Blown call hurts Flyers in 'the biggest game of the year'

Blown call hurts Flyers in 'the biggest game of the year'

It takes something so unbelievably unpopular to exceed the decibel level of Wells Fargo Center boos that are normally reserved for Sidney Crosby.

Referee Kyle Rehman, a 12-year veteran of over 650 NHL games, managed to do just that Monday night.

With 7:07 remaining in the second period and the Flyers trailing 2-0, Travis Konecny fired a shot that Matt Murray attempted to glove, except he didn’t. He never secured it and within microseconds of the puck hitting Murray’s glove hand, it was on the ice between his legs. 

Rehman only assumed Murray had snagged it and wasted little time blowing his whistle, as all five Flyers on the ice raised their hands in disgust knowing Nolan Patrick’s rebound goal couldn’t be overturned and this particular sequence would be the turning point in what Jakub Voracek called “the biggest game of the year.”

It finished as a 4-1 loss to the Penguins (see observations).

The ruling from the NHL’s in-game crew was as follows: “The referee blew his whistle because he lost sight of the puck. It is part of the human factor of the game and from the referee’s position it appeared the puck was covered. The on-ice call was in accordance with Rule 31.2 and is not reviewable.”

Rehman was about 15 feet directly behind the Penguins' net when he lost track of the shot. Interestingly, from Carter Hart’s vantage point some 180 feet away from the play, the Flyers' goaltender appeared to have a better angle. Then again, Hart rarely loses visual of any puck on the ice — except for Sidney Crosby’s goal (see video).

“Yeah, I saw he didn’t catch it, but that’s just unlucky and unfortunate for us,” Hart said.

To his credit, Rehman admitted his mistake almost right away.

“Yeah, he apologized, you've got to respect that. I mean, they make mistakes, too,” Voracek said. “Obviously it was a tough mistake to make, but there’s nothing you can do about it after — just have to refocus and try to get one more.”

It negated the most furious 20-minute offensive barrage in franchise history as the Flyers peppered Murray with a team-record 28 shots on net in the second period alone, and finishing with 51 for the game.

Murray was simply unbelievable and the Flyers were remarkably unlucky.

“It would have been probably a different game,” said Sean Couturier, who saw his four-game goal streak come to an end. “Going in to the third [period] down one, it’s totally different. Got to force things and try to create more offense and pushing when there’s not always something. So definitely, it hurt us.”

A regulation victory over the Penguins would have pulled the Flyers within four points of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they now find themselves down eight with 26 games remaining in their regular season. 

“I think it all depends on how we respond [Tuesday],” interim head coach Scott Gordon said. “If we’re going to sulk over it and think it’s the end of the season, then it’s a big loss. But if we play like we did tonight, then one game isn’t going to be the defining moment of the year.”

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Ready for Flyers' roster? Play the wing? Morgan Frost will have much better chance to provide answers

Ready for Flyers' roster? Play the wing? Morgan Frost will have much better chance to provide answers

The Flyers played eight preseason games last year.

Morgan Frost appeared in just one.

At best, the 2017 first-round pick held an outside chance to win a roster spot. With only one game to work with, in actuality, Frost never had a shot. From the outset, he appeared destined for his fourth and final junior hockey season instead of the Flyers' lineup.

"I mean, I got to play in the one exhibition game," Frost said last month at development camp. "I didn't really get to do as much as I could, but I think I was just getting my feet wet. It would have been nice to play another game or two and kind of really get to show [myself]. It's always tough when you kind of jump into a one-game situation like that. Hopefully this year I'll get some more games to prove myself and take it from there."

This fall, it'll be a whole new ballgame.

Frost should have a more realistic fight for the Flyers.

"I'd like to think so, yeah," Frost said.

"I think your chances when you're this young get better every year because you turn into a better player and you know what to expect when you're in camp."

At development camp, Frost hit on plenty of good points when discussing 2019-20.

He's a year older, which always helps. That fact also means he's now ready for pro hockey, whether it's the Flyers or AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Another important note: Frost will be playing in front of a new coaching staff and general manager this time around. Having to win over a new regime can be seen as a challenge, but it's also an opportunity.

I don't think it changes the way that I approach things or how I play or carry myself, but it's a new staff — they're going to have open eyes and a fresh look. Just continue to do me and I'm not going to try to change anything.

- Frost

In 2018-19, Frost experienced another dominant year. The dizzying playmaker torched the OHL again by scoring 109 points (37 goals, 72 assists) with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Over his final two OHL seasons, the 20-year-old center put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games. On top of that, he dazzled through the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship with four goals and four assists in five games for Team Canada, which lost in the quarterfinals.

"What they always said is that when you're playing in a medal round or a gold-medal game, it's almost like an AHL playoff game — that's the pace that it's in," Frost said. "It's definitely a lot quicker than the OHL and you're playing against all elite players that are around my age. That was probably the best experience I've ever had playing hockey. It was a lot of fun, it was too bad we didn't do better."

The experience should help Frost's transition to the pro level. Once again, he'll head into training camp with added weight; he's around 187 pounds and his goal is 190. 

"You can see the way he thinks the game and sees the ice — he can make plays," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. "Whether he's ready physically to handle the rigors of the NHL, training camp will dictate that."

He'll also head into camp with a third-line job up for grabs. That vacancy appears to be on the wing, not at Frost's natural position. However, Frost said he played winger in world juniors and at times during the OHL season alongside 2018 fifth overall pick Barrett Hayton.

"I've played wing before," Frost said. "It's definitely not my strong suit right now, but I can definitely adjust to that."

This year, the Flyers have seven preseason games. What will Frost try to prove?

"Just that I belong," he said. "You have to do stuff to stick out but at the same time, you want to blend in with the better players. Just try to do everything I can to make an impression."

Frost should expect more than one game — and he'll know to make them count.

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Scott Laughton, Flyers agree to 2-year, $4.6 million contract

Scott Laughton, Flyers agree to 2-year, $4.6 million contract

No arbitration for Scott Laughton and the Flyers. Not even close.

Laughton and the Flyers on Friday agreed to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $2.3 million.

The restricted free agent and the club had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 30. It's not surpring they never got to it.

This is a good deal for Laughton — and deserved. It's an honest contract for a player that has paid his dues. The 25-year-old's previous contract was a two-year, $1.925 million deal with an average annual value of $962,500.

The 2012 first-round pick has found his niche in the NHL, becoming one of the Flyers' more vital depth pieces. During 2018-19, Laughton delivered career highs in goals (12), assists (20), games (82) and ice time per game (14:51). Just as importantly, Laughton has turned into a valuable penalty-killer as he was second on the team last season in shorthanded ice time (183:52), behind only Sean Couturier (184:51).

The Flyers' 2018-19 campaign was ravaged by inconsistency, but Laughton always played hard and stood out with his effort on the PK. He is slotted to be the Flyers' fourth-line center in 2019-20, between Michael Raffl and possibly Tyler Pitlick.

"When you look at Laughts and Raf, they play some heavy minutes, they can grind it out in the offensive zone and make it hard for the opposition and change momentum," former Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said in March. "So the next line that comes out there can have an easier time because the previous line from the opponent couldn't get onto the ice.

"Those guys are invaluable and they are just as important as guys that are putting up the big points."

Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, both not arbitration eligible, are the Flyers' remaining RFAs. Provorov's new contract could take time as both sides appear to be at somewhat of a standstill, while Konecny could be in for a bridge deal (see story).

"I expect as the summer goes on, we'll continue to chip away at this," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday via a conference call. "The market will continue to flesh out as we go and we'll get there; we'll get there by the end."

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