Flyers

A rout at the hands of a rival for Flyers

A rout at the hands of a rival for Flyers

BOX SCORE

The Penguins rolled into the Wells Fargo Center for the first time this season and buried the Flyers, 5-1, to keep the orange and black in last place in the Metropolitan Division.

After the Flyers tied the game at 1-1, the Pens ripped off three goals in a span of two minutes and 17 seconds. Pittsburgh’s fourth line did much of the damage with Ryan Reaves and Tom Kuhnhackl each scoring for the Penguins.

It was the first time this season the Flyers have allowed four goals in a single period.

Jordan Weal scored his fourth goal of the season and the Flyers’ only goal of the night.

Michal Neuvirth saw his first action since Nov. 28 once Brian Elliott was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots. 

The Penguins are now 13-6-2 in their last 21 games at the Wells Fargo Center. 

The two divisional rivals won’t face each other again until March 7 in Philadelphia.

• There was solid defensive hockey played over the opening seven minutes. I thought the Flyers needed to get off to a good start considering how poorly and inconsistent their first periods have been at times. There was tight checking and very little operating room for both teams. 

• The Flyers appeared to be aiming low on their shots in an attempt to catch rookie Tristan Jarry out of position for a rebound. Both Travis Konecny and Brandon Manning created shots that led to nice rebounds.

• The game started to open up midway through the first period with the Flyers on a 2-on-1 rush and a handful of 3-on-2s. However, their passing was all over the place for a team that hasn’t played in four days.

• Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere broke up a number of odd-man rushes. “Ghost” has stepped up his defense over the past four to five games.

• A terrific cross-ice pass from Konecny to a streaking Claude Giroux down the left side for the Flyers’ best scoring chance in the opening period. Giroux’s initial shot was saved but he got the puck back and attempted a centering pass from behind the goal line that was just missed by Jakub Voracek.

• The Flyers drew the first penalty of the night as Kris Letang got caught with a high-sticking on Sean Couturier. 

• The Flyers’ power play was unable to generate much. On top of that, it nearly gave up a shorthanded goal as Ivan Provorov had a bad turnover that led to Jake Guentzel’s scoring chance that caught Elliott’s left pad. Moments later, there was good, sustained pressure from the Flyers’ second line as the unit was able to keep play in the offensive zone for nearly its entire shift. 

• The Flyers’ PK couldn’t contain the Penguins on their first power play of the night. The Pens perfectly executed a zone entry in the second period with Evgeni Malkin throwing a cross-ice pass to Phil Kessel, who pulled off a perfect give-and-go to Sidney Crosby and then snapped a shot past Elliott. The Flyers can’t give up the blue line that way.

• However, the Flyers struck right back — 1:06 later — as Radko Gudas did a solid job of opening up a shooting lane by backpedaling the blue line and throwing a shot on net. Weal did a great job of battling down low with Pens defenseman Letang before setting up in the high slot and redirecting Gudas’ shot from the point.

• The Penguins didn’t wait long to regain the edge. Actually, a span of 40 seconds. The first came when Pittsburgh’s fourth line just overpowered the Flyers’ fourth line as Reaves carved out territory in front of Elliott and banged home a shot just in front of the crease. Credit Reaves, who carved up Provorov to gain space in front of the net. Then on the next shift, the puck was held up along the boards, which led to a Conor Sheary breakaway. Robert Hagg was caught completely out of position, which allowed Sheary to outrace Andrew MacDonald to the puck and snipe a shot blocker side past Elliott.

• It was a rough period for Provorov, who had coverage on Kuhnhackl in the middle of the ice. As soon as the puck came out to Provorov, Kuhnhackl — in a microsecond — lifted his stick, gained possession of the puck and sniped a shot top shelf on Elliott. It was a very impressive goal and a rough night for Provorov, who was on the ice for both goals scored by the Pens’ fourth line.

• The Flyers had a multitude of opportunities to close the gap. Michael Raffl had a clear breakaway on a sprawling Jarry, but his backhand attempt slid completely across the crease and missed the net by inches. Late in the period, the Flyers’ power play came close as Gostisbehere’s slap shot hit the post and Valtteri Filppula had a shot from the right post.

• With four days in a six-game stretch, it only made sense that Dave Hakstol pulled Elliott after two periods and gave Neuvirth some time in the crease.

• Neuvirth was tested right away as he turned back five shots in his first six minutes. Not surprisingly, Neuvirth looked good considering it was a very low-pressure situation. Still, give him credit. It’s been five weeks since his last game action.

Lineups, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Jori Lehtera-Scott Laughton-Dale Weise

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forward Taylor Leier and defenseman Travis Sanheim.

Evgeni Malkin takes another swing, this time at the entire Flyers team

Evgeni Malkin takes another swing, this time at the entire Flyers team

Evgeni Malkin is not doing himself any favors for his return to Philadelphia next Saturday night when the Flyers host the Penguins in the Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field.

There was no love lost on Valentine's Day between Malkin and the Flyers, as the Penguins' center addressed his one-game suspension for swinging his stick at Michael Raffl.

Malkin didn't feel particularly remorseful when it happened Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center and his tone didn't change Thursday.

Not only did he claim Raffl took a dive when hit by his stick, but Malkin also delivered a shot at the Flyers.

Here are some of his comments, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jason Mackey:

Malkin seems adamant about deeming the play harmless because he didn't actually hit Raffl in the face. That doesn't change the fact that he violently and recklessly swung his stick. If he connected, he could have done serious damage.

That hasn't fazed Malkin.

"It's a high stick, but it's not like I broke his face," Malkin said postgame Monday.

"I'm not trying to hit his face. I know it's dirty, but I missed, my stick [did] not touch his helmet or shoulder."

Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon put it quite well after Thursday's practice:

Well, it wasn't a high stick. It was a baseball swing. Just because you don't connect doesn't mean it wasn't vicious. It's a tough call. There was intent to swing hard and he did. It didn't connect. I don't think you reward a player because he didn't connect.

Somehow, someway, Malkin might be booed more ruthlessly than Sidney Crosby next Saturday at the Linc.

That's not an easy feat to pull off.

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A big Valentine's Day surprise for Claude Giroux

A big Valentine's Day surprise for Claude Giroux

VOORHEES, N.J. — Claude Giroux received quite the Valentine's Day surprise.

Candy hearts with a beating heart is on the way. Giroux’s wife, Ryanne, tweeted out the picture Thursday morning with a bowl full of candy along with an ultrasound picture. 

Spelled out on the candy hearts was “August 2019,” denoting the expected arrival time. Exactly how the surprise went down, the Flyers' captain elected to keep that to himself.

“I’ll keep the details out of it, but it’s great news. We’re pretty excited, [life-changing] for sure," Giroux said. "There may be a little bit less sleep."

Claude and wife Ryanne tied the knot less than a year ago, July 7, 2018, at the Ashford Estate in Allentown, New Jersey, but he couldn’t have timed a pregnancy any better. An August due date works out perfectly with Giroux’s schedule in the middle of summer and a month prior to the start of training camp.

“Definitely good timing for sure,” Giroux said.

There’s an actual due day, but Giroux elected to sit on that piece of information as well. When I asked if it’s Aug. 7, he responded, “Is that your birthday?”

“No, it’s Sidney Crosby’s,” I told him.

“I’ll make sure he’s not born on that day,” Giroux said with a smile.

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