Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Phantoms' goaltending, Hobey Baker favorite on fire

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Phantoms' goaltending, Hobey Baker favorite on fire

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.

In this edition, we’ll take a look at the Phantoms’ goaltending situation, a Hobey Baker favorite’s scorching start and plenty more from a busy week down on the farm.

• With Alex Lyon back from a lower-body injury, the Phantoms’ crease now features three goaltenders and no simple solution. Carter Hart needs to play, and he will. It appears, for now, the plan is to rotate goalies with each spending a night not dressed, but is that sustainable?

Lyon made his season debut Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, allowing three goals on 45 shots in the Phantoms’ 6-3 win. He saw high volume in his first game action and passed. Lyon dressed for the first time Friday but backed up Hart. Saturday, Anthony Stolarz backed up Lyon with Hart sitting out.

Hart made his third pro start Friday and was shelled for five goals on 33 shots in Lehigh Valley’s 5-4 loss to the Penguins. He was pulled on Oct. 12. There is no reason to panic. Hart is adjusting to the pro game, and it’s better for him to go through this process in the AHL than with the Flyers. Despite a solid preseason, we’ve received our answer: Hart still needs a little more time.

Stolarz, though, appears to be the odd man out with Lyon back. Hart started Sunday, and was stronger in a shootout loss, with Stolarz backing him up. Stolarz hasn’t played since Oct. 13.

• While the Ohio State football program was upset by Purdue this weekend, its hockey team, ranked No. 1 in the country, suffered its first defeat in a weekend split with Massachusetts. 

But, Tanner Laczynski, one of the preseason Hobey Baker favorites, continued to produce. Laczynski saw his point streak dating back to last season extend to nine games with a three-point weekend. He registered an assist in the Buckeyes’ 6-3 loss to UMass Friday night and netted two goals in OSU’s 3-1 win Saturday night. That’s now five points in four games this season.

• Morgan Frost is lighting the OHL on fire, per usual. It’s the old normal.

Frost had a monster week for Sault Ste. Marie with nine points in three games. He had a one-goal, three-assist night Wednesday, a two-goal, one-assist game Friday and a two-assist effort Saturday. He leads the OHL in scoring with 24 points in 13 games for 1.85 points per game.

Some highlights from last week:

Quick hits
• German Rubtsov registered his first multi-goal and multi-point game of his North American pro career Saturday with a two-goal game in the Phantoms’ win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Rubtsov has three goals in six games in his first season in Lehigh Valley.

• Philippe Myers has goals in two of his past three games.

His goal from Friday:

And from Saturday:

• Matthew Strome continues to rack up points for Hamilton as his point streak reached four games. He has 11 points during this current streak and nine points in three games last week.

• Wisconsin defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk continued his scorching start, adding three points in two games, including a goal and an assist Saturday. He now has six points in four games.

• The Athletic’s Corey Pronman has high praise for Flyers 2017 sixth-round pick Olle Lycksell, who has four points in 10 games this season with Linkoping of the SHL.

I’ve been quite impressed by Lycksell this season. During the summer I saw a dynamic skill player but I had concern over his size and speed. He’s looked quicker in the SHL games I’ve seen. He’s been a part of Linkoping’s top power play unit and looks confident at the top level making skilled plays and creating chances. I think he’ll be an important part of Sweden’s World Junior team.

• Yegor Zamula, the undrafted Calgary (WHL) defenseman the Flyers signed after training camp, had four points in four games last week for the Hitmen.

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2020 NHL playoffs: Phase 2 date set in plan to resume season

2020 NHL playoffs: Phase 2 date set in plan to resume season

The NHL has targeted Monday of next week as the start of Phase 2 in its plan to resume and finish the season.

Phase 2 permits players to return to team practice facilities for voluntary small-group individualized training activities, whether it be on or off the ice.

Below is a statement Thursday night from the NHL:

Beginning June 8 — subject to each club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol — clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice). Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six players at any one time, plus a limited number of club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning. Phase 2 is not a substitute for training camp.

All necessary preparations for Phase 2, including those that require player participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately. The NHL and the NHLPA continue to negotiate over an agreement on the resumption of play.

Here is the NHL's detailed protocol for Phase 2. Phase 3 (mandatory team training camps) won't happen before July 10, which means the implementation of Phase 4 (resuming play) can occur at the earliest late July, with the beginning of August an option.

The NHL on Thursday also announced further details on the 24-team return-to-play format, which looks good for the fourth-seeded Flyers.

Players and permitted personnel returning to Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, could be an important step toward the club finishing its 2019-20 resurgence.

"This is obviously something a little different, but we’ve got a lot of experience," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said in late April. "I’m very confident that we can get something together that’s going to be very efficient for the players, very efficient to get our team ready and hopefully that’s what happens.”

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2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' chances look even better now in 24-team format

2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' chances look even better now in 24-team format

The Flyers' outlook for the NHL's 24-team return-to-play format appeared to improve Thursday.

The 2020 playoffs will consist of reseeding after every round instead of a bracket style. The NHL and NHLPA also agreed that each round will feature best-of-seven series following the best-of-five qualifying round.

How is this a good thing for the Flyers? As the fourth and final seed in the round-robin tournament, they can only improve their standing, which we already knew. The Flyers have a chance to climb as high as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and can't fall any lower than their current spot at No. 4.

But the reward of being the No. 1 seed was uncertain as the league was still determining the whole reseed vs. bracket dilemma. On paper, the top seed would not have been as attractive in a bracket format given it would face the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup no matter what. Now, the No. 1 seed will face the lowest remaining seed to prevail after the qualifying round. So say the 12th-seeded Canadiens upset the fifth-seeded Penguins, the top seed will face Montreal. Whereas in a bracket style, the fourth-seeded club would have benefitted from such a situation by facing the lowest-seeded Canadiens, while the No. 1 seed would face a No. 8 or No. 9 seed.

The Flyers are truly in a no-lose situation. They already have their bye and getting the No. 1 seed means a better matchup now. If the Flyers do well in the round-robin tournament, they climb. If they struggle, they stay put. Not a bad spot at all. And there's no reason they should dislike their chances against the Bruins, Lightning and Capitals.

The bracket style would have made for more parity and drama, particularly in a betting aspect. But the league and its players have also stressed keeping the integrity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ultimately, the top seeds should be rewarded for their work in the regular season and be given the best possible matchups.

Here are the East's qualifying-round matchups and seed Nos. 1-12.

No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers

No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers

No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens

1. Bruins
2. Lightning
3. Capitals
4. Flyers
5. Penguins
6. Hurricanes
7. Islanders
8. Maple Leafs
9. Blue Jackets
10. Panthers
11. Rangers
12. Canadiens

For the timeline of a possible resumption and the decisions still to be made, click here.

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