Flyers

Avalanche 5, Flyers 2: Defensive breakdowns in 1st loss of season

Avalanche 5, Flyers 2: Defensive breakdowns in 1st loss of season

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DENVER — A 2-0 start has eluded the Flyers for a sixth straight season.

The Avalanche scored late to erase any ideas of a comeback Saturday as the Flyers fell, 5-2, to Colorado.

Was taking Radko Gudas out of the lineup the wrong move? And how long will the Flyers be without one of their key forwards? 

Here are my observations from the Pepsi Center in Denver:

1. Colorado’s first goal was a disaster in the making as Andrew MacDonald lost his footing with Tyson Jost. Nolan Patrick toppled over both guys to give the Avalanche an easy 2-on-1 opportunity in front of the net. For whatever reason, MacDonald was really slow to get to his feet.

2. Dave Hakstol wanted to give Christian Folin a game on this road trip, but perhaps Colorado wasn’t the opponent for a defenseman to get acclimated to his new team. Folin had a number of turnovers/giveaways in the opening period as the Flyers’ third paring had early troubles handling Colorado’s forecheck. In hindsight, Hakstol should have stuck with Gudas, who turned in a solid game paired with Travis Sanheim in Vegas.

3. James van Riemsdyk blocked a shot in the first period and didn’t return to the game. The Flyers later announced JVR had suffered a lower-body injury (see story). His injury forced Hakstol to mix and match his lines with Michael Raffl taking JVR’s spot on the third line. 

4. Looking for a textbook breakout play? Then go back and watch the video of the Flyers’ first goal that started with Ivan Provorov getting the puck over to Shayne Gostisbehere, who banked it over to Claude Giroux. It was Giroux who threaded the needle to spring Travis Konecny.  

5. The Flyers had a tough time containing the speed and quickness of the Avalanche's top line. Midway through the second period, Nathan MacKinnon took the puck behind his net and skated coast to coast. He split all five defenders on his way to creating a scoring chance and drawing a hooking penalty on Robert Hagg. For the most part, MacKinnon, a Hart Trophy finalist last season, had too much open ice.

6. The game-winning goal was scored as Gabriel Landeskog was actually calling for the puck when he planted himself right in front of Brian Elliott. Landeskog motioned to MacKinnon to shoot the puck on his forehand side and MacKinnon did just that with a perfectly redirected shot from Landeskog. 

7. The ice surface shouldn’t have been too choppy with the Avs having played their home opener on Thursday. However, the NBA’s Nuggets hosted a preseason game on Friday. Either way, the Flyers had a difficult time maintaining their edges. Sanheim struggled with his footwork early on and fell several times, as did Giroux, who completely wiped out with no one around him. The Flyers’ overall execution and puck movement just wasn’t very clean and crisp for the first two periods. 

8. Probably not the way he envisioned it, but Mikhail Vorobyev will take his first NHL goal however he can get it. The marker came on a bizarre play when Avs defenseman Mark Barberio collided with goaltender Semyon Varlamov. My feeling is that Barberio took his eye off the puck just long enough that he couldn’t avoid the collision. 

9. Interestingly, general manager Ron Hextall said some of the Flyers’ big names needed to play better after the game in Vegas. It was surprising to hear him say something like that after a season-opening victory. He may be singling out Patrick and Jakub Voracek, who haven’t generated very much at even strength. They started to find some open ice in the latter stages of the second period.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Analyzing scenarios for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Flyers Talk podcast: Analyzing scenarios for Stanley Cup Playoffs

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall are joined by Joe Fordyce, the Flyers Pre and Postgame Live producer.

From multiple interviews to the format of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, let's dive in:

1:25 — Kevin Hayes talks all things Flyers and the NHL stoppage

7:30 — No fans during the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

14:50 — An interview with Rick Tocchet and Keith Jones

18:00 — Should the NHL change the playoff format?

24:00 — Life without Flyers hockey right now

30:30 — Debating our all-time Flyers team

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.

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Gritty all over the place, funny Penguins moments as Flyers roll their rival in NHL 20

Gritty all over the place, funny Penguins moments as Flyers roll their rival in NHL 20

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, which has suspended the 2019-20 NHL season, the Flyers did not get a chance to beat the Penguins last Sunday in Philadelphia.

They did, however, dominate them on NHL 20 Thursday night as NBC Sports Philadelphia aired a simulation with the great trio of Jim Jackson, Keith Jones and Taryn Hatcher on the call.

The Flyers never trailed in beating Pittsburgh, 6-4, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Michael Raffl led the way with a pair of first-period goals. Kevin Hayes (one goal, one assist), James van Riemsdyk (one goal, one assist), Matt Niskanen (two assists), Travis Sanheim (two assists) and Nate Thompson (two assists) all had multi-point games.

Oh, and Gritty enjoyed the win. So did Claude Giroux.


Raffl's goals were massive in setting the tone during the opening 20 minutes. Despite allowing four markers, Carter Hart made a ton of timely saves, especially in the first period.

On Raffl's first goal, Penguins forward Conor Sheary got stuck right in the middle of the Flyers' celebration. Poor guy.

On Raffl's second goal, Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues tripped right over his goalie Matt Murray as the Flyers were celebrating.


A big storyline in the Flyers' win was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being held to no goals.

As you can see, there were some daring Penguins fans in attendance. We have a strong feeling they were welcomed kindly by Flyers fans.

Just like in real life, the Flyers were very defensive of the 21-year-old Hart. Get close to the kid, you've got problems.


Tyler Pitlick added clutch secondary scoring during the second period to give the Flyers a 3-1 edge.

Gritty, with the neck of an owl, enjoyed his view in the middle stanza.

"He's always got a good spot," Jackson said.

"He's usually got some popcorn to dump on a Penguins fan's head," Jones said.

Unfortunately, that did not happen (let's be real, it probably did).

Justin Braun, Hayes and van Riemsdyk (empty-netter) tallied goals in the final stanza to seal the Flyers' win. 

The Penguins' goals came from Brandon Tanev, Patric Hornqvist, Teddy Blueger and Marcus Pettersson.

That's not going to do it against this 2019-20 Flyers team, which has dominated in Philadelphia.

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