Flyers

Nolan Patrick returns for Flyers after 9-game absence

Nolan Patrick returns for Flyers after 9-game absence

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol confirmed after Thursday's morning skate that rookie Nolan Patrick will return to the lineup in his hometown when the Flyers take on the Jets at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg (8 p.m./NBCSP).

“Obviously it will be pretty exciting playing in front of a lot of family and friends,” said Patrick, who put on a pretty good poker face and never expressed any emotion or obvious enthusiasm about returning to game action just down the road from where he grew up. 

A handful of Flyers did not participate in the optional morning skate and Hakstol hasn’t put his team through line rushes over the past two days, and wouldn’t give an indication what line Patrick will be on or who he’ll skate with.

“I’m sure it’s been a learning experience for him, but he’s handled things very well,” Hakstol said. “He’s got good poise in all situations. Obviously being challenged with an injury early on isn’t ideal, but it’s another learning experience that a player has to handle well.”

Patrick has missed the previous nine games dealing with suspected concussion symptoms, dating back to the Flyers' game against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 24, and has gradually ramped up his practice routine over the past week. Last Thursday, Patrick skated with assistant coach Ian Laperriere and then went through a hard bag skate on consecutive days before rejoining his teammates on Monday.

“That’s something that I need to produce more when I get back," Patrick said. "My last couple of games before I got hurt I didn’t think I played really well. I’ll just try and get into a rhythm as fast I can when I get back.” 

“I thought there were a few games before the injury that he was starting to make a lot of plays in some tight areas in key situations,” Hakstol said. “Those were positives for me in the way he was growing on the offensive side of the game.”

With Patrick returning to the lineup, here’s how the Flyers' lineup might look against the Jets:

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Valtteri Filppula-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

No Mase to face
Former Flyers netminder Steve Mason will watch tonight’s game on the bench, backing up starter Connor Hellebuyck, who has clearly been Winnipeg’s better goaltender over the first month of the season. 

“I was looking forward to [this game],” Mason said. “Obviously, that’s not the case. We’ve got one more game against you guys later in the year, so maybe I’ll get the one back in Philly.”

Mason signed a two-year, $8.2 million contract with Winnipeg in the offseason and was brought in as the No. 1 goaltender, but he got off to a rocky start in his new surroundings as he surrendered 11 goals in his first two starts and has appeared in just four games since. He finally earned his first win in a Jets sweater this past Saturday when they beat the Coyotes in Arizona, 4-1.

“I played behind a team for five years and you get used to guys' tendencies and here you had to learn an entirely new group of guys," Mason said. "We have Tyler Myers, who’s just a towering defenseman and that alone is an adjustment to learn how to fight to look through him. You go from being comfortable playing behind a group of guys and you’re starting from scratch and that’s a little more difficult than I envisioned being.”

Mason’s only other opportunity to face his old teammates will come on March 10, when the Jets make their only visit to Philadelphia.

“I’m just looking forward to going back to Philly," Mason said. "I thoroughly enjoyed my time from start to finish. There were some good times and some bad times, but overall I look back on it with great memories. I always enjoyed playing in front of the fans, whether I get that start later in the year, it will be fun to go back there and play again.”

Flyers 6, Panthers 5 (SO): Jordan Weal saves the day in bizarre 1st home win

Flyers 6, Panthers 5 (SO): Jordan Weal saves the day in bizarre 1st home win

BOX SCORE

The third time was a shootout charm for the Flyers.

Behind two goals from Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux and shootout goals from Jakub Voracek and Jordan Weal, the Flyers defeated the Panthers, 6-5, Tuesday for their first win on home ice.

Which unexpected defenseman stepped up in a big way and what do you make of Dave Hakstol switching goalies with the Flyers leading by a goal in the third period? Observations from the Flyers' win at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Good to see Weal finally pick up his first goal of the season on a tip-in shot from Robert Hagg at the point. Just Weal’s second goal in his last 25 regular-season games. The difference I saw in Weal is he didn’t try to do too much, especially from a stick-handling standpoint. The dilemma facing Hakstol once Nolan Patrick returns is where does Weal go? I’m ready to sit Mikhail Vorobyev, who has been a complete non-factor over his past four games.

• You have to give Hakstol some credit for making a minor tweak to his lines, moving Scott Laughton to center and moving Michael Raffl up with Simmonds. They opened the scoring on their first shift as Laughton and Raffl won a series of board battles, and although they didn’t get credit on the scoresheet, those two forwards made the entire play possible and gave the Flyers their first goal of the game.

• I have to believe defenseman Andrew MacDonald is dealing with some sort of reoccurring injury as he told me last Friday that he came back too soon. MacDonald wasn’t out during warmups as Christian Folin took MacDonald's spot in the lineup. It was Folin who had a beautiful cross-ice lob pass to Laughton at the Panthers' blue line that led to a 2-on-1 and Simmonds' second goal of the game. Folin was considerably better than his first game in Colorado and was a plus-4 through two periods.

• It’s so impressive to watch Shayne Gostisbehere and the confidence he has to pull off high-risk plays. The highlight move from this game was when "Ghost" went to his knees to break up a Panthers breakout play from just outside the Florida zone. As he took control of the puck, Gostisbehere stick-handled his way around the defense and saucered a backhanded pass to Simmonds for the goal. It was an all-around thing of beauty from the Flyers' defenseman.

• The Flyers were completely outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. The Panthers' second line of Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman was the most dominant line and controlled the play. Eventually, the Flyers yielded the first goal for the sixth straight game as Frank Vatrano took a sharp-angled shot that somehow beat Brian Elliott. I think Elliott felt he had the bottom half of the ice covered, but he clearly did not. The Panthers outshot the Flyers, 13-5, in the first period.

• Even though the Evgenii Dadonov goal was the result of a defensive breakdown, it was interesting to see Hakstol pull Elliott in favor of Calvin Pickard, who was victimized by Aleksander Barkov on a breakaway and the game-tying 5-5 goal. The Panthers scored three goals in a span of 10:36. Barkov just breezed around Radko Gudas to break in uncontested. The Elliott decision is more of a reflection of the team’s overall play, but certainly, the Flyers' goalie can’t be happy.

• Even the best players can look awful. Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, had a horrendous turnover that saw Giroux swoop in and fire a shot that beat Panthers netminder Michael Hutchinson. In all, the Flyers scored five second-period goals in a span of 17:03.

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Flyers vs. Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Updated: 6:41 p.m.

The Flyers are still looking for their first home win of the season.

They'll go for it in their third game at the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers (2-3-0) host the Panthers (0-2-1).

Let's look at some notables before puck drop:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App

• The Flyers have not gone winless over their first three home games since 2014-15, when they started 0-1-2 at the Wells Fargo Center. Meanwhile, in franchise history, they've never started 0-3-0 at home, something they'll try to avoid tonight.

• While the Flyers were embarrassed in their home opener with an 8-2 loss, they liked their effort in a 1-0 defeat to the Golden Knights last Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. And they should. The Flyers outplayed Vegas, except its goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made four jaw-dropping saves.

If they continue to play that well defensively and then cash in on a few of those scoring chances, they'll win most nights with that effort.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol was adamant about the performance postgame:

You don't get moral points for a loss but we played a hell of a hockey game tonight. There's not much there I want to change.

It hurts like hell to walk out of this game with nothing.

• The Flyers have a new face available in center Corban Knight, who was activated Tuesday from his injured non-roster status. Knight will we wear No. 10 but it's uncertain if he'll insert the lineup tonight. Don't expect it given the practice lines Monday and Hakstol liking what he saw last Saturday. 

• Brian Elliott is 6-3-0 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 10 career games against the Panthers. He has quietly been good through four starts, although his numbers (1-3-0, 3.80 GAA, .883 save percentage) won't say it because they've been marred by the home opener, a result that was not a by-product of his play (see story).

• The Panthers are looking for their first win of 2018-19. They are 0 for 12 on the power play and have not won in Philadelphia since Dec. 18, 2014.

• Hey, it's Jakub Voracek Chia Pet night (see story).

Projected lineup

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Jordan Weal-Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton-Mikhail Vorobyev-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Christian Folin
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Calvin Pickard

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