Flyers

Avalanche 4, Flyers 1: Team waits too long to show energy in lackluster loss

Avalanche 4, Flyers 1: Team waits too long to show energy in lackluster loss

BOX SCORE

The Flyers are thankful they are done with the Colorado Avalanche this season.

The Avs completed a season sweep against the orange and black with a 4-1 win Monday night. Colorado outscored the Flyers 9-3 in the two-game sweep.

The Flyers’ power play continues to struggle as Dave Hakstol’s team lost another forward to injury.

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center: 

• Two things I didn't like on the Avs’ PP marker as the Flyers allowed the first goal for the eighth time in nine games:

1. Nathan MacKinnon worked the puck away from both Ivan Provorov and Robert Hagg along the boards.

2. The Flyers were outnumbered below the dots — four attackers to three PKers. Mikko Rantanen had an easy slam dunk goal as Sean Couturier appeared to be a tad late in helping out down low.

• Jake Voracek said the media didn’t pay attention during the Devils’ game when he said he played like "horse----" in the first two periods before finishing with a three-point game. 

Voracek had his pocket picked early in the first period and forced a pass that led to a turnover later in the first. You won’t see it reflected on a scoresheet, which is why the NHL needs to come up with something like forced errors and unforced errors. Giveaways and takeaways don’t reflect some of the poor play on the ice. 

• I like how Brian Elliott’s game has calmed down after his poor effort against the Florida Panthers a week ago. Elliott was the Flyers’ best player in the first 30 minutes as he made some big saves to keep the deficit to 1-0. I can’t fault Elliott for the power-play rebounds as those shots came from just outside the goal mouth at close range.

• The Flyers weren’t very hard on pucks in the opening period as the Avs outworked them and outshot them 14-11. However, the Flyers didn’t concede anything to the MacKinnon line at 5-on-5 as they kept Colorado’s top line on the perimeter and gave the unit very little from close range. The Flyers controlled play and were the better team in the second half of the game. 

• Colorado came into this game with the third-ranked penalty kill in the NHL despite having to kill off more two-minute minors than any other team in the league. To their credit, the Avalanche clog up the middle of the ice for all entries to the outside and then create havoc by aggressively playing the puck and not conceding any space. The Flyers had six shots with their power play but very little from the high-danger areas.   

• The Avalanche’s third line, which consisted of Matt Nieto and Matt Calvert, simply outworked the Flyers’ top line and the defensive pairing of Provorov and Hagg to score Colorado’s second goal. The unfortunate aspect of the goal is that the Flyers had their longest sustained pressure in the Avalanche zone with some prime scoring chances just prior to Colorado extending its lead to 2-0. It was Hagg who gave up the puck in the neutral zone.  

• The Flyers lost another forward as Michael Raffl was decked hard into the boards by Avs defenseman Patrik Nemeth. He left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return to the game.

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Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player

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

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player.

Destra

When it comes to most improved from last season, Travis Konecny is the first that comes to mind. He didn’t have a poor 2018-19 season by any means but when looking back and the leaps and bounds he has made since then, it just makes sense to award him the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy. 

Before the season started, I noted that Konecny was the most important puzzle piece for a successful year and he has continued to prove that with every game played. 

Konecny bettered his two-way game, cleaned up his puck work in the neutral zone and can be on a line with just about anyone and still find a way to drive play. He’s grown every aspect of his game and now leads the team in points, as well. 

Not to mention, he’s also a pest to play against, a ton of fun to watch, made his first All-Star appearance back in January … and he’s only 23 years old. 

Emmer

Konecny is the most improved player.

Fans were expecting a breakout season from Konecny and he’s having it. With 61 points through 66 games, he’s already 12 points past his previous career high of 49 points in 82 games last year. 

Konecny’s average ice time has gone up by almost two minutes more than last season and he has continued to dominate in his 5-on-5 play, while his presence on the Flyers' power-play units has grown as he leads the team in man advantage assists with 18.

The Flyers' 2015 first-rounder obviously had talent from the start, but this season he really blossomed on the score sheet and grew that confidence Flyers fans had certainly seen hints of before, but now see it on another level. 

His confidence could have spiked for many reasons: his offensive success, his coaching staff and new linemates and maybe even that six-year, $33 million contract he inked at the start of the season.

Whatever it was, that confidence is hopefully here to stay. Konecny certainly improved the most this season and I think Flyers fans have plenty to look forward to out of this 23-year-old for the next five-plus years.  

Hatcher

The Flyers have quite a few players who have taken the next step in their game this season, but Scott Laughton deserves this one in my opinion.

Statistically speaking, Laughton played 82 games last season, netting 12 goals and tallying 20 assists. After battling through two injuries this year (finger, groin), he’s still managed to pass that goal total with 13 in just 49 games so far in 2019-20. Laughton has also jumped from a minus-11 rating last year to a plus-13. He’s a key piece of the Flyers' significantly improved penalty kill.  

Not to mention, when Alain Vigneault has needed to shake up lines, Laughton has been able to find success as a top-six player. But, when called upon to contribute in the bottom six, he’s assumed the role without issue. Laughton still finds ways to distribute the puck well and produce with a different cast of players.  

Hall

With Konecny making such an important jump for the Flyers, he'll rightfully be the favorite for this award and should even be in consideration for the Bobby Clarke Trophy.

However, Oskar Lindblom won't be counted out for most improved. Don't be surprised if some teammates cast their votes for the 23-year-old forward — and those votes would be deserved.

Before being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma during mid-December, Lindblom was thriving in his biggest role yet, scoring 11 goals and 18 points through 30 games. He was projected to finish with 30 goals after a promising rookie season in which he recorded 17 while playing fewer minutes.

Lindblom, who continues to undergo treatment, quickly won over Vigneault with his smarts and skill. His improvements were significant and evident.

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Scott Laughton says thank you to those 'putting their lives on the line' during coronavirus outbreak

Scott Laughton says thank you to those 'putting their lives on the line' during coronavirus outbreak

Just like his Flyers teammates, Scott Laughton is staying busy during the suspension of the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The 25-year-old forward is in Philadelphia keeping up with personal workouts, including a little bit of yoga with his girlfriend.

Aside from physical fitness, Laughton also dusted off his Xbox and depleted Claude Giroux's confidence in FIFA.

“I just wanted to say, I haven’t picked up an Xbox since junior [hockey]," Laughton said Monday in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher. "Started playing a little bit during the break, G asked if we wanted to play twice, I mopped him up a little bit and beat him.

"Other than that, I actually picked up a book the other day, started reading a little bit. Not much, watching different shows, binge-watched 'Tiger King.'"

The 2019-20 Flyers are a tight-knit group, which has helped spearhead the team's resurgence after a letdown 2018-19 campaign.

"Everybody’s accepting of their role and doing what is asked of them and doing it with a smile on their face," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday on a conference call. "I think that’s why this group is so close and we were having the success that we were having at the end of the year."

Prior to the league's stoppage on March 12, the Flyers had won nine of their last 10 games and were 19-6-1 since Jan. 8, a stretch in which they were tied with the Bruins for the NHL's most points at 39. With 13 games left on their schedule, the Flyers are one point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals and own the league's sixth-most points at 89.

Understandably, Flyers teammates are buzzing in the group chat during this period of separation.

“I think guys have been writing in the chat a lot, just trying to keep it light," Laughton said. "This is a tough time for everyone, just trying to stay in touch and see what’s going on in the league and what’s going to happen. I think guys are pretty curious about it, especially the way we were playing and going into it.”

As Laughton noted, this is a tough time for everyone. He's appreciative of all those in crucial roles, risking their health for others.

“Philly and everyone around the world have come together at this time," Laughton said. "At the front of it are the healthcare workers and everyone that’s working in the grocery stores and at different stores that you need to get essentials at, so a big thank you to all of them for doing all that for us and putting their lives on the line. It’s been a really special time to see these people put in their work and make sure everyone is healthy and safe.”

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