Flyers

More Sean Couturier, more points before Flyers' bye

More Sean Couturier, more points before Flyers' bye

BOX SCORE

The Flyers enter their bye week on a high after defeating the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, sweeping back-to-back weekend games on home ice as they also topped St. Louis Saturday.

The Flyers improved their home record to 11-8-4. With the win, the Flyers now have 46 points, tying them with Carolina for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference heading into Sunday evening's action around the league.

Shortly after Ryan O'Reilly opened the scoring early in the second with a power-play rocket, Shayne Gostisbehere's score knotted things with his ninth of the season, as he created the turnover in the neutral zone that led to him finishing the play with the goal.

Sean Couturier stayed scorching hot with two more goals, including the game-winner on a power-play one-timer from the dot midway through the second. He then added an empty-netter to make it 3-1 in the third as the Flyers' top line center continues to lead the team with his 23 goals. 

Ivan Provorov also chipped in with an empty net goal for extra insurance.

Michal Neuvirth earned his first win since Nov. 2 as he stopped 30 of 31 shots. 

Jakub Voracek added a pair of assists, increasing his NHL-leading amount to 43.

• The second period started out just like the first with more penalties (the Flyers took two very early ones to start the game) as the Flyers committed yet another stick infraction — Andrew MacDonald for hooking — and this time, the Sabres made the Flyers' PK pay. O’Reilly found a soft spot between the four Flyers on the ice, settled in and roofed a one-time shot over Neuvirth’s shoulder for a 1-0 Sabres lead. Ideally, you want this shot blocked or the play better defended. Neuvirth was slow to react, perhaps thinking he had the near post sealed off.

• The Flyers had a quick answer after the Sabres' goal as Gostisbehere stepped up in the neutral zone and broke up Jake McCabe’s pass, which resulted in a Flyers rush. Some very selfless passing as Jori Lehtera hit Scott Laughton, who then fed it back to Ghost, who was the trailer on the play. Gostisbehere made no mistake to tie the game at 1-1. It was very important, and not just on the scoreboard as the Flyers seized the momentum from Buffalo after allowing the first goal.  

• I really liked how the Flyers changed up their look on their power-play goal in their third PP opportunity. That goal, courtesy of Couturier, gave them a 2-1 lead. With Claude Giroux moving from his usual spot on the left-side half-wall to the right side, he took a puck from Voracek and skated behind the net with all four Sabres skaters watching him. It allowed Couturier to slide in under the coverage and fire a one-timer in the opposite direction from where Sabres goalie Robin Lehner was moving.

• The Flyers come so close to a two-goal lead later in the second as Voracek came up with a slick power move along the left boards, squeezing through a pair of Sabres players, which led to a 3-on-1. Voracek connected with Wayne Simmonds, but Lehner got just enough of his glove to deny the Flyers a goal. You’d like to see Simmonds bury those types of opportunities as he hasn’t been much of a factor this season at even strength. 

• Robert Hagg nearly broke Lehner’s collarbone with a one-time slap shot from about 17 feet away as he caught Lehner in the unprotected area between the mask and his shoulder pads. Once again, it was Giroux’s vision to spot the open seam in the Sabres' defense and create the scoring chance for Hagg. 

• The Flyers gave the Sabres a power-play opportunity in the opening minute as Voracek was called for hooking. The Flyers' PK kept Buffalo’s top PP unit around the perimeter, not allowing any looks from the high-danger areas. Less than a minute after the Flyers killed off that penalty, Simmonds was whistled for a similar slashing call that he’s been guilty of several times this season.

• On the Sabres' second power play, Neuvirth robbed Sam Reinhart with the glove. A fantastic save, while at the same time, he was just a little slow reading and reacting to the pass to Reinhart. Neuvirth had to resort to his athleticism over his technique there.

• It took a while for all four lines to get an even-strength shift thanks to penalties, but Nolan Patrick had a nice look to Michael Raffl when they were able to get on the ice. But Patrick’s dish was just a little far from Raffl's outstretched stick. If current Phantom Oskar Lindblom can evolve into a real sniper, potentially paired with Patrick, that duo could be deadly for years to come.

• The Flyers' power play certainly wasn’t short on zone time in the first period, spending 1:30 of their two minutes in the Sabres' end in their one and only attempt. The Flyers were able to work it down low to Simmonds and try to work in a rebound, but they weren’t able to break the Sabres' box and with any cross-ice passing lanes, mostly working it around the outside.  

• The Flyers again came out with a sluggish opening period as they were outshot, 12-5, by the Sabres. Clearly, they never gained any momentum after they were forced to kill off that pair early of penalties, and that played a huge role in not being able to sustain consistent offensive pressure at even strength. 

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl-Valterri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Tyrell Goulbourne-Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera

Defense
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goaltending
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

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AP Images

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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JustSports Photography

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.