Flyers

Flyers-Bruins observations: Flyers drop 10th straight in ugly fashion

Flyers-Bruins observations: Flyers drop 10th straight in ugly fashion

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The Flyers' winless streak reached 10 games Saturday after the Boston Bruins shutout the Flyers 3-0 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The 10-game winless stretch matches the team’s 10-game streak in 2008.

Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak took over with a pair of second-period goals.

Claude Giroux had his five-game point streak snapped when his 12th goal of the season was taken off the board in the second after on-ice officials determined there was goaltender interference on Wayne Simmonds after he made slight contact to the helmet of Tuukka Rask. 

The Flyers were shutout for the sixth time this season, but the first against an Eastern Conference team.

Brian Elliott stopped 24 of 27 shots. 

Immediately after the game, the Flyers leave for Calgary where they’ll begin a three-game Western Canadian road trip with games against the Flames, Oilers and Canucks.
 
Here are observations from today’s loss.

• Ryan Spooner got the Bruins going with his first-period goal. The play all started with Nolan Patrick’s sloppy backhand pass along the boards that Noel Acciari intercepted and then fed a breaking Spooner who raced down the right side and beat Elliott easily through the five hole. Andrew MacDonald simply didn’t have the foot speed to catch up to Spooner. 

• Unlike the Sharks game Tuesday, the Flyers brought some early emotion. Simmonds dropped the gloves and got in some quality shots with the left on Boston’s Kevan Miller. Later in the first period, Ivan Provorov leveled Marchand with what appeared to be a clean open-ice hit, but Provorov was called for an illegal check to the head with the 5-foot-9 Marchand skating with his head down. In any other era, that play never gets called.

• The Flyers got an early power play when Sean Couturier drew a holding penalty against Pastrnak. However, give the Bruins' top two lines the early edge over the Flyers first and second lines. Boston had a 13-6 edge in even-strength shots.

• Elliott made his best pad save of the season on David Backes’ redirected shot. Elliott extended the left pad just enough that the puck shot off the left post and was swatted out of the crease, otherwise, the Bruins would have had a 2-0 first-period lead.

• The Bruins grabbed a 2-0 lead when Patrick lost a defensive zone faceoff. A rather odd play where the puck went off Patrick’s skate, Marchand alertly stepped in and beat Robert Hagg to the puck and then quickly fed it to Pastrnak for the quick shot that caught Elliott leaning to his left. 

• After their first period fight, Simmonds outdueled Miller once again and drew a holding penalty, and much like the first period, the Flyers completely squandered the opportunity. In their first two power play opportunities, the five-man unit was kept around the perimeter, sat back and didn’t really attack the Bruins’ penalty kill.  

• Marchand gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead after the Flyers lost a pivotal board battle, where they had four orange sweaters to the Bruins three. Pastrnak came away with the puck and fed it to the point where Charlie McAvoy took a slap shot that Marchand intercepted in front of the crease, and then backhanded a shot into an open net. Two hustle plays for Marchand gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead.

• The Flyers' third line provided the team’s two best even strength chances in the second period, both provided by Travis Konecny. One was a drop pass to Brandon Manning, who fired a shot right into the chest of Rask. Konecny provided the other when he had a wide-open look off the right wing, but his shot directly rebounded off Rask’s left pad. 

• Shayne Gostisbehere took a frustration penalty when he took his stick and crosschecked Marchand, who was merely looking to dump the puck and get off the ice for a change. It also erased the final minute of the Flyers' power play. Not a smart penalty from Gostisbehere, but he got one back when he drew a tripping call from Boston defenseman Charlie McCoy.

• Giroux sniped a power play goal top shelf, a perfectly placed shot, in the second period but it was taken off the board as Simmonds barely clipped Rask with his elbow. The officials determined he made some sort of contact, but overall it shouldn’t have disallowed the goal as Simmonds was skating away from the crease. It seems as if all these goaltender interference calls have gone against the Flyers this season.   

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valterri Filppula-Travis Konecny
Jori Lehtera-Scott Laughton-Dale Weise

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Brandon Manning

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Radko Gudas, Taylor Leier and Mark Alt.

It looks like the Flyers are headed to Vegas to open 2018-19 season

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USA Today Images

It looks like the Flyers are headed to Vegas to open 2018-19 season

In typical NHL fashion, the 2018-19 schedule release is a two-day event.

That means we won't know the entire schedule until around 5 p.m. Thursday, but we know enough today to put together some of the pieces.

It looks like the Flyers will open up their season out West for the third straight season.

The Flyers will play the Golden Knights in Vegas' home opener Oct. 4 at T-Mobile Arena. Their own home opener is Oct. 9 against the San Jose Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center.

After looking at other teams’ home openers, it appears the season starts Oct. 3 with Capitals hosting the Bruins, the Maple Leafs entertaining the Canadiens and the Canucks facing the Flames at home. Last season began Oct. 4, 2017.

While the Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, the Flyers won their first game in Vegas with a 4-1 win Feb. 11.

The 2018-19 season will be the fourth straight year the Flyers begin on the road. Last season, they opened up with a 5-3 win over the Sharks in San Jose.

The last time they opened at home was 2013-14, a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ve won their last two season openers. They’re 5-4-1 in their last 10 season openers.

They won their home opener last year, crushing the Capitals, 8-2.

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Ty Smith, with little bit of Gostisbehere and Provorov, should attract Flyers in NHL draft

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Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs

Ty Smith, with little bit of Gostisbehere and Provorov, should attract Flyers in NHL draft

Ty Smith will dash across the ice as if he's saying catch me if you can.

Flyers fans know that game well.

You know, when a defenseman doesn't look like one because they're undersized, striking fear into nobody … until they take the puck up ice and skate you in circles.

Sound familiar?

"I am very well aware of Shayne Gostisbehere's game and what he brings," Spokane Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert said two weeks ago in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Although Lambert coaches at the junior level in the Western Hockey League, he's tuned in with the NHL game. He knows of Gostisbehere because he follows hockey.

Lambert also knows him likely because he watches a player awfully similar to the Flyers' slender offensive blueliner. Meet Ty Smith, an 18-year-old prospect that will hear his name called Friday night in the first round of the 2018 NHL draft. Projected to be taken in the ballpark of 10th-to-20th overall, Smith could find himself going to the Flyers, who hold picks Nos. 14 and 19 and want to "restock a little bit" on defense, according to general manager Ron Hextall.

"Because of his size, I think people underestimate the type of effects he could have on a team or an organization," Lambert said. "Whoever gets Ty, whether it's Philadelphia or whoever may be lucky enough to land him, is going to be an organization that will be very happy with their pick and they're going to be very appreciative that somehow, someway he fell on their lap."

Gostisbehere, a left-handed shot, was selected by the Flyers in the third round (78th overall) of the 2012 draft. At the time, he was 5-foot-11 and between 160-165 pounds, but regarded for his slick skating and scoring ability.

Smith, also a lefty shot, is 5-foot-10, 176 pounds — tinier guy but a menace at the point of the power play with an NHL-ready offensive acumen. The lissome Canadian pivots, maneuvers, creates and transitions with some of the best in this strong defensemen draft class. If Smith's offensive repertoire lacks anything, it's the shot, a trademark of Gostisbehere's game.

"I think one of his strengths is his shot and his ability to get it off and get it on net," Lambert said of Gostisbehere. "I think that's where Shayne has a big advantage over Ty right now; Ty does not have that shot."

To the naked eye, while Gostisbehere seems to be an obvious comparison to Smith, Lambert remembered Ivan Provorov, as well. He sees traits from both of the Flyers' defensive pillars in Smith.

"You know what, when I think of Provorov, and I think of his hockey sense, and Gostisbehere, I think Ty Smith kind of fits in there somewhere," Lambert said. "A little bit of one and a little bit of the other, and you probably get a guy that equals Ty Smith. He's probably in between those two and I think they're both two special players."

Smith has become a defensive stud in the WHL, just like Provorov did with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Smith produced a 41-point increase from last year, putting up 73 on 14 goals and 59 assists in 69 regular-season games. He erupted for a seven-point night in February, a game Lambert said probably wasn't even Smith's best. 

He also went from a minus-12 in 2016-17 to a plus-44 this season. Lambert noted how such a mark is especially impressive considering Smith was matched up against the opposition's top players every game. Include the intangibles, and "the sky's the limit for Ty, even with his lack of size," the coach said.

"He's got two things that are special. One of them is his hockey IQ, the understanding of the game," Lambert said. "And probably the other one that you maybe don't know until you get to know him as a young man, is his character and just how he shows up every single day. It didn't matter if he played 35 minutes the night before or not, the next day, he's your hardest-working player at practice, so that shows a lot of leadership. 

"Not the most vocal leader, but certainly a leader that leads by example and he's a driver, a guy that pushes your teammates, pushes your team usually into special places."

Smith may be on the doorstep of starting to do so in the NHL.

"Well, to be honest with you, one of my fears is that he's going to get drafted and he's going to impress teams in a hurry," Lambert said. "And I say that as a fear, it's also one of my dreams, like I hope that for him."

It didn't take Gostisbehere or Provorov real long, either.

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