Flyers

Flyers finally earn a point ... but let another one get away

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Flyers finally earn a point ... but let another one get away

The Flyers were able to slow down the bleeding, but they continue to hemorrhage points.

Nolan Patrick capped a furious third-period comeback when he scored the game-tying goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation in helping the Flyers earn their first point since Jan. 23, but they failed to pick up that crucial second point, losing to the Senators 4-3 in a shootout (see observations).

“The puck just bounced at my feet and I knew the goalie was down and out,” Patrick said. “We were just lucky enough to get enough guys at the net to get a bounce.”

“It’s a big point,” Claude Giroux said. “We worked hard to come back in the game and tie the game up. I think the third period was one of our best periods this year. We really grinded it out and started playing our game.”

However, their overtime luck also dried up after winning their last three in OT. Not only did the Flyers fail to manage a shot on goal during the five-minute overtime session, but they were collectively 0-for-6 in the shootout. Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman scored the only goal in round six of the shootout to give the Senators the win.

“We need to play a 60-minute game to earn those two points,” said Sean Couturier, who scored his 27th goal of the season. “Tonight, the first 20 minutes were probably questionable. We battled hard to get a big point. It would be nice to get two.” 

The Flyers have managed to earn just that one point during their current four-game losing streak after previously winning four straight, but they have now allowed 17 goals over their last four games — the most they’ve surrendered in regulation during any four-game stretch this season.

Not only are breakdowns resulting in goals, but the opposition is also cashing in on costly turnovers and mistakes. The Senators, who are now 12-23-5 since the last time they faced the Flyers in November, have been routinely outshot this season. Their success has been mainly the result of capitalizing off opponent’s mistakes and to underscore that point the Flyers had 79 shot attempts to the Senators' 44.

“Through this last stretch of four games we’re doing a lot of good things in our play with the puck,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “We’re not giving up a ton defensively, but one of the things we need to do and we can do within our control was clean up some of the ‘A’ opportunities. For me, the first goal against is an example.”

On that goal, the Flyers lost a puck battle deep in the Senators' offensive zone. However, the problem was compounded as the Senators made a clean breakout which led to a 3-on-2 and eventually a 4-on-3 goal with Matt Duchene skating cleanly around Scott Laughton and beating Alex Lyon top shelf.

“That’s a puck that I felt we should have been able to win down in the offensive zone. That’s where it starts by not being able to hold down that puck, and then that turns into a 200-foot play, and that’s a tough play for our goaltender.”

The comeback may not have been possible unless Hakstol had also successfully challenged Ottawa’s 4-1 goal in the final minute of the second period. Duchene thought he had scored his second goal, but replay concluded he was clearly offsides when the puck re-entered the Flyers zone.

“I started laughing as soon as they challenged,” Duchene said. “I was hoping they weren’t gonna challenge because I think they were wishy-washy about it at first.”

Looking to provide an additional boost, Hakstol also replaced Lyon with Michael Neuvirth to begin the third period with the Flyers trailing 3-1.

“I felt good today,” Lyon said, who stopped 20 of 23 shots, “I felt like I had good preparation. It didn’t obviously end up the way that I anticipated, or hope it would. Neuvy did a great job coming in. All I can do is focus on when I get in there. The boys did a great job battling back. It’s a big point.”

Neuvirth was perfect over the final 25 minutes, stopping just six shots, and was 5-for-6 in the dreaded shootout. However, Neuvirth admitted he still has lingering effects from a week-long stomach bug. Right now the Flyers would greatly benefit from a more stabilizing presence in net as Brian Elliott has missed the last four games, all Flyers losses, with a lower-body injury.

“I think we’ve had that for the majority of the year,” Hakstol said. “Elliott has been rock solid for us, and that’s very important to have leadership in the goaltending position.”

2018 NHL draft profile: Jack McBain, a big center with something to prove

2018 NHL draft profile: Jack McBain, a big center with something to prove

Over the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how they would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.

The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.

Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.

Jack McBain

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Team: Toronto Jr. Canadiens

Scouting report
If you watch tape of McBain you immediately have to keep in mind that he’s played his teenage hockey in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, where he was physically an overpowering player against lesser competition. 

McBain was drafted by the Barrie Colts of the OHL, but elected to keep his amateur status intact, which will allow him to attend Boston College next fall. That’s when we should receive a real gauge of where his skills stack up playing in the NCAA Hockey East Conference.

A big-bodied center, McBain isn’t the most elusive skater, nor is he the most creative playmaker. He plays more of a north-south game but doesn’t back down from the high-traffic areas. He prefers to use his big frame to overpower opponents and works well down in the trenches.

Surprisingly, he’s a solid puck handler, but again, a lot of those plays looked easy for him against smaller, inferior competition. 

He plays with a long stick which enables him to be disruptive while getting that stick into a lot of passing lanes and using his reach effectively on the backcheck. 

As the best player on the ice, he probably tries to do too much, but he doesn’t back down and he’s very assertive. There doesn’t appear to be much hesitation in his game. It’s obvious McBain has the frame and the tools to be a future NHL player. 

Fit with Flyers
Interestingly, McBain knows what it’s like to play with the Flyers crest on his sweater. Before joining the Toronto Junior Canadiens, McBain was a member of the Don Mills Flyers minor-midget AAA team in Canada. 

McBain is a player the Flyers can snag with their second-round selection (50th overall). I just don’t project him going higher considering he has never played major junior hockey.

If you look within the farm system, the Flyers don’t have very many big body centers within the organization and McBain could certainly help fill that void. However, he’s also the type of big body player that could effectively transition to left wing if he can’t handle the responsibilities of playing down the middle.

If McBain can successfully make the jump to college hockey, the Flyers could have a second-round pick with first-round talent.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

Profile: Rasmus Sandin

• Profile: Ryan Merkley 

• Profile: Dominik Bokk

• Profile: Noah Dobson

• Profile: Rasmus Kupari

• Profile: Martin Kaut

• Profile: Grigori Denisenko

• Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

• Profile: Serron Noel

• Profile: Joel Farabee

• Profile: Barrett Hayton

• Profile: Isac Lundestrom

• Profile: Joseph Veleno

• Profile: Vitali Kravtsov

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

This is a peculiar time for Ron Hextall.

In one facet, it's his time, precious for a build-from-within disciple who must feel like a kid on Christmas when the NHL draft arrives.

Then again, it's a weird time. Shortly after the Flyers' general manager unwraps his gifts and adds them to the toy bin, NHL free agency hits. Not a time when Hextall likes to play. Quickly, Christmas turns into the first day of school.

It's that time of year again for Hextall. The question is, have the times changed for the GM?

With the Flyers entering Year 4 under Dave Hakstol and looking to take the next step forward, some wonder if Hextall is ready to make free agency his new time. After all, much of the organization's youth is here and contributing, the core isn't getting any younger and the Flyers have more financial wiggle room — thanks to Hextall — with $17.2 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.

But if Hextall's vision was ever in danger of shifting, an expansion team's marvelous story lent credence to his plan, reinforcing the belief in the way he operates and constructs his own hockey team.

When asked Thursday about the constant chatter regarding his core's clock and the team's youthfulness catching up to it, Hextall spoke with conviction and at length.

"They might have different roles; you almost might not depend on them quite as much because your younger guys are coming up and taking a bigger piece of the pie," Hextall said. "So all of a sudden you don't need one guy scoring 85 points, he can score 75 points or 70 points because we've got these kids coming up that are scoring more and more. 

"That's how you build a team. You don't build a team by having three top players and they go out every power play and they win you games. It's just not the way it works. You saw — Vegas is a good example. They were the best team in the league. Not the best talent, they were the best team. Teams still win. Teams still win. And that's what we've got to continue to build."

So if you were hoping Hextall was tinkering with the thought of making a free-agent splash, think again. He will stick to his guns and always has, constantly stressing the importance of never deviating from the course set at the journey's start.

None of which is to think Hextall won't utilize free agency to improve. He will make additions strategically and judiciously, but doling out money and years to a stud won't happen.

And the moment Hextall reaffirmed his M.O., the pressure picked up.

On all levels.

On Hextall's faith in Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and the mainstays delivering star-like production.

On the young foundation pieces taking heftier strides to lighten the loads for the veterans.

On the scouting and development personnel finding and molding game-changing talent.

And on the confluence of Hextall's motives and ultimate goal.

"We are still the ultimate team sport and I think Vegas proved that to all of us this year. The more we move along here, the more society, pro sports seem to put a spotlight on a star, and that's fine, but that star has got to have his teammates in our sport or you're not going to win," Hextall said. "You look at Washington, they had a lot of really good players in the playoffs. Devante Smith-Pelly. Do they win without Devante Smith-Pelly? A couple guys get all the credit but look what this guy did. We are still the ultimate team sport, we really are."

The ultimate test will be the Flyers proving it themselves.

More on the Flyers