Flyers

Mark Friedman has Flyers' attention as new regime looks to 2019-20

Mark Friedman has Flyers' attention as new regime looks to 2019-20

VOORHEES, N.J. — At first, Mark Friedman thought he was in the doghouse.

He met with Phantoms head coach Kerry Huffman on Friday.

"Called me into the coach's office and was acting all pissed off at me," Friedman said. "Then he was like, 'No, I'm just kidding, you got called up. Go enjoy.'"

And show general manager Chuck Fletcher what you're all about.

Game 82 has arrived Saturday night for the 2018-19 Flyers and it will be Game 1 of Friedman's NHL career. The Flyers are rewarding the 23-year-old defenseman for his season-long progress with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley by giving him a look at the NHL before 2019 training camp rolls around in September.

It's also an opportunity for the Flyers to see Friedman, a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder who is quick on his feet and plays with purpose. The Flyers, limping to the finish line, could use a guy with something to play for against the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP).

"I've met Chuck a couple times down in Lehigh," Friedman said Saturday after an optional morning skate. "It's just rewarding for me to come here and finish the year with the Flyers and see where I end up next year."

Friedman was a 2014 third-round pick of a previous regime — Ron Hextall and Chris Pryor, the former GM and assistant GM, respectively, who were relieved of their duties in November. In his second season with the Phantoms, Friedman has made noticeable strides over 71 games.

"He's made a ton of progress since Year 1," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said.

Gordon coached Friedman last season and parts of this season as the head coach of Lehigh Valley.

"His foot speed, quickness, for his size, he can play very physical," Gordon said of Friedman's strengths. "He has a tendency to get under the opponents' skin. He always seems to be drawing penalties. He does have the ability to get up into the play. When he's using his feet, that's when he's playing at his best.

"He's a guy that can play with a lot of pace, he plays physical and he has to — obviously, he's not a big guy like some of our defensemen. For him to take up space, he's got to do it with his feet and his head. That's what we need to see him do here."

In 2019-20, the Flyers will have a crowded defense, a group growing in youthfulness. With Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin in the picture, that's eight defensemen and six spots in the lineup.

Things can change between now and 2019 camp, but Friedman's game has been recognized.

"I'm not necessarily a force offensively, but I like to consider myself as a good two-way defenseman and I feel like I've definitely contributed in both areas," he said.

"I'm not the biggest guy, but I definitely consider myself pretty strong. If a hit's there, I'd like to blow a guy up but obviously not hurt him."

Ever since he was drafted, Friedman always stood out in development camps because of his max-effort style.

"I'm a guy that puts 110 percent into everything I do, especially on the ice," he said. "I just like to compete in everything, whether it's off the ice, on the ice, no matter what it is. Hard work paid off."

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Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we’ll look at the reasons for concern.

Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They’ve played well within the division and have dominated at home. 

Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.

The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.

Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers’ first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.

But what might be the Flyers’ most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they’ve performed against the NHL’s best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.

The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.

Vigneault’s track record will be tested over the Flyers’ final 32 games.

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2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

Travis Konecny went toe to toe with familiar faces in the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Friday night.

Among the eight-player field for the fastest skater event, four players were from the 2015 draft class.

Konecny went 24th overall to the Flyers and Mathew Barzal No. 16 to the Islanders, while Connor McDavid was selected No. 1 by the Oilers followed by Jack Eichel at No. 2 to the Sabres.

The first-time All-Star Konecny couldn't take down McDavid, but the competition's three-time reigning champ was dethroned by Barzal at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

Konecny had fun in the event and scored during the goalie competition.

Right at the start line, I could see my parents, brother and girlfriend, so that was pretty cool — they were right there," Konecny said Friday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "I was just having fun with them, they're enjoying it just as much as I was. We had a little moment after I finished my lap and I think I was near the bottom, they're laughing and I was laughing. It was over with and I could enjoy the rest of the night.

Barzal took the crown with a time of 13.175 seconds, just ahead of McDavid.

1. Mathew Barzal, Islanders — 13.175
2. Connor McDavid, Oilers — 13.215
3. Chris Kreider, Rangers — 13.509 
4. Jack Eichel, Sabres — 13.540
5. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche — 13.895
6. Anthony Duclair, Senators — 14.005
7. Travis Konecny, Flyers — 14.113
8. Quinn Hughes, Canucks — 14.263

Konecny will compete for the Metropolitan Division in the All-Star Game Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, which you can live stream right here.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's All-Star weekend:

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