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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Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

BOX SCORE

From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers.

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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

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

As one of the NHL's best teams since Nov. 1 (12-3-4, 28 points), the Flyers now face a new challenge.

Alain Vigneault's undermanned group begins a three-game road trip Wednesday as the Flyers (17-8-5) visit the Avalanche (19-8-3).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pepsi Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• The Flyers are without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Oskar Lindblom (upper body, out tonight), Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

"Injuries are a part of a season. You have to expect it," Vigneault said Monday. "Then you need somebody else to step up."

More than ever this season, the Flyers will be looking to Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk to produce among the forwards.

The Flyers are 10-2-1 when Hayes records a point and 9-1-0 when van Riemsdyk records a point.

• Not only are the Flyers severely shorthanded Wednesday night, but they're also facing the NHL's highest-scoring club. The Avalanche lead the league with 3.70 goals per game. Their top line of Nathan MacKinnon (47 points in 30 games), Mikko Rantanen (18 points in 14 games) and Gabriel Landeskog (nine points in 14 games) is scary.

"We know going into Colorado, we're going to have to be careful versus their top unit," Vigneault said Tuesday. "[Monday] night, they seemed to load up. That's one of the best lines in hockey."

• Carter Hart will face the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

The 21-year-old goalie is 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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