Ivan Provorov

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Strong 3rd periods helping team finish

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Strong 3rd periods helping team finish

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Finishing up strong is a message NHL coaches typically preach on the final game of an extended road trip.

You’re tired of living out of a suitcase. Ready to sleep in your own bed. All while acclimating your body to a change in time zones.

Essentially, the Flyers have taken that approach into their game-to-game preparation as they’ve been the stronger team over the final 20-plus minutes in each contest so far.

Even though they’ve been outscored 3-2 in the third period of their first three games, they have outshot their opponent by a wide margin (a 49-20 total). Here’s the breakdown: 17-11 in San Jose, 17-5 in Los Angeles and 15-4 in Anaheim.

So what can this disparity be attributed to for the orange and black? The Flyers on Monday had a number of reasons for being a considerably stronger third-period team early in the season.

1. “Guys came into camp in really good shape,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “We’ve got lots of speed. Guys can skate. When you have fast forwards and you get in on the forecheck hard, you can wear teams down and create more opportunities for yourself.”

2. “I think the depth is a huge part of our team,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “When you take over third periods like that, it’s obviously a team effort, not just a couple lines and a couple of guys. I think it’s huge for us as a team — to come out there and be ready for those third periods and come with a good start.”

3. “I think we’re in really good shape, the whole team,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said. “We’re well-conditioned and we stick with it. We had a really good, hard camp — two hard weeks of battling and competing, and I think that prepared us for the season.”

General manager Ron Hextall believes it’s a product of all of those factors.

“I think rolling four lines certainly helps,” Hextall said. “The commitment our players made in the summer to coming to camp in great shape. We had a difficult training camp in terms of the workload, and I think that’s played into our third periods.”

The most impressive of those performances was the effort the Flyers exuded in the game in Los Angeles when they were on the second leg of a back-to-back after flying in from San Jose 24 hours prior.

“Mostly, it’s the players in the dressing room in between periods — just continuing to stay with the game,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Having a real mentality to build our game. All three of those games were tight hockey games in the third, so we needed a push in order to get the result we wanted. Hopefully that can become a real characteristic of our team.”

There’s a new goalie in town
The Flyers acquired goaltender Dustin Tokarski, 28, from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday in exchange for future considerations. 

Hextall finally found a depth goalie he’d been searching for after losing Anthony Stolarz, who had meniscus surgery in September.

“We just wanted to upgrade our depth. We feel like Dustin has experience in the regular season, the playoffs, and felt like it's an upgrade,” Hextall said. “Number one is he’s competitive, he works hard. He’s a little bit of an undersized goalie (6-foot, 205 pounds). He’s quick, agile, does a good job and we think he’s going to be a good fit.”

In a corresponding deal, the Flyers sent Leland Irving, 29, to the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. Irving was on an AHL-only contract, which made it necessary to complete a deal with two separate transactions.

With Alex Lyon penciled in at No. 3 on the organizational depth chart, it’s worth noting the last time the Flyers utilized four goaltenders in a single season came in 2012-13 (Ilya Bryzgalov, Brian Boucher, Steve Mason and Michael Leighton).

Banner night in Nashville
The Nashville Predators will delay the start of Tuesday night’s game with their home opener festivities that will include a banner raising ceremony as Western Conference champions.

“There will be a ton of energy in the building come tomorrow night, so I’m excited for that,” Predators defenseman P.K. Subban said.

The Predators hope Tuesday night’s game against the Flyers will give them a much-needed boost after dropping their first two games on the road (4-3 in Boston and 4-0 in Pittsburgh).

“They’re a good hockey team,” Hakstol said. “They play with a lot of pace. Their defense presents a pretty good challenge, not only up ice but in the zone. 

“They had a hell of a playoff run last year. It’s their home and I’m sure they’ll have a lot of intensity flowing through the building, and we’ll have to be ready to match that.”

Flyers end Anaheim frustrations with OT win over injury-depleted Ducks

Flyers end Anaheim frustrations with OT win over injury-depleted Ducks

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Not even the finest sous chef in the United States can serve up duck on a silver platter like this.

No Ryan Getzlaf or Ryan Kesler — Anaheim’s top two centers with a two-way game capable of shutting down the opposing team’s best offensive players.

No Hampus Lindholm or Sami Vatanen — two of Anaheim’s top four defensemen capable of generating offense from the back end.

No Nick Ritchie, who was a late scratch, forcing head coach Randy Carlyle to promote a fourth-line player into the top six.

Add all of those key pieces to the Ducks’ lineup and you can see why these birds have been an Alfred Hitchcock-like nightmare to the Flyers — a frustration level unlike any other over the past seven years.

The frustration ended Saturday night.

Wayne Simmonds played hero again, potting the game-winner 44 seconds into overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 win over the injury-ridden Ducks at the Honda Center, their first win in Anaheim since Dec. 2, 2011 (see observations).

"This is a tough building to get points in," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "And they had some key guys out. You know the guys who are in the lineup are going to be absolutely at their top level. You see that a lot within the game. You have a couple of key guys out and everybody else picks it up a notch or two.

"We wanted to make sure we controlled our readiness and our determination. It's a real good two points for us on the road."

Coming into Saturday, the Ducks had beaten the Flyers in eight straight in what has been a lopsided series, and had an 11-0-1 record against the Flyers since October 2010.

Simmonds' OT winner was his fourth goal of the season and his second game-winner in just three games. He recorded a hat trick in the season opener Wednesday in San Jose.

After the game, Simmonds acknowledged the importance of jumping on a team with such significant health issues.

"I think it's important," Simmonds said. "We're a young team so at this point of the season, we got to make sure we're worried about ourselves, make sure we're continuing to do the right things.

"I think we did that tonight, whether they were down a couple guys tonight or not. We just want to make sure we're playing hockey the right way and I think we did that tonight."

While it wasn't reflected on the scoreboard, the Flyers dominated the Ducks throughout long stretches of the game. Take the second period, for example. Through nearly the first 14 minutes, the Flyers actually had more goals (1) than the Ducks had shots (0).

And if the Anaheim Duck was the main course, Ivan Provorov was the Flyers' maitre d’ of defense. The Flyers' shutdown defender not only scored his first goal of the season but completely stifled the Ducks' top line of Andrew Cogliano, Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry as the trio combined for just three shots and was held off the scoresheet.

For 25 minutes, Provorov's defensive play was surgical in its precision, as he continuously separated player from the puck and negated Anaheim from cycling the puck down low.

"He's kind of a machine out there," said goalie Brian Elliott, who earned his second win of the season. "I heard when I came in here what type of guy he was. He played a great game tonight. It doesn't really get noticed all the time, but that's probably the best thing when a defenseman doesn't get noticed."

“For sure that team missed those guys, but it doesn’t matter, this league is so competitive,” Provorov said. “Everybody plays hard, so our main focus was focusing on our game, play the right way and that’s what we did tonight.”

There will be defining moments throughout the course of an 82-game season when the Flyers will win games they should have otherwise lost, and games like this one, where they may have felt deflated coming away with one point when they fully deserved two. 

Saturday night, to their credit, they took full advantage of a wounded bird.

A 1st for Patrick
Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick collected his first NHL point Saturday night, assisting on Provorov's first-period goal. Patrick and Provorov were previously teammates in the WHL with Brandon.

However, Patrick appeared to have found a running mate, as he was paired with second-year player Travis Konecny. The duo had instant chemistry that was refreshing to see after Hakstol switched Patrick and Valtteri Filppula in the lineup.

"I love playing with guys like that," Patrick said of Konecny. "He competes hard and he's fast and makes plays down low. I really like his game. Obviously, I like (Dale) Weise's game, too. He plays heavy and sees the ice well and it was obviously a good first game with both of those guys."

Giroux passes Recchi
With a secondary assist on Sean Couturier’s goal, Claude Giroux passed Mark Recchi into fourth-place in franchise history with his 396th assist. Moving forward, Giroux has only franchise Hall of Famers to pass up. The captain is now 68 assists shy from overtaking Bill Barber for third place on the all-time list.

Flyers-Ducks observations: Wayne Simmonds delivers yet again with OT winner

Flyers-Ducks observations: Wayne Simmonds delivers yet again with OT winner

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Wayne Simmonds played hero once again Saturday night for the Flyers.

Simmonds scored the game-winner 44 seconds into overtime to hand the Flyers a 3-2 win over the injury-depleted Ducks at the Honda Center. It was the Flyers’ first win in Anaheim since Dec. 2, 2011. 

The OT marker was Simmonds’ fourth goal of the season. He had a hat trick in the season opener Wednesday in San Jose.

Saturday’s win also snapped the Flyers’ eight-game losing streak to the Ducks.

• Ivan Provorov may have been the best player on the ice in this game, playing 25 minutes for the second time in three games. Primarily tasked with shutting down the Ducks’ top line and their most potent scoring threat, Provorov and the rest of the Flyers' defense limited Anaheim’s top line of Andrew Cogliano, Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry to just three combined shots.

• Brian Elliott had solid rebound control and was in control throughout as he kept everything in front of him. However, Elliott surrendered a game-tying goal in the third period for the second straight game. Overall, he stopped 21 of 23 shots.

• It was just a matter of time before the Flyers' top line scored an even-strength goal. After producing a myriad of shots in L.A., they finally got on the board, as Jake Voracek did nice job of drawing his man down low before backhanding a pass to a wide-open Sean Couturier, who was fortunate that John Gibson left his five hole slightly exposed.

• One of the biggest concerns for the Flyers' coaching staff is not getting caught with two of their rookie defenseman on the ice at the same time. That’s precisely what happened during the Ducks’ first goal, when Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg were caught together on the same side of the ice, leaving Antoine Vermette all alone for the easy one-time goal.

• On their first shift of the game, the newly formed duo of Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick nearly scored on a 2-on-1, as Patrick tried to beat Gibson on a one-timer. On his second shift, Patrick read a pass, intercepted it at center ice and nearly got another shot on net. I actually believe Patrick will benefit playing on the third line, especially with a talented player like Konecny. Imagine how good this line could be in a few years with Oskar Lindblom on the left side and Konecny on the right.

• Late in the third period, Konecny had a Grade-A chance to win the game from the bottom of the right circle with an uncontested shot, off a beautiful pass from Patrick. 

• Someone let out the helium out of the Flyers’ power-play balloon. After scoring three power-play goals on their first three opportunities in San Jose, Dave Hakstol’s club is now scoreless in their last 12 chances. They also gave up their first shorthanded goal of the season when Cam Fowler tied the game early in the third period. The Flyers are getting shots, but they’re just not getting those second and third whacks in front. 

• After nearly 14 minutes into the second period, the Flyers had produced more goals (1) than the Ducks had shots (0). Anaheim finally got their first shot on net 45 seconds after Couturier’s goal.

• Patrick picked up his first NHL point with the primary assist on Provorov’s goal. In the first period, arguably his most productive yet, Patrick attempted three shots, was a plus-1 and went a perfect 4 for 4 in the faceoff circle.

• The Flyers are the Ducks’ only Saturday game at the Honda Center this season. Compare that to the Flyers, who have 12 Saturday home dates. The city of Anaheim prefers to reserve Saturday for musical acts. Apparently, Ducks fans couldn’t adjust to the rare Saturday date, as every section had large numbers of unfilled seats.

• Next up for the Flyers is a date with Nashville on Tuesday. It's the Predators' home opener. The Flyers leave California with four points and two wins.