Flyers

Minus a goalie, Flyers treading murky water

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Minus a goalie, Flyers treading murky water

We are flooded by so many good Philadelphia sports vibes these days, it’s almost kind of weird. We’re not used to this. We don’t know what to do with it. It’s like this unheard of fog we never want to shake.

And the Flyers did their part last week to make sure the fog didn’t lift and that the good vibes kept rolling into town.

The Flyers went 3-0 last week with a frantic 2-1 OT win over the Hurricanes in Carolina on Tuesday night, a sound 5-3 victory back home over the Montreal Canadiens to cap parade day and then finished things up with a hard-fought 4-3 shootout victory in Arizona over the Coyotes on Saturday night.

Let’s continue to express our feelings in a deeper manner with this week’s Flyers observations.

• On Saturday night, the Flyers got over whatever it is about the lowly Coyotes that brings out the worst in them as they topped Arizona for the first time in four tries. And in a shootout no less. But the obvious black mark is how Brian Elliott skated gingerly off the ice during the shootout with what GM Ron Hextall is calling a lower-body injury.

A big reason for the Flyers’ success this week was the play of Elliot, a rock-solid presence in net who was clearly sorely missed in the four-game losing streak that extended across the All-Star break. He was excellent in Carolina on Tuesday with 27 saves. And then he gave the Flyers what they needed against Montreal and Arizona. Simply put, he’s been very reliable and the results have shown for the Flyers.

Conversely, Michal Neuvirth hasn’t been all that reliable this season Again, injuries have played a role, as his career arc continues to dictate. But when he’s been healthy in net, the consistency just hasn’t been there. And as the Flyers head into an important stretch with four of the next six games against teams nipping at their heels in the Metropolitan Division, they need consistency in net.

With as jumbled as things are, if Neuvirth can’t provide that this time around as Elliott is on the shelf, the Flyers could be looking up again in the standings.

• What a beautiful mess that OT was in Carolina on Tuesday night. The Flyers had no business coming out on top in that overtime session as the Hurricanes carried play, controlled the puck, skated circles around the sloppy Flyers and fired six shots on Elliott in the 4:56 played.

That sequence late where Elliott made a save and then Claude Giroux batted the puck out of the air to prevent the winner from going in behind Elliott was a wacky as it gets, but it worked.

Jordan Weal then scooted down the wing and slipped a softie past Cam Ward for the winner.

The 3-on-3 is designed to be fast-paced and action-packed, but that was a disaster that you just couldn’t take your eyes off of. And it worked.

• Remember how discombobulated the Flyers’ power play seemed prior to Thursday’s game vs. the Habs? The power play was just 3 for 30 in the previous 10 games prior to Thursday and things were not smooth, to say the least.

Enter a scoop of the perfect medicine, the Montreal PK, a unit that entered Sunday ranked 25th in the league and surrendered power-play goals to Giroux, in his office at the dot, and Jake Voracek, who whistled one off Carey Price’s ear on Thursday.

The power play struck two more times in the desert on Saturday courtesy of Giroux and Wayne Simmonds.

When this power play is clicking, it can carry the Flyers. With questions looming in net, the power play is going to come more in focus as the Flyers may find themselves in offensive barnburners more often than not. If the last two games are any indication, that’ll be just fine. But we know how streaky this power play is and things can turn sour again in the blink of an eye.

• Ok, so maybe I’m thinking too much into this, but I was watching the shootout in Arizona on Saturday night and it just seems like most of the Flyers’ shootout attempts are missing something. It’s like they struggle to get the goalie moving and then have no option but to shoot right into him.

I watch other teams’ shootouts and their shooters are getting the goalies shifting around the crease. So many times, the Flyers have nothing to shoot at because the goalie isn’t moving.

Am I crazy?

• Seriously, though… let’s take a peek at the Metropolitan Division standings. There are so many cooks in the kitchen right now. Washington is ahead of the pack with 69 points. After Pittsburgh won Sunday afternoon, the Penguins are second in line with 66 points. Prior to Sunday night’s contest in Vegas, the Flyers check in at third with 63 points. And then there’s New Jersey (62 points) and Carolina (61 points) in the wild-card spots. And Columbus and both New York teams are lurking just behind.

The Flyers just happen to play the Devils, Blue Jackets and Rangers in four of the next six games. Those are eight critical points on the table for all those teams.

Yes, these games have incredible importance and the pressure is on because heading south could happen quickly. But on the other hand, destiny is in your hands. And that’s true for the Flyers here.

Coming up this week: Sunday at Vegas (8 p.m. on NBCSP), Tuesday vs. New Jersey (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Friday at Columbus (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Sunday at the New York Rangers (12 p.m. on NBC).

2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

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2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

We began our 2018 NHL draft position previews with a look at the top draft-eligible centers. This draft is top-heavy at wing and defense. We continue our previews with a look at left wingers.

Filip Zadina, 6-0/195, Halifax (QMJHL)
Zadina, who finished as the third-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, led all QMJHL rookies and was tied for seventh among all players in 2017-18 with 82 points. He won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league’s best professional prospect. Playing for the Czech Republic, Zadina was named to the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship All-Star team, scoring eight points in seven games. Hard-working winger with an elite shot, future top-liner.

Draft projection: Top three

Brady Tkachuk, 6-3/196, Boston University (NCAA)
The son of USA Hockey Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk and brother of Matthew Tkachuk (Flames), Brady Tkachuk checks in as the second-best North American skater by Central Scouting. Had eight goals and 31 points in 40 games during his freshman season at Boston University and added three goals and nine points in seven games during the world juniors. He plays a physical game much like his dad and brother but has a little more finesse to it.

Draft projection: Top five

Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, USNTDP
Farabee finished as the 12th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Possesses excellent speed and a strong shot and plays an effective two-way game. A little undersized but the game has changed, so that shouldn’t be a major issue. He had 15 goals and 40 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL in 2017-18, and 33 goals and 76 points in 64 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 10-18

Grigori Denisenko, 5-11/176, Yarolsavl Jr (Russia)
Denisenko saw a three-spot drop from the Central Scouting midterm rankings to the final, finishing as the seventh-best European skater. He’s gifted with the puck and makes plays, but he has a bit of a reputation as an inconsistent player. The Russian factor may scare teams away. Had nine goals and 22 points in 31 games in the MHL and played four games in the KHL playoffs. On talent alone, Denisenko is among the best in this year’s class.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Blake McLaughlin, 6-0/162, Chicago (USHL)
McLaughlin checks in as the 24th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Another American prospect among the top draft-eligible left wingers, McLaughlin’s best attribute is his shot, though he’s an excellent skater. He finished the 2017-18 season with the Chicago Steel as nearly a point-per-game player, scoring 23 goals and 52 points in 54 games. He’s headed to the University of Minnesota in the fall. Could squeak into late first round but probably a second-rounder.

Draft projection: Early second round

NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

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NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

Philadelphia, PA (May 18, 2018) — NBC Sports Philadelphia announced today the network will air the American Hockey League Eastern Conference Finals games featuring the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Toronto Marlies. Games Three through Five will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 7 p.m.
 
May 23 - Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 3 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 25** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 4 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 26*** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 5 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+, *if necessary
 
** Philadelphia Soul will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

*** The Philadelphia Phillies game will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia, regardless if there is a Game 5 or not.

Atlantic Division Champions for the 2017-18 season, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face off against the Toronto Marlies, AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The winner of the best-of-seven series will then advance to the 2018 Calder Cup Finals. After posting the AHL’s second-most wins (47) and second-most standings points (105), the top-seeded Phantoms eliminated the Providence Bruins in four games (3-1) in the opening round before defeating the Charlotte Checkers in five games (4-1) in the Atlantic Division Finals — a series which included the historic longest game in AHL history.