Flyers rolling while overcoming illness

Flyers rolling while overcoming illness

Michal Neuvirth is now the Flyers' lead horse in net for the foreseeable future.

If the past week has served as any indication, Neuvirth appears ready for the responsibility. Since stepping in for Alex Lyon Feb. 3 against the Ottawa Senators, Neuvirth has stopped 44 of 45 shots and 10 of 11 in shootouts earning two wins and an additional point after regulation.

It’s been a rather bizarre past two weeks that began with Neuvirth admitting to feeling light-headed and dehydrated in the Flyers' 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Jan. 31, which came a few days after saying his problems “were behind him.”  

“I think he’s dealing with things better,” said defenseman Radko Gudas, “The games he played I don’t think we helped him much as well. He was unlucky enough to pick the games when we weren’t our sharpest. Of course he wasn’t 100 percent, and after last year’s scary moment, he wanted to make sure that he feels the best he can to get in there and get us two points.”

Gudas is referring to last April’s game against the Devils when Neuvirth suddenly collapsed on the ice, left the game on a stretcher and was hospitalized for precautionary reasons.

As of Tuesday afternoon, general manager Ron Hextall had not provided a medical update regarding Brian Elliott’s condition, but if the Flyers are forced to ride Neuvirth over the final 26 games of the regular season, he must perform better than he did at this time a year ago.

“Neuvy will go out and do his job,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “He did that in Vegas. There’s no overemphasis on anything. There’s a lot of imperfect situations. You band together and you go do a job and right now Neuvy has a job to do for our team.”

While earning the starting nod over Steve Mason last season at this time, Neuvirth won just two of his final ten starts of the season with an .890 save percentage in the month of February. However, his performance recently has helped solidify the trust and confidence with his teammates. 

“He’s been unbelievable in the past so we have a lot of trust in him and we know he can get the job done,” said center Sean Couturier. “He fights a lot and we’re lucky to have him.”

“We’ve got confidence with him in net, a lot of confidence,” said forward Wayne Simmonds. “He gets us that win in a shootout. He comes in in a pinch and does a great job, and then he plays unbelievable against Vegas. Of course we have faith in him.”

Giroux's first star
Claude Giroux may need a new tissue box in his locker stall as he continues to overcome the remaining remnants of a weekend illness that nearly knocked him out of Saturday’s game in Arizona.

“There’s like a little flu going on. I think Saturday was worse. Sunday I just felt no energy really. I didn’t get to play a lot so that was kinda good, play 13 minutes or so,” said Giroux. “To get a big win in Vegas I think is good for the team. At the same time, we can’t get comfortable here. We’ve got to keep pushing.”

“He’s got a strong mind and a strong body, and if he’s not dead, he’s going to play the game,” said forward Wayne Simmonds. “That shows the type of character and type of player he is.”

As a result of gutting out Giroux earned the NHL’s first star this week following his three-game effort that started with a three-point night against the Montreal Canadiens. Giroux added goals against the Coyotes and the Golden Knights finishing the week with six points. The captain admitted he’ll glance at the out-of-town scores at the arena and see the results of the games from the other Metropolitan Division teams.   

“It’s hard not to look,” said Giroux. “It’s up there and sometimes during timeouts you’re looking around. I think it’s good mentally to see what the other teams are doing.”   

Hak's expectations 
Hakstol typically doesn’t share and disclose his expectations and goals for his team, but Tuesday morning he opened upon slightly on the current path of the Flyers. 

“A couple of points behind where I’d want to be,” said Hakstol, who told the media where the Flyers are in the standings in relation to the playoff chase.

The Flyers come into Tuesday’s game with the Devils occupying the third automatic spot in the Metropolitan Division, and just a point shy of the Penguins for second place.

If you project their 65 points in their first 56 games the Flyers are currently on a 95-point pace to finish the season, which would appear to be sufficient enough to snag one of the two wild-card spots. Perhaps Hakstol has bigger expectations in mind with the potential of earning home ice advantage in a first-round playoff series.   

“There’s a certain level of play and success and number of points that we have to generate to give ourselves a chance to be a playoff team, and that’s where we spend our time and effort, and what do we need to do to gain points and get ourselves to that mark.”

Flyers-Islanders preseason game No. 3: Roster, highlights, live stream and more

Flyers-Islanders preseason game No. 3: Roster, highlights, live stream and more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers and Islanders might be best friends at this point.

The two teams meet Tuesday night for the third time in three days for another preseason game, after their prospects also competed in a rookie game prior to this stretch.

A few notables ahead of puck drop:

• Roster hopefuls Philippe Myers, Mikhail Vorobyev and Nicolas Aube-Kubel will not play after appearing in the team's first two exhibition games. Myers and Vorobyev played in the rookie game, as well. All three have impressed but head coach Dave Hakstol wasn't going to run them out for three games in three days.

• Prospects Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe were officially returned to their junior clubs shortly after the start of noon practice in which they did not participate. Both 19-year-olds, Frost had an outside shot at winning the third-line center job (see story), while Ratcliffe, a promising winger, was always set for his fourth season with the Guelph Storm.

• The Flyers' first line will be a reason to tune in tonight. Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny will play together and the trio is easily the most intriguing part of a lineup with not-so-many regulars.

• Defenseman Christian Folin is a player quietly worth watching given he could be fighting for playing time with Myers — who everyone is watching — come the opening week of the regular season. That, of course, is if Myers cracks the roster with Andrew MacDonald sidelined. Folin's impression will have a big say in things.

Here's what Hakstol had to say about Folin after the morning skate:

What we expected out of him and what we're seeing is he's a real solid, two-way defenseman. He defends well, his feet and his mobility are good, his stick is very good and he's got a good understanding of reading plays that are coming at him.

Really efficient with his first pass and that's a key part of the game in getting us out of the zone.

Here are the essentials for tonight:

When: 7 p.m.
Where: Barclays Center
Live stream: The Flyers' official website

Projected lineup

Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Danick Martel-Phil Varone-Greg Carey
Michael Raffl-Jori Lehtera-Taylor Leier
Carsen Twarynski-German Rubtsov-Colin McDonald

Zach Palmquist-Christian Folin
T.J. Brennan-Mark Friedman
James de Haas-Reece Willcox

Alex Lyon (starter)
Anthony Stolarz

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Why Flyers' prospect Morgan Frost is not ready for NHL

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Why Flyers' prospect Morgan Frost is not ready for NHL

NEW YORK — It certainly looked and sounded good in theory.

Take a first-round pick who exploded for 112 points at the junior level in the season after he was drafted and pencil him in as the Flyers' third-line center.

After all, defenseman Ivan Provorov and forward Travis Konecny made the transition straight from major junior to the NHL, so why couldn’t Frost?

The odds were extremely slim from the moment Frost stepped on the ice eight days ago at rookie camp. He didn’t have the best World Junior Summer Showcase tournament, that also featured 2018 Flyers first-rounders Joel Farabee and Jay O’Brien, who arguably outplayed Frost during the eight-day event. 

Frost, along with Isaac Ratcliffe, the Flyers' second-round pick in 2017, was returned to his junior club Tuesday.

Still, watching Frost during 1-on-1 or 3-on-2 drills during camp, you could see the skill set that made Flyers scouts salivate to the point in which he was a unanimous selection when the organization traded Brayden Schenn to select him 27th overall in the 2017 NHL draft.

Frost’s stick-handling skills are off the charts for a prospect his age. His vision and hockey sense are traits that can’t be coached and he has another gear in his skating that many young players can’t get to. 

However, even when he proved to be a vital component on the power play during the prospects game on Long Island, you knew Frost wasn’t quite ready.

He may have finished the rookie game with a goal and two assists — plus a breakaway attempt in which he came close to scoring another goal — but take the puck off his stick and you could see where Frost’s game needs improvement.

“The part of the game without the puck, learning how to check it and working to get it back, that’s an area we’re going to ask him to improve,” head coach Dave Hakstol said.

There were shifts when Frost was in the right position defensively, and then there were moments when he spent a good deal of time chasing the play.

Then came the preseason opener at Nassau Coliseum Sunday when Frost, and the entire team for that matter, was unnoticeable. General manager Ron Hextall labeled it “an eye-opener” and said Frost may have been one of those “intimidated” by the next level of competition. 

Every teenager progresses differently. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter came to the Flyers after four years in junior and AHL playoff competition with the Phantoms. Captain Claude Giroux spent half a season with the Phantoms before he became an NHL regular a month shy of his 21st birthday. 

The 19-year-old Frost will return to Sault Ste. Marie for his fourth and final season of junior hockey. Expectations are high and that shouldn’t change for a player of his abilities.

As for this season, no need to pick the grape off the vine prematurely when it’s obvious it still needs to ripen.

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