Flyers

Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

It should be a Hart-pumping 60 minutes (or more) at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Keystone State clash promises to be intense as the Flyers (25-23-7, 57 points) welcome the Penguins (28-20-7, 63 points) Monday for the first time this season with the Flyers suddenly within striking range of Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Let's take a look at tonight's essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Talk about a turnaround. On Jan. 12, the Penguins were sitting tight in the Metropolitan Division in second place with 56 points while the Flyers were scraping the bottom of the Eastern Conference barrel with 38 points. 

Just in the past month, the Flyers have made up 12 points on their cross-state rival with a chance to close the gap to within four points with a regulation win. Pittsburgh has a 3-7-1 record over the past 30 days (29th in the NHL), while the Flyers are 9-0-1 (first in NHL).

• Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart will try to set an NHL record as he goes for his ninth straight win before the age of 21. Hart matched the standard set by Quebec’s Jocelyn Thibault in 1995 in the Flyers' 6-2 win over the Ducks. 

I saw him at World Juniors and I was really impressed by the way he played, by his poise and the way he handled the pressure. I really like his game. He's a big kid, very athletic. He competes really hard, never gives up on any plays. That's why records are meant to be broken. It's part of life. I'm happy that Carter has reached that milestone and hopefully he'll get past me. 

— Thibault on Hart (via NHL.com) 

Through his current winning streak, Hart has recorded a 2.35 goals-against average to go along with a .934 save percentage. The Flyers have given their rookie netminder plenty of support, averaging 4.6 goals per game over his last eight starts. 

• Flyers forwards Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek are both riding six-game point streaks. Couturier has scored a goal in each of his past four games and has racked up nine points during his current streak, while Voracek has eight points over that same stretch.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher made some significant moves over the weekend, adding defenseman Philippe Myers and right winger Justin Bailey from the Phantoms. However, interim head coach Scott Gordon said that neither player will suit up for tonight’s game against Pittsburgh as he wants both players to get in a few more practices and become more ingrained in the team’s system.  

• It’s the first time the Penguins have played at the Wells Fargo Center this season. A look back at the tweet that may have sold Flyers fans on their new mascot Gritty, who should have some interesting antics in store for tonight’s game.

• Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury, will be a game-time decision. The Pens are 1-4-0 in those five games and have been outscored 18-13, with their only win against the Senators.

• The Flyers and Penguins will meet in Philadelphia one final time 12 days from now in the NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Mikhail Vorobyev-Phil Varone

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

Goalies
Carter Hart
Anthony Stolarz

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Blackhawks expect Joel Quenneville to coach next season

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Blackhawks expect Joel Quenneville to coach next season

It won’t be long before Joel Quenneville is trending on Twitter, and not just in Philadelphia.   

Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios was in Chicago for last night’s Flyers-Blackhawks game, but it was his appearance earlier in the week on WGN Morning News where he opened up about the 60-year-old head coach.

Chelios is hoping the Maple Leafs get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, and with that, the organization elects to part ways with Mike Babcock, currently the league’s highest-paid coach after signing an 8-year, $50-million contract in the summer of 2015. 

Chelios and others in Chicago see growing tension between Babcock and the Leafs organization, and the former Blackhawks defenseman prefers to see Quenneville land in Toronto or with the future expansion team in Seattle that doesn’t start play until the 2021-22 season.

Unquestionably, Babcock’s style can wear on players, and with the probability of facing the Boston Bruins again in the first round, Babcock and the Leafs are looking at the possibility of another first round exit. 

As for Quenneville, even his former players believe the three-time Stanley Cup winning coach is ready to jump at another chance, whether that’s in Philadelphia or somewhere else.

“It would be pretty weird if he’s coaching somewhere else next season and not with the Blackhawks,” Patrick Kane said, “I think we all know that Joel has a big passion for hockey and a fire and a desire to win. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s coaching somewhere else next season.”

“I would be surprised if he’s not coaching,” said defenseman Duncan Keith, “He never really changed (this season). I think it’s just that competitive nature inside him. That’s what made him a great coach. The competition of winning games. There’s never anybody who loves winning more than him.”

Even Quenneville recently admitted during his first television interview since his firing “there’s an appetite to get back into the game” Quenneville spoke to Chicago’s WGN-TV on St. Patrick’s Day that he’s in “no hurry right now” to accept a head coaching position while also adding, “We’ll see how things transpire in the offseason. We’ll have to think about it, and we’ll see.”

https://wgntv.com/2019/03/17/dan-roan-talks-with-former-blackhawks-head-coach-joel-quenneville/

Several Blackhawks insiders believe Quenneville’s relationship with the general manager and input regarding personnel decisions will go a long way towards where he eventually coaches again pointing to the front office trades of defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and forward Artemi Panarin which created organizational strife the past few years in Chicago, and eventually led to Quenneville’s firing in early November.

There could be as many as nine teams looking to for a permanent head coach heading into the 2019-2020 season.

Quenneville admitted he still watches a lot of NHL games, but not as many Blackhawk games.

Perhaps he’s evaluating what he sees on the ice and which organization might be a good fit.

When it comes to the Flyers, there’s a lot to like.

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NHL playoff picture: Flyers still knocking on the door

NHL playoff picture: Flyers still knocking on the door

The Flyers aren’t riding on the rims just yet. They pumped a little air in their tires Thursday night after completing a season sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite earning two points, the Flyers actually gained a point on the second wild-card team, as the Canadiens leapfrogged the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have lost three straight games.

Wild-card standings

Carolina: 40-26-7, 87 pts, 9 GR
Montreal: 39-28-7, 85 pts, 8 GR
———
Columbus: 40-30-4, 84 pts, 8 GR
Philadelphia: 35-29-8, 80 pts, 8 GR

Thursday’s games

PHI: W 3-1 at Chicago
CAR: L 6-3 vs. Tampa Bay
MTL: W 4-0 vs. NY Islanders
CBJ: L 4-1 at Edmonton

• James van Riemsdyk continued his red-hot play with the go-ahead goal midway through the third period to lift the Flyers over the Blackhawks. JVR is tied with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl with the most goals (20) in the NHL since Jan. 7. It was also his fourth game-winner over that span.

• The storm surge in Carolina was the Lightning’s high-powered offense as Tampa Bay scored four unanswered third-period goals. Forward Nikita Kucherov became the first player since Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in 2006-07 to top 120 points in a single season.

• Goaltender Carey Price stopped all 28 Islanders shots for his 44th career shutout while former Flyer Jordan Weal added a goal with an assist as the Canadiens blanked the Islanders. Montreal now sits in the playoff driver’s seat.

• The Oilers broke open a 1-1 game in the third period with three unanswered goals as the NHL’s hottest player, Leon Draisaitl, continued his torrid pace with his 300th career point, adding three assists.

What are the odds?

According to Sports Club Stats, the Flyers saw a slight climb in their playoff percentage up to 1.6 percent. The closer they inch to Montreal, the greater that number will jump as the Canadiens moved up 20 percentage points after overtaking Columbus in the standings.

The website Money Puck has the Flyers' odds at 1.7 percent.

What lies ahead?

The Flyers have the first of two weekend back-to-backs as they host the New York Islanders Saturday afternoon, looking to beat the Isles for the third time this month with another meeting against the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon in D.C.

The Canadiens have a back-to-back as well hosting the Sabres Saturday with a game at Carolina on Sunday.

On the verge of being swept, the Blue Jackets can’t wait to wrap up their Western Canadian road swing with two full days off between games.

Strength of schedule

According to PlayoffStatus.com, with eight games remaining, the Flyers' schedule isn’t nearly as grinding. Philadelphia now has the 13th-toughest schedule but will play five games over the final nine days in March.

Blue Jackets: 9th
Canadiens: 10th
Hurricanes: 21st

Interestingly, the Flyers can pull within a tie of the Blue Jackets with a weekend sweep of the Islanders and Capitals before the Jackets' next game in Vancouver Sunday night.