Flyers

How Philippe Myers might fit into Flyers' defensive plans

How Philippe Myers might fit into Flyers' defensive plans

Chuck Fletcher has given Scott Gordon a good problem.

The Flyers are 9-0-1 over their last 10 games. They've been hockey's best team over that span, allowing just 21 goals. 

For some context on the improvement, the Flyers were yielding 3.55 goals per game before this stretch — third most in the league — and during the four-game losing streak that cost Dave Hakstol his job in mid-December, they surrendered 22 goals.

Carter Hart's presence has done wonders, infusing confidence into the blue line — and just about everyone on the roster, for that matter. 

But the Flyers' defensemen have taken significant strides, which only grew Saturday in a 6-2 win over the Ducks (see observations).

Robert Hagg had an assist and was a plus-3. Ivan Provorov tallied an assist, ate up 24 more minutes and finished as a plus-2. Travis Sanheim also delivered an assist and a plus-2 mark. Radko Gudas was a plus-2, as well, while Andrew MacDonald made a terrific pass to set up a goal and Shayne Gostisbehere played 20:34 and has been a plus-7 over his last 10 games.

"I think our defense has played very well for a while now," Fletcher said before Saturday's game. "I've been very impressed with the young guys, how they’ve responded. Provorov has been playing very well of late. Gudas has been tremendous all season. Andrew MacDonald has played very well for, really, since I've been here, but certainly the last month. We can go through all of them — Sanheim has grown by leaps and bounds. It's a good group and they're playing well." 

And here comes Philippe Myers, the 22-year-old who was ranked as a top-50 prospect by the NHL Network entering the season and earned his way to the Flyers. 

His call-up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley came intertwined with the general manager's trade Saturday (see story). In the deal, Fletcher shipped away seventh defenseman Christian Folin, so the Flyers "need bodies," as Fletcher put it.

But one of the chief motives behind the move was to clear way for Myers, who has a chance to be an integral part of the 2019-20 team, a big season for Fletcher with the Flyers seeking immediate progress.

"Everything we do is about building not only for now, but for next year, too," Fletcher said. "To be better next year, we have to be better this year.

"There's a lot of hockey down the stretch. So, to have some fresh, young legs up here will be great. We will see how the coaches integrate them into the lineup. Phil Myers can help this team win right now, too."

Myers might not play right away, but he isn't here to sit, either. Gordon is now tasked with getting the 6-foot-5, 209-pounder into the lineup and managing his minutes and situations.

There's no clear path for inserting Myers. The Flyers play 11 games in 21 days, with three back-to-back sets, so Gordon could mix Myers in throughout that stretch. Gordon was unsure if Myers would play in Monday's homestand finale against the Penguins or on the road Tuesday against the Wild.

"With the trade here, we wanted to have a seventh defenseman to go on the trip," the Flyers' interim head coach said after Saturday's win. "We haven't talked about it. Right now, I would say no, but that's not to say that's the final decision."

It's also possible Fletcher is trying to work another trade with a defenseman. Or, Myers may not be here for too long. His promotion very well could be for a taste of the NHL and to say job well done, kid, be ready for next season.

"I think there's a good chance he can play again in Lehigh this year," Fletcher said. "We'll see, but the fact that he's getting the call is a recognition of what he's accomplished and that he's knocking on the door."

Gordon must decide how much he opens it.

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

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AP Images

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

The Philadelphia Flyers (35-30-8, 78 pts.) will attempt to keep their slim playoff hopes alive against the Chicago Blackhawks (32-30-10, 74 pts.), who are just four points back of the Arizona Coyotes for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

In their only previous meeting this season, the Flyers blanked the Blackhawks 4-0 back on Nov. 10. Sean Couturier scored two goals and Brian Elliott made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season.

Other important games vital to Flyers playoff chances:

• Tampa Bay at Carolina, 7 p.m.
• NY Islanders at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
• Columbus at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Let's take a look at tonight's essentials.

• When: 8:30 p.m. EST
• Where: United Center
• Broadcast: NBCSP
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers have dropped four of the last five at the United Center and five of their last seven games here. They haven’t lost three in a row in the Windy City since the days of Chicago Stadium.

The Blackhawks enter tonight’s game with points in each of their last six games (5-0-1). Interestingly, the Hawks have scored 2 or more goals in their previous 51 games dating back to Nov. 18. 

• Justin Bailey has been recalled (again) from Lehigh Valley and will take Michael Raffl’s place in the lineup. Raffl did not make the trip to Chicago as the latest player impacted by the virus that has been spreading around the Flyers locker room.

Bailey has seen action in seven games with the Flyers this season and is still looking for his first point since the trade to Philadelphia.

It’s been a crazy week going up or down almost every day. At the same time, it’s nice that they’re calling me when they’re calling somebody up every time. I take that as a positive. It’s been a lot of travel, but I’m lucky that it’s only an hour and a half away. It’s been a wild week.

— Flyers forward Justin Bailey.

• The Flyers power play snapped an 0-for-17 skid stretching their last seven games when Sean Couturier scored a power play goal Tuesday against the Canadiens.  

Since Jan. 9, Flyers center Sean Couturier is tied for the NHL lead with a +20 rating and is ranked ninth in scoring with 39 points (15g, 24a) in 30 games.  

Carter Hart will get the start tonight in Chicago. The Flyers rookie goaltender has lost four of his past five starts but has played considerably better recently allowing just three goals over his past two appearances with a .961 save percentage.

With two more points, Scott Laughton will top the 30-point mark for the first time in his career. Laughton is on pace to become the first Flyer since Joel Otto in 1996-97 to score 30 points in a season — all at even strength or short handed. 

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk - Nolan Patrick - Claude Giroux
Oskar Lindblom - Sean Couturier - Jake Voracek
Travis Konecny - Scott Laughton - Ryan Hartman
Phil Varone - Corban Knight - Justin Bailey 

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov - Travis Sanheim
Shayne Gostisbehere  - Philippe Myers
Robert Hägg- Radko Gudas

Goalies
Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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Flyers to play in NHL Global Series, open 2019-20 regular season in Prague

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USA Today Images

Flyers to play in NHL Global Series, open 2019-20 regular season in Prague

CHICAGO — Hockey fans, this is the road trip you’ve been waiting for.

The Flyers will play outside North America for the first time in their 52-year existence.

The team will wrap up its 2019 training camp in Lausanne, Switzerland, with an exhibition game against Lausanne HC on Monday, Sept. 30. 

From there, the Flyers will embark some 565 miles to Prague, Czech Republic, where they will face the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 4 at O2 Arena for the 2019-20 regular-season opener.

It’s a chance for Czech natives Jakub Voracek and Radko Gudas, who both grew up in the Prague suburb of Kladno, to play a game in their home country.   

“Obviously, it’s something that as a kid you don’t think it’s possible,” Voracek said in a statement released by the team Thursday. “I think it’s great for us to see all the friends and family being able to attend an NHL game you can participate in. It’ll be special. It’s going to be exciting. I think everyone’s pretty pumped up for Prague.”

The city of Prague is featured in this month’s edition of Money Magazine as one of the top 10 international destinations to visit.

The average round-trip airfare is just under $1,000, while the cost of a week for two people will run around $3,500.

Switzerland and the Czech Republic are not the only international stops for the NHL this season. 

The Blackhawks will play a preseason game in Berlin, Germany, with the Lightning and Sabres playing a regular-season game in November in Stockholm, Sweden.

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