Flyers

Just how bad was it? Some perspective after Flyers get embarrassed by Penguins

Just how bad was it? Some perspective after Flyers get embarrassed by Penguins

BOX SCORE

With the way the Flyers played Tuesday night, it didn't matter who was in net.

In their first of four regular-season matchups against the Penguins, the Flyers were embarrassed with a 7-1 loss at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins (8-5-0) manhandled the Flyers (5-5-1) from the opening puck drop. The game was ugly after the first period and a blowout by second intermission.

These losses do happen. They just look much worse when they come against your rival in their building. Last season, the Capitals lost to the Devils, 6-0, in their fourth game as defending champs. This season, the reigning champion Blues already have two losses to the Canadiens by a combined score of 11-5.

Still, it doesn't justify the Flyers' awful first period and loss. They're not starting well and they've been far too inconsistent through 11 games.

Fortunately for them, they don't play Pittsburgh again until Jan. 21, right before the team's bye week.

• The Penguins entered as the NHL's worst scoring team in the first period. They had four total goals during the opening stanza through 12 games.

They matched that mark in just one first period against the Flyers.

Pittsburgh completely dominated the Flyers as it was more skilled with the puck, faster to the puck and stronger on the puck. The Penguins were head and shoulders above the Flyers in all phases. The first period ultimately decided the game, so let's look at all four markers:

On the first goal, the Flyers were weaker on the puck, failed to clear it and defenseman Justin Schultz surprised Brian Elliott with his shot.

On the second goal, the Penguins won a puck battle behind the net and Jared McCann snuck in front of Chris Stewart to finish a point-blank shot.

On the third goal, Sidney Crosby made a slick pass from the side boards to a streaking Dominik Simon, who was wide open and fired away from the circle.

On the fourth goal, Travis Sanheim and Justin Braun couldn't stop a Pittsburgh rush that Crosby finished with a hell of a shot.

• The Flyers, from the forwards to the defensemen, didn't help Elliott, who wasn't good in his own right. It made for a bad combination against a team led by Crosby.

Elliott allowed six goals on 28 shots. In his previous four games (three wins), he allowed seven goals on 104 shots.

Carter Hart took over in the third period and yielded a goal in the final seconds.

• Through 11 games last season, the Flyers surrendered an NHL-most 46 goals, while scoring 31.

Through 11 games this season, the Flyers have allowed 37, while scoring 36.

Even after Tuesday night's debacle, they've been better — so that's a positive.

• If you're pleading for the Flyers to make a call-up, they're not in a favorable position to do so (see story).

• Crosby had a three-point game, giving him 102 points in 68 career regular-season games against the Flyers.

• Oskar Lindblom scored the Flyers' only goal. He is tied with Travis Konecny for the team lead at six.

• The Flyers will have a few days to stew over this one before visiting the Devils on Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

They return home Saturday to play the Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Matt Niskanen

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Matt Niskanen

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Matt Niskanen.

Destra

I’m not going to lie — I fell under the category of not fully understanding the trade for Niskanen during the offseason in a one-for-one deal, sending former Flyer Radko Gudas to the Capitals. At the time, the most appealing aspects about the deal were recognizing the level of veteran experience he was going to bring to the blue line and his extensive résumé when it came to the playoffs. 

Now, with his first regular season as a Flyer officially at an end — it’s safe to say he was an absolute steal. Way to win a trade, Chuck Fletcher. 

Not only did he post 33 points (8 goals, 25 assists), making him the second-best defenseman in points on the team, but he elevated his partner Ivan Provorov to new heights in his career as well. The duo built such powerful chemistry on the ice and Niskanen provided the skillset needed to help Provorov hone in on his talent.  

There couldn’t have been a better fit for the Flyers and Provorov. Whatever Niskanen’s next steps are in the NHL, let’s hope he wants to stay in Philadelphia for a little while longer. 

A+ for Niskanen — not bad for his 13th season in the league. 

Emmer

The Flyers went from averaging the third-most goals against per game (3.41) and a minus-37 goal differential in 2018-19 to then tying for the seventh fewest goals against in the league and drawing a plus-36 goal differential this season—a major key for that success was Niskanen.

Niskanen had a lasting impact throughout the regular season on special teams. Most notably, the penalty kill which he helped improve from 78.5% in 2018-19 (26 th in NHL) to 81.8%  11th in NHL). His power play minutes were also impressive—4 goals scored on the man advantage were the highest in his career.

He brought leadership to the blueline and the dressing room and was a steady presence the Flyers and d-partner, Ivan Provorov, depended on throughout the regular season.

I give Niskanen an A.

Fordyce 

Niskanen, an experienced Stanley Cup winning defenseman, came to the Flyers via trade for Radko Gudas from the Capitals last offseason. His addition to the team added a veteran leader to the roster as well as a possible mentor for some of the Flyers young defensemen. In his first season with the Flyers, he did both admirably.

Niskanen’s presence on that top defense pair with Ivan Provorov allowed Provorov to open up his game more and become a better overall player. Niskanen is a smart defenseman, who is rarely out of position, and this allows Provorov as his defense partner to freelance a bit more, which is one of the strengths of his game. Niskanen also has great puck skills from the point, getting pucks toward the net by pass or shot and creating opportunities. 

No-brainer, Niskanen gets an A.

Hall

What an acquisition by Fletcher. In the Gudas-Niskanen swap, the only other hit for the Flyers was salary related — obviously taking on Niskanen's $5.75 million cap hit as well as retaining 30 percent of Gudas' $3.35 million cap hit.

Niskanen made the trade unquestionably worth it for his new club.

Not only did the 33-year-old Stanley Cup champion significantly improve the Flyers at 5-on-5, on the power play and the penalty kill, but he also did wonders for the rebound of Provorov, a 23-year-old who had far too much on his shoulders last season.

Niskanen's winning pedigree has rubbed off on everyone. With eight goals and 25 assists, he also had a chance to crack 40 points for the second time in his well-established career before the regular season was cut short because of the coronavirus outbreak.

A well-deserved A for Niskanen.

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More Flyers grades

Flyers Talk podcast: Carter Hart's leash, team awards and NHL playoffs analysis

Flyers Talk podcast: Carter Hart's leash, team awards and NHL playoffs analysis

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall discuss Carter Hart's leash, team awards and the return-to-play tournament.

From the 24-team madness to prospects and Oskar Lindblom, let's dive in:

0:55 — Scott Laughton is the most improved Flyer; who were the other candidates?

5:15 — Analyzing the length of Hart's leash in the 24-team tournament

14:30 — Six games a day in the 24-team tournament?!

19:15 — Which Flyers player will love the bubble setting the most?

24:05 What to make of the Wyatt Kalynuk decision

29:20 — Which prospect benefits most from Kalynuk's departure?

33:00 — Why the Flyers won't fret over the loss

36:00 — Lindblom, ring that bell! A special moment

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers