Flyers

Flyers-Avalanche observations: A warrior mentality not enough in shootout loss

Flyers-Avalanche observations: A warrior mentality not enough in shootout loss

BOX SCORE

The Flyers erased three different deficits but couldn't come up with the game-winner Saturday night as the Colorado Avalanche won, 5-4, in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.

Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon scored for Colorado in the shootout as the Avs scored twice in the three-round shootout. Jordan Weal was the lone Flyer to convert.

The Flyers controlled much of the play during overtime, outshooting the Avs, 6-5, but couldn't convert their one golden opportunity when Travis Konecny broke in all alone on Semyon Varlamov only to fire wide.

• At one point, every line was buzzing in the third period. The third line chipped in with a goal with a beautiful give-and-go between Dale Weise and Jordan Weal. Weal did much of the work, as he stick-handled the puck from behind his net and somehow his backhanded pass made its way through three Colorado sticks right to Weise, who was standing in the slot and fired a one-timer past Varlamov.

• A minute after the Flyers tied it at four, Shayne Gostisbehere may have had his worst play of the season when he turned the puck over as Matt Duchene stripped him from behind and fed Nail Yakupov, who then beat Michal Neuvirth's five-hole, a shot Neuvirth certainly should have stopped.

• Voracek got just enough of a rebound with a one-handed poke at the puck that practically traveled parallel to the goal line. The puck ricocheted off the inside of the post and past the line for the Flyers' first goal of the third period.

• Michael Raffl couldn't have had a better, closer look at his first goal and his first point of the season. Raffl was front and center in front of the crease when he took a centering pass and somehow fired a shot wide right. You have to think Raffl is growing impatient playing on that fourth line with Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier that's had some early-season success.

• After the Flyers' second power-play unit got a little overaggressive, it led to an Avalanche 3-on-2 break. Colorado's Blake Comeau was attempting to shoot low for a rebound, but his shorthanded goal hit the skate of Ivan Provorov, ramped up and found the top-right corner that Neuvirth had no chance at stopping. A lucky break for Comeau, a bad one for Neuvirth.

• Less than a minute later, Colorado capitalized with its other special-teams unit. The Avalanche's power play got on the board when Rantanen attempted a centering pass and with Robert Hagg dropping to his knee to block the pass. Rantanen instead banked the puck off Hagg's stick and into the net to give the Avs two goals in a span of 43 seconds. Just a pair of bad luck goals.

• In the second period, Konecny had a 2-on-1, where the pass was taken away and he should have taken the shot. On the same shift, Konecny, determined to get the puck to Valtteri Filppula, fired a perfect seed from below the goal line to Filppula, who poked it past Varlamov for the Flyers' first goal.

• The Flyers really needed to get Gostisbehere back on the power play, and it paid dividends on their first opportunity in the second period, when "Ghost" cranked up a big-time blast from between the circles. His shot was low enough that it led to an even bigger rebound, which Claude Giroux quickly put back in for a goal, as Varlamov wasn't in position to make the save.

• Giroux already has eight goals this season, which is more than halfway to his total of 14 from last season. He didn't score his eighth goal until Dec. 8, 2016, in the 2016-17 campaign.

• Mark Alt has been solid in the three games he’s played thus far for the Flyers. However, he had one pass that got away from him Saturday. Erik Johnson intercepted Alt’s cross-ice pass in the second period, skating in and getting off a big slap shot on Neuvirth. Perhaps Alt’s biggest mistake since his call-up.

• Neuvirth can thank the top-left part of his sweater for getting just enough of Sven Andrighetto’s wrist shot that bounced off his shoulder, veered to Neuvirth’s left and caught the post for Colorado’s best scoring chance in the second period. One of three Colorado shots that hit the iron through two periods.

• All the Flyers needed to do to get out of the first period scoreless was win the faceoff with nine seconds remaining. Instead, MacKinnon beat Sean Couturier and then it was MacKinnon who had a beautiful backhand-feed to a wide-open Duchene to his right for a wide-open goal with 1.9 seconds remaining in the opening period. A rare example of how important last-second faceoffs can make a difference.

• Of the four minor penalties in the first period, three of those were slashing calls. Flyers forward Dale Weise was guilty of one of those. Weise now has three slashing penalties in 12 games played. That’s one shy of the NHL lead. 

• Yakupov may not be the complete package deserving of being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 draft, but he still possesses some breakaway speed. Yakupov wheeled completely around Hagg and cut in front of Neuvirth for the scoring chance. A backchecking Scott Laughton slashed Yakupov in an attempt to separate Yakupov from the puck. This penalty led to Colorado's power-play goal.

• Midway through the first period, the Flyers saw some poor, sloppy passing in their defensive end, which allowed the Avalanche to get some shots and chances on Neuvirth, who reserved his best save against Johnson. Johnson fired top right and Neuvirth made a lightning-quick reflex with his glove to make the save.

• With a handful of players dealing with flu-like symptoms, the Avalanche elected to play with seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt

Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratched: Nolan Patrick (upper-body), Matt Read (healthy), Radko Gudas (upper-body), Will O'Neill (healthy)

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

While the weekend felt rather subdued to Ron Hextall (see story), the Flyers still made some history of their own at the 2018 NHL draft.

The Flyers entered with nine picks and ended up making eight — none of which were used on a Canadian player, a first in the organization's history. 

Over the two-day draft, which wrapped up Saturday, the Flyers selected five American players and three Swedish players.

Let's recap the Flyers' work in Dallas:

First round, No. 14: Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, LW

Analysis: A legitimate two-way winger with a big shot and scoring mentality.

Quotable: "He's got speed. He's got skill. He can score. He's a good player and he has size in his family, so I still think there's a chance he can grow." - Hextall

First round, No. 19: Jay O'Brien, 5-11/176, C

Analysis: Some may view it as a reach, but the Flyers love O'Brien's makeup and ability.

Quotable: "He just has the traits of a hockey player. Just his timing of passes, when to shoot, when to pass. He's a really smart hockey player. He's competitive. He's strong. He's got a little agitator in him." - Hextall

Second round, No. 50: Adam Ginning, 6-4/206, D

Analysis: A stay-at-home defenseman with toughness and size.

Quotable: "We like his size. We like his upside. He’s a big guy and he moves pretty well for a big guy. He’s got solid puck skills and he has the range we need for a solid defensive defenseman." - Hextall

Fourth round, No. 112: John St. Ivany, 6-2/198, D

Analysis: A right-handed shot blueliner the Flyers wanted.

Quotable: "Good size, moves well. Kind of one of those steady-Eddie types of guys, solid with the puck. He was a good fit for our group." - Hextall

Fifth round, No. 127: Wyatte Wylie, 6-0/190, D

Analysis: Another righty blueliner that saw his draft stock shoot up in the second half of his junior season.

Quotable: "I like to describe myself as a two-way defenseman, one that can move pucks up and likes to join the play." - Wylie

Fifth round, No. 143: Samuel Ersson, 6-2/176, G

Analysis: The Flyers were not going to chase a goalie but liked the ceiling here.

Quotable: "We think there’s some upside there that hasn’t been tapped yet. We got him a lot later. Had we needed a goalie, we would have taken him a lot earlier." - Hextall

Sixth round, No. 174: Gavin Hain, 5-11/193, C

Analysis: A teammate of Farabee with bottom-six potential.

Quotable: "The NTDP itself is a hard-grooming place to play as a player, but it’s a great spot to develop." - Hain

Seventh round, No. 205: Marcus Westfalt, 6-3/203, C/LW

Analysis: An Oskar Lindblom-type prospect? Westfalt has some traits to like.

Quotable: "I like the mix that we got — three D, four forwards, a goalie. I like the mix, I like the fits. We got some good players. We got some skill up front. We got some guys in the back that complement our group with some size, some steady guys." - Hextall

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

Ron Hextall entered his fifth draft as Flyers general manager with nine selections and left Dallas making eight of them — a pretty typical draft weekend under the Hextall regime.

With Hextall as GM, the Flyers have averaged 8.4 draft picks and their eight selections this year are the second least with him steering the ship. He made six picks in his first draft in 2014.

As the offseason now shifts onto development camp and free agency, let’s break down the weekend that was for the Flyers at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

1. The overall draft class

Hextall emphasized during last week the need to restock the Flyers’ defensive pipeline and that right-handed defensemen were a “big fill” in the organization. On Day 2, he followed through.

The Flyers used their first three picks Saturday on defensemen: Adam Ginning (50th overall), John St. Ivany (112th overall) and Wyatte Wylie (127th overall). St. Ivany and Wylie are righties.

Overall, the Flyers’ draft class from Rounds 2-7 didn’t seem to blow anyone away, but with a prospect pool as deep as the Flyers, this draft wasn’t about refilling the cupboard.

What mattered most about this draft was the two first-rounders and while Jay O’Brien is a bit of a wild card, Joel Farabee was as perfect as an option the Flyers had available at No. 14 overall.

Drafts can’t be judged until three or five years down the line, so we won’t know how this overall crop will pan out. But if one of Farabee or O’Brien hit, that’s all that matters.

Farabee, especially, fits an organizational need as a quick, shoot-first natural winger.

If all goes according to plan, this draft class should be judged on the first-round picks. It’s important to find diamonds in the rough and perhaps they have. Time will tell.

But based on the Flyers’ current timetable to compete, they need at least one of these two first-rounders to turn into an impact NHL player. My money is on Farabee being just that.

2. A quiet weekend

Part of the allure of draft weekend is the constant trade speculation leading up to Round 1 and throughout the first round. Friday was a fairly quiet night in the NHL player transaction ledger.

Saturday some saw significant player movement with Ilya Kovalchuk and signing with the Kings and the Flames trading Dougie Hamilton to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindblom.

But none from the Flyers. The draft is when Hextall comes out of his cage and yells, “I am Ron, hear me roar.” For Hextall, the draft is where he does his best, and loudest, work.

Technically, this is the first draft the Flyers didn’t make any moves of note, but that is misleading. When Philly hosted the draft in 2014, Hextall’s first, the Flyers reportedly were hot in pursuit of trading up from No. 17 overall to the top pick to draft Aaron Ekblad.

In the end, Hextall couldn’t strike his magic. Every year since he has … since now. It was a weird feeling not seeing the Flyers subject of trade rumors this weekend.

The Flyers didn’t leave Dallas without making one trade, though. Hextall reached into his bag of tricks and traded the 190th overall to the Canadiens for a seventh-rounder in 2019.


3. The growth of USA hockey on full display

For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers did not draft a Canadian-born player. Their breakdown goes as followed: Five Americans and three Swedes.

Hextall continued to add college-bound prospects Saturday with the selections of St. Ivany and Gavin Hain (sixth round, 174th overall). St. Ivany is headed to Yale and Hain, North Dakota.

Hain is also the second player the Flyers drafted from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and was Farabee’s teammate. That’s of note because they haven’t drafted a player from the USNTDP since James van Riemsdyk (No. 2 overall) in 2007. 

If the Flyers drafting no Canadians means anything, it should be viewed as the growth of USA Hockey. It was a pretty good year for the NTDP, which had 12 players drafted.

4. Too early to compare

Of the Flyers’ Day 2 picks, Marcus Westfalt may be the most intriguing.

Westfalt was the Flyers’ final selection, taken with the 205th pick. He’s a big winger described as a two-way player. His skill level doesn’t appear to be high-end, but he has potential.

It’s easy to make comparisons to Oskar Lindblom, who fell to the fifth in 2014, but it’s far too early to make that connection. Lindblom’s issue was his skating — it needed major work.

After years of working on it, Lindblom elevated his skating up a few notches. He’s by no means a great skater now, but he improved enough to make the jump to the NHL.

At the very least, Westfalt can be chalked up as an intriguing prospect to watch overseas.

5. The name game

It wouldn't be a hockey draft without an ode to great hockey names.

The Flyers got a gem of their own: Wyatte Wylie in the fifth round.

I feel like the Coyotes should have drafted him. Wylie the Coyote.

I’ll see myself out.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• If Morin doesn't pan out, is this pick the replacement?  

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• 4 thoughts from Day 1 of 2018 NHL draft

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition