Flyers

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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Gritty all over the place, funny Penguins moments as Flyers roll their rival in NHL 20

Gritty all over the place, funny Penguins moments as Flyers roll their rival in NHL 20

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, which has suspended the 2019-20 NHL season, the Flyers did not get a chance to beat the Penguins last Sunday in Philadelphia.

They did, however, dominate them on NHL 20 Thursday night as NBC Sports Philadelphia aired a simulation with the great trio of Jim Jackson, Keith Jones and Taryn Hatcher on the call.

The Flyers never trailed in beating Pittsburgh, 6-4, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Michael Raffl led the way with a pair of first-period goals. Kevin Hayes (one goal, one assist), James van Riemsdyk (one goal, one assist), Matt Niskanen (two assists), Travis Sanheim (two assists) and Nate Thompson (two assists) all had multi-point games.

Oh, and Gritty enjoyed the win. So did Claude Giroux.


Raffl's goals were massive in setting the tone during the opening 20 minutes. Despite allowing four markers, Carter Hart made a ton of timely saves, especially in the first period.

On Raffl's first goal, Penguins forward Conor Sheary got stuck right in the middle of the Flyers' celebration. Poor guy.

On Raffl's second goal, Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues tripped right over his goalie Matt Murray as the Flyers were celebrating.


A big storyline in the Flyers' win was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being held to no goals.

As you can see, there were some daring Penguins fans in attendance. We have a strong feeling they were welcomed kindly by Flyers fans.

Just like in real life, the Flyers were very defensive of the 21-year-old Hart. Get close to the kid, you've got problems.


Tyler Pitlick added clutch secondary scoring during the second period to give the Flyers a 3-1 edge.

Gritty, with the neck of an owl, enjoyed his view in the middle stanza.

"He's always got a good spot," Jackson said.

"He's usually got some popcorn to dump on a Penguins fan's head," Jones said.

Unfortunately, that did not happen (let's be real, it probably did).

Justin Braun, Hayes and van Riemsdyk (empty-netter) tallied goals in the final stanza to seal the Flyers' win. 

The Penguins' goals came from Brandon Tanev, Patric Hornqvist, Teddy Blueger and Marcus Pettersson.

That's not going to do it against this 2019-20 Flyers team, which has dominated in Philadelphia.

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Kevin Hayes offers the quarantine goods — and misses what Flyers had cooking before 2019-20 NHL stoppage

Kevin Hayes offers the quarantine goods — and misses what Flyers had cooking before 2019-20 NHL stoppage

With the 2019-20 NHL season on pause because of the coronavirus outbreak, Kevin Hayes has returned home like most of his Flyers teammates.

Hayes is around his family in Boston. One of his three sisters is pregnant, "so she's kind of the queen of making sure everyone is doing the right things," Hayes said on a conference call Thursday.

Always upbeat and optimistic, the 27-year-old center is trying to find positives during this unexpected time for not only the hockey community, but also the entire world. 

“No matter how much anyone in the league says they miss the game, it’s a lot more important to figure out what’s going with our society right now," Hayes said.

“It’s crazy, this situation has never happened before. I miss going to the rink every day, seeing the guys, seeing the coaches, being able to go out and play against other teams and play in front of our fans.”

Some good things for Hayes during this stoppage:

He has a peloton bike and can also work out at the gym in the nearby living unit of his good friend.

He enjoyed a "hilarious" picture on Snapchat from Michael Raffl in which the 31-year-old Austrian showed off his freshly shaved head.

"We've been kind of giving it to him, but I don't think he's too concerned because he lives in Austria," Hayes said, "he's not going to see anyone for a couple of months."

And Hayes also picked up an old and new hobby.

"I became a gamer again," Hayes said. "I hadn't played Xbox in three years and now I'm slowly addicted to playing 'Call of Duty,' so that's somewhat of a positive and I started cooking for the first time in my life."

What the Flyers had cooking in his first season of a seven-year, $50 million deal, has made his new hobby bittersweet. With 13 games left on their 2019-20 schedule, the Flyers are one point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals and hold the NHL's sixth-most points at 89. Last season, before Hayes' arrival, the Flyers endured a tumultuous year and finished with 82 points, their fewest over a full season since 2006-07.

In Year 1 with Hayes and head coach Alain Vigneault, the Flyers were rolling before the league was forced to suspend the season on March 12.

The new-look Flyers don't know if they'll be able to finish what they started.

“It sucks because you play this game, you build friendships, you build memories, you build moments where you want to go for the Stanley Cup," Hayes said. "I think our team had come together in a great way and we were really playing for one another and everyone was buying into the system that A.V. put together. And now there’s a possibility that we’ll never see the outcome of that. … I assume that we’re going to be this good all the time, but who knows if we’re going to have this feeling again.

“We were definitely feeling ourselves for a little bit, we had some good swagger, we had some good confidence. We weren’t overconfident, but I thought our leadership group set a standard. … Everyone on our team brings their own leadership into that locker room.”

Hayes has become one of the club's leaders. With time and winning, he endeared himself to the leadership group of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier.

“When I first got there, I wasn’t really nervous, I was just cognizant of how loud to be, how much to talk because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes," Hayes said. "Giroux, Voracek, Couturier, it’s been there team for a while. … I just wanted to feel how they acted and follow their lead, but I would say it took about two weeks until they were probably annoyed with me at the beginning with how much I talked and how much I joked around, but I think they kind of liked it and I still think they like it, so I think it’s working.”

Hayes and the Flyers have something working in Philly. Even if it's on hold for now.

"People were telling me that the fans are hard and the fans are tough on you," Hayes said, "but they're just as passionate as we are.

"The fans have been through the good and the bad times with the Flyers. And hopefully good times in the future." 

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