Flyers-Predators observations: Late collapse to end road trip

Flyers-Predators observations: Late collapse to end road trip


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — What looked like a dream comeback turned into a nightmare finish.

Nursing a 5-4 lead with 2:41 remaining in regulation Tuesday, the Flyers committed a pair of penalties to put the Predators on a 5-on-3 power play.

It was the start of the meltdown.

Nashville twice capitalized on the man advantage in the final 1:17 to deal the Flyers a frustrating 6-5 loss at Bridgestone Center.

This came after the Flyers wiped out a 3-0 deficit in the second period with three goals over a 4:46 span. They then snared the lead in the first seven minutes of the third with goals from Travis Konecny and Valtteri Filppula (see highlights).

However, it went for naught when the Flyers unraveled with a Dale Weise holding penalty, an Andrew MacDonald tripping penalty, and a failed coach’s challenge (no offside call), resulting in a third costly infraction (see story).

With the loss, the Flyers finished their season-opening road trip 2-2-0 and return for their home opener Saturday night against the Capitals.

• Dave Hakstol's challenge lost was on Scott Hartnell's game-tying goal at 5-on-3 with 1:17 remaining. No offside was confirmed and put the Flyers back on a two-man disadvantage. Hakstol's decision was risky because of the new NHL rule penalizing a failed challenge.

Forty-one seconds later, Filip Forsberg scored the game-winner for the Predators. Earlier in the final stanza, Forsberg started Nashville's comeback with his first of the game, trimming the Flyers' lead to 5-4.

• The holding call on Weise was questionable as he became tied up with two Nashville skaters while pursuing the puck in open ice. MacDonald's tripping came not long after with the Flyers trying to force the play dead.

• The Flyers quickly erased a three-goal, second-period deficit by scoring three unanswered goals. They roared back by scoring their first two goals just 16 seconds apart. MacDonald initially stopped the bleeding and got the Flyers on the board with a slap shot from just inside the blue line that beat Pekka Rinne. 

To his credit, MacDonald did a nice job of wheeling out of trouble in the neutral zone and allowing the Flyers to gain a clean entry into the Predators’ zone.

On the next shift, Weise burned the Predators with a tenacious forecheck to force a takeaway behind Nashville’s net. He then fed Nolan Patrick, who found the soft area in the low slot that pulled the Flyers within a goal.

Weise looked slow in the first three games, but that shift was a textbook forecheck to set up the rookie’s first NHL goal.

“Obviously, it’s really exciting. It was an unbelievable play by Weiser to jump right off the draw, get [past] their D and throw it in front for a pretty easy goal for me,” Patrick said. “It was a great play by him.”

• Hartnell, who went out to dinner with some of his former Flyers teammates Monday night, ripped a slap shot off a rebound that Brian Elliott was slow to react to in the second period. Hartnell’s shot hit off Elliott’s pad and went in to give Nashville a 2-0 lead. 

• Nashville’s big free-agent signing, Nick Bonino, extended the Predators’ lead to 3-0 after defenseman Mattias Ekholm wheeled around Claude Giroux and put a shot on Elliott that created Bonino’s rebound goal during 4-on-4 play. Giroux failed to negate Ekholm’s speed and cut down his angle to the net. 

• Predators coach Peter Laviolette said pregame his team needed to play with more speed. The Predators nearly used that to their advantage when speedy winger Viktor Arvidsson raced past Ivan Provorov and MacDonald for a breakaway that Elliott denied with his left pad in the opening minute of the game.

• After an 0-for-5 performance in Pittsburgh, the Predators spent a majority of Monday’s practice working on their power play and puck movement. The work paid off on their first opportunity as Craig Smith worked his way into the high slot and fired a shot that beat Elliott blocker side.

• Despite the goal, Elliott was the Flyers’ best player in the opening 20 minutes as he battled through screens and traffic to stop 8 of 9 shots and keep the Flyers’ deficit to 1-0.

• Quebec born Samuel Girard made his NHL debut for the Predators as he replaced Roman Josi on the team’s top pairing. Nashville wasted no time rushing the defenseman, who is just 19 years and 151 days old, to the NHL. Girard displayed an impressive skill set reminiscent of what we’ve seen from teammate P.K. Subban over the years with some nifty skating and puck skills. 

• Predators general manager David Poile is a genius at finding, drafting and developing young defensemen. Among those that have come through the Predators’ system include Kimmo Timonen, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Dan Hamhuis, Marek Zidlicky and Josi.

• When the Flyers host the Capitals Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, that will leave the Wild as the only team in the league that has yet to play on home ice. They’re scheduled to host the Blue Jackets that same night.

Lines, pairing and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds    
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny                
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl                

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald    
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg                    
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas                        

Brian Elliott                                
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Sam Morin, Jori Lehtera, Brandon Manning

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall contributed to this report.

How John Carlson's extension with Capitals impacts Flyers

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How John Carlson's extension with Capitals impacts Flyers

John Carlson was never going to be a Philadelphia Flyer. Now it's official.

The Washington Capitals on Sunday night re-signed Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with an annual average value of $8 million.

Carlson was able to begin speaking with potential suitors beginning at 12 a.m. Sunday morning, and according to a report, teams had begun lining up to speak with him.

For starters, it takes the big fish in the defensemen aisle off the market. While the Flyers did not have a realistic chance at signing Carlson, it doesn't mean that the veteran defenseman's contract does not have an impact on the orange and black.

[From NBC Sports Washington: Carlson agrees to stay with Capitals]

It also keeps Carlson in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps, who won their first Stanley Cup this season, now have most of their core signed through 2019-20. The only item left on their grocery list is a head coach, and it's the only vacancy left.

There was a point during the 2017-18 season the Flyers were leading the Metropolitan Division but ultimately finished in third place. The Capitals won the divisional crown for their third straight season, and they're easily the frontrunner for it again in 2018-19.

Had Carlson left, it would have left the Capitals a huge hole to fill this summer and one that doesn't have any replacement-level alternatives.

Carlson led all NHL defensemen in scoring during the regular season (68 points) and playoffs (20) in 2017-18. He had points in four of the Capitals' five Cup games against the Vegas. Add in that he's a righty shot, he was irreplaceable with the options the Capitals had.

Which brings us the options and the Flyers.

Free agency

Carlson headlined an underwhelming free-agent class. We're not counting restricted free agents because no one signs them. The last offer sheet was Ryan O'Reilly in 2013, but Colorado matched. The last one accepted was the Oilers signing Dustin Penner in 2007.

After the NHL draft Saturday, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall reiterated his interest in adding a top-four D-man. He had previously called right-handed defensemen a "big fill."

Despite having about $21.7 million in cap space, Hextall said two weeks ago that "we have money to spend short term." That would have counted the Flyers out on Carlson.

So who's available that could interest the Flyers? Let's begin with the righties.

Mike Green, Red Wings: 32 years old, 33 points and a $6-million AAV in 2017-18.

Kevin Bieksa, Anaheim Ducks: 37 years old, 8 points, $4 million AAV in 2017-18.

Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning: 27 years old, 7 points, $1.95 million AAV in 2017-18.

Not exactly an exciting group but a couple of veterans who may tickle Hextall's fancy.

Potential left-handed defensemen:

Calvin De Haan, Islanders: 27 years old, 13 points, $3.3 million AAV in 2017-18.

Ian Cole, Blue Jackets: 29 years old, 20 points, $2.5 million AAV in 2017-18.

John Moore, Devils: 27 years old, 18 points, $1.95 million AAV in 2017-18.

We'll touch more on individual players as we inch closer to when free agency opens Sunday, but the pool isn't exactly deep.

The Provorov factor

On Sunday, the Flyers may sign Ivan Provorov to an extension as the 21-year-old is entering the final year of his entry-level contract. Earlier this month, we made the case as to why it makes sense for the Flyers to extend Provorov this summer (see story). That remains true.

In our case, we used Drew Doughty's eight-year, $56 million contract signed as a 21-year-old in 2011 as an example. With Carlson, we now have another comparable.

Now, this is Carlson's third NHL contract. Provorov's next will be his second. But that's semantics. Carlson's $8 million cap hit seems to be the going rate this summer.

Arizona is reportedly signing Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 26, to an eight-year extension upward of $8 million per, which can't be official until Sunday.

Hextall has often come out on the better side of the contract he's signed. Even the Dale Weise deal wasn't totally bad — the term was the issue. So it's possible we're inflating Provorov's next deal a bit, but the parameters are there.

The going rate for a No. 1 defenseman who can play 25 minutes a night is in between $7 million and $8 million. Provorov is already that for the Flyers.

More on the Flyers

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

While the weekend felt rather subdued to Ron Hextall (see story), the Flyers still made some history of their own at the 2018 NHL draft.

The Flyers entered with nine picks and ended up making eight — none of which were used on a Canadian player, a first in the organization's history. 

Over the two-day draft, which wrapped up Saturday, the Flyers selected five American players and three Swedish players.

Let's recap the Flyers' work in Dallas:

First round, No. 14: Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, LW

Analysis: A legitimate two-way winger with a big shot and scoring mentality.

Quotable: "He's got speed. He's got skill. He can score. He's a good player and he has size in his family, so I still think there's a chance he can grow." - Hextall

First round, No. 19: Jay O'Brien, 5-11/176, C

Analysis: Some may view it as a reach, but the Flyers love O'Brien's makeup and ability.

Quotable: "He just has the traits of a hockey player. Just his timing of passes, when to shoot, when to pass. He's a really smart hockey player. He's competitive. He's strong. He's got a little agitator in him." - Hextall

Second round, No. 50: Adam Ginning, 6-4/206, D

Analysis: A stay-at-home defenseman with toughness and size.

Quotable: "We like his size. We like his upside. He’s a big guy and he moves pretty well for a big guy. He’s got solid puck skills and he has the range we need for a solid defensive defenseman." - Hextall

Fourth round, No. 112: John St. Ivany, 6-2/198, D

Analysis: A right-handed shot blueliner the Flyers wanted.

Quotable: "Good size, moves well. Kind of one of those steady-Eddie types of guys, solid with the puck. He was a good fit for our group." - Hextall

Fifth round, No. 127: Wyatte Wylie, 6-0/190, D

Analysis: Another righty blueliner that saw his draft stock shoot up in the second half of his junior season.

Quotable: "I like to describe myself as a two-way defenseman, one that can move pucks up and likes to join the play." - Wylie

Fifth round, No. 143: Samuel Ersson, 6-2/176, G

Analysis: The Flyers were not going to chase a goalie but liked the ceiling here.

Quotable: "We think there’s some upside there that hasn’t been tapped yet. We got him a lot later. Had we needed a goalie, we would have taken him a lot earlier." - Hextall

Sixth round, No. 174: Gavin Hain, 5-11/193, C

Analysis: A teammate of Farabee with bottom-six potential.

Quotable: "The NTDP itself is a hard-grooming place to play as a player, but it’s a great spot to develop." - Hain

Seventh round, No. 205: Marcus Westfalt, 6-3/203, C/LW

Analysis: An Oskar Lindblom-type prospect? Westfalt has some traits to like.

Quotable: "I like the mix that we got — three D, four forwards, a goalie. I like the mix, I like the fits. We got some good players. We got some skill up front. We got some guys in the back that complement our group with some size, some steady guys." - Hextall

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition