Flyers

Brian Elliott shows Flyers what he's made of

Brian Elliott shows Flyers what he's made of

Ivan Provorov barely had time to settle in after his backhanded clear went out of play untouched for a delay of game penalty. It put the Flyers down two men for one minute and 44 seconds late in the second period with a two-goal lead and momentum fizzling.

The Blackhawks won the faceoff, set up and found Patrick Kane, one of the most lethal passers in hockey, at the goal line to the left of Brian Elliott. Before the puck arrived, Kane knew what he was going to do: feed former Flyer Patrick Sharp on the backdoor.

There was one problem for Chicago. Elliott was one step ahead of Kane, as the Flyers’ goalie made a subtle poke check to prevent a goal and the Flyers escaped unharmed.

Perhaps it was the six seasons Elliott spent in the Western Conference or the five years with the Blues. Whatever the reason was, Elliott out-anticipated a Hart Trophy winner.

“You definitely pick up on stuff, tendencies and stuff like that,” Elliott said. “They could be saying the same thing about me. If they’re on the winning end, you’d be asking them those questions. You just try to better each other every night and we came out on top.”

On Thursday night, Elliott produced his best effort yet in orange and black, turning away 38 shots as the Flyers beat the Blackhawks, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Center (see story).

Elliott didn’t face much danger on the successful 5-on-3 kill, stopping the only shot he saw, a testament to the killers — specifically Robert Hagg, who logged a 2:12 shift that featured a big blocked shot. Shortly after Provorov exited the box, Elliott bailed out the Flyers once again. This time, it was a Brandon Saad breakaway with 22.9 seconds left.

Throughout, Elliott, whose unorthodox style, at times, is fundamentally a wreck to watch, was tracking pucks far greater than he has this season. He was patient in net, outwaiting Blackhawks shooters. He looked calm, and even when he didn’t, he looked in control.

There was a sequence during the third period in which Elliott staved off a shot that deflected twice. There was a sprawling stop on Richard Panik. He saw 16 pucks in the final stanza and answered each one. It was Elliott at his finest, and an Elliott that we hadn't seen in his first nine starts.

“I felt good out there,” Elliott said. “I thought we did a good job defensively to allow me to lock in on the puck, took away lanes, took away passes. That’s what you have to do against a team like that.”

Thursday was Elliott's second consecutive start against the Blackhawks after serving as the backup in the Flyers' previous two games. Elliott stopped 34 of 36 shots his last time out, a 3-0 loss in Chicago on Nov. 1.

In 10 games, Elliott is 6-3-1 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. His 38-save effort Thursday brought his GAA below three for the third time this season — the first was after his second start and the other after his fifth.

Since allowing six goals against the Ducks on Oct. 24, Elliott has allowed just nine goals on 137 shots. He now has three straight 30-plus-save performances.

"You just want to keep getting more and more comfortable," Elliott said. "It's a process. It's not going to happen automatically. Sometimes you hit bumps in the road. You're only as good as your last game."

The Flyers are Elliott's third team in as many seasons. The 32-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Flyers on July 1 after spending the 2016-17 campaign in Calgary.

Last season with the Flames was a rollercoaster for Elliott. He had a 2.96 GAA and .889 save percentage after his first 20 games with Calgary, but he finished with a respectable 2.55 GAA and .910 save percentage.

This season hasn't been as lousy as his start last year, but it hasn't exactly been smooth. He's allowed six goals twice in 10 starts and has looked erratic at times. That's part of who he is as a goalie, though.

Elliott isn't fundamentally sound as a netminder. He has his own style and it can be cringeworthy. But throughout his career, he's proven to be a reliable goalie.

As part of a tandem with Michal Neuvirth, Elliott figures to give the Flyers two steady goaltenders. Through 16 games, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol has split it up 63/37 in Elliott's favor.

If Thursday's effort against Chicago is an indicator, Elliott's starting to find his footing with the Flyers and that is a welcomed sign.

"He's going to get better and better," Flyers center Sean Couturier said. "He's been pretty good so far this year. He's making the saves he needs to do to get the wins — that's what matters.

"He's probably getting more comfortable. You'd have to ask him. You're coming into a new town, new city, new team, you've got to get to know the guys, get to know the city. It's always a little change."

NHL draft 2018: Preview, start time, pick order, live stream and how to watch Round 1

NHL draft 2018: Preview, start time, pick order, live stream and how to watch Round 1

The 2018 NHL draft has arrived and the Flyers are about to get busy.

The team owns nine picks, including two in Friday night's first round.

Day 2 of the draft kicks off Saturday morning with Rounds 2-7. We'll have everything you need to know for then, but first, let's get you set for Day 1.

Essentials, Day 1

When: June 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: American Airlines Center (Dallas)
Network: NBCSN
Live stream: NBCSports
Social media: @NBCSPhilly 

Order

1. Buffalo Sabres
2. Carolina Hurricanes
3. Montreal Canadiens
4. Ottawa Senators
5. Arizona Coyotes
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. Vancouver Canucks
8. Chicago Blackhawks
9. New York Rangers
10. Edmonton Oilers
11. New York Islanders
12. New York Islanders
13. Dallas Stars
14. Philadelphia Flyers
15. Florida Panthers
16. Colorado Avalanche
17. New Jersey Devils
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
19. Philadelphia Flyers
20. Los Angeles Kings
21. San Jose Sharks
22. Ottawa Senators
23. Anaheim Ducks
24. Minnesota Wild
25. Toronto Maple Leafs
26. New York Rangers
27. Chicago Blackhawks
28. New York Rangers
29. St. Louis Blues
30. Detroit Red Wings
31. Washington Capitals

Targets

The Flyers would like to add more pure goal-scoring wingers to their system, while general manager Ron Hextall said last week they need to "restock a little bit" on defense, preferably with a right-handed shot. And, the GM also likes to build down the middle with versatile centers, which he's done early the previous two drafts.

So, the Flyers could go a number of ways at picks Nos. 14 and 19.

Let's take a look at their potential first-round targets:

Profile: RW Oliver Wahlstrom

• Profile: C Jack McBain

• Profile: D Rasmus Sandin

• Profile: D Ryan Merkley

• Profile: RW Dominik Bokk

• Profile: D Noah Dobson

• Profile: C Rasmus Kupari

• Profile: RW Martin Kaut

• Profile: LW Grigori Denisenko

• Profile: C Jesperi Kotkaniemi

• Profile: RW Serron Noel

• Profile: LW Joel Farabee

• Profile: C Barrett Hayton

• Profile: C/LW Isac Lundestrom

• Profile: C Joseph Veleno

• Profile: RW Vitali Kravtso

Trades?

With two first-round spots and nine selections overall, the Flyers will certainly be open to trade talks, whether it's moving up, back or even a player.

Last year, Hextall made quite a bang on Day 1 shortly after 9:30 p.m. and swapped picks twice on Day 2.

What should we expect this time around?

• Will the Flyers make both of their 1st-round picks?

Trade talks or contract talks? The latest on Simmonds

Hextall doesn't plan on trading up in draft, but ...

Moving up has been Hextall's draft strategy

Flyers need to find needle in haystack on Day 2

Other recommended reading

• Prospects Flyers could select with 14th overall pick

• Prospects Flyers could select with 19th overall pick

Ty Smith, with little bit of Gostisbehere and Provorov, should attract Flyers

• History of the 14th overall pick

• History of the 19th overall pick

• NHL draft position preview: Center

• NHL draft position preview: Left wing

• NHL draft position preview: Right wing

• NHL draft position preview: Defensemen

Full breakdown of Flyers' 2018-19 schedule

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USA Today Images

Full breakdown of Flyers' 2018-19 schedule

The NHL released the 2018-19 82-game regular-season schedule for all 31 teams Thursday night as the Flyers will open up in Las Vegas Oct. 4 before continuing on to Colorado Oct. 6 and then hosting the San Jose Sharks Oct. 9.

The Flyers' entire schedule can be found here.

Month-by-month breakdown

• October —12 (six home, six away, one back-to-back)
• November — 12 (seven home, five away, one back-to-back)
• December — 14 (four home, 10 away, three back-to-backs)
• January —13 (seven home, six away, two back-to-backs)
• February —13 (nine home, four away, two back-to-backs)
• March — 15 (seven home, eight away, three back-to-backs)
• April — 3 (one home, two away, no back-to-backs)

The Flyers have just 12 games on back-to-back nights, which is typically on the low end of a team’s schedule — they’ve had at least 15 back-to-backs in each of the past three seasons. Last season, the Edmonton Oilers had the fewest back-to-backs with just nine. 

Home-and-homes

The Flyers have a pair of home-and-home dates on their schedule — Nov. 5-8 against the Arizona Coyotes and a true home-and-home with the Detroit Red Wings Feb. 16-17.

December road tripping

The Flyers have two separate five-game road trips within the month of December. Last season, the Flyers' longest road trip was four games to begin their 82-game schedule. From Dec. 8-15, the Flyers will hit all four time zones starting in Buffalo before wrapping up the trip in Vancouver.  

Much less travel over second half

The midway point of the Flyers' season comes after Jan. 5 at home against the Calgary Flames. Over their final 41 games, they will leave the Eastern time zone just three times in a span of four games (Feb. 12 at Minnesota, March 21 at Chicago, April 2-4 at Dallas and St. Louis).

Waiting for the champs

Alex Ovechkin and the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals come to South Broad for the first time on March 6 and again eight days later on March 14 in their only two games at the Wells Fargo Center.

The rival Pittsburgh Penguins don’t come to Philadelphia until Feb. 11 and the Flyers will host them one final time just 12 days later when they face off at Lincoln Financial Field as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

November is easiest

The Flyers' easiest month comes in November with just 12 games over 30 days, including a five-game homestand from Nov. 8-17. Of their 12 opponents, only five made the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

A kind finish?

The Flyers close out the regular season with eight non-playoff contenders over their final 10 games, including their last five games.  

Other games of interest

• Friday after Thanksgiving — vs. New York Rangers at 1 p.m. 

• New Year's Day — at Nashville Predators at 8:30 p.m.