Flyers

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault will enjoy his martini ... for now

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault will enjoy his martini ... for now

Alain Vigneault’s Flyers had just wrapped up a nail-biting win over the best team in the NHL.

He watched his club kill five penalties against the league’s most feared power play in the last 20 years.

His group was in dire need of a reason to feel good about itself after a 1-4-1 road trip.

Following the 3-2 win Wednesday night over the Capitals, the head coach was asked how baffling the home-road disparity has been for the Flyers.

But he wasn’t ready to think about the road again. The team’s trip was long, unsuccessful and chaotic. Just as the Flyers finished it Tuesday, they were playing the league’s No. 1 team the very next night.

So Vigneault had plans to toast this victory. Who could blame him?

Right now, I’m going home tonight, I’m going to have a martini,” he said with a smile. “I’m going to enjoy the win and I’m going to get back to that. Our next game is at home so I’m focused on the homestand right now.

No doubt, Vigneault deserved that martini. The Flyers have earned three of a possible four points against the Capitals this season. In 2018-19, they were owned by Washington, losing all four matchups by a combined score of 18-9. The Flyers are 8-2-3 against the division this season after going 10-16-2 vs. Metropolitan teams last season.

Strong improvements so far.

On top of that, the Flyers currently sport the NHL’s best points percentage at home (.800), going 14-2-4 with a plus-36 goal differential through 20 games. They’re 23-15-6 overall and in playoff position thanks to those impressive home figures.

And Wednesday night’s victory kicked off a stretch of six of the Flyers’ next seven games coming at the Wells Fargo Center.

"For us, this was an important win,” Vigneault said. “Everybody knows we struggled on the road. Coming back home, playing hard, this was a real character win for us tonight. We’re going to take a day off, breathe a little bit and get ready for a big, tough game against Tampa."

Eventually, though, the Flyers will have to figure out that road thing. They are 9-13-2 with a minus-31 goal differential away from home. They allow nearly two more goals per game on the road (3.83) compared to at home (1.95).

“Can I go have my martini?” Vigneault asked with a laugh at the end of his postgame press conference Wednesday night.

The head coach was going to enjoy it.

But he’s cognizant of the road ahead. The Flyers know they can’t always count on a martini at home.

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Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk click as Flyers deliver much-needed response with win over Kings

Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk click as Flyers deliver much-needed response with win over Kings

BOX SCORE

That’s more like it.

Head coach Alain Vigneault challenged his team to play on its terms and the Flyers responded with a 4-1 win Saturday night over the Kings at the Wells Fargo Center, just two days after a sloppy 4-1 home loss to the Canadiens.

The Flyers (26-17-6) have earned at least a point in 20 of 24 home games (16-4-4).

With the victory, the Flyers are two points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and hold the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

The Kings (18-27-5) have lost seven of their last eight games since beating the Flyers, 5-3, on New Year’s Eve.

• Vigneault was not happy with the letdown against Montreal on home ice after such a positive stretch in which the Flyers took down the NHL’s three best teams.

“We’ve got to execute, we’ve got to compete,” Vigneault said Saturday after morning skate. “We’re at our best when we’re on top of people, we’re taking people out of the equation.”

For the most part, the Flyers took the Kings out of the equation, a team that put up four first-period goals on the orange and black in the previous meeting.

• Vigneault put Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk on a line with Claude Giroux down the middle.

Konecny and van Riemsdyk instantly clicked. JVR found Konecny twice as the duo handed the Flyers a 2-0 lead (see highlights).

Konecny is eight goals and eight points away from setting new career highs in both categories, while the Flyers are 8-0-0 this season when the 22-year-old records a multi-point game.

Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk tacked on the Flyers’ fourth goal to give him a three-point game. The big winger has five points (one goal, four assists) in his last four games.

The Flyers go to a different level when he produces — 15-3-0 in games that he registers at least one point.

Giroux was sharp, as well, with two assists after he had scored just one point in his previous five games.

A good call by Vigneault.

• Brian Elliott received a rare home start with Carter Hart out (right lower abdominal strain) two to three weeks.

The 34-year-old goalie was reliable once again with 34 saves after knocking off the defending champion Blues with 30 saves Wednesday.

The Flyers will need him next Tuesday against the Penguins.

• Joel Farabee has two goals in the last two games after scoring two goals in his previous 30 games.

The 19-year-old climbed to the Flyers with a goal-scoring prowess and could be a crucial secondary option to the team down the stretch.

Expect his role to grow (see story).

• Justin Braun and Robert Hagg were solid as a new defensive pair.

• Nolan Patrick on Saturday got in more work with skills coach Angelo Ricci.

Patrick, who is recovering from a migraine disorder, has not been cleared for contact and there is no timetable for his return. Patrick and the Flyers have said the expectation is for the 21-year-old center to play this season.

“He’s been skating harder,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday. “Getting his heart rate up higher, I think he’s feeling a bit better. Again, it’s hard to predict. Once we have certain information, if he’s cleared for contact or anything like that, we will obviously let you guys know right away. I can just tell you from the on- and off-ice workouts he’s doing, he is progressing. But there certainly isn’t any clear path as to which way this will go.

“We still think he has a real good future ahead of him and speaking with a lot of the medical people that have dealt with him, they all anticipate him coming back and so that's why I'm optimistic he will, but I just can't give you a timeframe.”

• The Flyers host the Penguins Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN) before going on their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week.

Konecny will represent the Flyers at the NHL All-Star festivities Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis (see story).

 

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As Jeff Carter's Kings make trip to Philly, is the former Flyer a trade deadline target?

As Jeff Carter's Kings make trip to Philly, is the former Flyer a trade deadline target?

Jeff Carter was back in Philadelphia Saturday night as his Kings played the Flyers.

After the Feb. 24 trade deadline, could he be somewhere else other than Los Angeles?

It's not outside the realm of possibility.

The Kings entered Saturday's action in the basement of the Western Conference and may be a team looking to sell some veteran parts to a contender.

Carter is 35 years old but under contract for next season and 2021-22 with a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com. The center brings a lot of pedigree as a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time 30-plus goal-scorer. He can still score the puck a bit as he's projected to finish with 23 goals this season.

If Los Angeles wants to retool and shifts its focus to the future, Carter has the potential to earn it a decent return if contending teams are interested in his services.

Has he ever thought about playing in Philly again?

“I don’t want to leave L.A., I can tell you that right now," he said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher on Saturday night's edition of Flyers Pregame Live. "But I loved playing in Philly, I had some great years here, I have a lot of friends and family. Whatever happens, happens.

"It’s been a long time since I played here but I still enjoy coming back, a lot friends here, my wife’s from here, so some family and stuff like that. Always enjoy coming back and seeing everybody.”

While the Flyers are a team that could be looking for depth and scoring down the middle, they're not exactly in position to trade for a player with the contract like Carter's deal. They would have to include players from their roster in the exchange or make other moves. Subtracting, or doing so significantly, is probably not their plan right now.

"It’s hard to trade a fourth-round pick for a $4 million player," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday (see story). "With our group right now, I don’t know that’s what we’re looking to do. If we can improve our team, we will."

But you never know. Carter certainly knows anything can happen in this business.

"I love playing in L.A. and being a part of this team," he said. "We’ll see where it goes.”

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