Flyers

Flyers hope win over NHL's best isn't lightning in a bottle

Flyers hope win over NHL's best isn't lightning in a bottle

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TAMPA, Fla. — The busiest man in December wasn’t the guy wearing a red suit and black boots with a low-hanging, long, grey beard. 

And his work certainly didn’t come to an end after Dec. 25.

Instead, the workhorse of the month was undoubtedly goaltender Brian Elliott, who was called upon to deliver the Flyers with their most impressive victory this season, a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning (see observations). The Lightning lost a regulation game on home ice for just the third time in 20 games.

Desperate for a win following the Flyers’ lackluster effort one night earlier against the Panthers, head coach Dave Hakstol felt he had nowhere else to turn and informed Elliott Friday morning that he was the go-to guy yet again.

Elliott completed the month of December starting every game in net, a stretch of 13 games with a record of 8-4-1 that included three pairs of back-to-backs. None seemingly tougher than the two games here in Florida.

“A little tired,” Elliott said when asked how he felt afterwards. “It’s a couple of hot buildings, so you lose a lot of liquids. It’s a big win for us. I’m feeling dehydrated, but feeling really good.”

As impressive as it was to see the Flyers’ power play finally show some life with a 2-for-6 performance, the most critical juncture of this game came in the final eight minutes of the second period when the Lightning made their strongest push. Tampa Bay appeared ready to take over after Brayden Point scored a goal with 4:23 remaining in the second period.

Then Elliott stopped a series of shots before Sean Couturier delivered a back-breaking goal with 11 seconds remaining in the period that gave the Flyers a much needed 3-2 lead heading into the third.  

“It’s tough for any team to get scored on late in the period,” said Couturier, who had his third three-point night of the season. “It was tough for us with four, five minutes left [in the second period] to get scored on, but we responded well and we came with a big goal. It gave use momentum and from there we took over.”

Elliott has been the one constant in a season of mind-boggling inconsistency. The same season when the Flyers can appear uninspired against an inferior Florida Panthers team, and then proceed to play with the necessary intensity and inspiration against the NHL’s best just 24 hours later.

Perhaps the only other aspect of this game that was more surprising than the outcome was the game-winning goal off the stick of defenseman Brandon Manning, who was playing for the first time since Dec. 4 and could only start shooting pucks a few days ago after recovering from a hand injury.

“Just kind of a lucky bounce that settled right on my stick with the goalie overcommitted on the other side,” said Manning, who now has as many goals as Travis Konecny and one more than Jordan Weal.

Manning also admitted that Elliott is the stabilizing presence that hasn’t existed in previous seasons.

“It’s something that maybe the last couple of years that’s kinda been hit and miss. Now when he’s in there, there’s a lot of confidence for our defensemen back there,” Manning said of Elliott.

“It’s a big win,” Elliott said. “It’s a measuring stick for us and we know we can compete against any team. We’ve just got to do it consistently on a nightly basis.”

“The [Lightning] have been on fire all season and it’s kinda good for us to see where we stand,” Valtteri Filppula said. “It’s good to know we’ve got a chance against anybody. If we play like this, we’re going to have a good chance to win against a lot of teams.”

Undoubtedly, the Flyers can enter the new year on the heels of one very impressive win. One can only wonder if it was a case of lightning in a bottle.

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

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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