Flyers

Alex Lyon's 1st NHL start has devilish finish

Alex Lyon's 1st NHL start has devilish finish

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — The Flyers' pipes are in need of repair right now.

Making his first career NHL start, Alex Lyon was a little leaky in a 4-3 loss to the Devils Thursday night at the Prudential Center, as New Jersey connected for a pair of third-period goals, including Nico Hischier’s redirection through Lyon’s five-hole with 1:27 remaining in regulation (see observations).

“He just put it to the net and I thought I was in really good position, but I just opened up a little bit, and things happen fast enough in this league where you’re going to pay for that,” Lyon, who stopped 18 of 22 shots, said. “So I learned the hard way. I’m just going to try and learn from the mistakes and be sharper next time.”

Lyon’s first start also marked the first time this season the Flyers failed to pick up a point when leading after two periods with a record of 18-1-3. 

“It’s definitely tough to take a loss like that for sure,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “I think we more feel bad for Alex. We kind of let him down there, but it’s about getting back on the horse. There’s a lot of hockey left.”

One night after Michal Neuvirth admitted he wasn’t feeling quite 100 percent over a stomach bug, Lyon had to overcome some early butterflies of his own and another poor performance from the penalty kill, as the Devils scored two power-play goals on their first five shots of the game. 

“I wasn’t very sharp in the first period,” Lyon said. “I think my head was in the locker room. I just tried to battle and regroup. Unfortunately at the end there, that’s the main thing. You've got to find a way to get a point or two points at least. I’m disappointed.”

“I’m not surprised that he’s his own worst critic,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the type of person that he is. I thought he gave us a good hockey game.”

New Jersey’s first goal came on a backdoor play as Kyle Palmieri was left wide open in the left circle, and the Devils converted again as Drew Stafford redirected a pass in front of Lyon that also slipped through his legs. In their season series, five of the eight goals the Devils have scored against the Flyers have come with the man advantage. 

“We allowed a seam play on the backdoor to Palmieri. There’s a couple of different ways ahead of that play to defend it a little bit better, and the tip play is a missed assignment at the net front,” Hakstol said. “When you give good players on the power play second and third opportunities, those are the ones that come back and get you. That’s something that we needed to be much better with the missed clears.”

Playing the Devils for the third time in 17 days, tensions started to rise after Radko Gudas collided with Palmieri late in the first period. As Gudas was attempting to skate back to his defensive position on the blue line, he jumped into Palmieri inadvertently. Gudas was assessed a two-minute minor for interference, but considering his history of cheap shots, the Devils rushed to Palmieri's defense.

Jakub Voracek and Taylor Hall were given matching roughing minors, and Brandon Manning and Damon Severson engaged in a brawl.

“I was getting out of the way of [Wayne Simmonds] when he showed up,” Gudas said. “I didn’t see him at all. I was just trying to get back to my position. It was unlucky. I shot it, and it was unfortunate.”

“Maybe it’s not avoidable, but there are ways you can maybe soften that blow,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said. “I don’t think you have to jump at the guy.” 

On Gudas’ next shift, Zajac came straight at Gudas as both players dropped the gloves in retaliation for the previous hit.

“I didn’t expect that from him, but it was OK," Gudas said. "It was a pretty good fight."

Still, the dogfight within the Metropolitan Division continues. Just 10 points separate the eight teams all jockeying for playoff position, and unquestionably, every single point matters as the Flyers let one, and quite possibly two, slip away Thursday night, marking consecutive losses with Brian Elliott (lower body) on the shelf.

And if “Ells” doesn’t return sometime soon, those other “L's” may continue to pile up in the standings.

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

While the weekend felt rather subdued to Ron Hextall (see story), the Flyers still made some history of their own at the 2018 NHL draft.

The Flyers entered with nine picks and ended up making eight — none of which were used on a Canadian player, a first in the organization's history. 

Over the two-day draft, which wrapped up Saturday, the Flyers selected five American players and three Swedish players.

Let's recap the Flyers' work in Dallas:

First round, No. 14: Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, LW

Analysis: A legitimate two-way winger with a big shot and scoring mentality.

Quotable: "He's got speed. He's got skill. He can score. He's a good player and he has size in his family, so I still think there's a chance he can grow." - Hextall

First round, No. 19: Jay O'Brien, 5-11/176, C

Analysis: Some may view it as a reach, but the Flyers love O'Brien's makeup and ability.

Quotable: "He just has the traits of a hockey player. Just his timing of passes, when to shoot, when to pass. He's a really smart hockey player. He's competitive. He's strong. He's got a little agitator in him." - Hextall

Second round, No. 50: Adam Ginning, 6-4/206, D

Analysis: A stay-at-home defenseman with toughness and size.

Quotable: "We like his size. We like his upside. He’s a big guy and he moves pretty well for a big guy. He’s got solid puck skills and he has the range we need for a solid defensive defenseman." - Hextall

Fourth round, No. 112: John St. Ivany, 6-2/198, D

Analysis: A right-handed shot blueliner the Flyers wanted.

Quotable: "Good size, moves well. Kind of one of those steady-Eddie types of guys, solid with the puck. He was a good fit for our group." - Hextall

Fifth round, No. 127: Wyatte Wylie, 6-0/190, D

Analysis: Another righty blueliner that saw his draft stock shoot up in the second half of his junior season.

Quotable: "I like to describe myself as a two-way defenseman, one that can move pucks up and likes to join the play." - Wylie

Fifth round, No. 143: Samuel Ersson, 6-2/176, G

Analysis: The Flyers were not going to chase a goalie but liked the ceiling here.

Quotable: "We think there’s some upside there that hasn’t been tapped yet. We got him a lot later. Had we needed a goalie, we would have taken him a lot earlier." - Hextall

Sixth round, No. 174: Gavin Hain, 5-11/193, C

Analysis: A teammate of Farabee with bottom-six potential.

Quotable: "The NTDP itself is a hard-grooming place to play as a player, but it’s a great spot to develop." - Hain

Seventh round, No. 205: Marcus Westfalt, 6-3/203, C/LW

Analysis: An Oskar Lindblom-type prospect? Westfalt has some traits to like.

Quotable: "I like the mix that we got — three D, four forwards, a goalie. I like the mix, I like the fits. We got some good players. We got some skill up front. We got some guys in the back that complement our group with some size, some steady guys." - Hextall

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

Ron Hextall entered his fifth draft as Flyers general manager with nine selections and left Dallas making eight of them — a pretty typical draft weekend under the Hextall regime.

With Hextall as GM, the Flyers have averaged 8.4 draft picks and their eight selections this year are the second least with him steering the ship. He made six picks in his first draft in 2014.

As the offseason now shifts onto development camp and free agency, let’s break down the weekend that was for the Flyers at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

1. The overall draft class

Hextall emphasized during last week the need to restock the Flyers’ defensive pipeline and that right-handed defensemen were a “big fill” in the organization. On Day 2, he followed through.

The Flyers used their first three picks Saturday on defensemen: Adam Ginning (50th overall), John St. Ivany (112th overall) and Wyatte Wylie (127th overall). St. Ivany and Wylie are righties.

Overall, the Flyers’ draft class from Rounds 2-7 didn’t seem to blow anyone away, but with a prospect pool as deep as the Flyers, this draft wasn’t about refilling the cupboard.

What mattered most about this draft was the two first-rounders and while Jay O’Brien is a bit of a wild card, Joel Farabee was as perfect as an option the Flyers had available at No. 14 overall.

Drafts can’t be judged until three or five years down the line, so we won’t know how this overall crop will pan out. But if one of Farabee or O’Brien hit, that’s all that matters.

Farabee, especially, fits an organizational need as a quick, shoot-first natural winger.

If all goes according to plan, this draft class should be judged on the first-round picks. It’s important to find diamonds in the rough and perhaps they have. Time will tell.

But based on the Flyers’ current timetable to compete, they need at least one of these two first-rounders to turn into an impact NHL player. My money is on Farabee being just that.

2. A quiet weekend

Part of the allure of draft weekend is the constant trade speculation leading up to Round 1 and throughout the first round. Friday was a fairly quiet night in the NHL player transaction ledger.

Saturday some saw significant player movement with Ilya Kovalchuk and signing with the Kings and the Flames trading Dougie Hamilton to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindblom.

But none from the Flyers. The draft is when Hextall comes out of his cage and yells, “I am Ron, hear me roar.” For Hextall, the draft is where he does his best, and loudest, work.

Technically, this is the first draft the Flyers didn’t make any moves of note, but that is misleading. When Philly hosted the draft in 2014, Hextall’s first, the Flyers reportedly were hot in pursuit of trading up from No. 17 overall to the top pick to draft Aaron Ekblad.

In the end, Hextall couldn’t strike his magic. Every year since he has … since now. It was a weird feeling not seeing the Flyers subject of trade rumors this weekend.

The Flyers didn’t leave Dallas without making one trade, though. Hextall reached into his bag of tricks and traded the 190th overall to the Canadiens for a seventh-rounder in 2019.


3. The growth of USA hockey on full display

For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers did not draft a Canadian-born player. Their breakdown goes as followed: Five Americans and three Swedes.

Hextall continued to add college-bound prospects Saturday with the selections of St. Ivany and Gavin Hain (sixth round, 174th overall). St. Ivany is headed to Yale and Hain, North Dakota.

Hain is also the second player the Flyers drafted from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and was Farabee’s teammate. That’s of note because they haven’t drafted a player from the USNTDP since James van Riemsdyk (No. 2 overall) in 2007. 

If the Flyers drafting no Canadians means anything, it should be viewed as the growth of USA Hockey. It was a pretty good year for the NTDP, which had 12 players drafted.

4. Too early to compare

Of the Flyers’ Day 2 picks, Marcus Westfalt may be the most intriguing.

Westfalt was the Flyers’ final selection, taken with the 205th pick. He’s a big winger described as a two-way player. His skill level doesn’t appear to be high-end, but he has potential.

It’s easy to make comparisons to Oskar Lindblom, who fell to the fifth in 2014, but it’s far too early to make that connection. Lindblom’s issue was his skating — it needed major work.

After years of working on it, Lindblom elevated his skating up a few notches. He’s by no means a great skater now, but he improved enough to make the jump to the NHL.

At the very least, Westfalt can be chalked up as an intriguing prospect to watch overseas.

5. The name game

It wouldn't be a hockey draft without an ode to great hockey names.

The Flyers got a gem of their own: Wyatte Wylie in the fifth round.

I feel like the Coyotes should have drafted him. Wylie the Coyote.

I’ll see myself out.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• If Morin doesn't pan out, is this pick the replacement?  

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• 4 thoughts from Day 1 of 2018 NHL draft

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition