Flyers

Fights and a flurry of goals in a snow-day win

Fights and a flurry of goals in a snow-day win

BOX SCORE

The Flyers like to score goals in bunches against the New York Islanders.

Of their three four-goal periods this season, two of those have come against the Isles, as the Flyers bounced back from a lackluster performance against the Penguins to beat New York, 6-4, at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

Three of the Flyers’ goals in the second period came during a span of 4:48.

Travis Konecny, Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds all scored even-strength goals. Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov tallied on the power play.

Twelve different Flyers registered at least one point.

Starting his 15th consecutive game, Brian Elliott turned aside 27 of 31 shots. He’s 9-5-1 in those 15 starts. 

The Flyers and Islanders will meet one final time, April 3 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

• It was a good, solid shift in the opening minutes from Nolan Patrick as he kept the puck in the offensive zone and made a play that you can see from the press box but not sure if the guys on the ice have the same visual. 

Patrick’s pass to Robert Hagg resulted in a good scoring chance. If Hagg had quicker release, it may have resulted in a goal. Patrick’s vision reminds me a little of Joe Thornton’s. He definitely appears to be more of a setup guy, or at least, that’s what he’s comfortable with at this point. 

• The Flyers held the Islanders without a shot for the first five minutes of the game. Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock finally got New York’s first shot from just inside the blue line that Elliott easily snagged.

• There was another good shift from the Patrick line that resulted in a Provorov shot that went high and wide. On a delayed penalty, the Flyers pulled Elliott. With Provorov floating in the high slot, the Flyers' defenseman attempted to redirect a shot that just went wide.

• Couturier continued his magical season as he opened up the scoring during the first period with a redirect on Jakub Voracek’s pass into the slot.

• A couple of middleweights dropped the gloves as Konecny exchanged blows with New York’s Shane Prince. It was good to see that side of Konecny as he never connected any good right hands but he was able to body slam Prince for the takedown.

• For some reason, the Islanders’ checking line turns into a scoring line against the Flyers. Fourth-line winger Cal Clutterbuck scored his second goal against the Flyers this season when he deflected Nick Leddy’s entry shot from the blue line off his knee in the first period. Clutterbuck had an earlier shot in the game when he went high glove side on Elliott but rang it off the post.

The Flyers came out really strong in the opening minutes of the second period. First, Raffl did an excellent job of playing keep-away from Islanders captain John Tavares. His ability to control the puck and shield it with his body allowed the Flyers to cycle the puck and work it around to Provorov, who fired a shot that deflected off Raffl and past Thomas Greiss for the goal and 2-1 lead.

• Patrick’s line, which was buzzing all night, finally received its due when Jordan Weal gained control along the boards and sent it out to the point. With Simmonds in front of the net, he was able to circle around the defense and beat Greiss low to the glove.

• The Flyers earned a four-minute double minor as defenseman Andrew MacDonald drew a high-stick to the face. On the ensuing power play, Provorov found a shooting lane with a line of at least four bodies standing in front of Greiss. All Provorov had to do was snap a shot between everyone’s legs to score a goal and extend the advantage to 4-1. Provorov followed up a bad game against Pittsburgh with one of his best against the Islanders. He also tallied a second marker with an empty-netter.

• Konecny got in the scoring act on a breakaway. Couturier flipped a perfect pass over the Islanders’ defense, which sprung Konecny, who made sure he picked a side of the net instead of the corner. He snapped a shot over Greiss’ blocker for his fifth goal of the season. Konecny now has points in three of his last four games.

• With Anders Lee serving as a screen directly in front of Elliott, John Tavares sniped a shot that barely saw Elliott flinch. The Flyers’ PK can’t allow a superstar like Tavares to get that kind of open look no matter where he is on the ice.

• Pulock, the Islanders’ defenseman taken four spots after Samuel Morin in the 2013 draft, came up with a solid individual effort. When Hagg tried to flip the puck from his blue line into the Islanders’ zone, Pulock stepped up, snagged it and skated in all alone on Elliott before snapping a shot high glove to pull the Isles within a goal, 5-4, in the third period.

• There were three fights in the game. Along with Konecny, Couturier and Scott Laughton also dropped the gloves, while Simmonds and Clutterbuck had plenty of words.

• The Flyers called up Tyrell Goulbourne from Lehigh Valley Wednesday night, but he couldn’t make it to the Wells Fargo Center from Toronto (where the Phantoms practiced prior to their game with the Marlies) in time for Thursday’s game.

General manager Ron Hextall described Goulbourne’s game and what he brings to the Flyers, as the 2013 third-round pick is expected to make his NHL debut Saturday against the St. Louis Blues. 

“I think he’s a hard-nosed player,” Hextall said. “I think you see that in what he’s done in Lehigh Valley. He’s done everything asked of him there. He’s a hard-nosed, two-way player. He’s been going to those dirty areas. Because of that, he’s had a couple of scraps. You look at his last couple games here and he has a couple points. Playing good, consistent hockey and when need be, he’s answering the call there.”

Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

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AP Images

Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

Samuel Morin is taking the long and winding road to the NHL, one that’s now more rugged and elongated than ever.

The Flyers confirmed Thursday that Morin tore the ACL in his right knee when his skate caught a rut on the ice in Charlotte while he was attempting to check an opponent. The injury took place in the first period of the Phantoms' epic five-overtime game against the Checkers two weeks ago.

General manager Ron Hextall told the Courier-Post's Dave Isaac that Morin is facing a nine-month recovery process and that the 6-7 defenseman is “probably out until February” as he recovers from surgery — which Morin will undergo sometime in the near future.

Morin’s 2018-19 season will now be spent rehabbing from injury and utilizing what’s left of the regular season working his way back with the Phantoms.   

The Flyers' 2013 first-round pick is also a restricted free agent after playing out the final year of his three-year entry-level contract. In the five years since he was drafted, Morin has suited up for just three NHL games. 

Expect the two sides to reach an agreement on a one- or- two-year extension rather easily since Morin doesn’t have much leverage in negotiations at this point. Since Morin signed his rookie deal at the age of 18, he also had a five-year (or 160-game) waiver exemption that has now expired.

In other words, the Flyers will no longer have the luxury of shuttling Morin back and forth from Lehigh Valley without exposing him to the rest of the league if they attempt to send him back to the minors.

The Flyers have no choice but to give Morin the necessary time to ensure he’s not only ready physically, but also that his game can be trusted at the NHL level.  

Hextall has preached patience in the deliberate development of the organization’s prospects.

Right now, Samuel Morin is the poster child for that process.

Phantoms' Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers ... yet

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Flyers/USA Today Images

Phantoms' Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers ... yet

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Flyers' general manager who was able to construct an entire blue line through trades and free-agent signings was once asked, "What's the number one trait you look for out of a defenseman?"

Paul Holmgren’s response was decisive and to the point. Paraphrasing, Holmgren said, "The one who can get the puck out of his zone as quickly as possible."

As much as the game of hockey has been broken down into advanced metrics and analytics, it’s rather simple at its core. The more time a team spends in its end of the ice, the greater likelihood it'll be on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

The AHL playoffs have served as an ideal test site for Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, who have been stalwarts throughout the Phantoms' postseason run. 

However, Game 3 at the PPL Center Wednesday night further exemplified the necessary strides the Flyers' defensive prospects must take in order to develop into reliable, everyday NHL blueliners.  

Oftentimes, less is more when you have the puck in the defensive end of the ice, and it took roughly 62 seconds into the game on Sanheim’s opening shift for the 22-year-old to make a major gaffe that gave the Toronto Marlies a 1-0 lead. 

Instead of making the simple play of a quick pass up the boards, Sanheim elected to keep it, reversing his field and was suddenly stripped with the attacking forward trailing. Roughly two seconds elapsed from the moment Sanheim lost the puck to when it was behind goalie Alex Lyon in the net. 

“On that particular play, we have full possession of the puck and the opportunity to advance it," Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. "Instead, we go back behind the net to where their guy is. That’s just playing into their hands. In that situation, and in a few of our breakouts, there were opportunities to move forward with the puck and we didn’t.”   

However, the gaffes involving the Sanheim-Myers pairing didn’t stop there. Sanheim was stripped of the puck at his own blue line during the first Phantoms' power play. Myers inexcusably lost his edge skating with the puck through the neutral zone. Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson muscled his way around Sanheim to generate a quality scoring chance, and then another terrible pass and turnover inside the Phantoms' zone.

And that all came in the first seven minutes of the game. 

If Dave Hakstol had been behind the bench (he was actually watching from the PPL Center press box), Sanheim is likely sitting in front of him for the remainder of the game. That’s essentially what transpired in mid-January at the Prudential Center in New Jersey when Sanheim’s play landed him back in the minors for a month and a half. 

Chalk this up as one bad game. Game 3 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals was simply another teaching moment as the Phantoms were blown out, 5-0, falling behind 3-0 in the series. Both players will be back there together logging close to 25 minutes as the Phantoms try to avoid elimination Friday night.    

As exciting as it is to watch Sanheim and Myers generate offense within the Phantoms' system with their size and skating ability, there’s no way Hakstol and the Flyers can depend on that pairing defensively next season. Together, they’re still young, inexperienced and unreliable. 

If anything, expect the competition between Myers and Sanheim as something worth watching when Flyers camp opens in September. Myers has closed the gap in his first full season in the AHL. 

And the guy who can clean up their play defensively will likely be the one that starts next season with the Flyers.