Patrick, Neuvirth combine to save Flyers from ugly loss

Patrick, Neuvirth combine to save Flyers from ugly loss


GLENDALE, Ariz. — A slew of fans in orange jerseys came out to Gila River Arena to support the Flyers on Saturday night.
So much so, when there were “Let’s Go Coyotes” chants, it was clear you could hear a mix of “Let’s Go Flyers.” You might as well have thought you were inside Wells Fargo Arena when the Flyers scored.
And yes, the “E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles” chant made its appearance.
The home crowd seemed to play in the Flyers' favor on Saturday night, as they were able to squeeze out a win in a shootout, 4-3, to move into third place in the Metropolitan division.
The Flyers allowed a third-period goal to ex-Flyer Zac Rinaldo to tie the game at three. Overtime passed with both teams exchanging chances back-and-forth. The Flyers got their first shootout victory of the year with goals from Voracek and the game-winner from Nolan Patrick.
The Coyotes, who currently sit in last place in the NHL standings, fell to 13-33-9 on the season.
The Coyotes entered the game having a 7-2-2 record against the Flyers in their last 11 contests. This was the second matchup of the season between the Flyers and the Coyotes. The first meeting was back at the start of the season.
Remember this, Flyers fans?
The Coyotes were winless at 0-10-1 back on October 30 and the Flyers fell 4-3 in OT.
Here are some observations from the game:

•Two huge missed opportunities from Sean Couturier and Jordan Weal raised a potential cause for concern for the last-place Coyotes early in the first period. The Coyotes surrendered three breakaways to the Flyers in the first period alone, one that arguably could have been a penalty shot.
That’s all the shine the Coyotes would get in the first period because the rest of it belonged to the Flyers. They went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.

•The Flyers' 11th ranked power-play went to work tonight. Claude Giroux was the recipient of a beautiful pass from Jakob Voracek and clocked a one-timer over Antti Raanta’s blocker. Wayne Simmonds was parked out in front of the net, per usual, and redirected a Shayne Gostisbehere shot on the other goal. The first power-play grouping had the Coyotes playing on their heels at every second.
The power play has hit their stride over the last two games for the Flyers, having gone 4-for-8.

•Chances galore for the Flyers to put this game away. Wayne Simmonds was robbed on a shot from Raanta inside three minutes left, two more chances at it by the Flyers and they still couldn’t get it home. The Flyers outshot the Coyotes in the third, 18-4.
•Both goaltenders struggled mightily with rebound control. Brian Elliott, who started in the Flyers' previous two victories over Carolina and Montreal, made 24 saves on Saturday night. But every time the Coyotes took a shot, you feared someone would be right on the doorstep to put home the loose change.
Elliott allowed two shaky goals in the first 20-plus minutes. He has normally handled his rebounds with better control. He played better in the third period, until he was forced to leave the game in the second round of the shootout after suffering a lower-body injury. Michal Neuvirth came in and went 4-for-4 and gave the Flyers the win. 
•The Flyers had been 0-4 in shootouts prior to this game. Ex-Flyer Nick Cousins got the scoring started in the shootout, but that’s all the Coyotes could get.
Patrick would score the game-winner in the seventh round and give the Flyers their 27th victory of the season.
•Luke Schenn was a scratch on Saturday night for the Coyotes. He has played in all but five games for the Coyotes this season. Schenn spent three seasons with the Flyers before being traded along with Vincent Lecavalier to the Los Angeles Kings.
•Zac Rinaldo picked up his fourth goal of the season against the team that drafted him in 2008. Rinaldo spent four seasons with the orange and black before he was traded to Boston in 2015-16.
•The Flyers wrap up their back-to-back Sunday with a mactchup against the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. on NBCSP.

Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

AP Images

Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

Samuel Morin is taking the long and winding road to the NHL, one that’s now more rugged and elongated than ever.

The Flyers confirmed Thursday that Morin tore the ACL in his right knee when his skate caught a rut on the ice in Charlotte while he was attempting to check an opponent. The injury took place in the first period of the Phantoms' epic five-overtime game against the Checkers two weeks ago.

General manager Ron Hextall told the Courier-Post's Dave Isaac that Morin is facing a nine-month recovery process and that the 6-7 defenseman is “probably out until February” as he recovers from surgery — which Morin will undergo sometime in the near future.

Morin’s 2018-19 season will now be spent rehabbing from injury and utilizing what’s left of the regular season working his way back with the Phantoms.   

The Flyers' 2013 first-round pick is also a restricted free agent after playing out the final year of his three-year entry-level contract. In the five years since he was drafted, Morin has suited up for just three NHL games. 

Expect the two sides to reach an agreement on a one- or- two-year extension rather easily since Morin doesn’t have much leverage in negotiations at this point. Since Morin signed his rookie deal at the age of 18, he also had a five-year (or 160-game) waiver exemption that has now expired.

In other words, the Flyers will no longer have the luxury of shuttling Morin back and forth from Lehigh Valley without exposing him to the rest of the league if they attempt to send him back to the minors.

The Flyers have no choice but to give Morin the necessary time to ensure he’s not only ready physically, but also that his game can be trusted at the NHL level.  

Hextall has preached patience in the deliberate development of the organization’s prospects.

Right now, Samuel Morin is the poster child for that process.

Phantoms' Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers ... yet

Flyers/USA Today Images

Phantoms' Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers ... yet

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Flyers' general manager who was able to construct an entire blue line through trades and free-agent signings was once asked, "What's the number one trait you look for out of a defenseman?"

Paul Holmgren’s response was decisive and to the point. Paraphrasing, Holmgren said, "The one who can get the puck out of his zone as quickly as possible."

As much as the game of hockey has been broken down into advanced metrics and analytics, it’s rather simple at its core. The more time a team spends in its end of the ice, the greater likelihood it'll be on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

The AHL playoffs have served as an ideal test site for Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, who have been stalwarts throughout the Phantoms' postseason run. 

However, Game 3 at the PPL Center Wednesday night further exemplified the necessary strides the Flyers' defensive prospects must take in order to develop into reliable, everyday NHL blueliners.  

Oftentimes, less is more when you have the puck in the defensive end of the ice, and it took roughly 62 seconds into the game on Sanheim’s opening shift for the 22-year-old to make a major gaffe that gave the Toronto Marlies a 1-0 lead. 

Instead of making the simple play of a quick pass up the boards, Sanheim elected to keep it, reversing his field and was suddenly stripped with the attacking forward trailing. Roughly two seconds elapsed from the moment Sanheim lost the puck to when it was behind goalie Alex Lyon in the net. 

“On that particular play, we have full possession of the puck and the opportunity to advance it," Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. "Instead, we go back behind the net to where their guy is. That’s just playing into their hands. In that situation, and in a few of our breakouts, there were opportunities to move forward with the puck and we didn’t.”   

However, the gaffes involving the Sanheim-Myers pairing didn’t stop there. Sanheim was stripped of the puck at his own blue line during the first Phantoms' power play. Myers inexcusably lost his edge skating with the puck through the neutral zone. Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson muscled his way around Sanheim to generate a quality scoring chance, and then another terrible pass and turnover inside the Phantoms' zone.

And that all came in the first seven minutes of the game. 

If Dave Hakstol had been behind the bench (he was actually watching from the PPL Center press box), Sanheim is likely sitting in front of him for the remainder of the game. That’s essentially what transpired in mid-January at the Prudential Center in New Jersey when Sanheim’s play landed him back in the minors for a month and a half. 

Chalk this up as one bad game. Game 3 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals was simply another teaching moment as the Phantoms were blown out, 5-0, falling behind 3-0 in the series. Both players will be back there together logging close to 25 minutes as the Phantoms try to avoid elimination Friday night.    

As exciting as it is to watch Sanheim and Myers generate offense within the Phantoms' system with their size and skating ability, there’s no way Hakstol and the Flyers can depend on that pairing defensively next season. Together, they’re still young, inexperienced and unreliable. 

If anything, expect the competition between Myers and Sanheim as something worth watching when Flyers camp opens in September. Myers has closed the gap in his first full season in the AHL. 

And the guy who can clean up their play defensively will likely be the one that starts next season with the Flyers.