Flyers

Flyers keep defining themselves by resilience under Scott Gordon

Flyers keep defining themselves by resilience under Scott Gordon

Scott Gordon walked away from the podium Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center and couldn’t help but wonder if a 4-1 loss to the Penguins would be the Flyers' defining moment of the season. 

Quite frankly, no one knew how the Flyers would react just 24 hours later, playing the second leg of a back-to-back with a Wild team waiting and rested. Their late-night charter flight didn’t arrive in Minnesota until after 3 a.m. Eastern time, and they were simply too emotionally spent to replicate that energy level in Minnesota.

But impressively, the Flyers managed to find a way in a 5-4 win over the Wild (see observations).

“There’s no excuses this time of year,” Sean Couturier told reporters. “You’ve got to [go all out] every shift, every night. I thought we did that. It wasn’t easy at times. Guys battled hard and found a way to win a big hockey game. We showed some character tonight.”

Performances like Tuesday’s are indeed character builders for a team still scratching and clawing to stay in the playoff chase, but much of the character rebuild can be traced back to Gordon, who’s now 14-9-3 since taking over behind the Flyers' bench.

There's a belief system and a resiliency that simply didn’t exist in the first 30 games of the season under Dave Hakstol. The Flyers improved to 10-2-1 over their last 13 games with four of those 10 victories the product of overcoming two-goal deficits.

Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center, the Flyers pulled it off a second time against the Wild. The Flyers not only spotted Minnesota a 3-1 lead, they were faced with the potential of falling behind by three goals when the officials awarded the Wild a four-minute power play as Jordan Greenway caught teammate Jason Zucker with a high stick. Yet somehow defenseman Robert Hagg was the guilty party.

Once the Flyers successfully killed that penalty, the emotional tide started to turn in the Flyers' direction. 

James van Riemsdyk scored roughly five minutes later and Couturier tied it about five minutes after that. It’s these type of comeback efforts that have been the Flyers' defining moments throughout Gordon’s interim.

“As a coach, there’s different wins you have throughout the course of the season that are real gut checks and how your team responds,” Gordon said. “When a team comes in and does what they did after a heartbreaking loss, as a coach, that’s a real proud moment. That’s what I told the players. Nobody quit. Everybody stayed with it.” 

Gordon was forced to lean a little more on one player in particular.

Ivan Provorov, the 21-year-old defenseman, logged an astounding 30:19 of ice time — the most he’s ever played in a regulation game in his career.

For his ironman-like efforts, Provorov was presented the player-of-the-game helmet.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Provorov said of his new temporary headgear. 

A defining moment any young defenseman can get used to. 

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Will Brian Elliott surprise in Flyers' goalie tandem with Carter Hart?

Will Brian Elliott surprise in Flyers' goalie tandem with Carter Hart?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Will Brian Elliott surprise us in the Flyers' 2019-20 goalie tandem?

Emmer

Without a doubt Elliott has earned his spot on the ice and I believe he can bring many surprises to the goalie tandem this year. 

Despite coming into 2019-20 with 14 seasons of NHL experience under his belt, "Moose" still had a lot to prove in Philadelphia. After two injury-filled years with the Flyers, it was time the 34-year-old made a strong and healthy comeback.

Through his first three appearances of the season, he has shown he's still got it.

The team needed strong goaltending — Flyers fans knew that. Now, the Flyers have a strong tandem with Carter Hart and Elliott between the pipes. With so many high hopes running on Hart, it’s a relief to know there’s another strong competitor to trust.

Elliott has been surprising already with what he’s brought in the early going. In his first two starts of the season in Calgary and Philadelphia, the veteran backstop was solid from start to finish. Monday night, specifically, was one of his best, as he helped shut down countless scoring opportunities from the Vegas Golden Knights and was greatly admired later for it by Alain Vigneault and teammates.

It’s still early, but the confidence he’s shown in net, as well as his .925 save percentage through three appearances, is a good start for the veteran goaltender. 

Time will tell what other surprises Elliott can bring to the tandem but one thing is for certain: the Flyers have two strong goaltenders right now and that is a sight for sore eyes. 

Hall

We shouldn’t be too surprised by what has transpired in net.

Hart was strong through three games and then had a few subpar performances. That’s OK. He’s 21 years old and is going to have games in which he’s not sharp, which will result in the Flyers turning to Elliott at times.

Elliott hasn’t been surprising because he’s a more than capable goaltender when healthy — and has shown that even through injury-plagued seasons with the Flyers.

In 2017-18, he went 15-5-1 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .912 save percentage from Dec. 4 to Feb. 10 before needing core muscle surgery.

In 2018-19, he went 5-5-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .928 save percentage from Oct. 13 to Nov. 15 before suffering a lower-body injury.

For the 34-year-old to truly surprise in the goalie tandem and take away games from Hart, we’ll have to see Elliott keep it up (and stay healthy) as the grind gets tougher. He looks good so far, though, and that’s a major positive.

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Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Maybe Alain Vigneault wanted to make a point.

That it’s not all about goals.

Philly is a results city and, ultimately, the NHL is a results business. But Vigneault firmly believes in the process behind the results. He will see past the goal tallies bolded in the box score — if the process is being grown and done right.

The Flyers’ head coach constantly refers to the process. It’s what matters most when he attempts to build a contender, especially in Year 1 with a new team.

The process, one would think, looked pretty good Monday night … right? 

Especially during a four-goal second period in which the Flyers blew open an eventual 6-2 win over the Golden Knights (see observations). After all, the Flyers had scored only four goals over their past two games, both lopsided losses.

But Vigneault had other thoughts. He wasn’t about to forget the meaning of the process. He could have easily said the goals came because the Flyers stuck to it.

He didn’t go there.

“We had some puck luck in the second, found a way to score four and got outstanding goaltending,” Vigneault said. “In my mind, that could have been our least effective period in the last eight. But we found a way to win that period, 4-0. Sometimes it works out that way.”

Found a way to score four goals? A least-effective period of four goals?

The Flyers were outshot by Vegas in the middle stanza, 18-13. Brian Elliott came up with monstrous saves as the Flyers permitted some Grade A chances to a dangerous Western Conference team. After the past two losses, the Flyers had mentioned that they expected to be on the positive end of fortunate wins, too — as in that’s hockey, teams can get outplayed and still come away with victories.

The Flyers scored only one goal in the first period Monday but outshot the Golden Knights, 15-7, and really got after them in the offensive zone. The Flyers would take that opening frame over their second period just about every time.

“We thought we played better in the games that we lost,” Michael Raffl said. “We got away from it in the second period a little bit. We’ve got to keep doing what we do and it’s going to work. At the end of the day, when you work like that and keep outshooting opponents, you’ll be on the better end of the game at the end most of the time.”

The Flyers had to practically defend themselves following back-to-back losses by a combined score of 10-4. The Flyers outshot the opposition, 91-38, but uneven defeats don’t sit well with fans, especially ones that have become accustomed to mediocre Octobers.

“Last two games, I know we didn't have the result we wanted, we lost both games, but if you really look into the game, if you understand the game, you understand that we played great games,” Claude Giroux said after morning skate Monday.

The Flyers were OK admitting that they didn’t play their best game against Vegas.

Especially Vigneault.

He’ll be honest about the process — good or bad, no matter what the final score.

“In the second period, we scored four but I really believe that in our last eight periods, it could have been our least effective as far as going north-south a little bit quick, our puck management, making the right plays at the right time,” Vigneault said. “But when we didn’t do it the right way, we got big saves and when they made a mistake in that second period, we were able to make them pay, which we hadn’t been able to do for quite some time.”

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