Flyers

Capitals 5, Flyers 3: No. 7 goalie Mike McKenna can't prevent 8th straight loss

Capitals 5, Flyers 3: No. 7 goalie Mike McKenna can't prevent 8th straight loss

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — The tortuous feel of an eight-game losing streak now has some Capital punishment attached to it. 

With the Flyers facing the defending Stanley Cup champions for the first time this season, the Capitals proved too much Tuesday night in a 5-3 decision.

The Flyers matched an NHL record by starting their seventh different goaltender. How did Mike McKenna fare in his Flyers debut?  

Here are my observations from Capital One Arena:

• This was one of the more uptempo first periods the Flyers have played recently, outshooting the Capitals 20-8 in attempts. The one breakdown was how the Flyers allowed Jakub Vrana to rip down the left side before his lead pass to Tom Wilson led to an unstoppable goal. Perhaps underestimating Vrana’s speed, defenseman Travis Sanheim simply can’t get turned around like that, and Ivan Provorov allowed Wilson to slide underneath him.  

Since he was paired with Provorov, Sanheim has started strong but I feel his play, most notably his positioning, has dropped over his last six games in which he’s now a minus-7. I can’t help but wonder with the uptick in minutes, coupled with defending a top-two line, if Sanheim has allowed some bad habits to creep back into his game.

• The Capitals' second line of Vrana-Lars Eller-T.J. Oshie was the line that gave the Flyers the most trouble, scoring Washington’s first two goals. To give you an idea of how deep the Caps are within their forwards, Eller would typically center Washington’s third line, but he was forced to move up with Nicklas Backstrom, Washington’s second-leading scorer, out with an injury.

• The usually responsible Sean Couturier was caught in a very high-risk situation trying to leave the puck for Claude Giroux just inside the blue line when Vrana picked off the pass and, with his acceleration, there was no one capable of catching up to him. You would like a momentum save from McKenna, but given the speed Vrana brought on that breakaway, that was a tough stop to make. That’s been a big issue for the Flyers over the course of their losing streak is that their star players have been far from good.     

• I can give McKenna a pass on the first three Capitals goals, but Vrana’s second goal, the power-play goal, is inexcusable. That’s a sharp-angled shot that McKenna can’t let slide between his pads. It’s maddening to see the Flyers allow a power-play goal to a Washington team that had gone 1 for 31 over its last 10 games on the man advantage. 

Overall, McKenna gave the Flyers an honest effort in his team debut on a night when they needed exceptional play against some of Washington’s quality scoring chances. 

• It’s hard to not take offense at how the physicality of hockey has evolved. Radko Gudas levels Capitals center Nic Dowd with a perfectly-timed hip check, and then he’s immediately confronted by Washington’s Devante Smith-Pelly, who dropped the gloves with Gudas over a legal, and well-executed hip check. Frankly, players just don’t want to get hit unnecessarily without taking offense.

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Which Flyers player has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

Which Flyers player has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra.

The topic: Which Flyers player has the most to gain in the 2019-20 season? 

Hall

In 2018-19, Oskar Lindblom showed his true capabilities when he played more and was featured alongside other talented linemates.

Over the final 36 games of the season, Lindblom scored 21 points with an average ice time of 16:28. His 13 goals during that span were tied for third most on the Flyers, ahead of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

In 29 games prior to that stretch, Lindblom played just 10:38 a night, scored zero goals and collected three assists.

The 23-year-old should have plenty of opportunity out of the chute in 2019-20. He looks poised to play on the third line with a center like Nolan Patrick and a decent goal-scoring winger. If he continues to produce, Lindblom could climb into a top-six role, like he did for parts of last season. He'll likely see some power-play time, as well.

With a quick start and even more responsibility, Lindblom has the chance to flourish in just his second full NHL season. The 2014 fifth-round pick is also set to become a restricted free agent next offseason. A big jump in production will make for a bigger raise.

Destra

Season No. 3 holds a lot of potential for 20-year-old Nolan Patrick.

When he is confident in his abilities, everyone on the ice knows it. He's able to drive play, pull out fancy shots on goal near the crease and often seems like he has eyes in the back of his head with some of the looks he had this past season. Those moments simply don't stem from luck, they come from skill.

While these are both flashy and effective, we've seen them happen only in bursts, and oftentimes he disappears within the depth of the roster.

Kevin Hayes is a key to the young center's success and will provide the perfect opportunity for Patrick to grow into his expected role. Without the stress of being a top-six forward, he will be able to maximize his strengths with a smaller amount of ice time.

Fewer minutes will also limit the risk of injury and it's vital that the Flyers see a full season of production. From a concussion that held him back his rookie year to an upper-body injury at the jump of last season that kept him out 10 days, he has not had much luck in that area.

If Patrick remains healthy, puts up solid numbers as a third-liner (around the 40-50-point range) and possibly sees time on the second power-play unit, he could very well be the depth needed to stabilize this roster from top to bottom.

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Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

After being bought out by the Flyers in mid-June, Andrew MacDonald is getting his next shot.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old defenseman will try to make the Flames' roster by attending Calgary's training camp on a professional tryout.

NHL teams often take fliers on veteran players as they shape their rosters because it simply can't hurt. The Flyers are doing so this training camp with winger Chris Stewart (see story).

While he wasn't a fan favorite in Philadelphia because of his contract, MacDonald was one of the most respected players in the Flyers' dressing room. You'd think the Flames are taking into account what they've heard from others around the league about MacDonald and his impact off the ice.

MacDonald has played 586 career games and 23 in the postseason. Calgary has won just one playoff series over the past 10 seasons. During 2018-19, the Flames went 50-25-7 with 107 points during the regular season — second best in the NHL to only the Lightning — but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Calgary has a pretty strong defense, led by James Norris Memorial Trophy winner Mark Giordano, so making the roster won't be easy for MacDonald.

The Flyers bought out MacDonald for better cap flexibility and to open the door for some of their younger defensemen to take the next step. With the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, the Flyers have solid, accomplished guys to augment the younger group of Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin.

"This guy is a consummate professional," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said of MacDonald in June. "We asked a lot of Andrew and by that I mean he was a player that played the left side, played the right side, he'd be a healthy scratch and then we'd put him back in the lineup. We asked him to play with young players and mentor them and bring stability to our back end.

"He's just a quality person and a guy that played a very effective two-way game for our team, but we are in a cap world and we made that tough decision today to try reallocate some of those dollars to maximize our chance to stay in the hunt on some players."

The Flyers will pay MacDonald $1,916,667 in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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