Flyers

Devils 3, Flyers 2: Failure to climb out of last place

Devils 3, Flyers 2: Failure to climb out of last place

BOX SCORE

A win followed by a lethargic loss.

Looking to make some kind of run after snapping an eight-game winless streak, the Flyers got back to status quo Saturday with a 3-2 loss to the Devils at the Prudential Center.

The Flyers (16-23-6), in last place since New Year's Day, have won consecutive games just once since mid-November. They've lost their last two matchups with the Devils (17-20-7) by a combined score of 6-2, a team tussling with them for the basement in the Metropolitan Division.

• The Flyers didn't have much energy at all and that's disappointing. They're coming off a win (finally), they're playing a divisional game with a chance to jump a team in the standings and they looked like they had little to give for most of the game.

They pushed hard in the third period but that has been the typical too-little, too-late theme for the Flyers this season. An early Saturday afternoon puck drop in New Jersey is no excuse — we should have seen more effort and enthusiasm.

At one point, the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast showed the Flyers' front office brass in attendance — president Paul Holmgren, general manager Chuck Fletcher, senior vice president Bob Clarke, senior advisor Dean Lombardi and assistant general manager Brent Flahr, just to name some. The group couldn't have been too pleased.

• The Flyers misfired and misfired all game, going 0 for 3 on the power play. They had 34 shots overall, but many weren't quality looks.

• Both Carter Hart and Mackenzie Blackwood were playing their ninth career games.

Hart, who entered 1-1-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .943 save percentage over his last three games, made 23 saves in the loss. The play in front was shoddy throughout and Hart was under siege from the puck drop, making five saves in the opening 1:32. On the Devils' third goal, he couldn't find a bouncing rebound to his right in the crease. He wasn't great but wasn't the problem, either.

Blackwood came in on a tear with a 3-1-0 mark, 1.65 goals-against average and .954 save percentage in his past five games. He kept things going by stopping 32 shots.

• At times, Travis Sanheim struggles away from the puck or gets outmuscled. He's typically strong with the puck because he's skilled, but he looked uncomfortable when Nico Hischier pressured him in the neutral zone. 

Five minutes into the second period, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick stripped Sanheim of the puck and took it the other way for a breakaway goal, beating Hart five-hole to give the Devils a two-goal lead.

Hischier owns three goals and six points in six career games against the Flyers. He, of course, was drafted a spot ahead of the Flyers at No. 2, where the Flyers snagged Nolan Patrick. The 20-year-old has a goal in seven career games against New Jersey.

• The Flyers looked sleepy in the first period and an inexcusable failed clear resulted in the Devils' game-opening goal. After Pavel Zacha skated in easily for a shot on Hart, the puck sat behind the net and no Flyer went after it as Phil Varone drifted away.

Because of that, the Devils ended up keeping the puck in the offensive zone and Damon Severson scored 13 seconds later for a 1-0 lead.

• Back in November, Jakub Voracek raved about James van Riemsdyk's hands.

"He's got really, really soft hands and he's got a really good touch," Voracek said. "He can make the plays out of nothing, which is really important. He can raise the puck under the bar from impossible angles."

Just like Voracek said, we saw van Riemsdyk impressively raise the puck on a nifty breakaway goal, his second in as many games.

This was a glimpse of van Riemsdyk's skill.

It was one of the only highlights for the Flyers as Sean Couturier scored with two seconds left in regulation.

• The Flyers return to action Monday when they face the Wild (7 p.m./NBCSP), who Fletcher general managed from 2009 to 2018.

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Nolan Patrick still believes he will play this season but time on return remains unclear

Nolan Patrick still believes he will play this season but time on return remains unclear

The trade deadline is quickly approaching for the NHL and around this time, it’s important to have a general understanding of what the roster would look like heading into the final stretch of the season. When the Flyers are in the tightest division in the league, that need is amplified. While things for the most part seem stable, the clear level of uncertainty with Nolan Patrick still resides and remains unknown.

Not much has changed since the news of Patrick’s migraine disorder in late September — but the 21-year-old remains hopeful moving forward.

What’s different now, is the fact Patrick is back on the ice with his teammates and it appears to be happening consistently. Even though he is not cleared for contact just yet, the simple element of him skating with the team has had quite an effect on the center.

“For the mental side of things, it’s way nicer to be around your teammates,” Patrick told reporters following Monday’s practice. “Obviously, it’s been a lot of fun to come back. It’s fun for me to just be around the guys.”

Patrick has also had discussions with other players who have dealt with similar things, which has also seemed to help him.

“It’s tough being alone,” Patrick said. “Being by yourself throughout the process and not being around the team.”

This is something that clearly differs from a physical body injury — such as a broken bone, or a muscle strain. With those injuries comes an indication of when a player could possibly return. With Patrick’s case, it’s an ongoing process. And though it seems like progress is being made, there’s still no light and the end of the tunnel.

“It hasn’t been a fast process,” said Patrick. “It’s not like one day I just wake up and it’s a crazy difference, this whole process. I don’t have a timetable, and when I do, you guys will know.”

There’s clear frustration from Patrick, who just wants to be able to help his team. And even once he receives the go-ahead to be cleared for contact, there are multiple steps that need to be taken before he’s game ready. Patrick, his doctors and the team have made sure to take their time with things — there’s no reason to rush it now when there’s steady progress and the team currently holds a playoff spot.

After he’s cleared for contact, a conditioning stint with the AHL affiliate team, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, would be the next step.

“If I were you, I would only get excited about Nolan being around us once he gets sent to Lehigh Valley,” head coach Alain Vigneault said Monday. “Because that means that he’s getting close. Lehigh Valley means that he’s going down there for conditioning, to get some games in.”  

Does Vigneault believe Patrick is close to heading to Allentown for said stint?

“I have no idea.”

Luckily for the Flyers, the combination of youth and veteran players have solidified quite the lineup and were able to fill what in previous years, would have been quite a significant gap, if any top player were out.

While having Patrick back would add even more depth down the middle for the Flyers, they’ve found a way to make it work until that discussion becomes tangible. Take that as a win-win on both ends of things, as this relieves the pressure off of Patrick, so he can focus on what needs to be done in order to get back to game-ready.

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Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers didn't bring their A-game to a game they needed it.

There would be no giant killing Saturday as the Flyers lost to the Lightning, 5-3, at Amalie Arena.

Goals from Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux weren't enough for the Flyers (32-20-7), who are 6-3-2 against the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Penguins and Blues, the league's top five clubs.

Tampa Bay is the only one the Flyers haven't beaten. They'll get a final crack at the Lightning on March 12 in the same building.

The Lightning (39-15-5) have won 10 straight games.

• This really wasn't a bad loss for the Flyers.

They were at the end of a road trip and playing the NHL's hottest team. Tampa Bay is 22-2-1 over its last 25 games and hasn't lost at home since Dec. 19.

The Flyers entered Saturday with a 66.9 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com, and still hold an Eastern Conference wild-card spot (see standings).

Alain Vigneault's team just needs to recharge and be ready for a big home-and-home set against the Blue Jackets next week.

• Things got chippy in the second period. Travis Konecny was right in the middle of it all.

Steven Stamkos appeared to trip Giroux before a faceoff. Giroux didn't even look to be that mad about it.

During the final 6:09 of the middle frame, 22 penalty minutes were accrued.

• Brayden Point (10-game point streak) is good at hockey.

• Carter Hart, who was coming off his first road victory since Nov. 10, allowed four goals on 23 shots.

The 21-year-old wasn't the problem.

The first goal was a fluky one by Alex Killorn. On the second, Provorov was sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone and Tampa Bay capitalized to take a 2-0 lead into first intermission.

In the middle stanza, the Lightning beat Hart on a 3-on-2 to grab a commanding 3-0 advantage. Tampa Bay improved to 33-4-3 when it scores three or more goals.

Not only are the Lightning really good, but the Flyers also didn't play their typical forechecking, possession-based game until it was too late.

• Outside of the van Riemsdyk's third-period goal, Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong with 30 saves, 15 of which came in the final stanza. 

Vasilevskiy improved to 18-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage over his last 19 starts.

• Provorov was far from his best against Tampa Bay but he did score the Flyers' first goal to trim the Lightning's lead to 3-1 in the second period. He also had an assist.

The 23-year-old has grown into a power play quarterback this season. He leads all NHL defensemen with seven man advantage goals after scoring only two over his first three NHL seasons.

• Travis Sanheim played 19:43 minutes Saturday after missing almost the entire third period of Thursday's 6-2 win over the Panthers because of a lower-body issue.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey and host the Blue Jackets Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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