Future Flyers Report: Isaac Ratcliffe finding his scoring touch with Storm

Terry Wilson | OHL Images

Future Flyers Report: Isaac Ratcliffe finding his scoring touch with Storm

Updated: 11:57 a.m.

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• Isaac Ratcliffe had a two-goal game last Tuesday and then went pointless in his two other games for Guelph. Let’s look at Ratcliffe’s second goal from Tuesday:

Much has been made about Ratcliffe’s size. He’s a big boy. On this goal, he stationed himself in front of the goalie and showcased good hands to score in tight on the Kitchener goalie.

Ratcliffe has had a pretty good start for the Storm, scoring 13 goals and 21 points in 17 games. 

• Boston University has been a college hockey powerhouse, but this season, it’s been quite the mind-boggling start for the Terriers. Last week, though, BU finally got its first win of the season.

Joel Farabee played a part in BU going 1-0-1 last week, picking up a goal in the Terriers’ 5-5 tie with No. 13 Northeastern Thursday and then an assist in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Northeastern.

• Alex Lyon made his third start of the season Saturday night in Lehigh Valley and once again, he faced a constant onslaught from the opposition. Lyon, again, survived with an excellent effort.

Lyon turned away 40 shots in the Phantoms’ 3-2 overtime win over Binghamton, a game Lehigh Valley needed an empty-netter to force the extra period. Lyon carried a shutout into the third period, surviving a 17-shot second period. Per the Phantoms, Lyon is now 7-1-1 in nine career AHL games in which he faces 40 shots or more. That’s a ridiculous statistic.

Forty shots are high volume and win-loss record for goalies is usually a meaningless stat. But seven wins in nine games when facing 40 or more shots is pretty darn impressive.

Lyon was recalled to the Flyers Monday morning with Brian Elliott dinged up and Michal Neuvirth placed on injured reserve.

• Jay O’Brien made his return to Providence’s lineup Saturday night but is still searching for his first collegiate point. O’Brien had three shots on goal against Holy Cross on Saturday.

Late in the game, however, with the Friars up 3-0, O’Brien took a high hit from Holy Cross’ Ryan Leibold. Providence head coach Nate Leaman did not hold back:

Quick hits
• German Rubtsov is a totally different player now that he’s reached the pro level. We’ve featured him previously, but last week, he had a goal and an assist in two games.

This goal was especially of highlight-reel fashion.

• Remember Mikhail Vorobyev? The center is back with Lehigh Valley and had himself a goal and an assist Friday night against Binghamton. His assist came on Rubtsov’s goal above.

His goal came on a pretty lethal long-distance snipe:

• Philippe Myers and Mark Friedman each had assists in both of the Phantoms’ games this past weekend. Both Myers and Friedman have eight points in 11 games this season.

• Carter Hart is still looking for consistency at the AHL level as expected. Hart started one game last week, turning away 32 of 36 shots in a 4-3 OT loss to Binghamton Friday.

• Morgan Frost saw his eight-game point streak end Sunday. Frost recorded 10 assists and 18 points during the stretch. He’s second in the OHL with 33 points in 19 games.

• Yale defenseman Jack St. Ivany registered his first NCAA point Friday with an assist against Cornell.

• Wade Allison, recovering from a torn ACL, remains out for Western Michigan.

• Owen Sound winger Maksim Sushko is beginning to heat up, putting together a three-game point streak last weekend with a two-assist game Friday, a goal Saturday and an assist Sunday.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers' goalie changes a reminder that Chuck Fletcher's breaking point could be near

Flyers' goalie changes a reminder that Chuck Fletcher's breaking point could be near

It was almost like a perfect summation of the Flyers' 2018-19 season in net.

All sorts of moving parts, no stability, same unsettling predicament.

The Flyers on Thursday night made three announcements regarding the goalie position.

Michal Neuvirth returned to Philadelphia to be with his wife Karolina for the expected birth of their child, while Brian Elliott also returned to Philadelphia for a scheduled medical appointment.

And in need of a second-string goalie for a back-to-back set over Friday and Saturday, the Flyers recalled Alex Lyon from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Some things to unpack:

• On Nov. 16, the Flyers were hoping Elliott (lower-body injury) would miss only approximately two weeks. It has now been just about a month and Elliott, the team's No. 1 goaltender, is still on injured reserve. Elliott has been skating and getting in work but his return date remains to be determined.

Elliott is 33 years old and underwent core muscle surgery in February. He is in the final year of a two-year contract and is recovering from what appears to be a groin injury. The Flyers desperately need him — not only to come back, but to also stay healthy somehow, which he hasn't been able to do with the Flyers.

• Neuvirth, the Flyers' No. 2 goalie entering the preseason, has played 1½ games this season, allowing nine goals in two losses. The oft-injured netminder simply has not been able to stay healthy and is also in the final year of a two-year deal.

When Elliott is ready to return, it will be interesting to see what general manager Chuck Fletcher decides to do, given 24-year-old Anthony Stolarz has played well and proven more reliable. Remarkably, he's the team's starting goalie right now after opening the year fifth on the organizational depth chart.

"I'm very happy with what [Anthony Stolarz] has given us," Fletcher said Wednesday (see story). "We've got a couple of guys that have been hurt that we're hoping can get healthy and get their game going."

• The 26-year-old Lyon is back following a disastrous season debut Nov. 21 when he allowed four goals on 12 shots before being pulled after one period.

Fletcher is working with what he has right now. After all, he was introduced as general manager just last week. That's not to say changes aren't coming. The new GM is reportedly hoping to upgrade at goalie, add a veteran defenseman and a top-nine forward (see story). So, yeah, Fletcher is obviously looking to address the flaws of an underachieving team falling well short of expectations.

Could this weekend be a tipping point in the call for action? 

It has the makings for it. 

The situation in net looks terrifying when you consider the circumstances. Stolarz and Lyon own 26 combined games of NHL experience, while the Flyers are about to face the Oilers and Canucks, two teams playing well led by young studs in Connor McDavid and Elias Pettersson, respectively. Those two guys can strike fear into any goalie, let alone a pair of netminders lacking experience.

Fletcher was looking forward to this five-game road trip as it marked his first real chance to evaluate what's in place. The second and third games probably made him pick up the phone some more.

Those last two defeats are ones that scream for change. If the Flyers follow them up with a few more head-scratchers, Fletcher will be a lot closer to pulling out his cleaning supplies for a mess that isn't fixing itself.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers film review: Dissecting a last-minute breakdown becoming all too frequent

Flyers film review: Dissecting a last-minute breakdown becoming all too frequent

EDMONTON, Alberta — If general manager Chuck Fletcher is wondering how the Flyers are 29th in the NHL in goals allowed per game, then he should look no further than Sean Monahan’s game-tying goal Wednesday night with seven seconds remaining in regulation (see story).

It’s the type of goal that seems to be a common occurrence with the Flyers this season.

And a goal that could have been easily prevented — on a number of levels.

A very easy zone entry

When the Flyers cleared the puck with roughly 20 seconds remaining, Jakub Voracek came off the ice after a 1:53 shift (which included a timeout) and Dale Weise jumped on.

The Flyers completely surrendered the blue line. As Weise crossed into the defensive zone, he had the perfect opportunity to intercept Monahan’s cross-ice pass to Matthew Tkachuk, clear the puck and end the game.

It just went over the top of my stick. I couldn’t bat it down. I couldn’t reach it with my stick. I was trying everything I could to get a piece of it.

- Dale Weise

Too much standing around

When Weise failed to corral the puck, there was an opportunity to pressure Tkachuk along the boards and tie up the puck. Instead, Weise backed off and three different Flyers watched Tkachuk assess the situation before sending in a shot on net.

I’d like to see more top-down pressure on the half wall, and that’s where a lot of it starts. There’s a switch there that would happen if Weise continues the top-down pressure. It’s not an easy read. 

- Dave Hakstol

Andrew MacDonald was at the end of a 1:01 shift when Monahan scored the game-tying goal. Standing in front of the crease, he watched Tkachuk’s shot from outside the circle and then proceeded to observe Monahan clean up the rebound in front of the crease, posing as an innocent bystander.

With MacDonald standing a few feet in front of Monahan and Claude Giroux on his back hip, there’s simply no reason why the Flames' center should have had such an easy swipe at the puck for a rebound opportunity.  

Provorov's responsibilities

Positioning himself in the circle to Anthony Stolarz’s left, Ivan Provorov was stationed between Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, who was hugging the left post. Provorov could have engaged Tkachuk, applying the pressure Hakstol was looking for, but his initial reaction was positioning and blocking the incoming shot.

Provorov’s attempt was a futile one. With the game on the line, if you’re going to commit to blocking the shot, then that would have been the moment to fully commit.

Flyers' positioning should have prevented the disaster

The Flames made this play a rather easy one for the Flyers to defend. What probably frustrates Hakstol is that the Flyers had the Flames covered, but their passiveness cost them a chance at the win — even on a 6-on-5 with Calgary having pulled the goalie.

The Flames proved they didn’t need five players on the ice to execute this play to perfection.

With the time left, there’s going to be a mentality for them to get a puck to the net, and that’s what they did. It’s a quick bang-bang play. That’s where the look on that play should and could be different.

- Hakstol

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers