Radko Gudas

Robert Hagg finds himself the odd man out vs. Rangers

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Robert Hagg finds himself the odd man out vs. Rangers

Rookie Robert Hagg will be a healthy scratch for the first time in his career following his performance Tuesday in Detroit, where the defenseman played just 12:39 and finished with a minus-2 rating, including just four shifts and 2:28 during the Flyers' third-period comeback.

Hagg missed four games with a lower-body injury, and when he returned he played on the left side, paired with Radko Gudas. For most of the second half of the season, Hagg has played the right side with Andrew MacDonald as the team’s second pairing.

“It’s not always about the individual,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “The pair (Hagg and Gudas) didn’t have easy chemistry there. We ended up in some situations with and against the speed and ended up with some bad gaps. The pair and combination wasn’t as effective as we needed it to be.”

Lyon in the crease
If Hakstol wanted to be a very unconventional think-outside-the-box coach, he would start Petr Mrazek for a period and then bring in Alex Lyon for the remaining two periods and beyond.

Lyon will start tonight’s game against the Rangers, the same team he earned his first career win against after replacing Michal Neuvirth following the first period. 

Some of Lyon’s best work this season has been coming in cold off the bench. He owns a .970 save percentage in games he has entered in relief, and a pedestrian .890 save percentage in five games he has started.

“It’s not just based on one performance, it never is,” Hakstol said. “ It’s always based on situation and a player’s body of work. Alex’s body of work has been good. He came in the other night and did an excellent job and that’s part of the decision.”

Shorthanded shortcomings
The Red Wings scored the tenth shorthanded goal against the Flyers Tuesday, matching the Colorado Avalanche for the most 5-on-4 goals allowed this season. 

This season, the Flyers are 4-4-2 in games in which they’ve given up a shorthanded goal, but more importantly, many of those goals have been momentum killers — the difference between tying a game or facing a two-goal deficit.

In the Flyers' 5-1 loss to the Rangers on Jan. 16, New York forward Paul Carey scored shorthanded with ten seconds remaining in the first period that extended the Rangers lead to 3-1, and took away any hope for a Flyers' comeback.    

“The Rangers are going to come with the kitchen sink on their penalty kill and they’re playing without a lot of pressure,” Hakstol said. “At times, you’re going to see two, three and four guys on their PK come up the ice offensively, so we’re going to have to do a very good job of that tonight.” 

Much of the blame can be attributed to the power play’s 1-3-1 setup — Shayne Gostisbehere serving as the only player on the point with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek in the circles, Sean Couturier in the high slot and Wayne Simmonds down low.

When a turnover or giveaway is committed between the circles and the blue line, typically only Gostisbehere or the player taking his spot at the point is the only player back to defend, leaving the Flyers wide open for a two-on-one shorthanded chance against.   

“We starting off taking a chance with one defenseman out there,” Gostisbehere said. “That’s just the name of the game. I don’t think there’s too many power play units with two D out there right now. I think for us, it’s staying within ourselves and keeping it simple.”

2 maligned pieces have Flyers' trust

2 maligned pieces have Flyers' trust

VOORHEES, N.J. — Who can forget Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final? 

Ryan Parent, a 22-year-old defenseman, took his first shift to only be overwhelmed in his own end of the ice, which led to Chicago’s first goal of the series. There would be many more goals, but you couldn’t blame any of those on Parent.

That was his only shift of that series. He had lost Peter Laviolette’s trust, and the promising first-round pick acquired in the Peter Forsberg trade with Nashville in 2007, never played for the Flyers again.

Sometimes a team is as only good as its last line of defense or its third defense pairing.

If the Flyers' February success can be attributed to something as wildly mystifying as the Eagles' Super Bowl, then there has to be some merit to think the pairing of Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas has also contributed to the team’s overall defensive play. 

There may be isolated moments in a game when they’re caught in their own end (along with the fourth line), but together, they certainly don’t give Dave Hakstol reservations about playing them during crucial moments.

“No. 1, they have a good veteran presence to them,” Hakstol said. “The chemistry they’ve built with that experience has been very important to our team. They defend hard and they’ve been a very efficient pair back there.”

Efficient and experienced.

The Manning-Gudas combo has more combined games played on the Flyers' blue line with 510. You can also trace their partnership back to the 2016 Eastern Conference quarterfinals and the valuable experience they gained in slowing down Washington’s high octane offense to just two goals over the final three games of that series.

“It starts with a relationship off the ice,” Manning said. “When you know someone that well, it’s easy to talk to about your play on the ice or whatever’s going on. Even looking back at the playoffs in Washington, I think it was the same thing — 20 to 25 games together down the stretch. When you play with someone that much, it makes everything else that much easier.”

Having Manning and Gudas log significant minutes not only helps fortify the Flyers defensively but affords Hakstol from having to overextend his top pairing of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, especially in the manner in which Provorov has struggled over the second half of the season.

Ron Hextall wasn’t looking to replace Manning or Gudas before the trade deadline but rather provide depth. As of Wednesday, Johnny Oduya had not made it to Philadelphia as he continues to work through some visa logistics on his way here from Ottawa, Ontario.

“We’ll see where he fits into our group, but we’re really happy with our group of six,” Hakstol said. “Our pairs have fit together very well. We’ve got some good chemistry there, and we’ll be cautious about any changes we make.”

Metro gets crazier as Flyers-Devils series ends with bang

Metro gets crazier as Flyers-Devils series ends with bang


We now know why the NHL’s Metropolitan Division is more tightly packed than the metro subway system during rush hour.

On a night when the Flyers were just 81 seconds away from separating themselves from the Devils by five points in the standings, New Jersey fought back to the tie the game in regulation before eventually winning, 5-4, in a shootout, eliminating any breathing room the Flyers were hoping to gain Tuesday (see observations).

Devils forward Taylor Hall scored a pair of goals, including the one that tied the game at 4-4 with 1:21 remaining in the third period (see highlights)

“It’s that kind of play where it’s not much we could have done. It is definitely frustrating,” Claude Giroux said. “They’re a team that’s in the race with us. It’s two points that we could’ve used.”

“Just a little breakdown. They had one extra guy there at the net front,” defenseman Radko Gudas said. “I think we’ve got to do a better job of boxing them out and know where the puck is. I thought we played a pretty solid game. There are some things we would like to change, but that’s hockey.”  

However, Hall’s first score is one shot Michal Neuvirth would like to change, and most definitely would like to have back. Hall took a sharp-angled shot from near the Flyers' goal line that squeezed past Neuvirth, who failed to secure the near-side post. It was a shot reminiscent of a similar one he allowed just two weeks ago in Washington.

“For sure, that’s the one you’ve got to have,” Neuvirth said. “That was not a good goal. I’ve got to watch it on video and definitely have got to improve on shots from bad angles because a lot of teams are shooting from bad angles. The game in Vegas, I thought I had at least 10 saves from the corners. Teams are definitely going to try me.” 

Hall sat out nearly the entire second period going through the NHL’s concussion protocol after scoring his first goal in which he was leveled by Gudas. It was Gudas who also blasted Kyle Palmieri in the game in New Jersey just two weeks ago that led to a fight with Travis Zajac. Although the divisional rivals refrained from dropping the gloves, the intensity was building as the two teams battled four times over the span of a month.

“I thought it was a clean hit,” Hall said of Gudas’ check. “I told them that on the ice. He’s a player that’s always going to finish his hits. Sometimes they’re dirty, but I didn’t think that one was.”

“[Those games] are just fun to play,” Giroux said. “Especially here, I think the fans kind of like that. We did a good job of staying focused on what we had to do. There are going to be games like that, but you've got to try to stay focused.”

Recently, the Flyers have been the stronger, more determined and focused third-period team, outscoring the opposition, 6-2, in the final period over the previous five games. The Flyers rallied to earn a point against Ottawa, stifled Carolina to just two shots on net, scored three goals against Montreal and locked down their defense against Vegas.    

After the Flyers outshot the Devils, 6-0, in the opening five minutes of the game, fatigue and jet lag appeared to catch up to Dave Hakstol’s club, playing its third game in four days. New Jersey appeared to have a little extra jump over the final 10 minutes of regulation. 

“There’s always challenges,” Hakstol said. “That’s part of the schedule now. We knew those challenges coming in. I thought the start of the game was really good for us. We had energy and we were sharp mentally. There’s just points and times in the game where a little bit of fatigue sneaks in, both mentally and physically. There’s challenges in every portion of the schedule and that was our challenge tonight.” 

“Yeah, definitely, I think everybody needs it,” Neuvirth said, regarding the rest. “It’s been really tough especially with the travel. It was definitely tough to wake up today because we were still on Vegas time, but this is a tough week and we’re all professionals and we need to be ready.” 

Neuvirth and the rest of the Flyers can now get their watches and bodies completely in sync with their next 20 games to be played in the Eastern time zone.

After all, the Metro doesn’t appear to be slowing down for any team.