Eagles' title adds fuel to Flyers' fire

Eagles' title adds fuel to Flyers' fire

VOORHEES, N.J. — While much of the Delaware Valley took Monday off from work, head coach Dave Hakstol had his Flyers back at work at the Skate Zone in Voorhees at the regularly scheduled time of 10:30 a.m. to resume their own championship aspirations.

And what the Eagles accomplished Sunday night in Super Bowl LII was squarely on the players' minds before heading out to Carolina to face the Hurricanes on Tuesday evening. It's another important game for the Flyers, losers of three straight who are clinging to the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference as of Monday afternoon.

“It definitely fires you up. To see everyone going nuts, it’s pretty cool to see,” Shayne Gostisbehere said. “Obviously, the thoughts go through your head if it was us. It was great for the city and the Eagles deserve it, winning their first title. We want to emulate what just happened and keep the party going. We want to follow suit from what the Eagles have done.”

A handful of players saw the euphoria unfold after watching Super Bowl LII together at Vesper Sporting Club in Center City, where they rented out a viewing room for themselves and their wives and girlfriends.

Some of the players bolted at halftime to avoid the potential Center City hysteria, while others elected to stick around and see what would unfold. Needless to say, the celebrations even exceeded their expectations. 

“There was a fire going off. It was crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Taylor Leier said. “It was like walking through Times Square, but it was a riot. That’s honestly what it was like. There were guys in this Jeep and they were all just in their underwear and they were hanging out the windows and one guy was standing on top. It was hilarious.” 

Most of the players attended the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago following the Flyers' big overtime win earlier in the day in Washington. In his first season in Philadelphia, goaltender Brian Elliott has made it to a handful of Eagles games, even wearing his No. 37 Eagles jersey given to him by kicker Jake Elliott. The two pro athletes struck up a friendship not long after Elliott booted a 61-yard game-winner to beat the Giants back in October. A few weeks later, Elliott attended his first Flyers game. 

“It’s pretty cool to go from kicking at college and not too long ago in high school and then you’re on the biggest stage of the world,” the Flyers' Elliott said. “Knowing him just a little bit and exchanging some texts, it’s pretty cool that he has that cool, calm presence. The perfect demeanor for a kicker. He got it done. All I texted him last night was ‘Money!’ after hitting that long one at the end of the game there.

“That was a fun and exciting game to watch, especially how it ended. It definitely creates that little bit of buzz, and makes you think how cool it would be to do the same.”

A week ago Thursday, the Flyers honored Eagles head coach Doug Pederson as a special guest inside the locker room prior to their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Pederson also dropped the ceremonial puck at center ice that night. 

“He stayed within his personality that they’ve had all year long,” Hakstol said of Pederson. “That’s what stood out most for me. I think our guys were excited to see the game and to see the lifelong fans experience a Super Bowl for the first time. That’s pretty exciting.” 

Congrats pour in
Following the Eagles' victory over the Patriots last night, members of the Flyers' community extended their congratulatory praise and admiration through Twitter. 

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

We’ve looked at the top draft-eligible centers and left wingers. Up next, right wingers. On Sunday, we’ll look at the top defensemen before moving into the best fits for the Flyers.

Andrei Svechnikov, 6-2/188, Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is head and shoulders atop the forward prospects in this year’s draft class. He began the year as the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and ended there as well. Finished with 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games this season with Barrie, tops among rookie OHLers. His 1.64 points per game average was best among rookies and fifth in all of the OHL. His brother, Evgeny Svechnikov, was the 19th overall pick by the Red Wings in 2015.

Draft projection: No. 2 overall

Oliver Wahlstrom, 6-1/205, USNTDP
Wahlstrom finished as the seventh-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. The American can play both center and right wing but projects to at least begin his career on the wing. He plays a power forward game with impressive puck skills. He registered 40 goals and 83 points in 54 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and 22 goals and 45 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL. The 17-year-old is committed to play college hockey at Harvard University in the fall.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Vitali Kravtsov, 6-2/170, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Kravtsov, who models his game after Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov, finished as the third-best European skater by Central Scouting, a seven-spot climb from the midterm rankings. Had a strong postseason for Chelyabinsk, recording six goals and 11 points in 16 games and was named the best rookie for each of the first three rounds. He’s a shifty forward with high-end speed.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Serron Noel, 6-5/205, Oshawa (OHL)
The Generals winger took an enormous leap in his second OHL campaign, going from 21 points in 63 games in 2016-17 to 53 points in 62 games in 2017-18. Noel finished as the 10th-rated North American skater by Central Skating, a one-spot drop from the midterm rankings. He has a lot of raw talent and has natural size and strength. He’s improved his skating, which has helped his case throughout his draft year. Has drawn comparisons to Jets captain Blake Wheeler. A high-upside prospect with top-line potential.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Martin Kaut, 6-2/170, Pardubice (Czech)
Kaut’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships performance helped put the winger on the radar. The Czech winger jumped from the 11th-rated European skater by Central Scouting in the midterm rankings to the fourth-best in the final rankings. Had seven points in seven games playing for the Czech Republic at the world juniors. Had nine goals and 16 points in 38 games for Pardubice in 2017-18. An effective two-way player with good playmaking ability.

Draft projection: Late first, early second round

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

JustSports Photography

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

Flyers fans still have some hockey to watch.

Some of the organization's brightest prospects will be competing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from Wednesday into the weekend as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue their AHL playoff run in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Phantoms trail the Toronto Marlies, 2-0, with the series now shifting to the PPL Center for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).

What should Flyers fans know?

Let's get into it:

1. When to watch
Game 3 is tonight at 7:05 p.m. Game 4 follows Friday at 7:05 p.m. with Game 5 (if needed) Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

2. Where to watch
All three games will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. For which channel in your area, click here.

3. Who to watch
• Defenseman Travis Sanheim returned from a four-game absence (knee injury) to play in the first two games of this series. The 2014 first-round pick had 16 points in 18 regular-season games with Lehigh Valley. When he rejoined the Flyers on March 10, he was a plus-4 over 14 games to help the big club clinch a playoff berth. "When Sanny got back up, I thought Sanny was unbelievable," Wayne Simmonds said last month.

• Winger Oskar Lindblom went scoreless in Games 1 and 2 but has seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine playoff games. He played 23 games with the Flyers this season and impressed alongside Nolan Patrick. The 21-year-old is a building block and the goal will be to make the Flyers out of training camp in the fall.

• Everybody knows Alex Lyon now after his Herculean effort during the semifinals in which he made 94 saves for a five-overtime victory. He's been superb through the postseason, recording a 1.84 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in nine games. It's been a timely stretch for him ahead of an important offseason

• Defenseman Philippe Myers is another exciting piece to the Flyers' future on the blue line. The 21-year-old is 6-foot-5 and developing but fought through injuries in 2017-18. He's making up for some of those tough times with seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 postseason games.

• Don't forget about Mike Vecchione, a hard-working forward who will be in the picture next season. The 25-year-old put up 40 points in his first year pro and has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 playoff games.

4. However …
You won't see touted prospects Morgan Frost and Carter Hart.

With their junior campaigns coming to an end recently, both have joined the Phantoms but are not expected to play; they're simply there for the exposure.

5. This and that
• Lehigh Valley won an AHL-most 27 games at home during the regular season, losing just six times in regulation.

• Toronto is 2-2-0 on the road in the postseason compared to 7-0-0 at home.

• Chris Conner, 34, leads the Phantoms in the playoffs with five goals and nine points.

• Lehigh Valley has allowed a league-high 43 power-play opportunities during the postseason, while Toronto has gone on a league-high 55 man advantages.

• Defenseman Samuel Morin is out for the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury that is requiring surgery, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi.