Flyers

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

Debating Flyers' biggest positive 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 disappointments, who was the Flyers' biggest positive during training camp and the preseason?

Destra

He has been an underdog for most of his career, but not anymore. Heading into this training camp, it seemed like many forgot this prospect made it to the final cut in 2018-19 before coming up just a tad short. But this time around, Carsen Twarynski made sure to hit the ground running (or should I say hit the ice skating) and put his name on everyone’s radar for 2019-20.

With the game constantly advancing, teams can no longer play and succeed with having only two solid lines that can produce. Every line needs to contribute, every player. Twarynski has the capability to solidify the bottom half of the roster. And the best part is? He hasn’t even reached his fullest potential yet.

Twarynski netted two goals, tying him for most scored in the preseason on the Flyers. But something stood out with his play on every shift he took — his refusal to quit.

The 21-year-old decided to stay in the area during the offseason, training in Voorhees, New Jersey. It may seem like a cliché — but hard work truly does pay off.

Emmer

From the first day the orange and black hit the ice for training camp in Voorhees, New Jersey, Joel Farabee made a name for himself on the Flyers’ roster. 

He was put to the test on Day 1, filling in on the first line for a then contract-less Travis Konecny, and as the preseason games began, his role continued to grow.

“He’s a real smart player,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said last week. “For a 19-year-old player, I think he’s ahead of the curve with a respect to awareness of the game away from the puck, his defensive understanding of the game.”

Though he never played lower than the third line in five preseason games and didn’t make it on the score sheet once, that “awareness of the game away from the puck” still impressed head coach Alain Vigneault. 

“If he's not in the lineup that first game, it would be a surprise,” Vigneault said last Thursday. “He's played extremely well. In my mind, if we would start tomorrow, he would probably be in our lineup.”

He turned heads in the preseason, but was it enough? As the regular season begins Friday, the major question is when will he fit into the Flyers' lineup?

“He’s obviously a highly competitive kid,” Fletcher said last week. “Very intelligent kid. But it’s a tough league for a 19-year old player. What we do with Joel will be what’s right for the team, but also what’s right for him in the long run.”

Regardless of what happens before the opener, Farabee has a future with the Flyers, whether it’s now or later.

Hall

A bit of an outside-the-box pick: Justin Braun.

Before his arrival, we didn’t know much about the 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman because he played out on the West Coast in San Jose, where Brent Burns has long been the man along the blue line.

However, there’s a reason why Braun played nine years for the Sharks, has put up 20:43 minutes per game over the past six seasons to go with a plus-32 rating and sports 84 career playoff appearances on his résumé.

He understands defense and the intricacies of goal prevention.

"If you want to end plays in this league, you've got to have a good stick and then you've got to get body,” Braun said on Day 1 of training camp. “If you're soft out there, you're going to be in your D-zone all night. You've got to end those plays quick and try to get it going north, otherwise you're going to have a long night. Every shift I try to do that so I don't have to spend too much time in my D-zone."

San Jose has been one of the NHL’s top teams since the 2015-16 season, when it went to the Stanley Cup Final.

“Harped on gap all the time — like, we didn't want guys crossing the blue line with the puck,” Braun said. “We wanted them to dump it, get it back, turn it over.”

The 32-year-old is an underrated upgrade for the Flyers’ defense.

"Braun isn’t going to win any contests for artistic merit on the ice, but he competes and he has a great stick," Fletcher said on Day 1 of training camp. "I went back and watched 20 games of clips just the other day again, he is unbelievable stick on puck. He is hard to play against. It's like seaweed, he's out there, there's arms and he’s battling and pushing you and poke-checking and he brings a real veteran savvy to the defensive part of the game."

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2020 NHL playoff odds: A look into 1st-round series on Day 2

2020 NHL playoff odds: A look into 1st-round series on Day 2

The time has finally arrived — the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs are here and you can just feel the excitement in the air. The top 16 teams are set and ready to push toward the Final. 

Day One already brought the heat, with a five-overtime Blue Jackets and Lightning game, postponement of the Hurricanes and Bruins and pure chaos in the west. 

As the second day of the first round is underway, let’s take a look at the series odds for each matchup facing off for the first time today, per DraftKings: 

Islanders-Capitals 

NY +113 WSH -136 

The Capitals had a rocky start after entering the Toronto bubble, only winning one of the three round robin games — and that one win only decided if they would enter the playoffs as the third or fourth seed. 

The most surprising aspect of the tournament was the lack of production from captain, Alexander Ovechkin. Normally a point machine, Ovechkin didn’t register a single one against the top teams in the east. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before he becomes the offense force the whole league knows him for — but if for some reason he still looks off his game — the Islanders have to capitalize on it immediately. 

In the qualifying round, the Islanders simply outplayed the Panthers. Through the four games, the Islanders got on the board a total of 13 times. In a best-of-seven series, a buzzing Islanders team could mean trouble for Braden Holtby. 

After splitting the regular season series at two games a piece, this first round has the potential to be much closer than originally anticipated. 

Coyotes-Avalanche 

ARI +235 COL -286 

The Avalanche were just an overtime goal away from claiming the top seed in the west, but a loss to the Golden Knights locked them in at second. 

Special teams look like they’re going to play a big factor in this series and it largely benefits Colorado. The Avalanche did some impressive numbers on the power play (25%), scoring four different times throughout the round robin. On the other side of things, the Coyotes struggled on the penalty kill (71.4%) — that is the third worst since the NHL returned to play. 

Flyers-Canadiens 

MTL +195 PHL -240

On paper, this series seems pretty much in favor of the Flyers in all aspects of the game — but after watching the Canadiens take down the Penguins, it’s not going to be as easy as many think. The Flyers climbed their way from the fourth seed to the top of the east and rightfully earned the opportunity to face the 12th seed Canadiens. 

The Flyers are riding alongside the success of 21-year-old goaltender, Carter Hart, who hasn’t had much difficulty so far in a playoff setting. If he has the ability to adapt to a seven-game series, they should be in good shape. 

Hart is also about to face one of the most respected (and one of his childhood favorites) in the NHL — Carey Price. Price is not new to the postseason scene by any means, but a goaltender has the ability to steal a game or two in a series. However, if the Flyers come out with the same intensity they had in the round robin, they should still come out on top. 

Canucks-Blues 

VAN +167 STL -200 

The defending Stanley Cup champions are ready to fight and defend their title, but the Canucks won’t be an easy battle at the starting line. 

Essentially a dark horse in the west, the Canucks quietly had a decent qualifying round. After being shutout in the first game against the Wild, the Canucks took the next three and hit the ground running to the first round. After not making the playoffs for the previous four seasons, the Canucks are ready to make some noise. 

The Blues didn’t win a single round robin game, so it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for them to adapt to a series. Jordan Binnington, the Blues’ go-to goaltender, has had some difficulty adjusting to play, especially when he faced the Golden Knights and allowed six goals. When goaltenders have the potential to steal a game or two in a series, it’s crucial for him to get back to his A-game.  

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Flyers-Canadiens playoff series reminds us of a brawl that changed hockey

Flyers-Canadiens playoff series reminds us of a brawl that changed hockey

“Hey Dad, why is that guy on the ice with no jersey or skates on?” 6-year-old me said while watching the Flyers in Darby, Pennsylvania, in the spring of 1987. That “guy” was the Flyers’ Dave Brown, who came onto the ice with no jersey and in flip-flops to join a brawl before Game 6 of the 1987 Wales Conference Final between the Flyers and Canadiens at the Montreal Forum. 

When you think of Flyers rivals, the Canadiens are not always near the top of the list. But for those fans who go back to the 80s, they’ll always remember one of the most unique and intriguing brawls in the history of professional hockey.

The Flyers weren’t lacking in the toughness department with the likes of Brown, Rick Tocchet and Scott Mellanby, and the Canadiens were always ready for rough stuff with players like Shayne Corson and Chris Nilan, among others. The pregame brawl may have been what sunk the Canadiens, as the Flyers won the series, 4-2. Thirty-three years later, the NHL still hasn’t seen something like what it saw that night in Montreal.  

Unwritten rules in sports are usually associated with baseball but there are some in other sports. In hockey, one of the unwritten rules is to not cross center ice during pregame warmups but the Canadiens had their own ideas. The Habs developed a pregame ritual of shooting the puck in the other team’s net when warmups were wrapping up, and the Flyers seemingly had had enough of it.  As the players made their way to exit the ice after warmups, Ed “Boxcar” Hospodar and backup goaltender Chico Resch waited by the door of the bench. When Corson and Claude Lemieux re-entered the playing surface for their ritual, Boxcar and Resch went right after them, with Hospodar dropping the gloves and pounding Lemieux, while Resch paired off with Corson who had shot the puck.

As word got back to the dressing rooms, more players came back to the ice, some of them only in warmup shirts and hockey shorts, and others (including Brown) not even wearing skates. The lasting image that remains in Flyers lore may be that of Brown, wearing sandals and without a jersey, fighting Canadians tough guy Nilan. Nilan later said that he remembered fighting Brown for eight to 10 minutes and then having to play an entire game, but that he was spent before the game started. The pregame brawl delayed the start of the game, but when the game eventually got underway, the Flyers pulled out the win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Hospodar was suspended for the remainder of the playoffs, which included the seven-game Stanley Cup Final series, but there were no other penalties handed out during the brawl. The incident at the Forum, however, changed the sport forever. Following the brawl, rule changes were implemented to severely punish any player who leaves the bench during a fight, effectively ending bench-clearing brawls.

Many would consider this a black mark for the league, which dealt with protests of the violence following the incident. However, for a fan base who grew up on the Broad Street Bullies, the brawl is part of the fabric of the Flyers franchise.  

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