Flyers

Penguins' Evgeni Malkin receives 1-game suspension for swinging stick at Michael Raffl

Penguins' Evgeni Malkin receives 1-game suspension for swinging stick at Michael Raffl

The NHL went light on Evgeni Malkin.

The Department of Player Safety suspended Malkin just one game Tuesday afternoon after taking a baseball-like swing at Flyers forward Michael Raffl in the late stages of Monday’s 4-1 Pittsburgh win.

Malkin has built up a reputation and history of cheap shots and retaliatory penalties throughout his time in the league, including an elbow to the head of Washington’s T.J. Oshie back in November, but had never received supplemental discipline until Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after Monday's game, Malkin didn’t believe his act of aggression was even suspension-worthy.

“I didn’t hit him in the face,” Malkin said. “If I had touched him in the face, for sure, I would get suspended. It’s a high stick, but it’s not like I broke his face. I think I won’t get suspended.”

The two players were battling in front of the benches when Raffl appeared to take a few jabs to the back of Malkin’s head. While Raffl probably should have received a two-minute minor for roughing, the referees appropriately slapped Malkin with a five-minute major and match penalty.

While replays make it appear as if Malkin swung and missed just barely, he could have done serious damage to Raffl or another Flyer had his stick struck a player’s helmet, mouth or even eye socket.

Following Malkin’s phone hearing Tuesday afternoon, George Parros, head of the Department of Player Safety, clearly determined that intent carried very little weight in his ruling and that only serious injury to Raffl would have warranted a longer suspension.

In November 2017, Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas took a guillotine-like whack to the back of the head of Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault, resulting in a 10-game suspension for Gudas. Perreault returned to game action just two days later, but the league sent a direct message to Gudas that reprehensible acts of violence would no longer be tolerated.

That message was not passed along to Malkin, who will sit out Pittsburgh’s game against Edmonton on Wednesday.

Malkin’s transgressions add another interesting subplot for when the Penguins return to Philadelphia for the Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field on Feb. 23.  

Rest assured, Sidney Crosby won’t be Philadelphia’s only public enemy.

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Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers picked up a huge win in their playoff push with a 5-1 decision Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Philippe Myers, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek all scored goals for the Flyers (33-20-7), who notched their 20th home win of 2019-20. They won only 19 games in Philly last season.

More impressively, the Flyers improved to 7-0-2 against the Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In 2018-19, they were 0-10-2 against those divisional foes.

Major improvements.

The Flyers also rebounded from another defeat as they haven't dropped consecutive outings since Jan. 4-7. In games after their last seven losses, the Flyers are 7-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 36-16.

The Blue Jackets (30-19-12) have allowed 15 goals to the Flyers through three matchups.

• Big, big win for the Flyers.

They’ve now jumped the Blue Jackets and Islanders to take over third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New York has two games in hand on the Flyers.

One of the more noticeable aspects of this win was the contributions from players who were not here in 2018-19. Hayes got things started, Myers (played only 21 games last season) was strong, Joel Farabee added two assists and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was reliable yet again.

• Thanks to a goal and two assists, Konecny set a new career high in points as he now has 51.

There are 22 games left in the Flyers’ season and the 22-year-old forward has already delivered in the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.

• An impressive franchise record for captain Claude Giroux.

• Carter Hart improved to 15-2-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average at home.

Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who came in leading the NHL with five shutouts, was pulled during the third period after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

• During the second period, everyone saw why there’s so much potential and excitement behind the Travis Sanheim-Myers defensive pairing.

Some serious size, skating and skill — and both are only 23 years old.

• The Flyers’ 200-foot forces set the tone.

During the first period, Hayes and Couturier jumped on the Blue Jackets, who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.45.

From a crazy angle, Hayes scored his 18th goal of the season. The 27-year-old center has a great chance to break his career high of 25 goals set in 2017-18.

Couturier might finish the season as the Flyers’ leading scorer. He has 48 points and a plus-27 rating over his last 50 games.

• The Flyers fly to Columbus Wednesday afternoon ahead of another matchup with the Blue Jackets Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers then play three straight games at home against teams not in playoff position — Jets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Sharks next Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Rangers next Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

The Jeff Carter-Flyers buzz is back.

It started humming in January when Carter and the Kings visited the Flyers. It picked back up Tuesday with the latest 31 Thoughts article from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, always a must-read.

Per Friedman:

It might come down to Nolan Patrick’s health, but I think Philadelphia is considering Jeff Carter.

That would not be terribly surprising, as we noted in January. The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference and selling with Monday's NHL trade deadline on the horizon. As they retool, being open to moving an older player like Carter would make sense. The 35-year-old has a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com, and is under contract for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

That is most significant as it relates to the possibility of the Flyers adding Carter for their playoff push. The Flyers have just over $2 million in cap space. Even with Los Angeles retaining 50 percent of Carter's cap hit, the Flyers would have to do some juggling. And then the fact that Carter has two more years left on his deal might make things less appealing for the Flyers.

However, there are reasons why the Flyers are probably peeking in at Carter's availability. The center is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time 30-plus goal-scorer and understands the pressure of playing in Philly. Returning to the city during a playoff race would only rejuvenate Carter, who could help the Flyers' depth down the middle and be a positive influence on the team's younger bottom-six forwards. Not to mention the former Flyer has 17 goals this season and is projected to finish with 24.

The Flyers could interest the Kings with a prospect and/or a draft pick. But what would they be willing to give up from a prospect pool that will build the future? And how do they make it work for the roster moving forward?

Those are big questions for a 35-year-old center with a big contract.

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