Flyers

Best of NHL: Islanders' Mathew Barzal with franchise-rookie record 5 assists

ap-mathew-barzal-ny-islanders.jpg
AP Images

Best of NHL: Islanders' Mathew Barzal with franchise-rookie record 5 assists

NEW YORK — Mathew Barzal put on a passing clinic for the New York Islanders.

Barzal had a franchise-rookie record five assists in the Islanders' 6-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.

"It's pretty cool I didn't know," Barzal said about the record. "Actually (Jordan Eberle) was saying maybe six would be a record, but we were just joking around. I had no idea, so that's a pretty cool thing to do."

Barzal becoming just the sixth player in Islanders' history with five assists in a game, joining Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Stefan Persson, Brent Sutter and Pat LaFontaine (see full recap).

Lindgren leads Canadiens to victory over Blackhawks
CHICAGO — Charlie Lindgren made 38 saves in his first career shutout, helping the Montreal Canadiens beat Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Sunday night.

Lindgren and Crawford were locked up in a scoreless duel before Jonathan Drouin skated through the slot and shot the puck into the left side of the net at 1:54 of the third. Drouin's third goal of the season stopped Crawford's scoreless streak at 173 minutes, 9 seconds.

Defenseman Joe Morrow added his third career goal at 7:45, helping Montreal to its fourth win in five games. Morrow blasted a slap shot by a screened Crawford for his first goal since Oct. 27, 2015, for Boston against Arizona.

Coming off consecutive shutouts against Philadelphia and Minnesota, Crawford finished with 33 stops in his first career regulation loss against his hometown team. He was 8-0-2 with a 1.49 goals-against average in 10 career games against Montreal (see full recap).

Petr Mrazek makes 36 saves, Red Wings beat Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta — Backup goalie Petr Mrazek and Detroit Red Wings pushed aside the Edmonton Oilers.

Mrazek made 36 saves and Martin Frk and Anthony Mantha each had a goal and an assist to help the Red Wings beat the Oilers 4-0 on Sunday.

Mrazek had his 11th NHL shutout.

"I thought he was excellent," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "He made some point-blank saves on Connor McDavid. We all know how good he is. Petr has put in tons of work in, both in the summer and in the moments he hasn't been playing for the last bit. He's put tons of work in, he's improved his technique, he was totally ready for this opportunity and that's great for Pete."

Frans Nielsen and Gustav Nyquist also scored. The Red Wings have won three of four to reach 7-7-1 (see full recap). 

Phantoms' Travis Sanheim- Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers

usa-zach-hil-phil-myers-travis-sanheim.jpg
Flyers/USA Today Images

Phantoms' Travis Sanheim- Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Flyers' general manager who was able to construct an entire blue line through trades and free-agent signings was once asked, "What’s the number one trait you look for out of a defenseman?"

Paul Holmgren’s response was decisive and to the point. Paraphrasing, Holmgren said, "The one who can get the puck out of his zone as quickly as possible."

As much as the game of hockey has been broken down into advanced metrics and analytics, it’s rather simple at its core. The more time a team spends in their end of the ice, the greater likelihood they’ll be on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

The AHL playoffs have served as an ideal test site for Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, who have been stalwarts throughout the Phantoms postseason run. 

However, Game 3 at the PPL Center Wednesday night further exemplified the necessary strides the Flyers' defensive prospects must take in order to develop into reliable everyday NHL blueliners.  

Oftentimes, less is more when you have the puck in the defensive end of the ice, and it took roughly 62 seconds into the game on Sanheim’s opening shift for the 22-year-old to make a major gaffe that gave the Toronto Marlies a 1-0 lead. 

Instead of making the simple play of a quick pass up the boards, Sanheim elected to keep it, reversing his field and was suddenly stripped with the attacking forward trailing. Roughly two seconds elapsed from the moment Sanheim lost the puck to when it was behind goalie Alex Lyon in the net. 

“On that particular play, we have full possession of the puck and the opportunity to advance it," Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. "Instead we go back behind the net to where their guy is. That’s just playing into their hands. In that situation, and in a few of our breakouts, there were opportunities to move forward with the puck and we didn’t.”   

However, the gaffes involving the Sanheim-Myers pairing didn’t stop there. Sanheim was stripped of the puck at his own blue line during the first Phantoms' power play. Myers inexcusably lost his edge skating with the puck through the neutral zone. Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson muscled his way around Sanheim to generate a quality scoring chance, and then another terrible pass and turnover inside the Phantoms' zone.

And that all came in the first seven minutes of the game. 

If Dave Hakstol had been behind the bench (he was actually watching from the PPL Center press box), Sanheim is likely sitting in front of him for the remainder of the game. That’s essentially what transpired in mid-January at the Prudential Center in New Jersey when Sanheim’s play landed him back in the minors for a month and a half. 

Chalk this up as one bad game. Game 3 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals was simply another teaching moment as the Phantoms were blown out, 5-0, falling behind 3-0 in the series. Both players will be back there together logging close to 25 minutes as the Phantoms avoid elimination Friday night.    

As exciting as it is to watch Sanheim and Myers generate offense within the Phantoms' system with their size and skating ability, there’s no way Hakstol and the Flyers can depend on that pairing defensively next season. Together, they’re still young, inexperienced and unreliable. 

If anything, expect the competition between Myers and Sanheim as something worth watching when Flyers' camp opens in September. Myers has closed the gap in his first full season in the AHL. 

And the guy who can clean up their play defensively will likely be the one that starts next season with the Flyers.  

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

terry_wilson_ohl_images_andrei_svechnikov.jpg
Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

We’ve looked at the top draft-eligible centers and left wingers. Up next, right wingers. On Sunday, we’ll look at the top defensemen before moving into the best fits for the Flyers.

Andrei Svechnikov, 6-2/188, Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is head and shoulders atop the forward prospects in this year’s draft class. He began the year as the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and ended there as well. Finished with 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games this season with Barrie, tops among rookie OHLers. His 1.64 points per game average was best among rookies and fifth in all of the OHL. His brother, Evgeny Svechnikov, was the 19th overall pick by the Red Wings in 2015.

Draft projection: No. 2 overall

Oliver Wahlstrom, 6-1/205, USNTDP
Wahlstrom finished as the seventh-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. The American can play both center and right wing but projects to at least begin his career on the wing. He plays a power forward game with impressive puck skills. He registered 40 goals and 83 points in 54 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and 22 goals and 45 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL. The 17-year-old is committed to play college hockey at Harvard University in the fall.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Vitali Kravtsov, 6-2/170, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Kravtsov, who models his game after Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov, finished as the third-best European skater by Central Scouting, a seven-spot climb from the midterm rankings. Had a strong postseason for Chelyabinsk, recording six goals and 11 points in 16 games and was named the best rookie for each of the first three rounds. He’s a shifty forward with high-end speed.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Serron Noel, 6-5/205, Oshawa (OHL)
The Generals winger took an enormous leap in his second OHL campaign, going from 21 points in 63 games in 2016-17 to 53 points in 62 games in 2017-18. Noel finished as the 10th-rated North American skater by Central Skating, a one-spot drop from the midterm rankings. He has a lot of raw talent and has natural size and strength. He’s improved his skating, which has helped his case throughout his draft year. Has drawn comparisons to Jets captain Blake Wheeler. A high-upside prospect with top-line potential.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Martin Kaut, 6-2/170, Pardubice (Czech)
Kaut’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships performance helped put the winger on the radar. The Czech winger jumped from the 11th-rated European skater by Central Scouting in the midterm rankings to the fourth-best in the final rankings. Had seven points in seven games playing for the Czech Republic at the world juniors. Had nine goals and 16 points in 38 games for Pardubice in 2017-18. An effective two-way player with good playmaking ability.

Draft projection: Late first, early second round