Flyers

Flyers weekly observations: Sean Couturier on tear, Wayne Simmonds trade chatter, more

Flyers weekly observations: Sean Couturier on tear, Wayne Simmonds trade chatter, more

The Flyers are playing arguably their best hockey of the season.

Now they won't be playing again until next Monday.

Let's get into some observations on the state of the organization:

• Imagine where Sean Couturier would be if he had a full training camp and preseason?

Scary good.

Remember, he played just one exhibition game because of an offseason injury suffered to the same right knee in which he tore his MCL during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Couturier was good enough to go by opening night but the first two weeks of the regular season were like his preseason — trying to find his legs, his conditioning, his rhythm.

Understandably, he didn't race out of the gates, putting up three goals and no assists through his first 11 games. Since then, he has 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) over his last 35 games and leads the Flyers with 19 goals on the season.

He's projected to finish with 33 goals, which would be a new career high and awfully impressive considering all the circumstances. In a season needing positives, the 26-year-old center has been one of the biggest, showing general manager Chuck Fletcher he's a clear part of the solution moving forward.

• Last week on Sportsnet's "Tim and Sid" show, Wayne Simmonds was a topic of discussion, with Sid Seixeiro making an interesting point about a possible trade partner for the Flyers ahead of the Feb. 25 deadline.

"I think the Leafs need Wayne Simmonds," Seixeiro said.

"Toughness is enough guys who are willing to go in the blue paint. … The Leafs don't have enough of those guys, this is a player in Simmonds … he goes to those areas."

Toronto is a team with a slew of offensive weapons. Still, head coach Mike Babcock has highlighted a missing element to the Maple Leafs, who many are considering as a Stanley Cup contender.

Via Sportsnet's Luke Fox, here's what Babcock had to say Jan. 7 following a 4-0 loss to the Predators:

Being heavy isn't getting on a scale and measuring yourself; it's a state of mind. I think we can do a better job there. And I think we can get better defensively so we can spend more time offensively and have the puck more. We got a lot of work to do.

It's heavy on offense. It's having the puck. It's getting the puck back all the time. It's checking it back. It's putting your work in front of your skill. It's being determined offensively, not coming down, having a rush and being one-and-done. It's multiple-shot shifts.

It's having some jam.

Sure sounds like Simmonds, who would not only bring that heaviness but also provide leadership and experience to a relatively young roster.

Toronto has the talent, prospects and picks to intrigue the Flyers.

• Speaking of trades, the 2017 Brayden Schenn deal continues to look better and better for the Flyers.

The club received two first-round draft picks in the exchange with the Blues and used them on prospects Morgan Frost (27th overall — 2017) and Joel Farabee (14th overall — 2018).

Frost on Sunday went off for five goals after scoring four points (two goals, two assists) the night prior. Yes, that's seven goals and nine points in two games.

Last season, the 19-year-old center put up 112 points in 67 regular-season games with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. This season, he has 30 goals and 45 assists through 38 games.

Meanwhile, Farabee, an 18-year-old goal-scoring winger, has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 20 games as a freshman at Boston University.

Prospects are only prospects until they prove themselves in the NHL, but the future looks exciting — and not all that far away — for these two picks.

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Controversial, confusing hit by Joel Farabee on Mathieu Perreault crushes Flyers (and it could cost him)

Controversial, confusing hit by Joel Farabee on Mathieu Perreault crushes Flyers (and it could cost him)

BOX SCORE

The Flyers' lineup had a supremely uncharacteristic look Sunday at Bell MTS Place.

Joel Farabee then made an uncharacteristic play and the Flyers' road trip went completely haywire with a 7-3 loss to the Jets.

The Flyers (17-11-5) limped through an 0-3-0 swing away from home in which they were outscored 14-5. Prior to this stretch, the Flyers had lost three straight games in regulation only one other time — Oct. 15-19.

The Jets (20-11-2) pounced on the Flyers in a ripe opportunity.

• In his quick climb to the NHL, Farabee had been lauded for his smarts and the way he thinks the game at an advanced level.

On Sunday, though, the 19-year-old rookie made a dumb, ill-advised play and it crushed the Flyers. Really, it cost them any chance at a win and it could cost the rookie a game or two.

With the Flyers trailing, 2-1, almost midway through the second period, Farabee flattened Mathieu Perreault just as the Jets' forward was turning from sending a pass up the boards. Perreault left the game and did not return.

Farabee may have been frustrated as he was crosschecked in the back moments before the hit. Still, the Flyers had just trimmed the deficit to one and were already playing with a patchwork group of forwards.

Farabee was whistled for interference and given a game misconduct, putting Winnipeg on a five-minute power play. The Jets went on to score four goals in fewer than six minutes and the game was over (see highlights).

The NHL will look at the Farabee hit. Stay tuned.

• This was not a game the Flyers could afford mental mistakes or self-inflicted wounds.

The club rushed Carsen Twarynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to Winnipeg on Sunday because it's ravaged by injuries at the forward position.

The Flyers came in without Scott Laughton (groin), Tyler Pitlick (concussion), Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis), Travis Konecny (concussion), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

To the Flyers' credit, they played with great energy during the first period and were in the game midway through the action.

• Matt Niskanen, James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere scored goals for the Flyers.

Niskanen's marker was actually meaningful. When van Riemsdyk and Gostisbehere lit the lamp, the game was out of reach.

• Brian Elliott was pulled after the second period. Winnipeg bombarded the 34-year-old goalie after Farabee's hit.

Carter Hart made six saves on seven shots in the final stanza.

• The Flyers are off from practice Monday before hosting the Ducks Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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

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

The Flyers have lost three straight games in regulation only once this season.

They'll try to keep it that way Sunday as the Flyers (17-10-5) visit the Jets (19-11-2) after failing to pick up any points in back-to-back losses.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 5 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bell MTS Place
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The carousel at forward continued with Sunday's call-ups Carsen Twarynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

In Saturday night's 4-1 loss to the Wild, Scott Laughton (groin) and Tyler Pitlick (concussion) left the game and did not return.

On Sunday, the Flyers will be without forwards Laughton, Pitlick, Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis), Travis Konecny (concussion), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

With Sunday's roster transactions, the Flyers placed Konecny on injured reserve and Lindblom and defenseman Samuel Morin (ACL) on long-term injured reserve for salary cap relief.

Aube-Kubel, a 23-year-old winger who played nine games for the big club last season, will become the 10th rookie to play for the Flyers this season.

• With all the injuries, the Flyers are in desperate need of their big boys to carry the load.

The Flyers have gone to a different level when Kevin Hayes has produced in the points column. The team is 10-2-1 when he records a point and 7-8-4 when he goes scoreless.

Hayes went without a point over the Flyers' last two games — both regulation losses — and returns to Winnipeg for the first time since being traded by the Jets in June.

• The Jets are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Red Wings. Winnipeg hasn't dropped consecutive games since Oct. 13-17, when it lost three straight.

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup, according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Carsen Twarynski-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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