Flyers

Flyers reportedly may take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky this summer

Flyers reportedly may take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky this summer

From eating delicious postgame meals in Buffalo to rumors circulating in the hockey world, the old-school Flyers are back … well, kind of. Gritty is still of the new school.

With the team's goaltending situation a hot mess, it didn't take long for the Flyers to enter the rumor business again post-Ron Hextall. In fact, Chuck Fletcher was named GM just six days ago.

This one is juicy for several reasons. It makes sense, would elevate the Flyers into the next tier and would right a wrong. From Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, who we recall broke the Braydon Coburn trade in 2015 at 1:48 a.m.:

The answer to the longest-running riddle in hockey may come from an unexpected place: As the Philadelphia Flyers ruminate on how to shore up their goaltending — at least until prospect Carter Hart is ready to take the wheel — there are whispers they will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1.

Whoa. Let's dissect this one.

We all know about Bobrovsky, the one that got away, or better worded, the prime example of what was wrong with the old-school Flyers — a lack of patience and knowledge of how to develop goaltending. Many say the Flyers never should have traded Bob, which is wrong. They had to trade Bobrovsky because they had already closed that door when they panicked and signed Ilya Bryzgalov in the summer of 2011. They never should have signed Bryzgalov. They should have signed a veteran stopgap and been patient with Bobrovsky.

Sound familiar? Of course it does, because Flyers goaltending is a vicious cycle of mediocrity. It's a similar situation now as the Flyers have a legitimate goalie prospect in Carter Hart receiving AHL seasoning. To Hextall's credit, he understood how to handle developing goaltending; he just completely bungled the bridge to Hart.

The Flyers' goaltending situation this season is a disaster and one of the major downfalls of the Hextall era. The Flyers have used five goalies this season, and it's just Dec. 9. It wasn't like this wasn't totally predictable. Brian Elliott was coming off major core muscle surgery and Michal Neuvirth had an injury record longer than a high school U.S. history textbook. It was a bad bet that Elliott and Neuvirth could get you to Hart.

An injury to Alex Lyon during the preseason was the real curveball. But betting on Lyon being the backup would have been a high-risk bet. Hextall should have addressed the goaltending situation in some way. He didn't, and now Fletcher is the GM.

Neither Elliott and Neuvirth have contracts after this season, and it's almost a sure bet that neither will be back next season. Elliott hasn't necessarily been bad here, but health issues are catching up. The Flyers need a better option until Hart is ready to take over.

Which brings us to Bobrovsky, who has the second-best save percentage (.921) among NHL goaltenders since the Flyers traded him to Columbus in 2012 and has won the Vezina Trophy twice.

Bobrovsky's time in Columbus appears to be coming to an end. He's a free agent on July 1 and all signs point to him testing free agency.

According to The Athletic's Aaron Porzline in a story published Aug. 22, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets had not "actively negotiated for some time now." As Portzline pointed out, it's assumed Bobrovsky wants to be the highest-paid goalie in the NHL.

This is where it gets a little murky for the Flyers. Carey Price is the league's highest-paid goalie after signing an eight-year, $84 million contract on July 2, 2017. Bobrovsky's résumé warrants him to be in that conversation.

Postseason struggles aside, Bob has been one of the best goalies in the league since 2012. But the playoff performances are part of Bob's story, and they're not pretty. Bobrovsky has struggled in the first third of this season, but his track record is strong enough to overlook it.

Bobrovsky is going to be paid big this summer, and the Flyers have cap space and the drive to spend. Bringing Bobrovsky back would instantly solve this problem; it's just about the term.

The Flyers have learned firsthand not to go term on a goalie. But dishing out big bucks on, say, a five-year contract? It solves the problem now and doesn't block Hart either.

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NHL schedule 2020: Qualifying round to begin Aug. 1; Flyers vs. Bruins kicks off round robin Aug. 2

NHL schedule 2020: Qualifying round to begin Aug. 1; Flyers vs. Bruins kicks off round robin Aug. 2

Come Aug. 2, it will have been 145 days since the Flyers last played a game that counted.

If all goes as planned for the NHL, Aug. 2 will be when Flyers hockey officially returns — and when the team will start (or restart) its push for the 2020 Stanley Cup.

On Friday night, the NHL and NHLPA completed the ratification process of the league’s return-to-play plan and four-year CBA extension, setting up for a resumption and conclusion of the 2019-20 season in the anticipated 24-team tournament (see full details and new NHL calendar here). In the announcement, the schedule for the qualifying round/round robin was released.

As we know, the Flyers have a solid outlook in the round-robin tourney as the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed and with a chance to climb to improve their first-round matchup (see story).

Let's analyze the Flyers' round-robin slate and outline the full Eastern Conference schedule from Aug. 1-9 in Toronto:

No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 1 Bruins, Aug. 2

The Flyers will start things off against the NHL-best Bruins, who were the last team the orange and black played before the suspension of the regular season on March 12 (see story).

Alain Vigneault's club went 2-1-0 in three regular-season matchups with Boston. The Bruins finished the regular season with an NHL-high 100 points and a league-low 2.39 goals allowed per game.

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, a candidate for the Vezina Trophy, is 15-2-4 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 22 career games against the Flyers.

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: Carter Hart has four career wins over the Bruins, tied for his most against any NHL club. The 21-year-old is 4-1-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in five lifetime matchups vs. Boston.


No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 3 Capitals, Aug. 6

When looking at the regular-season results, this is likely the most favorable matchup for the Flyers in the round robin.

The Flyers went 3-0-1 over four regular-season matchups with the Capitals, outscoring Washington 16-8 and earning a point in all four meetings.

The Capitals are the Capitals, though, a team that scored the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.42 and has a guy named Alex Ovechkin (he went scoreless against the Flyers during the regular season for the first time in his 15-year career).

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: Washington has the NHL's top power play percentage since 2000 but the Flyers held it to 1 for 17 on the man advantage during the four regular-season matchups.

No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 2 Lightning, Aug. 9

Among the round-robin teams, the second-seeded Lightning were the club that gave the Flyers the most trouble in the regular season. The Flyers dropped two games in regulation to Tampa Bay — albeit one was a 1-0 defeat and the other was a chippy 5-3 loss with an empty-netter during the final 22 seconds (see story).

The Lightning can flat-out score, putting up a league-best 3.47 goals per game.

However, the Flyers hung with Tampa Bay in other statistical categories.

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: The Flyers are 2-6-3 over the last four seasons against the Lightning.

Here's the rest of the East's qualifying round/round robin schedule (team on left signifies "road" team). Per the league Friday night, a complete broadcast schedule will be released in the coming days.


Aug. 1

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins

Aug. 2

• Flyers vs. Bruins

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs

Aug. 3

• Capitals vs. Lightning

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins

Aug. 4

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs

• No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders

Aug. 5

• Lightning vs. Bruins

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers

• No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens

Aug. 6

• Capitals vs. Flyers

• No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets

• No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers (if necessary)

Aug. 7

• No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets (if necessary)

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers (if necessary)

• No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens (if necessary)

Aug. 8

• Bruins vs. Capitals

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes (if necessary)

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins (if necessary)

Aug. 9

• Flyers vs. Lightning 

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs (if necessary)

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders (if necessary)

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More Flyers analysis for 24-team tournament

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2020 NHL playoffs: NHL, NHLPA complete big step in return to play, announce schedule

Updated: 7:50 p.m.

Signed, sealed and hockey soon to be delivered.

The NHL and NHLPA completed the ratification process of the league’s return-to-play plan and four-year CBA extension, setting up for a resumption and conclusion of the 2019-20 season in the anticipated 24-team tournament.

The NHL’s board of governors and the full NHLPA membership needed to sign off on the agreement in a vote Friday night. For full details on the agreed upon CBA memorandum of understanding, click here.

Meanwhile, here's what we know on the return-to-play 24-team tournament:

The hub cities are Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton, Alberta (Western Conference).

The NHL has set Aug. 1 as the start date of the qualifying round. The round robin, featuring the Flyers, Bruins, Lightning and Capitals in the East to determine the conference's top four seeds, will begin Aug. 2. The Flyers open against the Bruins, as you can see the schedule right here.

There will be five games a day from Aug. 1-2 and six games a day from Aug. 3-9.

Per the NHL's release:

The start times for the 10 days of Stanley Cup qualifiers in Toronto (Eastern Conference games) will be: Noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET. In order to maximize the viewing experience for fans across North America, the start times for the three game windows in Edmonton (Western Conference games) — 2 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET — may fluctuate by up to 30 minutes during the qualifying round.

Monday is when clubs are scheduled to open formal training camp at their respective practice facilities and July 26 is when clubs are expected to travel to their respective hub city. Exhibition games will be played July 28-30 prior to the qualifying round.

Training camps are a big step for the NHL in its goal of finishing the 2019-20 season and awarding the Stanley Cup. The season was suspended March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Flyers have a nice opportunity in the round-robin tournament as the East's No. 4 seed and with a chance to climb.

Below are the new critical dates for the NHL schedule (graphic courtesy of the league):

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More Flyers analysis for 24-team tournament

Analyzing the Flyers' schedule to open 24-team tournament

• 5 questions on Flyers' chances in 24-team tournament

Predictions for Flyers' best Game 1 lineup to start 24-team playoff

Who are the Flyers' top 5 reinforcements for 24-team tournament?

Things get even better for Flyers in NHL's 24-team tournament

Finding the Flyers' best 1st-round matchup for Hart

Flyers have two top 50 pending UFAs; will they re-sign them?

Hockey insider details Flyers’ hotel, importance of training camp 

Key dates, protocols announced as Flyers near next steps toward return