Flyers 2, Stars 1: Eight-game losing streak finally ends

Flyers 2, Stars 1: Eight-game losing streak finally ends


Carter Hart gave the Flyers a five-star performance Thursday night.

The rookie goaltender made 37 saves to help the Flyers snap an eight-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over the Stars at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers were clearly outplayed, but Hart was the difference maker over the final 20 minutes of regulation.

• One good sign in the opening period was that the Flyers didn’t fall apart despite little offensive zone time. The Flyers went just over 12 minutes between shots on net. To their credit, they didn’t give up very much either. During their eight-game losing streak, they've been solid in the opening period with an even goal differential (4-4).

• As strange as it may sound, the Flyers' most consistent defenseman has been Radko Gudas. It was Gudas with a strong play to jump on a loose puck in the offensive zone that eventually led to the 1-0 goal. Gudas fired a heavy shot that led to a big rebound and from there, James van Riemsdyk had a beautiful no-look pass to Travis Konecny for the goal. Scott Gordon spoke with JVR about improving his play after he was bumped to the fourth line in the game at Washington. Van Riemsdyk certainly responded with a goal and an assist.

• While Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier receive attention when the top two draft picks square off, in this game, it was Nos. 2 vs. 3 with Patrick and Stars 19-year-old phenom defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who plays and sees the game like his teammate John Klingberg. Heiskanen showed off his speed Thursday, but you can tell he’s still learning the defensive aspect of the game.

• Patrick, on the other hand, has a more polished defensive aspect to his game but needs to be more assertive and aggressive on the offensive end. At the end of the first period, Patrick displayed a rare burst that we’ve rarely seen this season to only fire a shot high and wide of the net.

• As much as the Flyers' power play has been struggling, Stars defenseman Esa Lindell gave it a prime opportunity to score when he flubbed a clearing attempt. Jakub Voracek pounced on the turnover and fed Shayne Gostisbehere, who missed the net entirely from the slot. That’s an attempt that Ghost has to bury and is more of a product of his lack of confidence with his shot that has been very erratic this season.

• The Flyers surrendered too many shots and chances to the Stars in the second period. Thankfully, Hart brought his A-game, including a five-star save on a cutting Klingberg from his right defense position. Hart had very little time to react on the play instead of relying on his ability to adjust quickly and position himself squarely to Klingberg’s shot.

• In the third period, it quickly became the Carter Hart show with some big-time saves on the Stars' power play. How long has it been since a Flyers goalie stole a game for his team? Hart arguably had his best NHL start since his last victory, a 2-1 win over Nashville.

• Somehow, the Flyers blew three odd-man rushes during a two-minute span in the third period. Two of those came shorthanded with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier failing to convert. The other came on a 2-on-0 with van Riemsdyk and Konecny failing to beat Anton Khudobin on the doorstep.

• The always controversial goaltender interference ruling was put to the test with Voracek scoring with 1:03 remaining in regulation, which would have given the Flyers a 3-1 lead. But this was a clear-cut call as Voracek plowed over Khudobin to slide a backhand shot over the goal line.

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Flyers place Dale Weise on waivers

Flyers place Dale Weise on waivers

Updated: 2:06 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — The moves are starting to come from general manager Chuck Fletcher.

The Flyers on Tuesday morning placed veteran forward Dale Weise on waivers. If he is not claimed by another NHL team over the next 24 hours, it would seem likely he'll head to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. Weise was also placed on waivers Oct. 1 and cleared.

This latest decision comes four days after the Flyers traded forward Jordan Weal.

Weise, signed by former GM Ron Hextall in July 2016, is in the third year of a four-year, $9.4 million contract. He was surprisingly a healthy scratch Monday night and replaced in the lineup by Jori Lehtera, who hadn't played since Dec. 15.

The 30-year-old Weise has a cap hit of $2,350,000. Next season, the final year of his deal, he's slated to make a base salary of $1,750,000.

Weise had five goals and six assists in 42 games this season, playing a respectable game in his role as a bottom-six, PK guy. He wasn't always super recognizable on the ice, which can be a good thing for a lower-minutes player.

"He's passionate about the game, he worked hard in practice every day and he's, from all accounts, a quality person," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said Tuesday after practice.

Weise was playing a ton more than the 2017-18 season in which he was healthy scratched a lot and played just 46 games and scored eight points. Considering his deal and not suiting up as much, Weise has mostly underwhelmed with 17 goals and 17 assists in 152 games with the Flyers.

However, he was well-respected by his teammates and often the first to stand up for one on the ice.

"It's part of the business. Players come and go but I could go on and on about him," the 20-year-old Nolan Patrick said. "He was unbelievable for me since the day I got here. He was such a good teammate and made me feel really comfortable. It's obviously a sad day to see him go but I hope the best for him moving forward.

"Him and [Travis Konecny] are my best two buddies on the team. He was really good at helping me stay positive through the slump and when everything wasn't going well. He's by far the best teammate I've ever had." 

If the Flyers decide to bring up a forward from the Phantoms, Nicolas Aube-Kubel is a good bet. The 22-year-old played nine games with the Flyers from Dec. 29 to Jan. 14. The 2014 second-round pick can play a bottom-six role and has 18 points in 30 games with Lehigh Valley. With Weise on waivers, the Flyers are not currently carrying an extra forward.

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Nolan Patrick finds his 'fifth gear' for Flyers

Nolan Patrick finds his 'fifth gear' for Flyers

Nolan Patrick has spent a lot of time dialing the 204 area code lately, especially after some of these tough losses.

“My dad is the biggest influence for me,” Patrick said. “I talk to him after every game. He’s always helping me stay positive throughout slumps like that when the team’s not playing well and you’re not producing. I have to give a lot of credit to him.”

Steve Patrick wasn’t exactly a prolific scorer during his six-year career with three different teams in the 1980s, but he has the experience of guiding his 20-year-old son through a very prolonged slump.

As you might expect, there have been many more conversations than usual as the younger Patrick just capped a 24-game goalless stretch, roughly one third of an NHL season, when he redirected Scott Laughton’s shot five minutes into the second period of Monday's 7-4 win over the Wild (see observations).

“S---, that’s a long time,” Patrick said. “It weighs on you quite a bit. It’s something you think about quite a bit when you go through a slump like that. I didn’t know it would take that long.”

For a player that many had labeled as the breakout performer of 2018-19, it finally took 46 games into the season to have what you might describe as his “breakout” game. 

For whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened for the second overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft. 

Patrick has been more of the pace car this season, not the race car. He provided glimpses in the second half of his rookie season as to how high his motor can run. You can tell right away when he’s playing with tempo and pace, and when he’s not. The majority of this season, Patrick has been stuck in neutral.

“I think the biggest change for him will come as soon as he identifies, and he actually said the term, get to fifth gear,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. “A lot of times he’s playing in third gear. He’s got another speed and we saw that. When I show him video or we talk about his game, let’s make sure we’re playing in fifth gear tonight.”

Patrick started his downshift a few games ago, and now he’s finally being rewarded. 

Monday night was his second career two-goal, three-point performance, and against the Wild, his between-the-legs shot was a highlight-reel play that will be talked about for a while, and the type of goal that speaks to Patrick’s untapped potential.

“I tried it once this year. I tried to go through my legs earlier this year. I couldn’t remember who it was against,” Patrick said. “It’s just something you try and practice during the summer. I’ve worked on that. I couldn’t really backhand it, so I had to make that play.” 

With four goals and five assists, Patrick along with Wayne Simmonds and Laughton, were easily the Flyers' most active and productive line of the night, even if you include James van Riemsdyk’s hat trick. With Patrick centering a third line, that trio has the talent to create some serious mismatches. 

“I think with Nolan, he’s only at the tip of the iceberg at what he’s going to potentially be,” Gordon said.

Just as long as he’s not moving at the speed of an iceberg.

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