Flyers

Debating Flyers' biggest disappointment from 2019-20 training camp, preseason

Debating Flyers' biggest disappointment from 2019-20 training camp, preseason

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

The topic: After touching on the positives, who was the Flyers' biggest disappointment during training camp and the preseason?

Destra

There's a ton of excitement around the anticipation of having Carter Hart between the pipes for his first full season. But what about when he needs to rest? What about when the Flyers play games on back-to-back days and he's able to play in only one of them?

Don't get me wrong, managing the amount of games the 21-year-old should play has to be one of their top priorities in order to avoid another carousel of goaltenders.

So when Hart is resting, how confident should we be with Brian Elliott? If his presesaon was any indication of the performance we'll get moving forward — not too confident.  

Now, it was just the preseason. I'll say that again — it was just the preseason. And it's important to remember that there's no need to overreact until games start to matter.

Elliott appeared in four out of seven preseason games and, for the most part, it wasn't pretty.

In his first three appearances, he allowed seven goals and had an .873 save percentage. Following the team's overtime loss in Boston last week, it did not appear that Alain Vigneault was impressed by Elliott's performance and it looked like the head coach was vocal about it behind the bench.

"You can't win with goaltending like that," Vigneault appeared to say.

If your coach is concerned about the performance of the backup goaltender, we should be, too.

Elliott's only strong performance came during his fourth game on Monday afternoon, when the Flyers lost to Lausanne HC. Yes, Elliott looked solid, but it was against a team that isn't even in the NHL ... so do what you will with that information.

Emmer

Improving the blue line was undoubtedly a focal point in the offseason for the Flyers.

The team acquired new veteran presences Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen with hopes that its current defensive core will show improvements.

Someone who needs to show improvement is Shayne Gostisbehere. 

He’s a good defenseman, he’s shown it in his five seasons with the orange and black — most noticeably in the 2017-18 season, when he finished with a career-high 65 points. 

Of course you can’t expect those kind of numbers every year, but after his 37 points and minus-20 rating in 2018-19, there's a lot of hope that his strong game will bounce back this year.

That being said, he didn’t stand out as much as expected in camp. He made an impact on special teams, but didn’t make it on the score sheet once during preseason action.

Among many reasons, it could have been because Vigneault frequently changed around his pairings.

Gostisbehere will be surrounded by a new staff this season. There is no saying what this personnel will be able to accomplish once the puck drops in the regular season. 

Despite the preseason, who says Gostisbehere isn’t on track for another 60-plus-point year?

Hall

There are a number of ways to go here.

Andy Andreoff was signed to possibly win a job in the Flyers’ bottom six but didn’t, even with injuries to Nolan Patrick and Tyler Pitlick widening the door.

Morgan Frost didn’t underperform but a groin injury led to a second straight abbreviated preseason. If Frost stayed healthy, he could have scored his way into the third-line center position.

Kurtis Gabriel was knocked out of the preseason in his first game. The big winger was expected to make the Flyers’ decisions much harder but a lower-body injury threw a wrench into those plans.

But we’ll go with Philippe Myers. It’s not that he was severely disappointing, but an uneven preseason performance led to the 22-year-old defenseman disappointingly falling short of the Flyers’ initial roster to open the 2019-20 campaign.

During the summer, general manager Chuck Fletcher said the Flyers were bullish on Myers’ upside. After the rookie game, AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon said Myers was an NHL player. Myers seemed poised for a full-time role this year following a 21-game taste of the NHL last season.

"They told me that I should be chomping at the bit for this training camp,” Myers said on Sept. 7. “I want that, too, I want to be a top-four guy, have a bigger role on the team and help the team win.”

The excitement over Myers is still very much alive. It’s just on hold for now and I didn’t expect it to be.

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Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers picked up a huge win in their playoff push with a 5-1 decision Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Philippe Myers, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek all scored goals for the Flyers (33-20-7), who notched their 20th home win of 2019-20. They won only 19 games in Philly last season.

More impressively, the Flyers improved to 7-0-2 against the Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In 2018-19, they were 0-10-2 against those divisional foes.

Major improvements.

The Flyers also rebounded from another defeat as they haven't dropped consecutive outings since Jan. 4-7. In games after their last seven losses, the Flyers are 7-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 36-16.

The Blue Jackets (30-19-12) have allowed 15 goals to the Flyers through three matchups.

• Big, big win for the Flyers.

They’ve now jumped the Blue Jackets and Islanders to take over third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New York has two games in hand on the Flyers.

One of the more noticeable aspects of this win was the contributions from players who were not here in 2018-19. Hayes got things started, Myers (played only 21 games last season) was strong, Joel Farabee added two assists and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was reliable yet again.

• Thanks to a goal and two assists, Konecny set a new career high in points as he now has 51.

There are 22 games left in the Flyers’ season and the 22-year-old forward has already delivered in the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.

• An impressive franchise record for captain Claude Giroux.

• Carter Hart improved to 15-2-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average at home.

Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who came in leading the NHL with five shutouts, was pulled during the third period after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

• During the second period, everyone saw why there’s so much potential and excitement behind the Travis Sanheim-Myers defensive pairing.

Some serious size, skating and skill — and both are only 23 years old.

• The Flyers’ 200-foot forces set the tone.

During the first period, Hayes and Couturier jumped on the Blue Jackets, who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.45.

From a crazy angle, Hayes scored his 18th goal of the season. The 27-year-old center has a great chance to break his career high of 25 goals set in 2017-18.

Couturier might finish the season as the Flyers’ leading scorer. He has 48 points and a plus-27 rating over his last 50 games.

• The Flyers fly to Columbus Wednesday afternoon ahead of another matchup with the Blue Jackets Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers then play three straight games at home against teams not in playoff position — Jets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Sharks next Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Rangers next Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

The Jeff Carter-Flyers buzz is back.

It started humming in January when Carter and the Kings visited the Flyers. It picked back up Tuesday with the latest 31 Thoughts article from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, always a must-read.

Per Friedman:

It might come down to Nolan Patrick’s health, but I think Philadelphia is considering Jeff Carter.

That would not be terribly surprising, as we noted in January. The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference and selling with Monday's NHL trade deadline on the horizon. As they retool, being open to moving an older player like Carter would make sense. The 35-year-old has a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com, and is under contract for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

That is most significant as it relates to the possibility of the Flyers adding Carter for their playoff push. The Flyers have just over $2 million in cap space. Even with Los Angeles retaining 50 percent of Carter's cap hit, the Flyers would have to do some juggling. And then the fact that Carter has two more years left on his deal might make things less appealing for the Flyers.

However, there are reasons why the Flyers are probably peeking in at Carter's availability. The center is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time 30-plus goal-scorer and understands the pressure of playing in Philly. Returning to the city during a playoff race would only rejuvenate Carter, who could help the Flyers' depth down the middle and be a positive influence on the team's younger bottom-six forwards. Not to mention the former Flyer has 17 goals this season and is projected to finish with 24.

The Flyers could interest the Kings with a prospect and/or a draft pick. But what would they be willing to give up from a prospect pool that will build the future? And how do they make it work for the roster moving forward?

Those are big questions for a 35-year-old center with a big contract.

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