Flyers

Penguins 4, Flyers 1: Carter Hart finally beaten as point streak ends

Penguins 4, Flyers 1: Carter Hart finally beaten as point streak ends

BOX SCORE

The Flyers threw everything they had Monday at Penguins goaltender Matt Murray, but it just wasn’t enough.

Rookie goaltender Carter Hart saw his eight-game winning streak come to an end as the Penguins stopped the Flyers, 4-1, on South Broad.

The loss dropped the Flyers eight points back in their pursuit of the second wild-card position.

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• Clearly, Sidney Crosby’s goal was very fluky and No. 87 happened to be in the right place at the right time, but why was Crosby, the ultimate Flyers killer, left completely unattended just to the left of the crease? I would think interim head coach Scott Gordon would want someone shadowing Crosby when he’s on the ice, and especially with the puck down low behind the net.

Sean Couturier was hanging between the circles above the dots and Ivan Provorov seemed to abandon his side of the ice. Not ideal positioning if you’re looking to play defense against the Crosby line.

• If you heard very little booing in this game, it’s because the Flyers did a solid job of containing Crosby. From the moment he scored Pittsburgh’s first goal with 11:41 remaining in the first period, he didn’t have another shot attempt until 9:44 remaining in the third period — a span of almost 42 minutes. 

• A monumental gaffe came with 7:07 remaining in the second period when referee Kyle Rehman, who was standing behind the goal line and away from the play, blew the whistle prematurely as Pens goaltender Matt Murray never gloved the puck, leaving an easy rebound goal for Nolan Patrick. That would have cut the Penguins' lead to 2-1. The only reasonably logical explanation is that Rehman never saw the puck.

Personally, I think a play like that should be capable of being overturned since that fraction of a second wouldn’t have mattered in how the Penguins defended.

• I agree with Gordon's decision to hold defenseman Philippe Myers back until he has a little more practice under his belt, but I would have rather seen newly acquired Justin Bailey over Mikhail Vorobyev. Bailey is the 6-foot-4, 215-pound right winger acquired in the Taylor Leier trade. Bailey would have added some muscle and physicality you would like out of a fourth-liner. Gordon could have moved Phil Varone back to center in the process.

I haven’t liked Vorobyev’s game over the past couple of contests. He’s stopped skating again and has become more of an observer.

• Mark this down: the Flyers ripped off a franchise-record 28 shots on net in the second period and outshot the Penguins 28-8, yet were outscored in that period. It broke the previous record of 25 shots on goal set twice, most recently in February 1988.

Murray’s 28 saves were the difference for a Pittsburgh team that is now 24-0-1 when leading after two periods.

• Evgeni Malkin returned after missing the previous five games. It was Malkin’s violent high-sticking penalty against Michael Raffl that gave the Flyers a five-minute power play for the remainder of regulation. Jakub Voracek scored in the first 15 seconds, but the Flyers were unable to capitalize after that.

• Gordon switches up his lines so often you don’t exactly know what to make of it or know if it’s a knock against any one player. With his team down 2-0 in the third period, Gordon gave Raffl some ice time with Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk, while moving Travis Konecny down to the fourth line. Raffl was also on a line with Scott Laughton and JVR as he was playing hard on the forecheck, but wasn’t afforded much support from Varone or Vorobyev.

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Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

You can never have enough competition.

There will be plenty of it when training camp rolls around in September as the Flyers have a third-line job opening on the wing.

General manager Chuck Fletcher added a candidate Wednesday by signing forward Chris Stewart to an NHL pro tryout for camp.

Stewart, 31, was a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Avalanche and has played 652 career NHL games between six teams. His best season came as a 22-year-old with the Avalanche in 2009-10, when he scored 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) over 77 games. Last season, he played in the EIHL for the Nottingham Panthers, scoring 13 points (six goals, seven assists) through 23 games.

The 6-foot-2, 242-pound winger has ties to the Flyers' GM. He played parts of three seasons for Fletcher's Wild from 2014 to 2018, putting up 25 goals, 20 assists and a plus-6 rating in 146 games.

The Flyers like their options for the third-line winger vacancy. The names include Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel.

Farabee and Frost have drawn a lot of attention as young first-round draft picks coming off big seasons with Boston University (see story) and the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (see story), respectively. Rubtsov is an underrated option given his size, advanced game and positional versatility. Ratcliffe is a 6-foot-6 winger who scored 50 goals last season with the OHL's Guelph Storm, while Vorobyev saw time with the Flyers in 2018-19.

"It's more than Farabee and Frost," Fletcher said July 1. "I think Rubtsov had a tremendous prospect camp here. Ratcliffe is a quality young player. Vorobyev is a young man that we feel is going to come back next year a little bit stronger.

"There are several players down there that can play games, never mind Andreoff, who's a player that I think will make a very strong push to make our team this season. Kurtis Gabriel is a player that's played games in the NHL the past few seasons. We have a lot of options. That's what training camp is for — it's an opportunity for players to come in and show that they belong. It should be an exciting camp."

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Flyers mascot Gritty works on his dad bod at Planet Fitness

Flyers mascot Gritty works on his dad bod at Planet Fitness

Did you think Gritty was going to be satisfied with winning the NHL Fan Choice Awards honor for best mascot?

Think again.

The guy is not resting on his laurels this summer. He's training hard for 2019-20. He was seen working up a sweat Tuesday at the Planet Fitness on Christopher Columbus Boulevard.


(Picture courtesy of NBC Sports Philadelphia's Todd Berman)

Rumor has it Gritty is working on his summer abs.

Or maybe not.

Regardless, the orange fella knows how to stay in shape. He's a preparation junkie, a true gym (and rink) rat. Complacency is not in Gritty's vocabulary.

He's also not breaking glass and scaring kids, so that's a positive.

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