Flyers

Blue Jackets 4, Flyers 3 (OT): 3rd-period comeback not enough

Blue Jackets 4, Flyers 3 (OT): 3rd-period comeback not enough

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Newly hired general manager Chuck Fletcher got his first look at his new team and saw an impressive third-period comeback against one of the NHL’s best goaltenders.

Despite Travis Sanheim’s two-goal effort in a span of 2:05, Columbus defenseman Seth Jones scored the game-winner just 10 seconds into overtime to hand the Flyers a 4-3 loss Thursday.

What can the Flyers do with their bottom three lines and, aside from Sanheim, what was the one other bright spot in this game? 

Let's get into the observations:

• The only real sustained threat of offense came from the Flyers' top line, which has been the case over the past three weeks. Sean Couturier did a nice job on the Flyers' first goal to bang the puck off the boards from deep in the Flyers' zone, which sprung Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux on a 2-on-1 chance with Giroux snapping a shot over the shoulder. That No. 1 line had a goal taken off the board on an offsides play, and Couturier had a wide-open net only to shoot the puck right into Sergei Bobrovsky’s pads. Right now, it’s the only line you can’t break up.

• If Fletcher is looking to upgrade at the forward position, second-line center Nolan Patrick certainly didn’t show him much through the first 40 minutes. Patrick lost a 1-on-1 battle, which eventually led to Columbus’ second goal of the game. Patrick had a handful of shots on net, but there wasn’t much speed to his game and he didn’t have much puck possession time in the Jackets' zone. 

• The Flyers' third line didn’t perform much better, with Scott Laughton guilty of a pair of penalties in the second period. Laughton doesn’t generate offensively at center like he does at wing, leaving Dave Hakstol without a solid, reliable third-line center with Jordan Weal serving as a healthy scratch. Finding some center depth should be one of Fletcher’s priorities before the trade deadline or in the offseason. 

• If Anthony Stolarz is looking to establish himself as a No. 1 goaltender, he can’t be susceptible to that one bad goal per game. Stolarz gave up a weak goal to Jones. Even though Jones was shooting from close range and may have partially whiffed, the puck never left the ice and slid through the five-hole for a very leaky goal.

• Hakstol believes he has seen improved play out of the penalty kill and after the first period, that unit has now killed 14 straight power-play opportunities. However, the Flyers got away with one on Columbus’ first chance. A coverage breakdown left Alexander Weinberg unattended all alone in front of Stolarz, who did a solid job of using his long stick to disrupt the pass. Later on that PK, Stolarz robbed Artemi Panarin with a highlight glove save.

• Hakstol had seen enough from James van Riemsdyk to replace him on the Flyers' top power-play unit with Wayne Simmonds. Perhaps it’s more of a feeling of familiarity, but van Riemsdyk has really struggled in his return from injury. He’s been hardly noticeable, with no points in seven of his last eight games, and in his last three, he has just one shot on net. 

• Where in the world did Sanheim come from? Beautiful move from Sanheim to jump into the attack on a give-and-go play with Giroux, which led to Sanheim’s first goal of the season. We need to see more of those plays from Sanheim, who made a terrific move from forehand to backhand to beat Bobrovsky cleanly at the goalmouth. Moments later, he scored his second goal with a short-side snipe to tie the game.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Capitals, Hurricanes set for Game 7 clash

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Capitals, Hurricanes set for Game 7 clash

There were two Game 7 matchups Tuesday night.

On Wednesday night, we've got another one and it should be good as the defending champion Capitals try to put away the Rod Brind'Amour-led Hurricanes, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The first-round series hasn't lacked fireworks or physicality. Game 7 should be no different.

Below is the full schedule for Day 15 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals (tied 3-3)
Game 7, Eastern Conference first round
7:30 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here

Don't lose perspective with Flyers prospect Jay O'Brien

Don't lose perspective with Flyers prospect Jay O'Brien

Updated: 5:13 p.m.

The Flyers saw both ends of the spectrum with their first-round picks from the 2018 draft.

While Joel Farabee shined at Boston University this season (see story), Jay O'Brien struggled to find his game at Providence College.

After a freshman season comprised of injuries and five points (two goals, three assists) in 25 games, it appears O'Brien's time with the Friars is over.

According to a report Tuesday by Jeff Cox of the New England Hockey Journal, O'Brien has entered the NCAA transfer portal and is expected to play for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL during the 2019-20 season. However, per separate reports, O'Brien's decision for next season is still being decided.

O'Brien, a playmaking center, will have three years of college eligibility remaining.

Now, before anyone starts debating O'Brien's future, let's remember the importance of perspective with teenage prospects. 

O'Brien was perceived as a bit of project when the Flyers' previous regime of Ron Hextall and Chris Pryor selected him 19th overall last summer. Taking O'Brien at No. 19 was viewed by many as a reach, but the Flyers' scouting staff was high on the Thayer Academy product and trusted its evaluation. The Flyers took O'Brien over other centers Joseph Veleno, Rasmus Kupari and Isac Lundestrom.

This season, Veleno put up 104 points in the QMJHL, Kupari had 33 points over 43 games in Liiga (Finnish pro league) and Lundestrom appeared in 15 games with the Ducks.

O'Brien, because of his smaller stature (5-foot-11, 174 pounds) and being drafted out of prep school, had an adjustment period playing Division I hockey (see story). Multiple injuries also didn't help his cause with the transition.

But patience with O'Brien was always going to be imperative. The Flyers drafted him on a lot of upside after taking more of a guarantee in the quick-rising Farabee five picks earlier. The 19-year-old O'Brien isn't lacking in ability or work ethic. Providence head coach Nate Leaman, who led the Friars to a national title in 2015, called O'Brien's skill set "elite."

"It takes time to learn to play at the speed, to play with the lack of space," Leaman said in January during a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia (see story).

"These guys that come right from high school, it takes time and I know Philly has told us that they understand that also."

O'Brien paid little attention to pre-draft rankings last summer.

"I don't even know where I was," he said at development camp. "It doesn't mean much to me. It's not really where you get drafted, it's what you do after you get drafted."

He'll have a new path in 2019-20, another chance to prove himself. There's still plenty to like, with plenty of time.

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