Flyers

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers. 

Blue Jackets 6, Flyers 3: Where's the defense and goaltending?

Blue Jackets 6, Flyers 3: Where's the defense and goaltending?

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cannon fire erupted at Nationwide Arena Thursday night as the Columbus Blue Jackets doubled up the Flyers, 6-3.

The Flyers have now allowed five or more goals in four of their first seven games to start the season.

Where were the breakdowns in Columbus?

Here are my observations from Nationwide Arena:

• Ivan Provorov’s struggles continued in the opening period. The Flyers' defenseman had a bad turnover to Anthony Duclair, he got turned around during another shift and Provorov's failure to corral the puck led to an eventual tripping call against Sonny Milano. General manager Ron Hextall said Provorov’s not injured but he’s not playing up to his standards.

“It’s just six games," Hextall said pregame. "Let’s be careful not to overreact.”

Last season, Provorov had a 10-to-15-game stretch midseason in which the puck looked like a hand grenade on his stick.

• If you track the Flyers' shot location in the first period, the team was mostly directing shots against Sergei Bobrovsky on the bottom half of the net — either looking for a rebound or a redirected tip-in. Travis Konecny connected on a terrific tip that went five-hole and you could sense from Konecny’s reaction the relief to finally get that first goal of the season.

• After breaking through with two goals on Bobrovsky in the first period, the Flyers resorted to trying to make the pretty pass and the perfect play in the second period as opposed to just getting the puck on net, creating rebound opportunities and sticking to what worked in the first 20 minutes.

• Give Duclair credit for making a very athletic play, but I think Robert Hagg can do a better job of preventing a quality scoring chance and eventually a highlight goal. Duclair fell to the ice, got back up and beat Pickard with a nice shot in the first period.

Hagg was also on the ice when Cam Atkinson sped around him and scored the Jackets' 3-2 go-ahead goal during the second period. In both instances, I’d like to see Hagg make a stronger attempt at breaking up those plays even if it means taking a penalty. Deep in your zone in the high-danger areas, those are penalties worth taking.

• It will be interesting to see how Dave Hakstol restructures his lines once Nolan Patrick is cleared to return to the team. Jordan Weal has looked really solid in the few games he’s played at center. Oskar Lindblom was buzzing offensively on Weal’s wing and that line scored in the opening minute of the third period to close the gap to 4-3.

I also liked Weal’s attention to detail on the defensive side of the puck until his costly tripping penalty late in the third period.

• Hakstol said the plan all along was for Calvin Pickard to start this game, but I really wondered if he would have followed through on that had the Flyers not coughed up a 5-2 lead to the Panthers Tuesday.

Pickard’s performance was the product of the defense in front of him, but sometimes you need your goaltender to make the saves they’re not expected to make. Foligno’s snap shot from between the circles is definitely a stoppable shot and certainly Milano’s wraparound from a sharp angle.

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Is Corban Knight another Chris VandeVelde?

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AP Images

Is Corban Knight another Chris VandeVelde?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Corban Knight will make his Flyers debut Thursday in Columbus, replacing an ineffective Mikhail Vorobyev, who has struggled mightily over his last four games.

Knight will line up on the right side of the Flyers' fourth line with Jori Lehtera at center and Dale Weise at left wing.

It may be convenient to believe Knight is purely an extension of Chris VandeVelde since the two players have the connection of playing for Dave Hakstol at the University of North Dakota, but the Flyers' coach feels the comparison is a lazy one.

“Completely different player, so I don’t know where that comparison would come from other than the fact that the two of them played for me. That’s where you should probably end it,” Hakstol said from Nationwide Arena Thursday. “Naturally, Knight is a right-handed centerman. He’s a good two-way player. He’s versatile enough to play the right wing, and he’s a very good PKer.”

Knight playing on the right side as a right-handed shot as opposed to VandeVelde, who’s left-handed, is the obvious difference. Outside of that, Hakstol’s description of Knight could have been easily interchanged with what VandeVelde once brought to the team.

When Knight was asked if there were any similarities, he approached the question as more of a compliment to a player that had a strong, three-year run in the organization. 

“I think so,” Knight said. “Vande, when I played with him at [North Dakota], he was a senior so he played a lot of big minutes for us. I think he was always good at both ends of the rink. I think his pro game translated to that PK shutdown role and obviously that’s why I’m here. I definitely think there are some parallels in our game for sure.” 

But to more accurately differentiate Knight from VandeVelde is to separate their style of play from their respective roles on the team. At North Dakota, Knight proved he possessed a little more of a playmaking ability than VandeVelde as he topped the 40-point mark in three straight seasons, something VandeVelde was able to accomplish only as a senior. 

Knight also outplayed other notable fourth-liners like Lehtera and Weise during the preseason before an apparent shoulder (upper-body) injury knocked him out of action for the first two weeks of the regular season. 

Playing center, Knight displayed a playmaking ability that VandeVelde rarely, if ever, exhibited with the Flyers. Knight’s line with Scott Laughton and Oskar Lindblom lit up Madison Square Garden, scoring three first-period goals in a 6-4 preseason victory. The 28-year-old Knight reads plays and sees the ice differently than VandeVelde did. 

However, Knight, much like Laughton a few years back, wasn’t considered a solid all-around defensive player who could kill penalties until he spent a full season with the Phantoms. Hakstol has seen that evolution in Knight’s game after signing a two-year, two-way deal with the organization in the summer of 2017.

“During his time with us in Lehigh Valley, [Corban’s] become one of our top PKers within the organization and that’s what he built his training camp on that,” Hakstol said. “He’s earned the opportunity here.”  

Playing limited minutes on a fourth line, not much should be expected of Knight, but you also shouldn’t expect the second coming of Chris VandeVelde either. 

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