Flyers

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers

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When asked what he thought about the current Flyers team prior to his retirement ceremony, Eric Lindros admitted he really didn’t know all that much regarding this year’s team. 

After Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Lindros’ hometown Maple Leafs (see observations), "Big E" and a sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd learned something about the Flyers that no one in Philadelphia had been privy to.

The Flyers capped off their first win this season when trailing by two or more goals entering the third period. Interestingly, the only other third-period comeback that led to a victory was when they trailed this same Toronto team, 2-1, on Dec. 12. Prior to this game, the Flyers were 1-12-2 this season when trailing after two periods.

Certainly, the Flyers needed goal scoring, but more importantly, they also received a handful of momentum saves from goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

“Huge," Neuvirth said regarding his 29-save performance. “When we tied it, it was like, 'OK, here we go. You gotta be at your best right now.' So I was just focusing on the next shot. Just happy the way the guys responded in the third.”

Neuvirth had little, if any, margin of error after the Leafs scored twice in a 28-second span to grab a 2-0 advantage, but the Flyers' backup netminder provided a handful of momentum saves that allowed the Flyers to win in overtime.

• A minute after Wayne Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with a shorthanded goal, Neuvirth stopped Auston Matthews and Connor Brown on back-to-back shots, including an impressive blocker save on Brown from up close.

• With 2:48 remaining in regulation, Neuvirth made the save of the game with the Leafs coming down on a 2-on-1. Neuvirth expected Nazem Kadri to shoot. Instead, he passed it to his left, forcing Neuvirth to make a full extension on Patrick Marleau, turning aside the shot with the tip of his right pad (see highlights).

• Neuvirth denied Matthews from in tight with another pad save just 10 seconds into overtime. That save created a 2-on-1 scoring chance resulting in Sean Couturier’s game-winning score. 

“At least three 10-bell saves by Neuvy. He was tremendous,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We generated a lot in the third period, but when you give up those chances against, Neuvy stole the show in my opinion and you need those saves sometimes to win games. For me, he was first star.”

Neuvirth and the rest of the Flyers needed an initial spark and 19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick was surprisingly the one to provide it. After taking a shot that hit the side of the net and caromed behind it, Patrick chased down Mitch Marner, stole the puck and fired a quick shot on goaltender Frederik Andersen for his first goal in his last 25 games.

“I tried to forget how many games it was in a row without a goal and just keep playing,” Patrick said. “I thought I was playing some good hockey lately and I knew it would come.”

A minute and 52 seconds later, Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with the Flyers' second shorthanded goal of the season, extending his point streak to six games.

Struggling to find the right overtime combinations, Hakstol elected to go with the trio of Couturier, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov to start the extra session. Couturier continued his magical run and now has 11 goals in his last 12 games, while also providing five game-winning goals in the Flyers' last 10 victories. 

“He’s hot. We keep calling him ‘Rocket,’" Simmonds said, referring to Hall of Famer Maurice “Rocket” Richard. “You just keep giving him the puck and he’s going to find the back of the net. When you’re hot, you want to keep giving it to a guy like that. Hopefully, he’s going to continue to score for us.”

More Couturier goals and more game-changing saves, and the Flyers will find themselves rocketing up the standings.

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

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Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

We’ve looked at the top draft-eligible centers and left wingers. Up next, right wingers. On Sunday, we’ll look at the top defensemen before moving into the best fits for the Flyers.

Andrei Svechnikov, 6-2/188, Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is head and shoulders atop the forward prospects in this year’s draft class. He began the year as the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and ended there as well. Finished with 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games this season with Barrie, tops among rookie OHLers. His 1.64 points per game average was best among rookies and fifth in all of the OHL. His brother, Evgeny Svechnikov, was the 19th overall pick by the Red Wings in 2015.

Draft projection: No. 2 overall

Oliver Wahlstrom, 6-1/205, USNTDP
Wahlstrom finished as the seventh-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. The American can play both center and right wing but projects to at least begin his career on the wing. He plays a power forward game with impressive puck skills. He registered 40 goals and 83 points in 54 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and 22 goals and 45 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL. The 17-year-old is committed to play college hockey at Harvard University in the fall.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Vitali Kravtsov, 6-2/170, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Kravtsov, who models his game after Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov, finished as the third-best European skater by Central Scouting, a seven-spot climb from the midterm rankings. Had a strong postseason for Chelyabinsk, recording six goals and 11 points in 16 games and was named the best rookie for each of the first three rounds. He’s a shifty forward with high-end speed.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Serron Noel, 6-5/205, Oshawa (OHL)
The Generals winger took an enormous leap in his second OHL campaign, going from 21 points in 63 games in 2016-17 to 53 points in 62 games in 2017-18. Noel finished as the 10th-rated North American skater by Central Skating, a one-spot drop from the midterm rankings. He has a lot of raw talent and has natural size and strength. He’s improved his skating, which has helped his case throughout his draft year. Has drawn comparisons to Jets captain Blake Wheeler. A high-upside prospect with top-line potential.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Martin Kaut, 6-2/170, Pardubice (Czech)
Kaut’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships performance helped put the winger on the radar. The Czech winger jumped from the 11th-rated European skater by Central Scouting in the midterm rankings to the fourth-best in the final rankings. Had seven points in seven games playing for the Czech Republic at the world juniors. Had nine goals and 16 points in 38 games for Pardubice in 2017-18. An effective two-way player with good playmaking ability.

Draft projection: Late first, early second round

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

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JustSports Photography

A Flyers fan's guide for watching Phantoms' home playoff games

Flyers fans still have some hockey to watch.

Some of the organization's brightest prospects will be competing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from Wednesday into the weekend as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms continue their AHL playoff run in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Phantoms trail the Toronto Marlies, 2-0, with the series now shifting to the PPL Center for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).

What should Flyers fans know?

Let's get into it:

1. When to watch
Game 3 is tonight at 7:05 p.m. Game 4 follows Friday at 7:05 p.m. with Game 5 (if needed) Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

2. Where to watch
All three games will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. For which channel in your area, click here.

3. Who to watch
• Defenseman Travis Sanheim returned from a four-game absence (knee injury) to play in the first two games of this series. The 2014 first-round pick had 16 points in 18 regular-season games with Lehigh Valley. When he rejoined the Flyers on March 10, he was a plus-4 over 14 games to help the big club clinch a playoff berth. "When Sanny got back up, I thought Sanny was unbelievable," Wayne Simmonds said last month.

• Winger Oskar Lindblom went scoreless in Games 1 and 2 but has seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine playoff games. He played 23 games with the Flyers this season and impressed alongside Nolan Patrick. The 21-year-old is a building block and the goal will be to make the Flyers out of training camp in the fall.

• Everybody knows Alex Lyon now after his Herculean effort during the semifinals in which he made 94 saves for a five-overtime victory. He's been superb through the postseason, recording a 1.84 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in nine games. It's been a timely stretch for him ahead of an important offseason

• Defenseman Philippe Myers is another exciting piece to the Flyers' future on the blue line. The 21-year-old is 6-foot-5 and developing but fought through injuries in 2017-18. He's making up for some of those tough times with seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 postseason games.

• Don't forget about Mike Vecchione, a hard-working forward who will be in the picture next season. The 25-year-old put up 40 points in his first year pro and has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 playoff games.

4. However …
You won't see touted prospects Morgan Frost and Carter Hart.

With their junior campaigns coming to an end recently, both have joined the Phantoms but are not expected to play; they're simply there for the exposure.

5. This and that
• Lehigh Valley won an AHL-most 27 games at home during the regular season, losing just six times in regulation.

• Toronto is 2-2-0 on the road in the postseason compared to 7-0-0 at home.

• Chris Conner, 34, leads the Phantoms in the playoffs with five goals and nine points.

• Lehigh Valley has allowed a league-high 43 power-play opportunities during the postseason, while Toronto has gone on a league-high 55 man advantages.

• Defenseman Samuel Morin is out for the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury that is requiring surgery, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi.