Flyers

Samuel Morin's frustrating season continues

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Samuel Morin's frustrating season continues

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Samuel Morin, D, 22, 6-7/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
It’s been a roller-coaster season for the 2013 first-round pick for many reasons, and the frustration continued last week for Morin. In the third period of the Phantoms’ 5-2 win over Hershey Saturday in the AHL Outdoor Classic, Morin departed with another injury. The injury may have occurred on this poke check, but there was no update postgame.

Morin has appeared in 15 of the Phantoms’ 42 games because of injury and a brief two-game cup of coffee with the Flyers. It appeared Morin played well enough to make the Flyers out of training camp and stayed with the big club on the team’s opening four-game West Coast trip but didn’t play. Then on Oct. 29, the Flyers announced Morin would be called up as a spot opened up, but then discovered he was injured.

We don’t know how long Morin will miss with his most recent injury or if he will miss any time at all. The Phantoms play Wednesday night, but a season like this could harm a young player’s confidence. One, many believe Morin should be with the Flyers, and if you ask him, he’d tell you the same. Add injuries to the mix, and it’s the perfect storm.

Wade Allison, RW, 20, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Allison’s breakout sophomore season is over. He will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of the Broncos’ game on Jan. 13. The 20-year-old was among the initial list of 74 nominees for the Hobey Baker Award. Before the injury, Allison was among the nation’s top scorers with 15 goals and 30 points in 22 games. We’ll see how the injury affects his decision to turn pro next season.

Pascal Laberge, C, 19, 6-1/192, Quebec (QMJHL)
Laberge, another prospect who’s had an up-and-down season, has trended upward over his last nine games with the Remparts, as he becomes more acclimated to his new club. The 19-year-old had two goals and two assists in three games last week for Quebec to extend his point streak to four games and he’s now averaging a point per game over his past nine games. Laberge’s story is one to root for and this season's been another rocky one for him. He’s battled inconsistency, and a trade, which, compared to the past, seem like small potatoes. But he’s on his best nine-game stretch this season, and we'll see if his recent showing will allow him to finish the year strong.

Quick hits
Morgan Frost saw his 20-game point streak end Friday night but picked up an assist in Sault Ste. Marie’s 4-2 loss to Flint. Frost had 45 points during his point streak. 

Philippe Myers registered his third goal of the season and his first since Oct. 28 last Wednesday night in the Phantoms’ 4-1 loss to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

Myers’ first professional season has been met with injuries, but when he’s been on the ice, he’s making progress. He has eight assists and 11 points in 25 games this season.

• How did Carter Hart respond to allowing three goals on Jan. 14 for the first time since Nov. 10? You guessed right. Hart pitched another shutout Saturday night — his sixth of the season — and then extended his winning streak to 12 games Sunday.

Alex Lyon was excellent in net for the Phantoms on Saturday night vs. the Bears, turning aside 41 of 43 shots. He’s been better since returning Dec. 26 to Lehigh Valley.

• Hamilton’s Matthew Strome is enjoying a three-game goal streak. He has 28 goals in 43 games this season.

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

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

The Flyers are still looking for their first back-to-back victories of the season.

They'll go for that again Monday night as the Flyers (4-4-0) host the Avalanche (5-1-2).

Let's look at some notables before puck drop:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• During last Saturday's 5-2 win over the Devils, Jakub Voracek showed just how important he is to the Flyers — and how tough they are to beat when he's clicking.

In the Flyers' four wins, Voracek has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) and a plus-7 rating. In the Flyers' four losses, he has one point (an assist) and a minus-7 mark.

Voracek was right when he said it's not all about points. But it's definitely clear when he's not creating or converting chances, the Flyers are a drastically different team.

• The Avalanche's speed gave the Flyers fits in the team's first loss, a 5-2 decision on Oct. 6. With Nathan MacKinnon and company, the Flyers must be stronger on the forecheck and the blueliners can't allow Colorado's playmakers to get behind the defense.

MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are tied for second among the NHL's leading scorers with 14 points apiece. Meanwhile, the Avalanche are allowing the league's second-fewest goals per game at 2.25.

They're also on the final game of a four-game road trip.

• Mikhail Vorobyev will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. Could a decision be coming on him soon? Jordan Weal's play will continue to have a say in the matter.

• A look at the goalies: Brian Elliott is 2-3-0 with a 3.69 goals-against average and .878 save percentage; Semyon Varlamov is 3-0-2 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .948 save percentage.

Projected lineup

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Shayne Gostisbehere-Christian Folin
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Calvin Pickard

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How Avalanche top line replaced Flyers' as the best in hockey

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How Avalanche top line replaced Flyers' as the best in hockey

Sean Couturier believes tonight's game is the ultimate test for a defensive-minded, two-way center like himself.

“Yeah, for sure. If our line is plus-1 or plus-2, we have a good chance of winning," Couturier said. "It’s kinda the mentality I’ve always had. It’s something I take pride in.”

For the second straight game, the Flyers will face a Hart Trophy finalist when they line up against Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche, but MacKinnon has the ability to take over a game and dominate unlike that of New Jersey’s Taylor Hall, who won the Hart Trophy as league MVP last season.

MacKinnon has points in all eight of his team’s games so far this season. Even more impressively, he has scored a goal in seven of those eight, and his eight even-strength goals lead the NHL.

“He’s such a dynamic and dominant player,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We know who he is and what he is as a player and how effective he is. There’s a clear message for us on how we want to play against him.” 

The Flyers will have the advantage of having last line change so Couturier can be out there if and when Avalanche coach Jared Bednar elects to put the MacKinnon line on the ice. However, that hasn’t been much of a difference-maker so far this season, as MacKinnon has nine points in five road games as opposed to four points in three home games.

Most top lines have been disassembled and reassembled over the past year. Take the Flyers, who started last season with Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Couturier as production-wise the No. 1 line in hockey until they were broken up last December. MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog have been playing together since October 2017, and they’ve been clicking on all cylinders ever since. 

As of Monday, Landeskog and Rantanen were second in scoring with 14 points while Landeskog earned the league’s first star of the week. Since their formation, they’re a plus-26 in goal differential at even strength. Perhaps the only other line that can dominate to that degree is Boston’s trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, who have combined for 36 points to MacKinnon’s line with 38 points.    

In the 5-2 loss in Colorado on Oct. 6, the Flyers did a modest job containing the Avalanche's top line. However, Landeskog’s controversial tip-in goal was the eventual game-winner before MacKinnon added an empty-netter. Still, by Couturier’s standards, it wasn’t good enough.   

“I think we gave up a few too many odd-man rushes where he had the puck where he was flying down the middle,” Couturier said. “It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of recovering and being tight on (MacKinnon), and not letting him gain that time and space.”

The solution is simple in theory but difficult in execution.

“If we have the puck most of the night and play offense," Couturier said, "we won’t give up much of anything.”

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