Flyers

After missing playoffs, it's fair to ask: What's Flyers' standard?

After missing playoffs, it's fair to ask: What's Flyers' standard?

With a point against the Flyers Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars can secure their place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The same Stars organization that saw their CEO Jim Lites take a verbal bullwhip to the Stars’ two superstars — Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn — and unleash a profanity-filled tirade that may have been a little extreme by John Tortorella standards. 

Lites referred to both players as “f------ horse----” for their “terrible play” and the overall effort of the team over the first three months of the season. The argument certainly can be made whether Lites was actually on point by calling out the team’s two biggest point producers. 

Since that outburst, Seguin has been in the top 20 in scoring, while Benn has continued to struggle mightily. The Stars’ captain is on the verge of finishing with his lowest point total since 2010-11 season. Overall, the Stars have played decent, with a 22-15-4 record since Jan. 28. More than likely, they’ll likely get bounced in the first round of the playoffs. 

Sound familiar? 

You can almost regard the Dallas Stars as the Western Conference equivalent to the Flyers in the East. 

Dallas has advanced in the playoffs just once over the past 11 years, whereas the Flyers haven’t made it out of the first round since 2012. Within both organizations, you have high-end talent locked up in long-term contracts, but overall, they’re two franchises mired in mediocrity. 

While it’s not prudent that such harsh words come from a team executive who has never played the game, there’s still a place within an organization for those types of conversations to take place. Accountability is a priority that should originate within the leadership group, and preferably in private.   

Ask any player who wore the Flyers sweater during the 1990s and 2000s what it was like when Bob Clarke addressed the team in a closed-door session during a losing streak, or how captain Keith Primeau never backed down in calling out a situation, as uncomfortable as it may have been.

While this Flyers team may not necessarily miss Chris Pronger the player, they certainly lack the Pronger presence. That one player who will deliver a harsh message no matter how many feathers need to be ruffled, as long as that one player takes care of their own business on the ice.

Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov did precisely that at the end of the 2016-17 season — one where the Lightning missed the playoffs — by saying “some players got their money and stopped working.” Kucherov established the standard, has been arguably the league’s top player since, and the Lightning now own the NHL’s best record over the past two seasons.

When the Flyers were struggling mightily prior to Dave Hakstol’s firing, one player mentioned during a postgame scrum how tight-knit this group was and how they enjoy spending time together on road trips. The underlying concern with that is players don’t get paid for their chemistry off the ice, and whether they’ve created a culture where they don’t demand responsibility of each other for fear of being the pariah.

Instead, the Flyers have been a hockey team that will be drafting a lottery pick for the fourth time in seven years during which they have cycled through four different head coaches.

That should be an unacceptable standard to any CEO or GM, but it means very little if the leaders within the team don’t view it as completely intolerable.

And then take the hard, necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

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With injured Michael Raffl out a month, Flyers call up Mikhail Vorobyev

With injured Michael Raffl out a month, Flyers call up Mikhail Vorobyev

Updated: 2:13 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — Mikhail Vorobyev, and the Flyers, are hoping a third time is the charm.

The 2015 fourth-round pick has been recalled on three occasions this season, with the most recent call-up coming Wednesday. With Michael Raffl out approximately four weeks because of a broken right pinkie finger suffered Tuesday night, Vorobyev is back and could center the Flyers' fourth line.

Raffl was placed on long-term injured reserve.

Vorobyev, a 22-year-old center with skill and penalty kill ability, has played six games with the Flyers this season. Down in Lehigh Valley with the AHL affiliate Phantoms, Vorobyev had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) through 19 games.

The Flyers will want to see him show consistent effort in limited minutes. That will have to be evident if he's going to stick in Raffl's absence.

“Misha, originally when he got here, I thought I liked the way he was playing, his energy," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Nov. 6. "It slipped a little bit."

Vigneault said Wednesday after practice that the Flyers may play 11 forwards and seven defensemen Thursday when they host the Coyotes (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), while 19-year-old rookie Joel Farabee will likely jump into the penalty kill rotation.

The Flyers have significantly improved their goal prevention and Raffl has always been a key piece to their defensive focus. His injury comes a week and a half after Scott Laughton, another important role forward, returned following a 13-game absence from a broken finger.

"It sucks, kind of a similar injury to mine with the finger, but just a sh---y scenario and a sh---y play," Laughton said of Raffl's injury. "It sucks, for sure, but guys are going to have to step up — that's what you have to do and that's what guys did when I was out.

"It definitely sucks to lose him on the ice, but off the ice, as well. He's huge for this group, for the young guys."

The Flyers are allowing 74 goals in 28 games after permitting 101 goals over 28 games last season. During their season-best five-game winning streak, the Flyers have surrendered 1.60 goals per game.

Raffl is one of the team's better puck possession forwards who helps control pace and has played the Flyers' third-most shorthanded minutes among forwards.

Vorobyev will get the first chance to fill the void.

 

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Flyers erupt for 5 late goals, are NHL's best since Nov. 1 (but lose Michael Raffl to injury)

Flyers erupt for 5 late goals, are NHL's best since Nov. 1 (but lose Michael Raffl to injury)

Updated: 10:07 p.m.

BOX SCORE

After an NHL-best November, the Flyers picked up their season-best fifth straight win to kick off December with a 6-1 decision Tuesday night over the Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers turned a defensive game into a laugher with five goals over the final 10 minutes of regulation. Claude Giroux scored the game-winner midway through the final frame before Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk followed suit (see highlights).

The Flyers (16-7-5) have allowed only 1.60 goals per game during their winning streak. Since Nov. 1, they are 11-2-4 with 26 points and a plus-15 goal differential. No NHL team has more points over that stretch.

The Maple Leafs (13-12-4), a top-10 goal-scoring club, had won four of their previous five games since firing head coach Mike Babcock.

• Great response from the Flyers after Carter Hart allowed a flukey game-tying goal in the third period.

Philippe Myers and Konecny made great plays to set up Giroux's goal. The floodgates then opened.

Konecny has 17 assists and will shatter his career high of 25 set last season. Myers added another assist to spring Konecny as the Flyers put the game on ice with a 3-1 lead that ballooned even more.

• Hart, who went 6-2-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in November, converted 27 stops.

Hart delivered a huge first period in which he made 15 saves as the Maple Leafs looked faster and more dangerous.

Amazing what consistent goaltending can do for a team. The Flyers have gotten it from Hart and Brian Elliott thus far.

• Fourth-line center Michael Raffl was not on the bench during the third period, playing just six minutes overall. After the game, head coach Alain Vigneault said Raffl suffered a broken right pinkie finger and is expected to miss around a month (see story).

The 31-year-old is one of the Flyers' better puck possession and penalty kill forwards.

• More and more, Kevin Hayes is starting to show how he can dominate a shift with his size.

The big-bodied puck protection is an area in which the 6-foot-5 center excels and he put it on display to create the game-opening goal in the second period.

Scott Laughton, who finished the play, has three goals in the last four games.

The Flyers are 9-2-1 when Hayes records a point. He has seven points (four goals, three assists) and a plus-5 rating over the past eight games.

• Competition is hot between Myers, Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg, who are in a rotation for playing time.

Myers was excellent with three assists and a plus-3 mark.

Gostisbehere was as noticeable and active as he's been this season. His elusiveness drew a penalty during the second period, giving the Flyers their first power play opportunity. The Flyers went on the man advantage again not long after as they controlled the final eight minutes of the middle stanza while holding a 1-0 lead.

If Gostisbehere (one goal, one assist, plus-3) can make that type of impact consistently, he'll take himself out of that rotation. The same goes for Myers.

• The Flyers continue their three-game homestand Thursday when they host the Coyotes (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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