Flyers

How Jordan Binnington's run with Blues relates to Carter Hart, Flyers

How Jordan Binnington's run with Blues relates to Carter Hart, Flyers

Back on Jan. 7, Jordan Binnington came into the Wells Fargo Center and made his first-ever NHL start. He blanked the Flyers, 3-0, as the Blues beat Carter Hart.

On that night, Hart, at 20 years old and playing just his seventh game, actually had more NHL experience than the opposing goalie.

After the game, Hart smiled. Just 20 days earlier, he experienced the thrill of making his first NHL start. He could appreciate the high Binnington must have been on to deliver a shutout in such a moment.

Little did anyone know it would be the start of a remarkable run by the rookie Binnington, all the way into the Western Conference Final, which begins Saturday night (8 p.m./NBC).

In 30 starts, Binnington went an astounding 24-5-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and five shutouts. When the Blues visited the Wells Fargo Center, they had the same number of points as the Flyers. St. Louis was 29th in the NHL at 16-19-4 and 36 points. The Flyers were 30th at 15-20-6 and 36 points.

Now, the Blues are one of four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in massive part because of Binnington, who is a Calder Memorial Trophy finalist.

But Binnington had some help. St. Louis allowed 28.6 shots per game during the regular season, tied for the NHL's third fewest. The Blues won 32 games when they outshot an opponent, tied for the NHL's most. They had just six losses when outshot by an opponent, the NHL's second fewest.

St. Louis didn't make many comebacks because it didn't need them. The Blues made their push by setting the tone early in games, securing leads, sustaining pressure and playing smart hockey with a goalie that could finish. It was a good environment for Binnington, a 25-year-old with four seasons of AHL experience.

If you recall the 3-0 win over the Flyers on Jan. 7, the Blues dominated possession and often pinned the Flyers in their zone. Hart was forced to make 34 saves on 36 shots, with Binnington sealing the deal behind 25 stops.

The Flyers seldom played that style of game with Hart in net, something new head coach Alain Vigneault hopes to change.

"Puck management can be as important and can be as effective to playing good defense," Vigneault said Apr. 18. "A lot of times people talk about playing good defense and that's the forecheck or the D-zone coverage. Yeah, it is, it's because you don't have the puck, but you've got to know what to do with the puck, and when you do know what to do with the puck, then a lot of times you're not defending as much."

Hart was pretty darn good himself since Jan. 7. He went 14-10-0 in 25 games (24 starts) with a 2.84 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Over that stretch, he made 759 saves compared to Binnington's 727. A reason why Hart converted more saves is because the Flyers allowed the NHL's most shots (1,439) since Jan. 7, putting a lot on a 20-year-old rookie's shoulders.

He made the most of the environment.

"We have a young goaltender that's got tremendous amount of potential that might become one of the top goalies in the league," Vigneault said.

It'll be up to the Flyers to help him.

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5 observations from Flyers development camp: The Morgan Frost show, Cam York loves Gritty, more

5 observations from Flyers development camp: The Morgan Frost show, Cam York loves Gritty, more

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers development camp was in full swing Tuesday.

Let's get into five observations from Day 1 of the five-day camp:

1. That's cold

Morgan Frost, one of the organization's top prospects, picked on a practice player in net during an afternoon shooting drill. Frost buried three shots top shelf all in a row. He then chatted with the goalie afterward in a friendly manner.

The 20-year-old center rotated to the next station and delivered another clinic. There's a reason he recorded back-to-back 100-point seasons to finish off his junior hockey career. He puts the puck where he wants it to go.

Frost's speed and skill will be tested at the pro level. How quickly his game translates will be interesting to watch.

"I don't think I really need people that are telling me I can't do it at the next level to motivate me," Frost said. "It's motivating enough for yourself to try to be the best player you can be."

2. Mr. Playoffs Jr.

Seeing the name Briere on the back of a Flyers jersey is commonplace in the Delaware Valley.

Flyers fans are getting the chance to see it again on the ice.

Carson Briere, the son of beloved former Flyer Danny Briere, is a development camp invite. 

His father was on hand Tuesday and signed a few autographs early in the morning as he entered the practice facility.

Briere caught up with assistant general manager Brent Flahr and took in much of the action, even watching the defensemen while his son was on the opposite ice with the forwards.

Carson, a 5-foot-9, 181-pound forward, had himself a heck of a season with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL, a Tier II junior league. The Arizona State commit scored 44 goals and 89 points in 59 regular-season games. 

3. 'Gritty's a beauty'

Philly is going to like Cam York.

The 2019 No. 14 overall pick has a smoothness to him, on and off the ice.

The 18-year-old defenseman also has bushy red hair. Some folks in the Twittersphere have likened him to Gritty.

"I saw a few things where they were comparing me to him," York said with a smile. "It's all good. Gritty's a beauty, so I take it as a compliment."

This kid gets it.

4. Yo, Yegor!

A defenseman to keep an eye on throughout the 2019-20 season — even training camp, actually — is Yegor Zamula.

He's really tall and long. His story and potential feel Philippe Myers-esque (see story).

His skating is impressive for a guy his size. He'll obviously have to get much stronger, but he's only 19 and the upside is evident.

5. Joel ready to roll

One-and-done Joel Farabee will be pushing for the Flyers' roster during training camp after a standout freshman season at Boston University and signing his entry-level contract in March.

Everyone is now facing the challenge of impressing a mostly new coaching staff and general manager Chuck Fletcher, who will be entering his first full season with the Flyers.

Farabee, a slender goal-scoring winger, is ready to embrace that challenge.

"I think it bodes well for me," Farabee said. "I can play a lot of different styles, a lot of different roles on a team, so I think that helps me. I'm really excited to meet the new coaching staff. I think all of those guys have had really successful careers so far, so it'll be interesting to talk to them and get feedback from them."

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Scott Gordon talks decision to return, Flyers' coaching staff and Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Scott Gordon talks decision to return, Flyers' coaching staff and Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

VOORHEES, N.J. — Scott Gordon was back at Flyers Skate Zone as the team's annual development camp kicked off Tuesday. Following a morning session, Gordon made his way up to the media room wearing a long-sleeved Phantoms pullover.

He is head coach of the Phantoms again. In mid-April, he was told he would no longer be the Flyers' head coach after serving on an interim basis since Dec. 18. The Flyers hired Alain Vigneault as their new bench boss, creating a decision for Gordon following some disappointment of not landing the full-time gig with the big club.

How long did he mull over the opportunity to return as head coach of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley?

"Not long," Gordon said.

"I kind of went into it with the expectation of that's where I was going to end up."

Gordon said he "didn't have any interest in being an assistant with the Flyers" and made that clear to Chuck Fletcher prior to the general manager's decision on the head coaching job. Gordon said there were "a couple of situations" regarding interest from other NHL teams, but no conversations about head coaching jobs.

Gordon was ready to be back in Lehigh Valley. After all, there's plenty of appeal to the Phantoms. Not only has Gordon had success in Lehigh Valley, but the Phantoms are also expecting a rush of young talent infusing their roster.

Names like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, Matthew Strome, Maxim Sushko, Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko are all potentially joining the likes of Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, German Rubtsov and Mark Friedman, just to name a handful.

"Part of the thing that makes the job great down there is we do have some great prospects," Gordon said.

"It's something that has been building over time."

While Gordon would love to be leading the Flyers, he's impressed with the club's mostly new coaching staff and is excited to work with it. Vigneault, Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo all bring vast experience to the table. Vigneault has two Stanley Cup Final appearances on his résumé, Therrien owns one and Yeo hoisted the Cup in Pittsburgh as an assistant. Altogether, the trio has 2,512 games of NHL head coaching experience.

"All three of those guys have had levels of success in the NHL," Gordon said. "Pretty remarkable to have three quality coaches on one staff. It should be a good thing for the Flyers."

Gordon has also liked the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, specifically because of what the two accomplished blueliners can do for Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere.

"As good as Provy and Ghost are, they're two veteran defensemen who have been in the league [only] three or four years," Gordon said. "Those guys, whether they end up playing together anymore or end up playing with Niskanen or Braun, they're playing with people that aren't cutting their teeth while they're still young in their careers. That's a huge thing for the team — guys that have been in the Stanley Cup Final, winning the Stanley Cup, that's huge for the development of the those guys." 

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