Flyers haven't scared Penguins … yet

Flyers haven't scared Penguins … yet

The Flyers' postgame reaction Friday night was considerably subdued.

There was no take-that, how-do-you-like-me-now vibe.

Claude Giroux, whose voice never leaves that even-keeled pitch of his, offered no more than "for all your doubters out there, there you go."

Dave Hakstol bluntly said he didn't give a darn about making a statement to the outsiders.

The Flyers had just gone from a 7-0 Game 1 loss to a 5-1 Game 2 win. They not only stemmed the tide, but they completely turned it. Still, nobody rubbed the fulfilling redemption in anyone's face when the opportunity felt prime for it.

Maybe that's because the challenge has just begun.

What the Flyers showed Friday night was they can beat these Penguins. They hadn't done it in over a calendar year, since March 26, 2017. They had lost their previous five matchups with Pittsburgh by a combined score of 27-11.

So, yeah, the Flyers needed to prove something Friday and did so boisterously.

But one triumph, no matter how lopsided or sweet, is no vindication to the naysayers. To really prove something would be showing they can do it again, in fact, four times, a feat the Penguins haven't allowed in their last eight postseason series.

If the playoff opener was just one game to the Flyers, then so was the Game 2 victory. Just one game of potentially seven against the two-time defending champs.

"We introduced ourselves into this series," Hakstol said.

An introduction, but the next chapter needs to be written.

Just how difficult will it be to churn out those pages?

The Penguins lost consecutive games only twice since Jan. 1, a stretch of 42 regular-season contests. In Pittsburgh's previous eight postseason series en route to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, it lost back-to-back games only three times and trailed after three games only twice.

None of this should take away from what the Flyers accomplished in Game 2 and the importance of it. The Flyers said they expected to win, a belief that never wavered. A convincing result like the one Friday night on the heels of a haymaker can only fuel that belief inside the Flyers' locker room.

The belief now comes home.

Are the Flyers ready to erase more doubt? A Game 3 win would put the champs against the ropes in Philadelphia. First, the Flyers must land another punch.

They connected in Game 2 and the Wells Fargo Center will be their next chance.

"It gets pretty loud there," Sidney Crosby said Saturday to reporters. "I think any building at playoff time is going to be loud and tough to play in, but that's part of the fun of playing in the playoffs — different atmospheres, the high stakes, things like that — that's why we play the game."

The Flyers still have three more games to win. Despite the history, they're all even with the Penguins. That's something, but not everything.

2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

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2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

We began our 2018 NHL draft position previews with a look at the top draft-eligible centers. This draft is top-heavy at wing and defense. We continue our previews with a look at left wingers.

Filip Zadina, 6-0/195, Halifax (QMJHL)
Zadina, who finished as the third-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, led all QMJHL rookies and was tied for seventh among all players in 2017-18 with 82 points. He won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league’s best professional prospect. Playing for the Czech Republic, Zadina was named to the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship All-Star team, scoring eight points in seven games. Hard-working winger with an elite shot, future top-liner.

Draft projection: Top three

Brady Tkachuk, 6-3/196, Boston University (NCAA)
The son of USA Hockey Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk and brother of Matthew Tkachuk (Flames), Brady Tkachuk checks in as the second-best North American skater by Central Scouting. Had eight goals and 31 points in 40 games during his freshman season at Boston University and added three goals and nine points in seven games during the world juniors. He plays a physical game much like his dad and brother but has a little more finesse to it.

Draft projection: Top five

Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, USNTDP
Farabee finished as the 12th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Possesses excellent speed and a strong shot and plays an effective two-way game. A little undersized but the game has changed, so that shouldn’t be a major issue. He had 15 goals and 40 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL in 2017-18, and 33 goals and 76 points in 64 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 10-18

Grigori Denisenko, 5-11/176, Yarolsavl Jr (Russia)
Denisenko saw a three-spot drop from the Central Scouting midterm rankings to the final, finishing as the seventh-best European skater. He’s gifted with the puck and makes plays, but he has a bit of a reputation as an inconsistent player. The Russian factor may scare teams away. Had nine goals and 22 points in 31 games in the MHL and played four games in the KHL playoffs. On talent alone, Denisenko is among the best in this year’s class.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Blake McLaughlin, 6-0/162, Chicago (USHL)
McLaughlin checks in as the 24th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Another American prospect among the top draft-eligible left wingers, McLaughlin’s best attribute is his shot, though he’s an excellent skater. He finished the 2017-18 season with the Chicago Steel as nearly a point-per-game player, scoring 23 goals and 52 points in 54 games. He’s headed to the University of Minnesota in the fall. Could squeak into late first round but probably a second-rounder.

Draft projection: Early second round

NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

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NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

Philadelphia, PA (May 18, 2018) — NBC Sports Philadelphia announced today the network will air the American Hockey League Eastern Conference Finals games featuring the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Toronto Marlies. Games Three through Five will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 7 p.m.
May 23 - Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 3 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 25** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 4 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 26*** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 5 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+, *if necessary
** Philadelphia Soul will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

*** The Philadelphia Phillies game will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia, regardless if there is a Game 5 or not.

Atlantic Division Champions for the 2017-18 season, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face off against the Toronto Marlies, AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The winner of the best-of-seven series will then advance to the 2018 Calder Cup Finals. After posting the AHL’s second-most wins (47) and second-most standings points (105), the top-seeded Phantoms eliminated the Providence Bruins in four games (3-1) in the opening round before defeating the Charlotte Checkers in five games (4-1) in the Atlantic Division Finals — a series which included the historic longest game in AHL history.