Flyers

Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Topping off a fulfilling homestand?

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AP Images/NBCSP

Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Topping off a fulfilling homestand?

Flyers (5-3-0) vs. Ducks (3-3-1)
7 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

The Flyers have a chance to punctuate their five-game homestand when they welcome the Anaheim Ducks to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Let's get you set for puck drop with some thoughts before Game 9 of the season.

• This is tied for the longest home stretch of the Flyers' season, and it just so happened to come in October. The Flyers have another five-game homestand from Dec. 12-20. Despite the first one being so early, the Flyers are making it meaningful. They've built confidence and even somewhat of a new identity for the 2017-18 season. The Flyers have shown they're faster, more mobile and much scarier from top to bottom, while they've also displayed the ability to win in a variety of styles.

Look at what the Flyers have accomplished on the homestay before the finale. They're 3-1-0 and with a combined score of 10-3 in two of the victories over teams led by Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid. In the four games total, the Flyers have outscored the opposition, 15-5, while the penalty kill is 13 for 14. They've also outshot teams, 127-112, and have won more faceoffs, 124-101.

It may be a small sample size, but it's a good one.

• With Andrew MacDonald out four to six weeks because of a lower-body injury, the Flyers will maneuver their defensemen a bit (see story). An exciting new pairing will be second-year blueliner Ivan Provorov with rookie Robert Hagg. We know the special makeup of Provorov, but Hagg has quietly been a rock for the Flyers. He leads the team with 22 hits, is first among Flyers defensemen as a plus-5 and has committed just four giveaways.

The 22-year-old rookie does all the little things and played some with Provorov during the preseason, so the two have a nice understanding of how to complement each other. Hagg's ice time could see an uptick from the 18:19 he's logged through eight games.

The third pairing of Brandon Manning and Travis Sanheim will also be worth watching given both players have yet to play in a regular-season game together.

• Brian Elliott in net seems likely for the Flyers. He saw the Ducks a little over two weeks ago, making 21 saves on 23 shots for a 3-2 overtime win. He's also coming off his best performance of the season in which he stopped 23 of 24 shots in a tight, 2-1 win over the Oilers.

However, his career numbers aren't great against the Ducks, posting a 2-7-3 mark in 13 lifetime matchups to go with a 3.10 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.

• The Ducks will look different from the Oct. 7 meeting with the Flyers. Ryan Getzlaf missed the game because of a lower-body injury, but he'll be in the lineup Tuesday. The big 6-foot-4, 223-pound center has never been easy on the Flyers, with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 14 career games against the orange and black.

Also, defenseman Hampus Lindholm will make his season debut. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder is only 23 years old and has been a real positive for Anaheim through his first four NHL seasons.

The last time the Flyers took consecutive matchups over the Ducks was when they won on Feb. 2, 2008, and Jan. 2, 2009.

• Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere are tied for third in the NHL with 10 assists apiece. They have one goal between them, but they've been stalwarts in making things happen for the Flyers.

• Through eight games, the Flyers currently have six players with six points or more. Through seven games, the Ducks have just one as Andrew Cogliano is their leading scorer with six points (two goals, four assists).

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup:

Update: Weal (upper body) and Read (healthy) were the final players off the ice at morning skate, signaling they are the likely scratches.

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Shayne Gostisbehere-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Travis Sanheim

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forwards Matt Read and Dale Weise, and defenseman Andrew MacDonald (injured).

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

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USA Today Images

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

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.

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.

Robert Hagg and Anthony Stolarz are now the team's two remaining restricted free agents. 

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Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe throwing everyone a surprise party

Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe throwing everyone a surprise party

Ron Hextall looked on from his perch at Flyers Skate Zone.

He then looked over at some of his staff.

They essentially shook their heads watching this lean, 6-foot-6 winger.

The physical stature was only part of the phenomenon.

"We're standing out there, going a guy that big shouldn't have that good of hands," the general manager said two weeks ago at Flyers development camp. "He's got good hands. He moves really well for his size and his age. You look at a 19-year-old kid who's as tall as he is and as coordinated as he is, it's not the norm."

Isaac Ratcliffe has made it his norm.

In his earlier hockey days, he didn't want to stand out for just his sheer size. 

Now, he is much more than a towering presence. When he hits the ice, he turns heads with his soft touch and dexterous hands — puck skills you wouldn't expect to come out of a 6-6, 210-pound teenager.

Surprised? Good.

"When I was younger, it was a big thing that I used to work on at the end of practice or the end of a skill session," Ratcliffe said. "A guy my size, you don't usually see that and I wanted to prove guys wrong. I can bring any sorts of items to the table and I really wanted to show that I could bring my hands, as well."

In the 2017 draft, the Flyers wanted Ratcliffe so much, they traded three selections to move up and snatch him at 35th overall. Hextall and company liked Ratcliffe's ability and upside, so they're not shocked to see his progression, but they are super pleased.

Ratcliffe, wiry and mobile, jumped from 28 goals and 54 points with the OHL's Guelph Storm in 2016-17 to 41 goals and 68 points in 2017-18.

"To be that linked up at that age is amazing," Hextall said. "He's come a long ways in a year. His all-around game needs work. His wall play and things like that, which most guys at that age do. But his hands, his patience, his poise with the puck — he's got some scoring touch. He's got a reach. To have that poise and reach, developed to put it around the goalie you've seen this week. … We're excited about the prospects for him."

If Ratcliffe was ever viewed as a project, he no longer looks like one. At 19, he's also astutely aware of the NHL trends, which fuels his motivation to be different.

"I still have to get stronger. The size is there, I just need to put on that weight — really build up that core strength, build up my leg strength and definitely work on my speed a lot, too," he said. "It's a fast game and it's a game that's decreasing in size, too. I have to show that I can bring both speed and size to the game, and my skill set, as well."

For Ratcliffe, it's all about mindset. When you're 6-6 and frequently misperceived, it has to be.

"If you're going to go into a battle and you think you're going to lose it, you're going to lose that battle. If you go in and think you're going to win, you have a big chance of coming out on top," Ratcliffe said. "When you get that confidence in there and when you get that strength, pair those two together and you're going to be unstoppable. And that's what I've been trying to do — keep my confidence high and keep my strength high over the past couple of years. That's really gotten me where I am today and that's going to push me forward."

Ratcliffe's fourth junior season is ahead of him in 2018-19. He should have everyone's attention, and not just for his height.

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