Flyers

It sure sounds like Penguins were wary of Carey Price in a 3-game series, but can you blame them?

It sure sounds like Penguins were wary of Carey Price in a 3-game series, but can you blame them?

Updated: 11 p.m.

Carey Price has become a big topic of discussion with this potential 24-team playoff setup as the NHL looks for the best way to finish the 2019-20 season.

So much so that the fear of the Canadiens' goalie apparently curtailed the idea of the play-in round being held as best-of-three series.

Montreal is projected to be a lower seed and would not make the postseason if the league used its regular 16-team format. Price, a six-time All-Star and 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner, makes the 31-31-9 Canadiens a scary opening matchup, particularly in a short series because he has the capability of stealing a few games simply by himself.

That would end a team's season in a best-of-three fashion.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said Friday on 590 The FAN's Lead Off with Mike Zigomanis and Scott MacArthur that the NHLPA pushed back on the best-of-three play-in idea. Now, the play-in round for the 24-team tournament looks to have a best-of-five format.

The reasoning has a Penguins twist. In the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh is the No. 5 seed, slotted to face the 12th-seeded Canadiens.

Let's make no mistake about it, one of the reasons, the league initially suggested this play-in round be two out of three and the players said no way," Friedman said. "They felt it was not acceptable enough for the teams that had a better regular season, and Pittsburgh looked at its matchup and it said, ‘You know, two out of three against Carey Price is not fair for a team that had zero percentage points to play in the playoffs.’

"I saw some debate online. That's what social media is for — to rage at each other. People are saying, 'Carey Price sucks, his numbers are terrible, people are stupid for thinking about that.' Man, if the players feel that way, the players feel that way. He's the guy they've got to shoot against and they clearly believe that he is a difference-maker.

Very interesting.

This season, the 32-year-old Price is 27-25-6 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. However, he has been regarded as one of the league's best goalies over the last decade, a guy that has often carried the Canadiens. In three meetings with the Penguins this season, Price went 1-1-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

Overall, it sounds like most were not too fond about the possibility of a contending team being ousted for only two bad games against what was originally a non-playoff club.

That's a valid point.

Were the Penguins — the three-time Stanley Cup champs since 2009 — leading that charge, though, just because Price was on the other side of their matchup?

It makes you think. It's also hard to blame them for whistling that scenario.

The Flyers can at least smile knowing if they see Mr. Price, they'll get seven tries to beat him four times.

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Source: Former Flyers prospect Wyatt Kalynuk to sign with Blackhawks

Source: Former Flyers prospect Wyatt Kalynuk to sign with Blackhawks

The Flyers' depth and prospects on the blue line make up an organizational strength.

In this one instance, that organizational strength probably didn't help the Flyers.

Wyatt Kalynuk, a prospect the Flyers lost exclusive rights to last month, will sign with the Blackhawks, a source confirmed Monday night.

The Athletic's Mark Lazerus first reported the news.

The 23-year-old defenseman is a skilled skater and puck mover out of Wisconsin. Kalynuk was a 2017 seventh-round draft pick of the Flyers, when Ron Hextall was general manager and Chris Pryor was director of player personnel. In three years with the Badgers, the 6-foot-1, 189-pound Kalynuk developed into an offensive-minded, push-the-envelope blueliner.

"He’s got special offensive ability that other defensemen don’t have," Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato said in March. "He’s confident, his skating ability allows him to be able to have opportunities offensively that other players won’t have and he can beat the first forechecker.

“He was our go-to offensive defenseman, he got the most minutes on the power play, he was the guy we wanted the puck to go through. He’s an elite offensive defenseman that has the ability to run a power play. We asked a lot of him."

The Flyers are pretty deep and young on the blue line, which we noted would likely factor into Kalynuk's decision. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and Mark Friedman are all 25 years old or younger. And then there are prospects Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie and Linus Hogberg, all three of whom are turning pro in 2020-21, while 2019 first-round pick Cam York isn't far behind.

The Flyers certainly were open to signing Kalynuk; they didn't want to lose him as he has grown into a defenseman with NHL potential, a prospect that suits their style at the position. But he was an older seventh-round pick who developed and earned himself options at the pro level. The Flyers were an option with noticeable depth at Kalynuk's position.

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2020 NHL playoffs: Key dates, coronavirus testing protocols, more on return to play

2020 NHL playoffs: Key dates, coronavirus testing protocols, more on return to play

As more and more players make their way back to the team's practice facility in Voorhees, New Jersey, for voluntary workouts, the Flyers now have a timeframe for when they'll be together in full and aiming for a Stanley Cup run in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

The NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement on the return-to-play plan and memorandum of understanding, the league announced Monday night. The agreement adds an additional four years to the term of the current collective bargaining agreement and includes transition rules as well as a new critical dates calendar.

In the NHL's statement:

The tentative agreement is now subject to approval by the NHL’s board of governors, as well as the NHLPA’s executive board followed by the full NHLPA membership. The respective review and approval processes will take place over the next few days and there will be no further comment until those processes are completed.

Here are key dates for the return-to-play plan:

July 13 — Start of formal training camps
July 26 — Clubs travel to hub cities 
Aug. 1 — Start of the qualifying round (includes the round robin)

For training camp at Flyers Skate Zone, the club will be allowed no more than 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies. During the tournament, the Flyers will be allowed a roster of no more than 31 players (here's a look at our top five reserves and Game 1 lineup predictions for the Flyers).

The Flyers, along with the other clubs, will play exhibition games before the qualifying round (here's the Flyers' outlook in the round robin). The hub cities have yet to be announced but according to multiple reports, the NHL has targeted Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton, Alberta (Western Conference) for the 24-team tournament. The Eastern Conference Final, Western Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final will all be held at the same site (which is TBD).

Here are the detailed protocols with testing information for Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (resume play).

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