hextall and prove they should still be wearing orange and black by the time next season rolls around.

After the final buzzer hits Sunday night, five Flyers are set to be restricted free agents and five more are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. The RFAs include Nick Cousins, Roman Lyubimov, Mike Vecchione, Shayne Gostisbehere and Anthony Stolarz. The UFA group includes Chris VandeVelde, Jordan Weal, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz and Steve Mason.

With the way the Flyers underperformed this year and with another season of experience under the belts of talented prospects, change will be inevitable over the summer. And don't forget about that pesky expansion draft for Vegas, either.

There are 60 minutes left to make a lasting mark in the boss' mind for the summer.

2. Another Stolie audition?
Mason started and beat the Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon. With the back-to-back set, Mason's swan song with the Flyers may have already come and gone as all signs point to Anthony Stolarz getting the starting nod against the 'Canes. Michal Neuvirth is out with an upper-body injury.

In six appearances (three starts) this season, the 23-year-old is 2-1-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and a shutout. He last played last Sunday against the Rangers, when he took his first NHL loss on the chin in a 4-3 defeat that officially booted the Flyers from the playoff picture.

The Flyers' goaltending picture is currently in a state of flux as Mason will be a UFA, Stolarz will be an RFA and Neuvirth, who recently inked a two-year extension, is eligible for the expansion draft. Remember, Vegas GM George McPhee was Washington's GM when the Capitals selected Neuvirth in the second round of the 2006 entry draft.

So if Stolarz does indeed get the start Sunday evening, it's a big chance to show he's worthy of being a part of the Flyers' plans next year and into the future.

3. Principal Skinner
The 'Canes aren't going to the playoffs, but that doesn't mean Jeff Skinner still can't torch the Flyers.

Skinner has owned the Flyers to the tune of 13 goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 25 career games against the Flyers.

Even worse news for the Flyers is that Skinner comes into Philadelphia riding high off a two-goal performance in Saturday's shootout loss to St. Louis. The 24-year old now has a career-high 37 goals and a team-high 63 points. Three points on Sunday and he'll set a new career mark.

Oh, and by the way, he's got 14 goals in his last 13 games.

4. Keep an eye on
Flyers: Has any Flyer looked more dynamic over the last month or so than Shayne Gostisbehere? Ghost has once again looked like the play-making, impact defenseman who took the league by storm and finished second in Calder Trophy voting last season. His shiftiness and booming, on-target slapper from the point have both shown up on a consistent basis over the last several weeks as he's shaken off whatever lingered from that offseason hip and abdomen surgery. And remember, he's haunted the Hurricanes with four goals and four assists in eight career games against them.

Hurricanes: Skinner's been so good he deserved his own section in these game notes. But how about 19-year-old rookie winger Sebastian Aho? He's had an excellent rookie campaign with 23 goals and 25 assists while playing in all 81 of the games on the schedule. You may recall the hat trick he recorded on Jan. 31 when the 'Canes routed the Flyers in Raleigh in the first game back from the All-Star break. He's a key piece of what looks like a bright future in Carolina.

5. This and that
• Defensive prospect Robert Hagg has been called up and is available to make his NHL debut against the ‘Canes. For more on Hagg’s call up, click here.

• The Hurricanes have now missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons, the longest active drought in the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers qualified this season for the first time in 10 years, passing the torch to the ‘Canes.

• Sunday marks the fifth meeting of the season between the Flyers and Hurricanes. The Flyers own a 3-1 advantage this season. The Flyers own a 7-2-1 record in the last 10 meetings with Carolina at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Coming into Sunday, six Flyers have played all 81 games so far this season -- Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ivan Provorov and VandeVelde

• In their history, the Flyers are 22-18-8 in regular-season finales.

Flyers-Devils 5 things: Reasons to watch after elimination

Flyers-Devils 5 things: Reasons to watch after elimination

Flyers (38-33-8) at Devils (27-37-14)
7 p.m. on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

It's time to play out the string.

The Flyers were finally eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday with a 4-3 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

That leaves three regular-season games for the Flyers before they pack up for the offseason.

The first of the three comes Tuesday night when the Flyers visit the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

Here are five things to know for the game:

1. House of horrors
The Flyers will make their last trip to the Prudential Center this season.

And that is a good thing.

They've been absolutely dreadful there, losing twice by the final scores of 4-0 and 6-2. The Devils were coming off a seven-game losing streak before the first win in December and a 10-game plummet when they embarrassed the Flyers in March.

Things have been chippy and physical between both clubs through four meetings. Don't be surprised to see the Flyers and Devils unleash some final frustrations and continue that trend, which always makes for good entertainment.

2. Fresh blood
It appears we'll see two of the newest Flyers make their NHL debuts tonight.

Following the results of the morning skate, Mike Vecchione and Sam Morin are expected to be in the lineup.

Vecchione, a 24-year-old forward, was just signed last Friday out of Union College, while Morin, a towering defenseman, has been in the organization's plans since the Flyers selected him 11th overall in the 2013 draft.

Look for Vecchione, wearing No. 74, to center the team's fourth line with Chris VandeVelde serving as a healthy scratch. This season with Union College, Vecchione put up 63 points (29 goals, 34 assists) in 38 games.

"I feel like my game is at center, providing offense there and obviously being strong defensively is something that we talked about," Vecchione said last week. "So if I'm not providing offense, I can be a good asset defensively and vice versa."

Morin, called up this morning, is 6-foot-7 and fearless with a still-maturing game. The 21-year-old accrued 120 penalty minutes in 68 games this season at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. Based off morning skate, it looks as if Morin, who will wear No. 50, is set to be paired with Shayne Gostisbehere.

3. Mason returns
Steve Mason will return to the crease after not starting the past two games because of an illness. Prior to that, he had started 14 of the last 16 games.

The impending unrestricted free agent has finished the season strong -- he's 9-4-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in his last 14 games.

Remarkably, though, the Devils are the only team Mason has never beaten in his career. In 11 lifetime matchups with New Jersey, he's 0-9-0 with a 3.93 goals-against average and .852 save percentage.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: At this point, it's obviously Vecchione and Morin, two potential pieces of the Flyers' future playing their first NHL games. How has Morin grown from a second season with the Phantoms? In a short sample size, can Vecchione show he's ready to compete at this level? We'll get a small glimpse tonight.

Devils: Kyle Palmieri leads the Devils in goals with 25, and he has four points (three goals, one assist) in four games against the Flyers this season. He's always hurt the orange and black with eight goals in 11 career games against them.

5. This and that
• Devils goalie Cory Schneider is 5-4-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 10 career games against the Flyers.

• Defensemen Radko Gudas (upper body) and Brandon Manning (upper body) are out and considered day to day.

• Devils defenseman Dalton Prout has been suspended two games for his hit on Gudas last Saturday.

• The Devils have lost 18 of their last 20 games.