Flyers

Brad Marchand whiffs to seal Flyers' wild shootout win over Bruins

Brad Marchand whiffs to seal Flyers' wild shootout win over Bruins

BOX SCORE

The Flyers nearly whiffed on a huge home game.

Instead, Brad Marchand whiffed to seal a wild 6-5 shootout win for the Flyers over the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night.

The Flyers were almost chased out of their own building but picked up arguably their most improbable win so far of the 2019-20 season.

Travis Konecny scored the lone shootout marker. Marchand had a chance to draw even but missed the puck at center ice, which counted for an attempt, as the Wells Fargo Center erupted and the Flyers stormed the ice in celebration (see highlights).

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The Flyers (24-16-6) took down the Capitals and Bruins on this three-game homestand. Washington and Boston were tied with the Blues atop the NHL standings entering Monday.

The Flyers have taken both matchups with the Bruins (27-8-12), who return to Philadelphia for the regular-season series finale March 10.

• Just how unfathomable of a win was this for the Flyers?

The Bruins were 10-0-0 when scoring five or more goals and had not surrendered more than five all season.

The Flyers didn't unravel when they allowed Boston to score five goals less than midway through the contest. Instead, they tightened things up, stayed out of the box and sparked their offense after being shut out for the first time this season.

Can't argue with that response.

Travis Sanheim was huge with two goals, including the 5-5 equalizer in the third period. Sean Couturier had a big one in the middle stanza to make 5-3, which stopped the Flyers' bleeding.

• Following one of their best defensive efforts in Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Lightning, the Flyers had far too many busted coverages and mistakes.

The Bruins held a 5-2 lead just 7:21 into the second period.

• Boston almost got the best of Carter Hart after the goalie had beaten the Bruins in their first three career meetings.

Boston broke down Hart with dekes and speed, putting up five goals on the 21-year-old, who had allowed only seven combined markers in the three matchups prior with the Bruins.

Hart impressively recovered, though, improving to 4-0-0 against the Bruins.

The Flyers had Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak going every which way as he had to make 34 saves. He denied Ivan Provorov on the doorstep with one second left in overtime.

• Connor Bunnaman, the latest recall of the Flyers as the team searches for bottom-six answers, emphasized the importance of every shift when playing limited fourth-line minutes.

"Can’t turn the puck over at the blue line, you’ve got to get it in, you’ve got to get scoring chances," the 21-year-old said after morning skate. "Just do everything right, you can’t mess up, but you can’t be afraid to mess up. Try things and keep working.”

Bunnaman worked hard and well to earn his first career NHL goal during the second period. He smartly chipped the puck into the offensive zone, allowing the Flyers to gain possession. The sequence finished with Bunnaman being credited for a goal deflected in front of the net as Mark Friedman also notched his first career NHL point.

The positive work by the fourth line and third defensive pairing trimmed the Flyers' deficit to only one at second intermission.

• The first period nearly turned into a disaster for the Flyers. After the team fell behind, 2-0, Konecny (blocked shot) and Scott Laughton (high-sticked) both went up the tunnel toward the dressing room banged up within a 52-second span.

Fortunately for the Flyers, Konecny raced right back to the ice for a four-minute power play to notch a primary assist on Kevin Hayes' goal just 1:14 after Konecny's brief exit.

Laughton came back out for the second period, when the game got only crazier.

• Phillies manager Joe Girardi was in the house for the game.

• The Flyers play their 10th back-to-back set out of 17 when they visit the Blues Wednesday (8 p.m. ET/NBCSN) and host the Canadiens Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers prospect Egor Zamula can 'do things that not many players can'

Flyers prospect Egor Zamula can 'do things that not many players can'

Back in January 2018, Calgary Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth saw a slender 17-year-old defenseman and thought “huge upside.”

Two years later, Chynoweth has watched the once raw and cocooned prospect play his final WHL game. The GM no longer sees potential — he sees a player.

That player is Egor Zamula, now 19 years old and hunting down the NHL, a prospect who has gone from diaphanous to dynamite within the Flyers’ farm system.

“The incline has been very high,” Chynoweth said last Saturday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The incline is at a halt — for now. Zamula, an undrafted product who signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers in September 2018, had his 2019-20 season cut short because of a back injury. Zamula has been in the Philadelphia area since mid-January and was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday, according to Chynoweth.

While the incline has been put on hiatus, the excitement about it has not.

In 2017-18, Zamula scored 18 points over 69 games between the Regina Pats and Hitmen. In 2018-19, after the Flyers signed Zamula thanks to the diligence of amateur scout Mark Greig, the lanky blueliner recorded 56 points (10 goals, 46 assists) through 61 games for Calgary.

At Flyers development camp in the summer and training camp during the fall, Zamula showed his smooth skating stride, disruptive length and confidence with the puck. His strengths are particularly appealing when accentuated in an Alain Vigneault type of system, which encourages defensemen to push pace, pin the opposition and make plays.

After drawing high praise from Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher, Zamula put up 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) and a plus-19 rating in 28 games this season, his third junior hockey campaign. There won’t be a fourth and final one.


What I liked about his game was he could see the ice very well, he had a long, active stick,” Chynoweth said. “Being a 6-foot-4 guy anyways and with a long stick, he was good at getting pucks away from opposing players, he could slow the game down. For a big man, he could thread the pass like a needle in a haystack. He could do things that not many players can. He had a bomb from the point.

He was almost a point-a-game player last year, you look at the numbers he put up last year as an 18-year-old, and then he just continued right into this year, point-a-game player and unfortunately got hurt at the world juniors. But he was having a great season, he had a great world juniors, named one of the top three players for Russia at the world juniors. I mean, the sky was the limit, and then unfortunately he has a back injury.

Zamula’s season came to an end at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship where he went down swinging. He helped lead Russia to a silver medal with five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games, playing through the injured back.

"He's been playing in pain for a while and playing remarkably well, but not at 100 percent," Fletcher said two weeks ago.

The Hitmen stated the injury was a result of a degenerative condition that intensified at the world juniors tournament. Could a degenerative issue be a concern moving forward?

Chynoweth didn’t believe so.

“I just think that this is something that he’s had and it just got progressively worse,” he said. “Just to tell you, to speak about his pain threshold, we never once heard about it when he was here. He played and it just got worse as he got more in the last little bit. It just got to a point where they had to have something to do about it. He’s going to have surgery, he’s going to be out three to four months but he should be ready for the start of development camp for the Flyers after the draft.”

Zamula will most likely open the 2020-21 season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, but you never know. With the Feb. 24 trade deadline and a whole offseason ahead before next training camp, things can change.

Zamula will continue to change as he recovers and gears up for pro hockey. Gaining more strength will be a focus during the offseason. Zamula was listed at 6-foot-3, 160 pounds to start the 2018-19 season. This season, he was 6-foot-4, 170.

“I think that’s the biggest thing, he’s going to have to get stronger,” Chynoweth said. “You can never stop working on your skating, you see how fast the NHL game is, it’s getting faster all the time. But the things he does well, you can’t teach. Most guys put on weight as they get older and get stronger. Obviously now being with the Flyers in Philadelphia for the surgery, he’ll be there under their watchful eye through the rehab process. And I’m sure that once he’s cleared to start working out, they’ll do a great job.”

Chynoweth is looking forward to seeing Zamula in Calgary again.

Not as a prospect, but as an NHL player.

“The next time we watch him, hopefully it will be on Saddledome ice when the Flyers come to town,” he said.

“The Flyers have a good one there. … I think the sky’s the limit for Egor.”

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Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

On Saturday, we broke down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. Today, we look at the reasons for concern.

Alain Vigneault has 11 playoff berths on his résumé. He knows the requisites for a postseason club and the Flyers have failed to look like one in a key aspect.

"As a team that considers themselves a playoff team, you need to have a good road record," Vigneault said last month.

The Flyers do not through 25 road games. As stingy as they have been at home, they've been the polar opposite away from home. On the road, the Flyers are 10-13-2, have a minus-30 goal differential and are allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.80.

The figures above are a major concern and the Flyers must stem the tide over their final 16 road games. Vigneault's team still has two trips to Washington, D.C., two to Tampa Bay, Florida, two to Madison Square Garden and one more to Pittsburgh. Those matchups with the Capitals, Lightning, Rangers and Penguins will be stiff tests.

Speaking of the schedule, the Flyers are battling in the NHL's deepest division and have 14 games remaining against Metro teams. The Flyers are in sixth place of the Metropolitan Division (three points out of third place) but would be in first place of the Pacific Division.

The Flyers will be challenged the rest of the way and so, too, will their depth at forward. The Flyers are a middle-of-the-pack scoring club (15th in the NHL with 3.06 goals per game) and without Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

Is the team's youth in the bottom six enough for the playoffs and a competitive shot? Or will (and can) general manager Chuck Fletcher add at the Feb. 24 trade deadline?

Big questions and we'll have answers soon.

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