Flyers

Hurricanes 3, Flyers 1: Carter Hart suffers first benching of NHL career

Hurricanes 3, Flyers 1: Carter Hart suffers first benching of NHL career

BOX SCORE

Consider it the kid's first clunker.

Carter Hart stomached the first benching of his NHL career Monday night as he lasted just 22:19 and the Flyers fell to the Hurricanes, 3-1, on New Year's Eve at PNC Arena.

The 20-year-old Hart had made 100 saves on 109 shots over his first four starts but permitted three goals on 10 shots to Carolina and the Flyers couldn't dig out of the hole.

Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers' only goal and it came in the third period.

For the second straight season, the Flyers are in last place of the Metropolitan Division entering New Year's Day. 

Last season, they were 16-14-8 with 40 points and an even goal differential through 38 games. This season, the Flyers are 15-18-5 with 35 points and a minus-25 goal differential through 38 games. 

The Hurricanes (16-17-5), who came in 3-8-2 with eight points since Nov. 30, took Game 1 of the four-game regular-season series with the Flyers. 

• Hart, not looking sharp, was pulled by interim head coach Scott Gordon 2:19 into the second period after yielding a pair of goals.

Hart looked slow to react on both markers and the Flyers weren't great in front of him, either.

The Hurricanes scored just six seconds into the middle stanza after the Flyers actually won the period's opening faceoff. However, Travis Sanheim retreated for a brief second and it cost the Flyers as Jordan Martinook pounced on the puck, split the defensemen and beat Hart to give Carolina a 2-0 advantage.

Could Hart have stopped the shot? Sure, but the Flyers should not be burned down the middle after winning the neutral zone faceoff.

• A little over two minutes later, Hart was yanked when Andrei Svechnikov scored the Hurricanes' third goal on 10 shots. Radko Gudas attempted a stretch pass that was intercepted through the air by Clark Bishop, who quickly attacked the Flyers to create a 3-on-2 and found Svechnikov for the 3-0 lead.

Hart had been providing timely saves on visible, trackable shots. He simply didn't have that in his game Monday, and that's OK. Again, he's 20 years old.

• Hart hadn't allowed many soft goals this season but the one he gave up to Lucas Wallmark midway through the first period was more than stoppable.

Wallmark flung a relatively innocuous shot from straightaway with Gudas in coverage and no one near the net. It beat Hart top shelf on his glove side, almost taking him by surprise a bit.

Still, Hart has allowed just two first-period goals through five starts, which is a major positive. Prior to Monday, he had kept the team in games when things often snowballed on the Flyers before his arrival.

• To the Flyers' credit, they stayed out of the box, for the most part, allowing the Hurricanes just two power-play opportunities. However, the Flyers went 0 for 2 on the man advantage, which is 9 for 91 (9.9 percent) since Oct. 13.

Gordon may have to shake up personnel or positioning to somehow get the power play going.

• Michal Neuvirth took over for Hart and converted 23 saves. Gordon made the right call to pull Hart when he did because the Flyers were still in the game and it saved the rookie from a complete unraveling.

Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney made 22 stops and won his first game since Nov. 27.

• The Flyers are right back at it New Year's Day when they visit the Predators (8:30 p.m./NBCSP), who snapped a six-game losing streak Monday with a 6-3 win over the Capitals.

Tuesday's contest concludes a five-game road trip for the Flyers, who return to the Wells Fargo Center Thursday to again play the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP).

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Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Updated: 3:22 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — Here comes Morgan Frost.

The Flyers called up the playmaking center Monday from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and sent Carsen Twarynski to the Phantoms.

Frost, an exciting 20-year-old prospect who the Flyers selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 16 games with Lehigh Valley.

Over his final two OHL seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Frost put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games.

He is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers play the Panthers in Florida (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and will wear No. 48.

Frost received the news Sunday from Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon.

"To be completely honest with you, I was pretty surprised," Frost said Monday after Flyers practice. "I wasn’t really expecting it, I was just hanging out with [Isaac Ratcliffe] playing video games on an off day. Got that call, I saw Gordo’s name, I thought of a couple things before I answered the call. Answered it and it was a nice surprise.”

The first person he broke the news to was his dad Andy Frost.

"I FaceTimed my dad after," Frost said. "I don’t even know if he’s ever used FaceTime before. I think it was more sufficient that I FaceTimed him instead of called him.

“It was really special.”

Frost will play center, which allows Claude Giroux to play first-line left winger, where he’s had career-best success. Frost will be between Giroux and Travis Konecny.

"They’re giving me an opportunity here," Frost said. "Playing with two amazing players, so I’m really excited for that.”

How long could Frost be here? His play could dictate that, but Scott Laughton (broken finger) is nearing his return from long-term injured reserve. Laughton could be back as soon as Saturday's game against the Flames.

Nonetheless, Frost is getting his first shot.

 

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Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

The Flyers went to the shootout two more times this week and stomached an 0-1-2 stretch punctuated by Saturday night's brutal collapse against the Islanders.

Twenty games into the 2019-20 season and the Flyers (10-6-4) are a complex group. Despite improvements under a new coaching staff with some new personnel, they are still the tough-to-predict Flyers.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• When head coach Alain Vigneault's system is at its apex, all four lines are making an impact. Setting up shop in the offensive zone requires constant effort. The hard-on-the-attack, get-after-it premise can be taxing, so balance through the lineup is vital.

The Flyers haven't had that and their record reflects it. So, too, does their failure to close games. It's very possible they're running out of gas in the final 20 minutes.

The sharing of ice time can also lead to a style not conducive for high-volume individual point production. When everyone is going, the minutes and scoring can spread out.

Through 20 games, the production is down for Claude Giroux (13 points), Jakub Voracek (13), James van Riemsdyk (nine) and Kevin Hayes (seven). The Flyers don't need career years from those four; that probably wasn't going to happen. But the Flyers do need them for better balance or this team will have a difficult time finding consistency in Vigneault's system.

• On top of the way the Flyers want to play, their schedule hasn't been favorable — all of which could be having a negative effect on delivering knockout punches.

After playing in four different countries from Sept. 30 through October, the Flyers are in the midst of playing 16 games during November. They've already played five back-to-back sets out of 17 this season. In the second game of such situations, the Flyers are 1-2-2 and giving up 3.8 goals per game.

The Flyers have gone to the shootout seven times compared to just four times all of last season. Suddenly the start of games isn't an issue but instead finishing them has caused concerns.

Over the Flyers' last six games, they've been outscored 7-1 in the third period. Five of those six games have gone past regulation and at least three didn't have to.

“Not knowing exactly what we had to work with, I believe that we’re a work in progress and I really believe that we have steps forward to make," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "We’re not where I want this team to be, we’re not where I know our team wants to be. But we’re in a good place. We’re right there with a lot of good teams battling.”

• It's obvious by his faceoff work that Sean Couturier is still dealing with a shoulder strain.

The 26-year-old is one of the NHL's best in the dot but lost 12 of 13 faceoffs taken over three games this week. Last season, Couturier had 21 games in which he won at least 12 faceoffs.

He's clearly not the same guy in the circle. However, the injury hasn't stopped him from recording 10 points (four goals, six assists) and a plus-6 mark in his last 10 games.

“I feel better and better every day," he said Tuesday. "It’s more of don’t want to get it worse, want to heal it properly, don’t want it to last all year.”

The left-handed Couturier has limited his number of faceoffs and has even tried taking them right-handed.

“It’s something he’s worked on and it’s something that is pain-free for him," Vigneault said. "He does try it now or then. If the centerman gets kicked out, he’ll go in and try to win them on the side that doesn’t hurt. I hope he’s getting close because we need him to take draws.”

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