Flyers

Flyers weekly observations: No, you don't trade Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim's production, more

Flyers weekly observations: No, you don't trade Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim's production, more

The Flyers are on a five-game point streak (4-0-1) after losing two straight for the first time since Jan. 7-8.

Last week, they won three of four games and had to say goodbye to Wayne Simmonds.

With March underway, here are observations on the state of the team:

• The NHL trade deadline came and went with general manager Chuck Fletcher making only one move last Monday by sending Simmonds to the Predators.

Leading up to deadline day, some buzz actually generated about a potential trade of Shayne Gostisbehere — nothing firm, but the defenseman's name was out there.

A deal never happened and it's head-scratching as to why anyone who follows the Flyers would be so quick to trade away a player like Gostisbehere.

He's not just a power-play specialist.

He's 25 years old, he's elusive, he's dexterous and he gets the puck out of the defensive zone and up the ice. Oh, and he's under contract through 2022-23 on a cost-effective deal.

Sounds pretty good.

And it doesn't hurt that since 2015-16 he has more goals than John Carlson, Drew Doughty, Seth Jones and P.K. Subban, while ranking 15th among NHL defensemen in points.

• Travis Sanheim has been so good.

Who would have thought he'd be leading all Flyers blueliners in goals (nine) and points (29) with 16 games to go?

The production shouldn't be a crazy surprise to us, though. His size, skill and offensive ability are what drew the Flyers to him in 2014.

"Offense is my game and something I want to continue to develop going forward and bring to the next level," Sanheim said in July 2016.

It does make you wonder what he could have done last year in a full season or why he was sent down to Lehigh Valley in the first place, where he quickly proved he was above the AHL competition.

Was he really that behind in his defensive principles? And was Brandon Manning that much better of an option?

The 22-year-old Sanheim is now one of the team's best defensemen and the 28-year-old Manning is in the AHL after not panning out with the Blackhawks or Oilers.

• The Flyers entered Monday five points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. Right now, they still need to jump two teams.

Hockey-Reference.com has the Flyers with a 9.7 percent chance to make the postseason and SportsClubStats.com gives them a 5.8 percent chance.

If the Flyers can pull it off, they'll have certainly earned it. Thirteen of their final 16 games are against teams currently in a playoff spot.

The teams they face are also playing well. The combined record of the clubs remaining on the Flyers' schedule is 93-61-16 since the start of February.

• It's cool to see the impact Simmonds had on the Flyers' youth.

We're seeing it from Travis Konecny, a tiny 21-year-old with first-round pedigree and a goal-scoring background. But he has mixed it up in the past two games, standing up for Nolan Patrick and also fighting Jordan Eberle.

"Simmer is one of those guys you don't want to mess with," Konecny said last Friday. "Teams probably look at us differently. We're still the same team in that we stick together. I think Simmer left a lot of that with us and taught us young guys to stick up for your teammates."

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Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers didn't bring their A-game to a game they needed it.

There would be no giant killing Saturday as the Flyers lost to the Lightning, 5-3, at Amalie Arena.

Goals from Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux weren't enough for the Flyers (32-20-7), who are 6-3-2 against the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Penguins and Blues, the league's top five clubs.

Tampa Bay is the only one the Flyers haven't beaten. They'll get a final crack at the Lightning on March 12 in the same building.

The Lightning (39-15-5) have won 10 straight games.

• This really wasn't a bad loss for the Flyers.

They were at the end of a road trip and playing the NHL's hottest team. Tampa Bay is 22-2-1 over its last 25 games and hasn't lost at home since Dec. 19.

The Flyers entered Saturday with a 66.9 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com, and still hold an Eastern Conference wild-card spot (see standings).

Alain Vigneault's team just needs to recharge and be ready for a big home-and-home set against the Blue Jackets next week.

• Things got chippy in the second period. Travis Konecny was right in the middle of it all.

Steven Stamkos appeared to trip Giroux before a faceoff. Giroux didn't even look to be that mad about it.

During the final 6:09 of the middle frame, 22 penalty minutes were accrued.

• Brayden Point (10-game point streak) is good at hockey.

• Carter Hart, who was coming off his first road victory since Nov. 10, allowed four goals on 23 shots.

The 21-year-old wasn't the problem.

The first goal was a fluky one by Alex Killorn. On the second, Provorov was sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone and Tampa Bay capitalized to take a 2-0 lead into first intermission.

In the middle stanza, the Lightning beat Hart on a 3-on-2 to grab a commanding 3-0 advantage. Tampa Bay improved to 33-4-3 when it scores three or more goals.

Not only are the Lightning really good, but the Flyers also didn't play their typical forechecking, possession-based game until it was too late.

• Outside of the van Riemsdyk's third-period goal, Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong with 30 saves, 15 of which came in the final stanza. 

Vasilevskiy improved to 18-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage over his last 19 starts.

• Provorov was far from his best against Tampa Bay but he did score the Flyers' first goal to trim the Lightning's lead to 3-1 in the second period. He also had an assist.

The 23-year-old has grown into a power play quarterback this season. He leads all NHL defensemen with seven man advantage goals after scoring only two over his first three NHL seasons.

• Travis Sanheim played 19:43 minutes Saturday after missing almost the entire third period of Thursday's 6-2 win over the Panthers because of a lower-body issue.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey and host the Blue Jackets Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Saturday's game should be a good one.

The Flyers and Lightning are two of the hottest teams in the NHL. Since Jan. 8, the Flyers have the league's most goals (52) and only one team has more points (21) — the Lightning (27).

Tampa Bay is also on a nine-game winning streak and 21-2-1 over its last 24 games.

The big showdown comes a little earlier than usual. Puck drop will be shortly after 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with Flyers Pregame Live set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

The matchup finishes off a three-game road trip for the Flyers, who then play four of their next five games at the Wells Fargo Center.

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