Flyers

Flyers 5, Canadiens 2: Riding high into the bye week

Flyers 5, Canadiens 2: Riding high into the bye week

BOX SCORE

The Flyers will feel pretty good about themselves over an eight-day stretch of no game action.

That's because they're playing arguably their best hockey of the season entering the bye week and All-Star break, thanks to a 5-2 win Saturday night over the Canadiens at Bell Centre.

The Flyers (19-23-6) have tied their season-best winning streak of three games, a span in which they've scored 16 goals. They've also won four of their last five. Before doing so, the Flyers lost eight straight games, scoring just 15 goals during the skid.

The Canadiens (27-18-5) had a three-game winning streak snapped, while the Flyers, for the time being, are no longer in last place of the Metropolitan Division.

• Think Nolan Patrick's confidence is building? When the 20-year-old is feeling good about himself, he's a different player and it's showing right now.

Patrick scored a pair of goals, the second off some pretty stick-handling to give the Flyers a healthy 4-1 lead in the third period.

After going 24 straight games without a goal and just two points, the 2017 second overall pick has four goals and six points in his last three contests.

The Flyers have desperately needed his depth down the middle and they're starting to get it. Whether it's too late for the Flyers' hopes this season is the question.

• We're starting to see more and more why James van Riemsdyk scored 30-plus goals twice during his time in Toronto. His big frame coupled with superb skill at redirecting shots makes him a terror around the net.

A minute and a half after the Flyers took a 1-0 lead in the middle stanza, van Riemsdyk added to the advantage by deflecting home a Robert Hagg shot. 

The goal was van Riemsdyk's sixth in his last five games. It's no coincidence the Flyers have won four of those five games.

• Travis Konecny broke the ice with three minutes left in the second period on a nasty shot while falling to his knees. However, the play to set up the rebound opportunity was a real positive for Shayne Gostisbehere.

The 25-year-old defenseman has not been himself after a career year in 2017-18, but he created a give-and-go with Sean Couturier to get a shot on net. The Flyers had little going for them and to see Gostisbehere make a play from the blue line should only help his confidence.

Konecny actually misfired on a few shots from in close, so he realistically could have had the Flyers' third hat trick in as many games.

• Because he's a tough, grind-around-the-net kind of player, Wayne Simmonds doesn't get enough credit for his smarts and skill. He completed an excellent 2-on-1 with Patrick to hand the Flyers a commanding 3-0 lead in the third period. 

Simmonds was patient with the puck and didn't rush his decision, baiting Jeff Petry before feeding Patrick for the tally.

The 30-year-old is heating up and you can bet contending teams will be willing to cough up a hefty sum for Simmonds. His stock is rising right now.

Simmonds nearly had his 16th goal, too, clanging a shot off the post from in deep during the opening two minutes, a chance he buries nine times out of 10. He knew it as he was seen hitting himself in the head shortly after the play.

• Carter Hart came in 3-2-1 with a 2.69 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and an NHL-most 196 saves since Jan. 5. 

He was the team's best player during the opening period in which the Flyers were outshot 12-1. Hart kept the game scoreless, giving his team a chance.

He made 33 saves and has solidified his roster spot here in Philadelphia.

Interim head coach Scott Gordon said there's a chance Hart plays for AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley next weekend before the Flyers get back in the swing of things. Hart will have plenty of rest after playing seven of the last eight games. It can't hurt to get him a tune-up before the Flyers resume their schedule.

• With their bye week followed by the All-Star break, the Flyers don't play again until Monday, Jan. 28, when they host the Central Division-leading Jets (7 p.m./NBCSP).

Ten of the Flyers' next 15 games come at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Flyers vs. Red Wings: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Red Wings: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

After making a midnight goalie trade (see story), the Flyers (26-24-7) will hit the ice Saturday to start a home-and-home series with the Red Wings (23-28-7).

Let's look at the essentials:

When: 1 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• For the first time in 33 days, Carter Hart will be coming off a loss and looking to bounce back into the win column.

With wins in a row, the 20-year-old had tied the NHL record for consecutive victories by a goalie before his 21st birthday before suffering a loss in the 4-1 decision to the Penguins on Monday.

Since Jan. 14, Hart is 8-1-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. If you recall, he made his NHL debut against these same Red Wings, picking up a 3-2 win on Dec. 18.

• It's another busy Saturday in the NHL as 24 teams hit the ice.

The Flyers enter the action eight points back of the Blue Jackets and Penguins. Pittsburgh currently occupies the East's second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Hurricanes.

On Saturday, the Penguins host the Flames (1 p.m.), the Blue Jackets visit the Blackhawks (8:30 p.m.) and the Hurricanes host the Stars (8 p.m.).

• The Red Wings are 9-15-3 since Dec. 11, a stretch in which they've been outscored 87-71.

Detroit is in seventh place of the Atlantic Division and owns the Eastern Conference's third-worst goal differential at minus-28.

The Red Wings will host the Flyers Sunday night at 6 p.m. on NBCSN in the final meeting of a three-game regular-season series.

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Phil Varone-Justin Bailey

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Andrew MacDonald-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Carter Hart
Mike McKenna

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Why Flyers traded Anthony Stolarz to Oilers for Cam Talbot

Why Flyers traded Anthony Stolarz to Oilers for Cam Talbot

Here comes number eight.

The Flyers acquired Cam Talbot in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers late Friday night in exchange for Anthony Stolarz, the Flyers' 2012 second-round selection (see story).

The move means at some point the Flyers will become the first team in NHL history to start eight different goaltenders in one season after tying the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques on Dec. 18.

There’s a good chance Talbot could make his Flyers debut Sunday in Detroit as interim head coach Scott Gordon stated Thursday he was uncertain who would start that game. 

Here are some important questions surrounding general manager Chuck Fletcher’s latest move.

Why trade Stolarz?

Here’s the perplexing question perhaps on the minds of many who were hoping for a Carter Hart-Anthony Stolarz duo next season. The Flyers feel they need a solid veteran who can start next season alongside Hart.

As well as Stolarz has played, he’s still very raw and limited when it comes to NHL experience (just 19 games). Plus, there’s still some internal concern regarding his health. Stolarz has required knee surgery twice over the past 18 months, and sustained another lower-body injury this season that kept him out of action for six weeks.

Even if the Flyers valued Stolarz, he’s a restricted free agent following this season and would need to clear waivers just to be assigned to the Phantoms next season. Sensing a team would likely claim him to start the season (much like the Flyers did with Calvin Pickard), Stolarz became expendable.

Unfortunately, you just can’t keep everyone and this gives Stolarz a great opportunity moving forward in Edmonton.

Why acquire Talbot?

As we mentioned the other day, Talbot has experience as a starter with the Oilers and a backup with the New York Rangers. He led the NHL with 140 starts from 2015-17 while backstopping the Oilers to the playoffs in 2016-17.

What’s very important is that he has a strong relationship with Hart after the two goaltenders worked together this past summer. Talbot will know exactly what his role is moving forward.

“We partnered up and took the ice for goalie sessions this summer,” Hart said this month. “He’s a great mentor, he’s a good guy, a great goalie. He’s the guy I called before my first start to ask about pregame jitters and what to expect.” 

Will they re-sign Talbot?

In all likelihood, yes. Consider the final 25 regular-season games somewhat of a trial run for Talbot. The Flyers want a firsthand look at how Talbot fits in with his new team, and is he still capable of winning games and playing well?

Plus, Talbot needs to make his own determination of whether he wants to stay in Philadelphia or test the free-agent market this summer. I would expect the Flyers to offer a two-year contract in the $2.5-3.5 million range, which would be perfect as Hart still has two years remaining on his entry-level deal.

What's the next move?

Well, the Flyers won’t carry four goaltenders on the roster, that’s for certain. Once Brian Elliott is ready to return to Philadelphia following his conditioning stint with the Phantoms, expect Mike McKenna to be placed on waivers, and if he clears, to be sent down to the Phantoms.

However, for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings, McKenna will serve as the backup to Hart.

Interesting tidbit

Talbot’s first NHL start came against the Flyers on Oct. 24, 2013 — a 2-1 loss. However, his first NHL win was a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings in his next start. Hart’s first NHL win was also a 3-2 victory against those same Red Wings.

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