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.”

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

terry_wilson_ohl_images_andrei_svechnikov.jpg
Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

We’ve looked at the top draft-eligible centers and left wingers. Up next, right wingers. On Sunday, we’ll look at the top defensemen before moving into the best fits for the Flyers.

Andrei Svechnikov, 6-2/188, Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is head and shoulders atop the forward prospects in this year’s draft class. He began the year as the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and ended there as well. Finished with 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games this season with Barrie, tops among rookie OHLers. His 1.64 points per game average was best among rookies and fifth in all of the OHL. His brother, Evgeny Svechnikov, was the 19th overall pick by the Red Wings in 2015.

Draft projection: No. 2 overall

Oliver Wahlstrom, 6-1/205, USNTDP
Wahlstrom finished as the seventh-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. The American can play both center and right wing but projects to at least begin his career on the wing. He plays a power forward game with impressive puck skills. He registered 40 goals and 83 points in 54 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and 22 goals and 45 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL. The 17-year-old is committed to play college hockey at Harvard University in the fall.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Vitali Kravtsov, 6-2/170, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Kravtsov, who models his game after Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov, finished as the third-best European skater by Central Scouting, a seven-spot climb from the midterm rankings. Had a strong postseason for Chelyabinsk, recording six goals and 11 points in 16 games and was named the best rookie for each of the first three rounds. He’s a shifty forward with high-end speed.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Serron Noel, 6-5/205, Oshawa (OHL)
The Generals winger took an enormous leap in his second OHL campaign, going from 21 points in 63 games in 2016-17 to 53 points in 62 games in 2017-18. Noel finished as the 10th-rated North American skater by Central Skating, a one-spot drop from the midterm rankings. He has a lot of raw talent and has natural size and strength. He’s improved his skating, which has helped his case throughout his draft year. Has drawn comparisons to Jets captain Blake Wheeler. A high-upside prospect with top-line potential.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Martin Kaut, 6-2/170, Pardubice (Czech)
Kaut’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships performance helped put the winger on the radar. The Czech winger jumped from the 11th-rated European skater by Central Scouting in the midterm rankings to the fourth-best in the final rankings. Had seven points in seven games playing for the Czech Republic at the world juniors. Had nine goals and 16 points in 38 games for Pardubice in 2017-18. An effective two-way player with good playmaking ability.

Draft projection: Late first, early second round

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

justsports-photography-travis-sanheim-phantoms-2.jpg
JustSports Photography

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

Flyers fans still have some hockey to watch.

Some of the organization's brightest prospects will be competing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from Wednesday into the weekend as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue their AHL playoff run in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Phantoms trail the Toronto Marlies, 2-0, with the series now shifting to the PPL Center for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).

What should Flyers fans know?

Let's get into it:

1. When to watch
Game 3 is tonight at 7:05 p.m. Game 4 follows Friday at 7:05 p.m. with Game 5 (if needed) Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

2. Where to watch
All three games will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. For which channel in your area, click here.

3. Who to watch
• Defenseman Travis Sanheim returned from a four-game absence (knee injury) to play in the first two games of this series. The 2014 first-round pick had 16 points in 18 regular-season games with Lehigh Valley. When he rejoined the Flyers on March 10, he was a plus-4 over 14 games to help the big club clinch a playoff berth. "When Sanny got back up, I thought Sanny was unbelievable," Wayne Simmonds said last month.

• Winger Oskar Lindblom went scoreless in Games 1 and 2 but has seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine playoff games. He played 23 games with the Flyers this season and impressed alongside Nolan Patrick. The 21-year-old is a building block and the goal will be to make the Flyers out of training camp in the fall.

• Everybody knows Alex Lyon now after his Herculean effort during the semifinals in which he made 94 saves for a five-overtime victory. He's been superb through the postseason, recording a 1.84 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in nine games. It's been a timely stretch for him ahead of an important offseason

• Defenseman Philippe Myers is another exciting piece to the Flyers' future on the blue line. The 21-year-old is 6-foot-5 and developing but fought through injuries in 2017-18. He's making up for some of those tough times with seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 postseason games.

• Don't forget about Mike Vecchione, a hard-working forward who will be in the picture next season. The 25-year-old put up 40 points in his first year pro and has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 playoff games.

4. However …
You won't see touted prospects Morgan Frost and Carter Hart.

With their junior campaigns coming to an end recently, both have joined the Phantoms but are not expected to play; they're simply there for the exposure.

5. This and that
• Lehigh Valley won an AHL-most 27 games at home during the regular season, losing just six times in regulation.

• Toronto is 2-2-0 on the road in the postseason compared to 7-0-0 at home.

• Chris Conner, 34, leads the Phantoms in the playoffs with five goals and nine points.

• Lehigh Valley has allowed a league-high 43 power-play opportunities during the postseason, while Toronto has gone on a league-high 55 man advantages.

• Defenseman Samuel Morin is out for the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury that is requiring surgery, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi.