Flyers

Bruins 3, Flyers 0: All fight, no results in chippy shutout

Bruins 3, Flyers 0: All fight, no results in chippy shutout

BOX SCORE

BOSTON — The Flyers had about as much success in Boston as the Dodgers.

Thankfully for the orange and black, they leave Beantown having lost just one game as the Bruins shut out the Flyers, 3-0, Thursday night at TD Garden.

How did the special teams let them down again, and why couldn’t the Flyers solve Bruins backup goalie Jaroslav Halak?

• Dave Hakstol had to be pleased defensively with the Flyers' first period when they gave the Bruins little open room on the defensive side of the red line. With the Bruins missing two key defensemen, the Flyers failed to get in strong on the forecheck and put some pressure on an injury-plagued Boston blue line without Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy.

• The four-game absence seemed to help Andrew MacDonald, who looked like he had the burst in his skating that was missing in his first five games. He told me the biggest area that would be noticeable would be in his pivots in 1-on-1 defending. As much as he’s disliked, a healthy MacDonald is essential for this team to have three solid D-pairings. Unfortunately, "A-Mac" had the turnover that led to Zdeno Chara’s big blast that gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

• Scott Laughton did a tremendous job of keeping the game scoreless as he hustled back and broke up a 2-on-1 backchecking Brad Marchand by tying up the stick. Plays like that are a big reason why Laughton has been one of the Flyers' best two-way forwards this season. Thursday marked the 200th career game for Laughton and clearly, the past 100 games have seen a significantly different player.

• Not only did the Flyers gift the Bruins a power play with a too-many-men on the ice minor, but the coverage between MacDonald and Robert Hagg on the penalty kill also completely broke down, allowing Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci to work a give-and-go play that left DeBrusk unattended and unaccounted for. DeBrusk redirected an easy goal.

• After playing a solid, structured game through the first 30 minutes, the Flyers started to get a little sloppy with their gaps, leaving the defensemen to make long stretch passes to the forwards. When that happens, several bad things can take place. There’s a higher frequency of icing and/or those long passes are more prone to being intercepted in the neutral zone.

• The Flyers were given a golden opportunity to claw their way back into this game with back-to-back power-play opportunities midway through the third period, but they couldn’t convert on either one, as the power play didn’t make the Bruins work hard in the process. The passing is predictable and the team is simply trying to funnel shots inside the goal mouth while looking for a tip-in.

• You have to wonder had the Flyers been able to trade Michal Neuvirth this summer, how strongly they would have pursued Halak, who signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Bruins on July 1. Halak was the difference as he was in control and in position for the full 60 minutes. He stonewalled Claude Giroux on three different occasions and simply made Thursday’s 26-save effort look relatively easy.

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Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

VOORHEES, N.J. — Monday started with bad news for the Flyers.

Travis Konecny, their 22-year-old leading scorer, is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Konecny was leveled in open ice by Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki during the first period of the Flyers' 4-3 win Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. He left the game and never returned.

The 2015 first-round pick is on pace to shatter his career highs. He's been arguably the Flyers’ most important piece to their turnaround through 30 games of 2019-20.

He has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) after having 28 points through the team's first 50 games last season. The Flyers are 2-4-4 in games that he hasn't scored.

I didn’t know a ton about him. I knew he competed like hell, fiery player," Matt Niskanen, in his first year with the Flyers, said Monday. "Playing with him, that’s reinforced that thought — hungry on the puck, good quickness, really good at creating turnovers. He’s shown a pretty good scoring touch, too, so far this year. A lot of good tools and he’s been a really important player for us.

Philippe Myers left the Flyers' skill practice Monday with back spasms. With Konecny out and Myers potentially out for Wednesday's game in Colorado against the Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Flyers will most likely have only 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen to open a three-game road trip.

Niskanen, who has 125 career postseason games on his résumé and a Stanley Cup title, said this can be a good challenge for the Flyers. The team is 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for the most points in the NHL at 28 since Nov. 1 (see weekly observations).

"Both guys have played really well for us," he said. "Hopefully they come back, we've been on a pretty good run here. But it gives somebody an opportunity and it tests us a little bit — and that's OK, early in the year, you're going to have to learn to deal with things."

As of Monday morning, the Flyers did not have plans to make a call-up. Forward Chris Stewart will enter the lineup and defenseman Robert Hagg will, as well, if Myers is unable to go in Colorado.

Head coach Alain Vigneault said it's uncertain if Konecny will or can travel with the Flyers. The team flies to Denver Tuesday afternoon.

"At this time, I would say no," Vigneault said, "but you never know how things change."

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Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

While the Flyers lost their winning streak and point streak, they still put together a productive 2-1-0 week.

Alain Vigneault's team is 7-1-1 over its last nine games, a stretch in which the Flyers have allowed 2.11 goals per game. Since Nov. 1, the Flyers are 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for most points in the NHL at 28, continuing to make strides under the new coaching staff.

We'll get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• Scott Laughton's performance in Saturday's emotion-filled 4-3 win over the Senators served as a microcosm of his importance to the Flyers.

The team-first attitude, the hard skating, the physicality, the forechecking, the penalty killing and the secondary scoring.

He is not undervalued by the Flyers.

If I look at today’s game where it got heated, he’s one of the guys I thought that responded the best. He responded in a physical nature when the opportunity was there, but when he needed to make plays with the puck or defend, he did that — he did both of those things.

As a coach, it’s really easy to trust a player when he’s doing the right things and playing the right way on the ice.

- Vigneault

And check out these marks: the Flyers are 7-0-0 when Laughton records a point and 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of a broken finger.

• In 30 games, Ivan Provorov has already matched his goal total from last season (seven) and set career highs on the power play (four goals, six assists).

He's projected to pass his numbers from a breakout 2017-18 season in which he scored 17 goals and 41 points. The 22-year-old's rebound from his letdown 2018-19 campaign might be the most impactful development to the Flyers' overall rebound so far in 2019-20.

Before the Coyotes' 3-1 win Thursday over the Flyers, Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet extolled Provorov.

"I think he's one of the best young defensemen in the league," Tocchet said, via Coyotes public relations.

"He plays with an edge in a sense that he doesn’t play safe. He’s up the ice, he makes plays, he’s not scared the way he plays. Not so much scared physically, just the way he plays, he’s trying to win the game. As a young guy, he wants to be in those spots. When I watch him, he wants the puck. I love young kids like that, they’re not scared.”

When asked if Provorov reminded him of anyone, Tocchet said "a little bit of Phil Housley," who is a Hall of Fame blueliner and now an assistant coach with Arizona.

• Carter Hart owns 10 wins and a 2.39 goals-against average.

By Dec. 8 of last season, Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon had combined for 12 wins and a 3.30 goals-against average.

As much as some people want to knock the previous coaching staff, the Flyers were a mess in net at this point last season and things predictably unraveled. Really, from the outset of 2018-19, things were problematic between the pipes for the Flyers.

• One of the biggest signs of growth with the 2019-20 Flyers has been goal prevention. They've allowed 80 goals through 30 games. In 30 games last season, the Flyers gave up 111. That's 31 more goals.

A lot goes into that — goaltending and offseason acquisitions to name a few. But Vigneault's system has turned the Flyers into a more structured team.

Much more often compared to 2018-19, the Flyers, even if they're struggling to score, look like they're controlling games instead of letting the opposition do the honors. Through 30 games last season, the Flyers had 11 losses by three goals or more. This season, they have only four such defeats.

 

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