Flyers

Flyers weekly observations: Kudos to Chuck Fletcher, Alain Vigneault

Flyers weekly observations: Kudos to Chuck Fletcher, Alain Vigneault

The Flyers have their most points entering December since 1995-96, when Eric Lindros was scoring a career-high 115 points and Ron Hextall was holding down the crease.

The 2019-20 club capped off an NHL-best November with a perfect 4-0-0 week in which it allowed only 1.75 goals per game (see story).

Let's get into that and more with a few weekly observations:

• The season is only two months young but general manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault deserve a great deal of credit.

They've answered the bell in many ways.

Fans wanted a proactive offseason. Fletcher went out and acquired Matt Niskanen and Kevin Hayes. He also added Tyler Pitlick and Justin Braun. No prospects or young foundational pieces were sacrificed in the process.

Vigneault has mentioned how important Niskanen has been for Ivan Provorov, who has turned back into the Flyers' best defenseman. The quiet, accomplished Niskanen, though, is arguably the Flyers' most vital piece on the blue line.

With the absence of Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder), Hayes' presence down the middle has become that much bigger. He has helped the Flyers significantly at 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill, which is third best in the NHL (85.7 percent). The 27-year-old center is also on pace to match his career high of 25 goals.

Pitlick is healthy and performing like a dependable fourth-line winger, while Braun has played well alongside Travis Sanheim during the four-game winning streak.

On top of the additions, many clamored for the prospects to play. Joel Farabee, 19, and Morgan Frost, 20, two of the organization's prized prospects, are here right now and being relied upon, while eight rookies have played.

And lastly, fans had grown accustomed to and increasingly frustrated with slow starts to the season. Over their previous five seasons, the Flyers went a combined 23-25-6 in October and 23-29-14 in November.

This season, the Flyers matched their best-ever November (10-2-4, 24 points) and entered Sunday tied for the NHL's fifth-most points with 35 at 15-7-5.

Impressive work by Fletcher, Vigneault and the staff.

2019-20 on Dec. 1

2018-19 on Dec. 1

• The Flyers haven't just had a strong November. They've been one of the NHL's best teams since Oct. 21, earning at least a point in 17 of 21 games with a 13-4-4 record and 30 points.

Coming into Sunday, only one NHL team had more points over that span — the defending champion Blues with 31.

"Not knowing exactly what we had to work with, I believe that we’re a work in progress and I really believe that we have steps forward to make," Vigneault said on Nov. 16. "We’re not where I want this team to be, we’re not where I know our team wants to be, but we’re in a good place."

The Flyers are starting to see the results they believed would come from the process. Instead of digging out of a hole, they must build on it.

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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Flyers at Wild: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Wild: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers will be playing for more than just two points Saturday night.

They'll be playing for Oskar Lindblom, their teammate who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The news was announced Friday and has been followed by an outpouring of support for the 23-year-old (see story).

As they back Lindblom, the Flyers will try to move forward. Since the start of November, they've done a pretty good job of not leaving games empty-handed. The Flyers have earned at least a point in 16 of their last 20 contests, going 12-4-4.

On Saturday, the Flyers (17-9-5) will try to get back into the points column when they visit the Wild (15-12-5).

Let's get into the essentials:

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

• An example of how consistent the Flyers have been is that they haven't lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29. They'll try to avoid doing so Saturday night after dropping to the Avalanche, 3-1, Wednesday night.

With head coach Alain Vigneault's constant emphasis on structure and possession, the Flyers have given themselves a chance most nights.

A positive for Vigneault and company heading into the matchup with the Wild: The Flyers are tied for second in the NHL with the fewest shots allowed per game (28.8), while Minnesota puts up the second-fewest shots per game (28.6).

The Flyers have a good chance to play on their terms tonight.

• Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr are back in their old stomping grounds.

Fletcher was the GM of the Wild from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

Fletcher's challenge in Philadelphia was similar to the one he faced in Minnesota and here's how he fared (see story).

• The Wild have played the fewest home games in the NHL (12) and the most on the road (20). Minnesota is 8-1-3 at home and 11-3-4 overall since Nov. 5 following a 4-9-1 start.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

usa_oskar_lindblom_flyers.jpg
USA Today Images

Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

Oskar Lindblom, a 23-year-old forward on the Flyers, is expected to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones.

Below is a statement from Flyers president of hockey operations and general manager Chuck Fletcher:

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma by leading specialists at the University of Pennsylvania. He will undergo further testing and evaluation next week and begin treatment immediately thereafter. He is not expected to return to play for the remainder of the season. The Flyers will do everything possible to support Oskar and assist him in securing the best care available. Out of respect for Oskar and his family, the team will have no further comment at this time and asks that Oskar be afforded a period of privacy so that he may focus his efforts on his treatment and a return to full health.

Lindblom, a native of Sweden, had been one of the Flyers’ top players through 30 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 points.

He was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round of the 2014 draft and has blossomed into a promising player.

Always smiling, positive and humble, Lindblom is beloved by his teammates. His rise from a fifth-round pick to a difference-making player has been a product of hard work.

After scoring 17 goals last season, sixth most among NHL rookies, Lindblom went back to Gävle, Sweden, to train all summer with his old team Brynäs IF.

"It’s like five minutes from my house," Lindblom said during training camp.

“It was nice to be back home for a bit, just relaxed, had some time with friends and family, so it was great.”

It didn't take long for the Flyers' new coaching staff to fall in love with Lindblom's game as the winger raced out of the chute, scoring in the team's season opener and playing a major role ever since.

“I didn’t know much about Oskar before coming here, but what I’ve found is a real smart, two-way player, hard-working young man," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Oct. 26.

In the summer of 2017, Lindblom talked about his climb within the Flyers' system.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said.

By the age of 23, he has more than made it on the highest level.

Below is the outpouring of support for Lindblom, via social media:

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