Flyers dealt with 1st real dose of adversity

Flyers dealt with 1st real dose of adversity

It’s the flu season, and for the most part, even the Flyers have avoided the most contagious strains.

And when they do acquire what’s going around, it doesn’t remotely seem to slow them down, as evidenced by Claude Giroux’s performance this past weekend. The Flyers' captain was fighting something nasty and then delivered a healthy dose of goals (three in four days) that resulted in him being named the NHL's First Star of the week.

If that’s the cause and effect of getting sick, then perhaps the entire team should start eating their meals off a Petri dish.

Now that we’re four months into the season, the Flyers should be knocking on wood until their knuckles begin to bleed. Their only real affliction had been self-inflicted — a 10-game winless streak that started in mid-November and lasted three weeks. However, they’ve completely sweated that out of their system as they’ve bounced back with an impressive 20-8-3 mark.   

Tuesday night the Flyers played their 57th game of the season, and Dave Hakstol has been extremely fortunate he hasn’t had to replace Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov or Giroux in his lineup.

Not one time. 

The Flyers have suited up 10 regulars who have played in all 57 games, and the majority of the rest have been healthy scratches. 

Entering their game with the Devils on Tuesday, the Flyers had been dealt just 61 man games lost because of injury. Comparatively, the Anaheim Ducks, who have nearly an identical record as the Flyers, were sitting at 262 games lost with injuries to key contributors, mainly Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler.

The Flyers realize just how fortunate they are. 

They haven’t needed to build an immunity to injuries and have somehow managed to fight off the injury bug as if spraying off throughout the dressing room was the way to go about it. 

Their most significant loss came in October when defenseman Andrew MacDonald missed 15 games with a leg injury, and at one point, the blue line had gone 10 deep on the depth chart with AHL journeyman Will O’Neill making his NHL debut. Whether you value MacDonald or not, the Flyers' record was 3-6-6 in the games he missed.

Now with Brian Elliott out of action for the next five-to-six weeks, the organization is dealing with a real dose of adversity. With Elliott in net, the Flyers own a .630 winning percentage. Without him, that number dips to .470. 

“I think whenever you get down to two goalies and you’re down to one, I think you’re a little bit nervous no matter what,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “There’s a great example, Vegas. They get two guys down, three guys down and everyone is like, ‘Oh Vegas is done.’ You know what, they’re not done. What are they, second in the league? So it can be done, with a fourth guy, so we’re pretty confident (Michal Neuvirth) is a guy that can carry out for the short-term future.”

While also hoping Neuvirth has a short-term memory. Tuesday night against the Devils, Neuvirth allowed another one of those brutal goals on Taylor Hall’s sharp-angled shot. A healthy Elliott may have been the difference in regulation and a two-point turnaround in the Flyers' favor. 

Either Hextall needs to start crossing his fingers or start making phone calls. In an ideal world, the Flyers benefit from the addition of another goaltender, some defensive depth and arguably one more forward who could effectively kill penalties.

But that all comes at a cost with a trade deadline now less than two weeks away. 

Hextall is facing his biggest dilemma since taking over as GM nearly four years ago. This Flyers team is the deepest, most competitive roster he’s assembled since taking over in May of 2014 with nine double-digit scorers. They may not be Stanley Cup contenders, but then again, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them win their first postseason series since 2012.

Deal or no deal, how the team deals with its most significant setback of the season will determine where it goes and how it feels in April.

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

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Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers. 

Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

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Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

Updated: 9:44 p.m.

Three young forwards will all be staying in the Flyers organization, at least for one more year.

Sunday, the team announced that Danick Martel accepted his qualifying offer on a one-year contract, and that restricted free agents Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne signed one-year deals.

Restricted free agent goalie Anthony Stolarz has also accepted his qualifying offer of $761,250, according to a report from John Hoven. Stolarz, 24, played in just one game for the Phantoms in the 2017-18 season after undergoing surgery on a meniscus tear last summer. A second-round pick by the Flyers in the 2012 draft, Stolarz went 18-9 and posted a 2.92 goals against average with Lehigh Valley in 2016-17.

Though the team didn't include any salary details, Martel's deal is reportedly a two-way contract worth $715,000.

The 23-year-old Martel made his NHL debut last season, finishing with no points and six shots over four games. He scored a career-best 25 goals for Lehigh Valley.

With Leier, the Flyers avoided a possible arbitration hearing. According to CapFriendly, Leier's contract is a one-way deal for $720,000. Leier's hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3. The team also earlier avoided a hearing with Alex Lyon, their other player who filed for arbitration, signing the goalie to a two-year deal.

A fourth-round selection in 2012, Leier had one goal and four assists in 39 regular-season games with the Flyers as a rookie.

Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, appeared in nine regular-season contests, with 15 hits.

If Stolarz is indeed back in the fold, Robert Hagg would be the team's only remaining restricted free agent. 

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