Flyers

Which early development has surprised us most with the Flyers?

Which early development has surprised us most with the Flyers?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Which development through the Flyers' first two games has surprised us most?

Destra

I do not want to get my hopes up, but from what I’ve seen over the span of the first two games this season — I’m optimistic. 

One thing I’m particularly optimistic about is the penalty kill. With the addition of Mike Yeo behind the bench and Kevin Hayes on the first unit, there is a new level of aggressiveness that has not been displayed at a consistent basis for quite some time. 

The Flyers have already been to the penalty box seven times (twice in the season opener against Chicago and five times against New Jersey), but have allowed only a single shorthanded goal.

It’s no secret that the special teams have been somewhat of a deadweight over the past few seasons — the last time the Flyers broke into the league’s top-10 PK percentage dates back to the 2013-14 season, when they ranked seventh at 84.8 percent. 

There is still a ton of hockey left to play, but if the Flyers remain even remotely close to these numbers as the season progresses, it would instantly elevate the team’s success.

I know it’s been only two games, but it’s certainly refreshing to be this hopeful early on in the season.

Emmer

What has surprised me the most through the first two games of the season has been the play of Ivan Provorov. 

There were high expectations that the 22-year-old would bounce back from his lower-scoring, 26-point season in 2018-19. The expectations were higher after the Flyers signed Provorov to a six-year contract extension at the start of 2019 training camp.

I believe he’s playing up to those high expectations.

Last season, Provorov didn’t make it on the score sheet until the seventh game of the season on Oct. 18 against the Blue Jackets. This season, he already has three points. 

The blueliner has been effective on what look to be improved special teams, as well.  

The Flyers are 3 for 7 on the power play and 6 for 7 on the penalty kill — and Provorov has been a bright spot for both. Two of his three points have come on the power play and he has made a major impact on the penalty kill, specifically in this past Wednesday night’s home opener against the Devils, when the Flyers denied all five of New Jersey’s power play opportunities. 

To top it all off, he has played well with 32-year-old Justin Braun. 

Yes, this is a very small sample size, but I believe Provorov has potential to get back to a 40-plus-point season like he had in 2017-18. 

Hall

One of the reasons why the Flyers were drawn to Hayes was the 6-foot-5 center’s do-it-all makeup, how he impacts the game across the board.

We heard about his ability to do a lot, but seeing his versatility truly does it justice.

He’s disruptive on the penalty kill with his size and reach. Entering this season, the Flyers had a PK percentage of 78.4 since 2014-15, second worst in the NHL. The Flyers have to be better shorthanded and Hayes has shown he can really help.

Through the first 33 games last season, the Flyers’ power play was a league-low 12.1 percent at 12 for 99. The man advantage has already scored three goals through two games this season, with Hayes netting one of them. The power play has exhibited more motion and less predictability.

Two games into his seven-year contract, we’ve been given a snapshot of what Hayes can do for the special teams units. I didn’t realize just how valuable he could be in those areas.

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Flyers at Jets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Jets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers have lost three straight games in regulation only once this season.

They'll try to keep it that way Sunday as the Flyers (17-10-5) visit the Jets (19-11-2) after failing to pick up any points in back-to-back losses.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 5 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bell MTS Place
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The carousel at forward continued with Sunday's call-ups Carsen Twarynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

In Saturday night's 4-1 loss to the Wild, Scott Laughton (groin) and Tyler Pitlick (concussion) left the game and did not return.

On Sunday, the Flyers will be without forwards Laughton, Pitlick, Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis), Travis Konecny (concussion), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

With Sunday's roster transactions, the Flyers placed Konecny on injured reserve and Lindblom and defenseman Samuel Morin (ACL) on long-term injured reserve for salary cap relief.

Aube-Kubel, a 23-year-old winger who played nine games for the big club last season, will become the 10th rookie to play for the Flyers this season.

• With all the injuries, the Flyers are in desperate need of their big boys to carry the load.

The Flyers have gone to a different level when Kevin Hayes has produced in the points column. The team is 10-2-1 when he records a point and 7-8-4 when he goes scoreless.

Hayes went without a point over the Flyers' last two games — both regulation losses — and returns to Winnipeg for the first time since being traded by the Jets in June.

• The Jets are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Red Wings. Winnipeg hasn't dropped consecutive games since Oct. 13-17, when it lost three straight.

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup, according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Carsen Twarynski-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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Fans can show support by voting for Oskar Lindblom as Metropolitan Division 2020 NHL All-Star Game captain

Fans can show support by voting for Oskar Lindblom as Metropolitan Division 2020 NHL All-Star Game captain

How awesome would this be?

Reddit user u/arahn17 came up with a heartwarming idea to vote for Oskar Lindblom as the Metropolitan Division All-Star Game captain.

You can do so by clicking here, scrolling down and searching Lindblom's name to place a vote. The 2020 NHL All-Star Game is on Jan. 25 in St. Louis.

The unofficial campaign is another beautiful form of support for Lindblom, a 23-year-old forward on the Flyers who has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones.

Flyers teammates, fans and the NHL have already started rallying behind Lindblom (see story).

“He’s a fighter, he’ll get through this," Ivan Provorov said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher on Saturday (see story). "We love him, we’ll support him all the way and he knows we’re here for him. He’s not fighting this fight alone and we’ll do everything that we can to make sure he feels that there’s all people supporting him.”

Having the votes pile up for Lindblom is a touching way to do it.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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