Flyers

Benching Brian Elliott in home opener would have been wrong move by Flyers

Benching Brian Elliott in home opener would have been wrong move by Flyers

Brian Elliott was flying around his crease, sprawling left to right.

He may have spent more time on his side than on his actual skates.

"It kind of felt like wave on wave," the goalie said.

Elliott was doing everything in his power to keep the Flyers from drowning during their home opener in front of 19,133 fans psyched for new life, a fresh season.

One of the more difficult — and debated — decisions for a head coach is when to pull a goalie as a game starts to unravel. Coaches often do it to spark a team and send a message, clinging to some last hope before there is none. 

It also happens when a goaltender simply isn't good enough and doesn't warrant being between the pipes.

And that's why Elliott deserved every second of the 59:45 he played in the Flyers' embarrassing 8-2 loss to the Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center (see story). He gave all he had and the effort was tangible by the simple eye test. Any human being with a heart would have felt for the guy as he tried withstanding barrage after barrage (see highlights).

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere spoke with conviction postgame and his message said it all:

When you leave a guy out to dry like that, it's really not fair.

When you see a goalie like that, you want to battle for him. It's just ridiculous, it's awful.

He played unreal. We sucked. It's defense.

Elliott earned the right to stay in there.

"I'll stay in there and battle it out as much as I can," he said.

The issue was the onslaught happened so fast. Before you could blink, it was 4-0 at first intermission but there was no sense that Elliott was playing poorly. The team was, but not the goaltender. So, strategically, why remove him when he's not the problem?

Then, the second period wasn't terrible. It was actually an even 1-1 and the Sharks didn't score until there was just 5:14 left in the stanza. For the Flyers, the middle period was so drastically better than the first that, again, pulling Elliott didn't feel necessary.

And once the game had fallen truly out of hand in the third period, at that point, yanking a goalie is meaningless. Maybe the only reason would have been out of pure pity for Elliott, who never stopped playing when fans started exiting.

"I think Brian got hung out to dry on it," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "Should have gotten him out of there probably after the second [period]. I wanted to give him an opportunity to keep battling, thought he was battling on every puck and every shot and by the time we got to the third period, the sixth one against, it's too late to get him out and put [Calvin Pickard] into that situation."

Overall, the Flyers surrendered 48 shots on the night. It marked the most they've allowed in a home game since Dec. 23, 1990, when they yielded 49 at the Spectrum.

"I think every man in this room, including myself, is better than that," Elliott said. "You've kind of seen it around the league with some higher scores. Sometimes it takes a little bit of a wake-up call."

Elliott didn't need one during this game. He was wide awake and never had a second to rest.

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Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Updated: 11:57 a.m.

Here comes Morgan Frost.

The Flyers called up the playmaking center Monday from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and sent Carsen Twarynski to the Phantoms.

Frost, an exciting 20-year-old prospect who the Flyers selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 16 games with Lehigh Valley.

Over his final two OHL seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Frost put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games.

He is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers play the Panthers in Florida (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and will wear No. 48.

Frost very well will likely play center, which would allow Claude Giroux to play first-line left winger, where he’s had career-best success.

How long could Frost be here? His play could dictate that, but Scott Laughton (broken finger) is nearing his return from long-term injured reserve. Laughton could be back as soon as Saturday's game against the Flames.

Nonetheless, Frost is getting his first shot.

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Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

The Flyers went to the shootout two more times this week and stomached an 0-1-2 stretch punctuated by Saturday night's brutal collapse against the Islanders.

Twenty games into the 2019-20 season and the Flyers (10-6-4) are a complex group. Despite improvements under a new coaching staff with some new personnel, they are still the tough-to-predict Flyers.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• When head coach Alain Vigneault's system is at its apex, all four lines are making an impact. Setting up shop in the offensive zone requires constant effort. The hard-on-the-attack, get-after-it premise can be taxing, so balance through the lineup is vital.

The Flyers haven't had that and their record reflects it. So, too, does their failure to close games. It's very possible they're running out of gas in the final 20 minutes.

The sharing of ice time can also lead to a style not conducive for high-volume individual point production. When everyone is going, the minutes and scoring can spread out.

Through 20 games, the production is down for Claude Giroux (13 points), Jakub Voracek (13), James van Riemsdyk (nine) and Kevin Hayes (seven). The Flyers don't need career years from those four; that probably wasn't going to happen. But the Flyers do need them for better balance or this team will have a difficult time finding consistency in Vigneault's system.

• On top of the way the Flyers want to play, their schedule hasn't been favorable — all of which could be having a negative effect on delivering knockout punches.

After playing in four different countries from Sept. 30 through October, the Flyers are in the midst of playing 16 games during November. They've already played five back-to-back sets out of 17 this season. In the second game of such situations, the Flyers are 1-2-2 and giving up 3.8 goals per game.

The Flyers have gone to the shootout seven times compared to just four times all of last season. Suddenly the start of games isn't an issue but instead finishing them has caused concerns.

Over the Flyers' last six games, they've been outscored 7-1 in the third period. Five of those six games have gone past regulation and at least three didn't have to.

“Not knowing exactly what we had to work with, I believe that we’re a work in progress and I really believe that we have steps forward to make," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "We’re not where I want this team to be, we’re not where I know our team wants to be. But we’re in a good place. We’re right there with a lot of good teams battling.”

• It's obvious by his faceoff work that Sean Couturier is still dealing with a shoulder strain.

The 26-year-old is one of the NHL's best in the dot but lost 12 of 13 faceoffs taken over three games this week. Last season, Couturier had 21 games in which he won at least 12 faceoffs.

He's clearly not the same guy in the circle. However, the injury hasn't stopped him from recording 10 points (four goals, six assists) and a plus-6 mark in his last 10 games.

“I feel better and better every day," he said Tuesday. "It’s more of don’t want to get it worse, want to heal it properly, don’t want it to last all year.”

The left-handed Couturier has limited his number of faceoffs and has even tried taking them right-handed.

“It’s something he’s worked on and it’s something that is pain-free for him," Vigneault said. "He does try it now or then. If the centerman gets kicked out, he’ll go in and try to win them on the side that doesn’t hurt. I hope he’s getting close because we need him to take draws.”

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