No goals and another injury as Flyers fall to Blackhawks

No goals and another injury as Flyers fall to Blackhawks


CHICAGO — Corey Crawford was the reason behind a lack of offense.

Another injury was the reason behind the Flyers' lack of defense.

Crawford stopped all 35 shots he faced, including a handful of breakaways, as the Blackhawks shut out the Flyers, 3-0, at the United Center Wednesday night (see observations). It was the third time in the first 13 games the Flyers were unable to manufacture a single goal.

There was a Valtteri Filppula breakaway, a Travis Sanheim breakaway, a Filppula wraparound, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek had opportunities from point-blank range, and yet, the Flyers were just blanked altogether.

“I really can’t find one guy who was below the bar tonight because of effort,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We had a real good effort throughout. Offensively, we didn’t have anything to show for it, and that’s the difference in the hockey game.”

“The chances we had were quality chances. So many times the puck was just laying there and Crawford found a way to make the save,” Giroux said. “We did a good job of going to the net and getting traffic, getting rebounds and it was just hitting a glove, a skate or something.”

Sanheim, who impressed coaches with three preseason goals, was on the verge of scoring his first NHL goal in the second period when he fired a shot top left corner on Crawford, but the Blackhawks' goalie reached out with his blocker pad to make the save.

“I tried to get it off quickly,” Sanheim said. “Hopefully those bounces start going my way.” 

Every period the Flyers increased their shot total, going from eight to 12 to 15, as they battled desperately to break through with that first goal.

“The third period we had seven or eight really good scoring chances, like I said, we just didn’t have anything to show for it,” Hakstol said. “You've got to give [Crawford] credit for that.”

However, the Flyers can be faulted for helping pump some air into the Blackhawks' power play that had looked completely flat coming into the game. Chicago’s man advantage was 2 for 30 on home ice and ranked 28th overall. On the Blackhawks' fourth opportunity, they finally converted when Brian Elliott’s initial save was a rebound that wasn’t cleared and Artem Anisimov moved past Ivan Provorov for the game’s first goal (see highlights).

“You hope your guys are close enough to battle for it and clear it,” Elliott said. “It’s tough when you’re killing penalties like that. They have one extra guy and you have to figure what to cover.” 

The Flyers were forced to cover for Radko Gudas, who never returned after the first intermission following a hard hit he took from Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad, resulting in an upper-body injury. For the second time in three games, the Flyers' defense was reduced to five players, three of them rookies.

Not only have the Flyers lost three defensemen in the span of 11 days, but three veteran blueliners for a team that was already pushing the youth movement. Combined, the three rookies logged 56:20 of ice time or nearly half of the 120 minutes required of a team’s defense corps. 

“It’s not what you want to see on any team, especially your own,” Elliott said of the injuries to the defense. “We just have to battle through it. It’s just a next-man-up mentality that when one guy goes down, another one picks up the slack.”

“We have to play with those guys that we have right now," rookie Robert Hagg said. “There’s not much we can do about it. We’ll see Thursday (in St. Louis) who’s playing, and whether Gudas is back tomorrow or not.”

Gudas was dressed and standing in the hallway after the game with no residual appearance of an injury. If he can’t play in St. Louis, in all likelihood, 29-year-old Will O’Neill will be pressed into action against the Blues in what would be his NHL debut.

Notes and tidbits
• Provorov continues to log some heavy minutes. Wednesday night, Provorov was on the ice for a career-high 29:51, the second straight night he has posted a career high in ice time. That’s the most playing time in a regulation game for a Flyer with less than 100 career games played.

• Sean Couturier led the Flyers with six shots on net. It’s the third game this season in which Couturier has had six or more shots on goal. Prior to this season, Couturier had that many shots in just four of the 416 games he had played in. He’s currently on pace for 246 shots this season.

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

While the weekend felt rather subdued to Ron Hextall (see story), the Flyers still made some history of their own at the 2018 NHL draft.

The Flyers entered with nine picks and ended up making eight — none of which were used on a Canadian player, a first in the organization's history. 

Over the two-day draft, which wrapped up Saturday, the Flyers selected five American players and three Swedish players.

Let's recap the Flyers' work in Dallas:

First round, No. 14: Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, LW

Analysis: A legitimate two-way winger with a big shot and scoring mentality.

Quotable: "He's got speed. He's got skill. He can score. He's a good player and he has size in his family, so I still think there's a chance he can grow." - Hextall

First round, No. 19: Jay O'Brien, 5-11/176, C

Analysis: Some may view it as a reach, but the Flyers love O'Brien's makeup and ability.

Quotable: "He just has the traits of a hockey player. Just his timing of passes, when to shoot, when to pass. He's a really smart hockey player. He's competitive. He's strong. He's got a little agitator in him." - Hextall

Second round, No. 50: Adam Ginning, 6-4/206, D

Analysis: A stay-at-home defenseman with toughness and size.

Quotable: "We like his size. We like his upside. He’s a big guy and he moves pretty well for a big guy. He’s got solid puck skills and he has the range we need for a solid defensive defenseman." - Hextall

Fourth round, No. 112: John St. Ivany, 6-2/198, D

Analysis: A right-handed shot blueliner the Flyers wanted.

Quotable: "Good size, moves well. Kind of one of those steady-Eddie types of guys, solid with the puck. He was a good fit for our group." - Hextall

Fifth round, No. 127: Wyatte Wylie, 6-0/190, D

Analysis: Another righty blueliner that saw his draft stock shoot up in the second half of his junior season.

Quotable: "I like to describe myself as a two-way defenseman, one that can move pucks up and likes to join the play." - Wylie

Fifth round, No. 143: Samuel Ersson, 6-2/176, G

Analysis: The Flyers were not going to chase a goalie but liked the ceiling here.

Quotable: "We think there’s some upside there that hasn’t been tapped yet. We got him a lot later. Had we needed a goalie, we would have taken him a lot earlier." - Hextall

Sixth round, No. 174: Gavin Hain, 5-11/193, C

Analysis: A teammate of Farabee with bottom-six potential.

Quotable: "The NTDP itself is a hard-grooming place to play as a player, but it’s a great spot to develop." - Hain

Seventh round, No. 205: Marcus Westfalt, 6-3/203, C/LW

Analysis: An Oskar Lindblom-type prospect? Westfalt has some traits to like.

Quotable: "I like the mix that we got — three D, four forwards, a goalie. I like the mix, I like the fits. We got some good players. We got some skill up front. We got some guys in the back that complement our group with some size, some steady guys." - Hextall

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

Ron Hextall entered his fifth draft as Flyers general manager with nine selections and left Dallas making eight of them — a pretty typical draft weekend under the Hextall regime.

With Hextall as GM, the Flyers have averaged 8.4 draft picks and their eight selections this year are the second least with him steering the ship. He made six picks in his first draft in 2014.

As the offseason now shifts onto development camp and free agency, let’s break down the weekend that was for the Flyers at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

1. The overall draft class

Hextall emphasized during last week the need to restock the Flyers’ defensive pipeline and that right-handed defensemen were a “big fill” in the organization. On Day 2, he followed through.

The Flyers used their first three picks Saturday on defensemen: Adam Ginning (50th overall), John St. Ivany (112th overall) and Wyatte Wylie (127th overall). St. Ivany and Wylie are righties.

Overall, the Flyers’ draft class from Rounds 2-7 didn’t seem to blow anyone away, but with a prospect pool as deep as the Flyers, this draft wasn’t about refilling the cupboard.

What mattered most about this draft was the two first-rounders and while Jay O’Brien is a bit of a wild card, Joel Farabee was as perfect as an option the Flyers had available at No. 14 overall.

Drafts can’t be judged until three or five years down the line, so we won’t know how this overall crop will pan out. But if one of Farabee or O’Brien hit, that’s all that matters.

Farabee, especially, fits an organizational need as a quick, shoot-first natural winger.

If all goes according to plan, this draft class should be judged on the first-round picks. It’s important to find diamonds in the rough and perhaps they have. Time will tell.

But based on the Flyers’ current timetable to compete, they need at least one of these two first-rounders to turn into an impact NHL player. My money is on Farabee being just that.

2. A quiet weekend

Part of the allure of draft weekend is the constant trade speculation leading up to Round 1 and throughout the first round. Friday was a fairly quiet night in the NHL player transaction ledger.

Saturday some saw significant player movement with Ilya Kovalchuk signing with the Kings and the Flames trading Dougie Hamilton to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindblom.

But none from the Flyers. The draft is when Hextall comes out of his cage and yells, “I am Ron, hear me roar.” For Hextall, the draft is where he does his best and loudest work.

Technically, this is the first draft the Flyers didn’t make any moves of note, but that is misleading. When Philly hosted the draft in 2014, Hextall’s first, the Flyers reportedly were hot in pursuit of trading up from No. 17 overall to the top pick to draft Aaron Ekblad.

In the end, Hextall couldn’t strike his magic. Every year since he has … since now. It was a weird feeling not seeing the Flyers subject of trade rumors this weekend.

The Flyers didn’t leave Dallas without making one trade, though. Hextall reached into his bag of tricks and traded the 190th overall to the Canadiens for a seventh-rounder in 2019.

3. The growth of USA hockey on full display

For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers did not draft a Canadian-born player. Their breakdown goes as followed: Five Americans and three Swedes.

Hextall continued to add college-bound prospects Saturday with the selections of St. Ivany and Gavin Hain (sixth round, 174th overall). St. Ivany is headed to Yale and Hain, North Dakota.

Hain is also the second player the Flyers drafted from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and was Farabee’s teammate. That’s of note because they haven’t drafted a player from the USNTDP since James van Riemsdyk (No. 2 overall) in 2007. 

If the Flyers drafting no Canadians means anything, it should be viewed as the growth of USA Hockey. It was a pretty good year for the NTDP, which had 12 players drafted.

4. Too early to compare

Of the Flyers’ Day 2 picks, Marcus Westfalt may be the most intriguing.

Westfalt was the Flyers’ final selection, taken with the 205th pick. He’s a big winger described as a two-way player. His skill level doesn’t appear to be high-end, but he has potential.

It’s easy to make comparisons to Oskar Lindblom, who fell to the fifth in 2014, but it’s far too early to make that connection. Lindblom’s issue was his skating — it needed major work.

After years of working on it, Lindblom elevated his skating up a few notches. He’s by no means a great skater now, but he improved enough to make the jump to the NHL.

At the very least, Westfalt can be chalked up as an intriguing prospect to watch overseas.

5. The name game

It wouldn't be a hockey draft without an ode to great hockey names.

The Flyers got a gem of their own: Wyatte Wylie in the fifth round.

I feel like the Coyotes should have drafted him. Wylie the Coyote.

I’ll see myself out.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• If Morin doesn't pan out, is this pick the replacement?  

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• 4 thoughts from Day 1 of 2018 NHL draft

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition