Flyers

Scott Gordon on Philippe Myers: 'He's an NHL player to me'

Scott Gordon on Philippe Myers: 'He's an NHL player to me'

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — When the public address announcer at PPL Center bellowed out Philippe Myers' name during the starting lineup introductions, the 22-year-old defenseman received a hearty applause from the fans.

Last season, he became a popular guy in Lehigh Valley as one of the Phantoms' better players before graduating to the Flyers for a 21-game taste of the NHL.

He returned to the home of the Flyers' AHL affiliate Wednesday night for the club's rookie game against the Islanders' prospects.

And everyone probably knows he won't be back anytime soon.

Myers didn't take long to make his mark Wednesday night as he bounced around a defender on the perimeter and beautifully fed German Rubtsov for the game's opening goal. The play was not representative of a rookie game.

It was big-league stuff.

"He's an NHL player to me. He played like it," Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon said following the Flyers' 5-4 shootout loss (see observations). "There's no panic, he's done a great job of preparing himself the last two years to be an NHL player. He just has to have a good camp and everything else should fall into place for him."

The 6-foot-5, 218-pound Myers transformed himself from an undrafted player into a top-50 NHL prospect. The Flyers appear ready for his full-time impact within their group of defensemen. While Myers possesses intriguing offensive qualities like we saw Wednesday night, he has improved in all other areas. He moves the puck up ice, retreats well and stays within himself.

When general manager Chuck Fletcher called up Myers during February of last season, the Flyers were the NHL's hottest team and gaining steam in the playoff race. Fletcher did not have a problem trusting Myers to play important games.

The experience was extremely beneficial.

"I think the biggest thing that I learned is just try to stay calm and composed under pressure," Myers said last weekend at rookie camp. "Try not to panic out there. I got a little bit more comfortable as the games went on. I'm happy I got those first steps out of the way and that I got my feet wet in the NHL. I sort of know what to expect this year."

Gordon was summoned by the Flyers in December to serve as interim head coach. He remembers catching up with Myers back in Lehigh Valley when the blueliner was starting to get comfortable and catching the attention of others.

"I had gone down to Allentown to pick up some things and I stopped by the locker room and he was there," Gordon said last weekend. "We were just talking about his probably two-week period that I had been gone and he had said to me at that time, he goes, 'I'm getting it now. It's starting to come together where I don't feel like I have to win the game every single shift and just let the game come to me.' That's just maturity."

A maturity that has Gordon realizing he might not see Myers back in Allentown.

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Why Flyers' shootout loss to Capitals was a major positive

Why Flyers' shootout loss to Capitals was a major positive

The Flyers missed out on a few accomplishments that could have been proudly placed in their back pocket as they left the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

A victory over the Capitals would have given the Flyers their longest winning streak (five games) in the opening two months of a season since 2010-11, when the club won six straight games from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6.

A win would have also improved the Flyers’ home record to 7-1-1, which would have marked the team’s best start on home ice since 2005-06, when it went 9-1-0.

Alas, the Flyers had to settle for a 2-1 shootout loss to Washington (see observations).

That result holds far greater meaning in the grand scheme of the 2019-20 season than some historical feats among past franchise teams. This season, the Flyers are aiming for a jump back into contention and relevancy among the NHL’s better clubs.

They want to show everyone they are not the 2018-19 team that fell well short of expectations and finished with 82 points, the organization’s fewest in a full season since 2006-07. The demoralization of last season is why Alain Vigneault is in Philadelphia this season, leading the charge of making this Flyers team different.

Wednesday represented an eye-opening indicator of how things have changed.

In 2018-19, the Flyers were manhandled by the Capitals, losing all four meetings to the tune of an 18-9 margin. The Flyers allowed Washington to put up 4.50 goals per game in the matchups. As shown by the outcomes, the Capitals had their way.

“For me, it’s a new season,” Vigneault said Thursday. “I’m new here, my staff is new, players are new to us. I’m really not interested or focused on what has happened in the past.

“It was about us going out last night, going out and trying to win a game against the best team at this time in the league. I thought our start wasn’t real good because we were a step behind and a second behind in making the plays that we needed to defensively. Got better in the second, got better in the third and we made a game out of it and were able to come back and get a point."

Entering Wednesday, the Capitals were still the Capitals. They were leading the NHL with 30 points, were scoring a league-high four goals per game, were on a 12-game point streak and were 8-1-1 on the road.

They came rolling into the Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers held them to one goal through three periods and overtime. Washington had scored three or more goals in 16 straight games before the Flyers limited it to one in 65 minutes.

“Give them credit, I mean they came out hard and they proved in that first period there’s a reason why they’re first in the league right now,” Vigneault said Wednesday. “Their execution and their speed were very challenging. In the second period, we got better, made better decisions as far as giving them a little bit less space and time. We were able to make a couple plays with the puck and, in the third, we found a way to even it up.”

Over their last three games, the Flyers took five out of a possible six points and allowed only five goals against the Capitals, Bruins and Maple Leafs, who are a combined 34-12-12. Last season, the Flyers went a combined 3-7-0 against those three clubs and were outscored 43-27.

The Flyers are clearly a better team this season compared to last. 

They have proven that with hard evidence.

How much better compared to the rest of the league is a question to be answered when the games become bigger and the playoff race has truly begun.

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Flyers finally cooled off by the Capitals (and in the shootout of course)

Flyers finally cooled off by the Capitals (and in the shootout of course)

BOX SCORE

The Flyers went toe to toe with the NHL’s best and highest-scoring team Wednesday night.

And they of course took the action into overtime and the shootout.

The skills competition is where they were finally cooled off.

The Flyers lost to the Capitals, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center as T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the shootout for Washington.

The Flyers (10-5-3), who have gone past regulation six times in the last seven games, had their four-game winning streak snapped. They did, however, extend their point streak to seven games (5-0-2). They are 8-2-2 since Oct. 21.

Sean Couturier nearly won the game for the Flyers when he nailed the post in overtime.

The Capitals (14-2-4) lead the NHL with 32 points and are on a 13-game point streak (11-0-2). They entered scoring an NHL-most four goals per game.

• Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux went scoreless over the team’s big weekend sweep of the Maple Leafs and Bruins.

With the Flyers in desperate need of a play in the third period, Voracek and Giroux connected for a power play goal to make it 1-1.

The sequence makes you wonder if those two will reunite soon on the first line to get both of them going.

• Head coach Alain Vigneault shuffled his lines in the second period and then not long after pieced them back together. It seemed to work as the Flyers turned it up a notch in the back end of the stanza.

The Flyers came inches away from knotting the game when Travis Konecny rung the post as a power play expired with 4:51 left in the middle frame. A minute later, Tyler Pitlick had an acrobatic chance in front but was turned away.

• The Flyers’ third line could change soon. Carsen Twarynski, Kevin Hayes and Voracek haven’t gotten much going. The group has good size but hasn’t used it to its advantage.

Vigneault expects more out of Voracek and Hayes — and justifiably so. Voracek had the timely assist on the power play, while Hayes is without a point in eight straight games.

• Carter Hart came in 4-0-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .929 save percentage during November. He was brilliant against the league’s top-scoring team, making 35 saves.

Hart was once again clutch during the first period, making 15 saves as the Capitals took it to the Flyers in the opening 20 minutes. Prior to Washington’s goal by Brendan Leipsic, the Flyers had outscored the opposition 6-0 during the first frame in their previous four games.

Washington goalie Braden Holtby went 3-0-0 with 84 saves on 90 shots against the Flyers last season. He cracked only once Wednesday, finishing with 30 stops. Giroux was the only Flyer to beat him in the shootout.

• For the first time in 12 NHL games, Joel Farabee took a step back. He didn’t look like himself with the puck, quickly giving it away a few times instead of keeping it on his stick and making a smarter decision.

In the second period, he was briefly taken off the first line and both power play units, possibly a message from Vigneault telling the 19-year-old to get his game going and not be intimidated by the Capitals.

The rookie didn’t play much in the third period and didn’t see action in OT.

• The penalty kill continued its yeoman’s work. The Flyers, who entered as the NHL’s seventh-best shorthanded team at 85.4 percent, held the Capitals’ vaunted power play to 0 for 3.

The Flyers have not allowed a power play goal at home since Oct. 21.

The team’s own man advantage had fallen into a 2-for-17 funk before snapping out of it in the final stanza.

• Matt Niskanen, who spent his previous five seasons in Washington and won the 2018 Stanley Cup with the Capitals, played his first game against his former teammates since being traded to the Flyers during June.

He was his typical steady self.

Radko Gudas, who was sent to Washington in the trade, received a tribute from the Flyers during the first period.

• The Flyers open their fifth back-to-back set of 17 this season when they visit the Senators Friday (7:30 ET/NBCSP+).

The team returns home Saturday to play the Islanders (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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