Flyers

Flyers' monster Game 2 turnaround evens series with Penguins

Flyers' monster Game 2 turnaround evens series with Penguins

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PITTSBURGH — Besides those within the Flyers’ locker room, the only group of people who may have seen this coming were palm readers, tarot card dealers and those who religiously pull out Ouija boards.

Friday the 13th was circled on all of their calendars for completely different reasons.

For the Flyers, it was a chance to prove Game 1 was a fluke, an absolute abomination that happens once every blue moon. It was an opportunity to bring a few of the hockey gods onto their side and convince a whole lot of people wrong.

“That was better,” Claude Giroux said after the Flyers’ 5-1 Game 2 win over the Penguins to even their first-round series (see observations). “I know we play a team game, and for all your doubters out there, there you go.”

The Flyers sent a message that needed no encryption. They’re here to stay just in case Penguins fans — or anyone else — may have thought they were mentally at the Harrisburg exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as the opening puck was dropped.

“I think we expected it,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It was pretty tough for us to walk out of the rink a few nights ago. That wasn’t us. In terms of what it says outside our dressing room, I don’t really care. Nobody’s really giving us a serious chance in this series. I don’t know if anyone still will, but I know we just got it down to a five-game series.”

Still, if you don’t think weird things transpire on Friday the 13th, Sidney Crosby certainly appeared jinxed.

On Wednesday, he had better bat control than Ichiro Suzuki as he scored goals out of midair with his back to the net. Friday, Crosby couldn’t connect on a pass 18 inches from the goal line that would’ve cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1 after two periods. His frustration was obvious as he threw his head back in disgust and snapped his stick into two pieces.

“Obviously, It was a huge break,” Sean Couturier said. “Those are the kind of breaks you need to win games in the playoffs, and the gods were on our side tonight.”  

“He doesn’t miss often and he didn’t miss the other night at all, so maybe it evened out a little bit tonight,” Hakstol said. “That’s the game of hockey.”   

Perhaps even stranger was the case of Couturier. He had gone 18 straight playoff games without registering a single point. The last time he scored in the postseason was exactly six years ago to the day — Friday, April 13, 2012 — when the 25-year-old center not only scored but also registered his first and only career hat trick in this very same building.

Until this game, when Couturier threw a puck on net that hit off Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and trickled across the goal line.

“Yeah, it’s pretty crazy,” Couturier said. “Funny little story, my grandmother told me a few years ago when I had the hat trick it was [also] the day my grandfather passed away. I didn’t get the chance to meet him, but I guess he was looking over me again tonight.”

That’s borderline spooky.

Unfortunately for Couturier, Friday the 13th doesn’t reappear on the calendar again until July.

But with Giroux, Jakub Voracek and even a “Ghost,” there’s plenty of other stars they can look toward for Game 3. 

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

It's Aug. 15, the dog days of summer and hockey is still a few weeks away.

But Jakub Voracek turns 29 years old today and this summer, the winger has already played a big part in helping push the Flyers' process into its next stage by helping recruit James van Riemsdyk back to town (see story).

Voracek is coming off a career-best season at 28 years old, posting 85 points in 82 games in 2017-18. He finished fourth in the NHL with 65 assists and ninth with 35 power-play points.

All of this came after a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 season — 61 points in 82 games, not particularly bad numbers but also not the production you'd like from a player with an $8.25 million cap hit and in Year 1 of an eight-year, $66 million extension.

Last season, though, Voracek proved that he can still very much produce at a top level. Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Voracek is third among all wingers with 303 assists and fifth in points with 439. Since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he's eighth among all skaters with 272 assists and 15th in points with 390.

With today being Voracek's birthday, let's take a look back at some of the best from his time as a Flyer because Voracek is one of the most personable players around.

Some plays

Jan. 27, 2016: Voracek scored the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime. It was an important goal in a big game as the Flyers were in the middle of a wild-card chase (see story).

Oct. 14, 2017: The Flyers put a pounding on the Capitals in an 8-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Voracek had three assists. This one was one of them. Poor Madison Bowey.

Jan. 13, 2018: Voracek has also torched other teams than the Capitals. Here is a kick pass to Giroux against the Devils in North Jersey.


Some fights

Voracek is not exactly a fighter. According to hockeyfights.com, he has four official fights during the regular season and all have come with the Flyers.

There was the time he dropped the gloves with Gabriel Landeskog for about 30 seconds in Colorado and then said, "I don't think I picked the right city to fight in."

Then there was the time when he roughed up Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.


Some singing

Sportswriters aren't the only ones who like Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Voracek is also a fan.


A little charity

On Feb. 28, 2017, against the Avalanche, Voracek was eventually credited with a goal many Flyers fans believed was Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. In fact, 396 hats came pouring down to the ice.

As a gesture for taking a hat trick away from Simmonds, Voracek purchased 396 new Flyers hats and donated them to local hospitals for children battling cancer (see story).

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

While the Flyers have not announced the start of their rookie and training camp, they did provide an indication Tuesday of when the camps will be.

For the third straight season, the Flyers and New York Islanders will square off Sept. 12 in their annual rookie game. This time, it returns to New York.

The game will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Northwell Health Ice Center, the Islanders' practice facility in East Meadow, New York. According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, ticket proceeds will benefit the Islanders' Children's Foundation.

In years past, the Flyers have streamed the games on their official website.

Last year, the Flyers-Islanders rookie game was on Sept. 13, 2017, two days after rookie camp began and two days before the main camp opened.

The rookie game marks the official end of rookie camp, so by the process of elimination, a safe guess would be the Flyers' rookie camp will be Sept. 10 and training camp likely opening a day or two after the game.

The Islanders beat the Flyers, 4-3, in overtime last September. The Flyers won the first game two years ago. From 2007 to 2014, the Flyers and Capitals faced each other in their annual rookie games.

Rookie games are fun because they're the first glimpse of prospects and with the Flyers, there's a ton to be excited about — even if signing James van Riemsdyk accelerates their process (see story).

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