Selfish, undisciplined play dooms Flyers in OT loss to Flames

Selfish, undisciplined play dooms Flyers in OT loss to Flames


The Flyers' emotions got the best of them Saturday afternoon, and in turn, they got the best from Sean Monahan.

Monahan's second-period power-play hat trick was the result of the Flyers' selfish, undisciplined penalties, which allowed the Calgary Flames to erase a two-goal deficit and take down the Flyers, 5-4, at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

Michael Frolik capped the Flames' comeback, converting on a 2-on-1 chance just 1:18 into overtime.

"It's not deflating — it pisses you off," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said, "when things are a little bit within our control at that point in time. They're penalties that could have been within our control. That obviously turned and changed the hockey game drastically."

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was the primary culprit behind the Flyers' lack of discipline.

After a fracas in front of the Flyers' bench that saw Michael Raffl take a stick up high, Gostisbehere was the recipient of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yelling at referee Tim Peel. The Flyers successfully killed that two-minute minor and then Gostisbehere was sent back to the box 65 seconds later for elbowing Flames forward Micheal Ferland against the boards.

"I think I was upset overall," Gostisbehere said. "I took it out on the wrong guy. Just wasn't a good team player in that sense on that play — heat of the moment. Obviously, there are no excuses for something like that to happen. I wasn't thinking about my team there. I really let my team down."

"It varies from ref to ref," Brandon Manning said. "In Ghost's case, it was a point to where he was fed up. It wasn't what Ghost said directly. I think it was just a matter of things building up and the time and situation of it."

Monahan didn't score on Gostisbehere's unsportsmanlike penalty, but he did convert on the elbowing call, which completed his first career hat trick. He scored his first goal with Dale Weise in the box for high-sticking and then scored his second goal just three minutes and 44 seconds later, with Manning in the box for slashing and snapping Matt Stajan's stick.

"It's something I've been bad for lately and (what) I've tried to work on is keeping my stick down instead of going after the stick," Manning said. "I was a little surprised he pulled up and kind of backed off and I was just trying to get around him. That's the way it is. They're calling that a penalty now."

While the Flyers' top line has been a three-man show recently, it was the Flyers' No. 1 line that took center stage, as Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Ferland combined for four goals on 22 attempted shots, many of which were high-quality scoring chances.

The Flyers, now 8-8-4 and losers of four straight, jumped all over the Flyers with three first-period goals and taking a 3-1 lead after the opening 20 minutes. It also marked the second straight game the Flyers wasted a two-goal lead. Thursday, the Flyers scored two early goals, led for nearly 57 minutes and then watched it vanish in the final minute of regulation in Winnipeg.

"We were outshooting them pretty badly at one point and then the penalties gave them a chance to get back in the game," Sean Couturier said. "We got to be better on the PK, but at the same time, we've got to be more disciplined."

"We kind of just lost our heads there," Wayne Simmonds said. "I think groaning and moaning at the refs, but some of those penalties are penalties. We got to get better. We got to keep our heads and we just got to focus on the play because we had the game and then we let it go."

Radko a no-go
Radko Gudas was unavailable for Saturday's game against Calgary after he elected to have a phone hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety following his slashing penalty to the back of Mathieu Perreault's head Thursday in Winnipeg.

Gudas was ruled ineligible and sitting out Saturday's game will be applied to his suspension. According to the league’s collective bargaining agreement, “no decision to issue supplemental discipline is made before the player has the opportunity to explain his actions.”

With Andrew MacDonald still not ready for game action, Mark Alt replaced Gudas in the lineup and played 13 minutes and five seconds.

Another Johnny Hockey homecoming
South Jersey's Gaudreau had a successful trip back home establishing a new career-high nine-game point streak. Gaudreau scored Calgary's first goal on a breakaway, which was his fourth straight game with a goal.

Gaudreau also assisted on a pair of Monahan's power-play goals, giving him a three-point night.

"Yeah, this is a big win for us," Gaudreau said, "especially after the last game we had (an 8-2 loss to Detroit last Wednesday). Some big performers tonight, power play looked good, had a huge kill at the end there in the third and a big goal Frolik, so it was a good team win there."

Flyers making right move with Mikhail Vorobyev … for now

Flyers making right move with Mikhail Vorobyev … for now

This wasn't one of those times Dave Hakstol benches a young player for no particular reason and Flyers fans throw fits on social media.

In actuality, fans were somewhat receptive to Hakstol's decision to healthy scratch Mikhail Vorobyev Thursday night for Corban Knight … as long as it's for the short term.

Vorobyev knocked the Flyers' door down in training camp and won the competition as the third-line center. He was impressive in his NHL debut, scored his first goal in his second game but hasn't made much noise since. He's been ineffective in his past three games.

"I wouldn't say concerned. I think what he's going through right now is fairly normal but you've got to be better," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "He played six really good preseason games. He played two, what I thought, really good games and three out of four he hasn’t been very good. It’s not good enough. An established player, you live with stuff like that because you know what he can do.”

Sitting Vorobyev down for a couple of games isn't such a bad idea, but it will get interesting what the Flyers do with Vorobyev once Nolan Patrick returns from his "upper-body" injury, which could be as early as Saturday afternoon against the Devils.

With Patrick's return looming, the Flyers' forward depth doesn't look like a mirage anymore. They're still without James van Riemsdyk.

When Patrick returns and with Knight healthy, the Flyers' depth down the middle will be strong again, at least in numbers, but it also means lineup changes are coming.

Currently, the Flyers are carrying 14 forwards with JVR on injured reserve but 13 healthy forwards. At some point in time, Michal Neuvirth will be healthy again. It's unlikely the Flyers carry three goalies, so Calvin Pickard likely will be on the move once Neuvirth returns. If Knight remains, then a forward will have to be on the move. The Flyers did waive Dale Weise before the season, so he could be an option.

While there remains a chance Vorobyev could be sent back to Lehigh Valley, it doesn't seem likely. Vorobyev made the team and a six-game sample size will not be enough for Hextall to send him back down to the AHL.

By all indications, Hextall will allow Vorobyev the opportunity to prove himself worthy of sticking around, but the GM did leave the door open, however slightly, for a scenario in which Vorobyev ends up back with the Phantoms.

Misha has to show us that he can do it. He's got to be better, and sometimes when guys sit out — first of all, he can let his breath out. It's a lot for a young player. He comes from Russia, playing 50-60 games and all of a sudden you go to the American League and you play 76 and a couple rounds in the playoffs, it's a lot of hockey.

Now, all of a sudden, you step up a level, everything's faster and stronger, more competitive. Points mean a lot, and it's a lot. He hit a little bit of a wall and he needs to get through it.

At the very least, Thursday's healthy scratch was a message well sent by Hakstol to Vorobyev. He may be out again Saturday; we won't know until warmups. It doesn't hurt to remind Vorobyev that his spot isn't guaranteed, that he has to work on the little details to get back to the player he was in the preseason and out West.

Whether we agreed with the benchings at the time or not, it's hard to argue against this coaching tactic. Hakstol has previously sat Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim, and in the long game, it worked.

Ultimately, Vorobyev should be playing … somewhere. If he doesn't work hard enough to get back in the lineup up here, then the Flyers will have no choice to send him back to Lehigh Valley.

The Flyers have a lot of problems right now, mainly team defense and goaltending. A bottom-six rookie center sitting is nowhere near the top of the mountain.

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Ron Hextall would use an offer sheet, but is William Nylander worth it?

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Ron Hextall would use an offer sheet, but is William Nylander worth it?

VOORHEES, N.J. — In the coming weeks, speculation surrounding William Nylander will only intensify.

The Maple Leafs' restricted free agent has yet to agree to a contract and his holdout continues through the first two weeks of the regular season. With the Leafs jumping out to a 6-2-0 start, they’re also the highest-scoring team in the league, averaging 4.13 goals. Right now, the current Leafs show no signs of missing Nylander’s contributions, even with the 22-year-old left winger coming off back-to-back 60-point seasons.

The Maple Leafs and Nylander have until Dec. 1 to reach an agreement, or he’s ineligible to play for the remainder of the season.

There’s a feeling that if a stalemate continues into November, another team could present an RFA offer sheet or the Leafs will entertain offers for a possible trade. Toronto has a real need to strengthen its blue line and a Nylander-for-a-defenseman blockbuster deal could ultimately benefit the Maple Leafs in the long run.

With cap space to accommodate and draft picks to cover the required compensation, the Flyers could step in and offer sheet Nylander. While general manager Ron Hextall won’t comment on signing a player currently property of another team, he did provide insight into signing any potential RFA to an offer sheet.

“Depends on the fit, depends on the player, depends what type of situation the other team is in,” Hextall said. “There’s a lot of factors that come into offer sheets, and the price is typically pretty high. For another team not to match it, you’re going to be paying a high price, so the reward on what you’re going to pay out in terms of dollars and cap space and what you’ve got to give up if the other team’s not matching it, chances are, you’re probably overpaying.”

In 2012, the Flyers whipped up the biggest offer sheet in NHL history when then-GM Paul Holmgren signed Predators defenseman Shea Weber to a record 14-year, $110-million offer. Holmgren thought the structure of the contract would discourage general manager David Poile from matching the Flyers' offer.

But the Predators didn’t balk. They matched the offer, sparing the Flyers from forking over four first-round picks. In case you’re wondering, those first-round picks turned out to be Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov and German Rubtsov, so you can decide whether the Flyers are better off with those guys or with a 33-year-old Weber who’s been battling injuries over the past year.

At that time, Weber seemed to be worth the hefty compensation: A cornerstone shutdown defenseman at 26 years old in his prime years. After all, the Flyers surrendered two first-round picks and two former first-round selections when they dealt Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa to acquire Chris Pronger from the Ducks in 2009. Weber was considered the replacement to Pronger, who suffered a career-ending head injury in October 2011.

Holmgren stepped down two years later, turning the general managerial duties over to Hextall, and part of the reasoning was how he was perceived across the league as a result of the Weber offer sheet. Holmgren described how things changed to writer Jay Greenberg in the Flyers' 50th Anniversary Edition.

“Even though [RFA offers] are within the rules, they are really frowned upon,” Holmgren said. “My relationship with a lot of other general managers changed. It’s hard to do this job if you have a bad relationship, or at least, a perceived bad relationship, with any number of GMs.”

Interestingly, signing a player to an offer sheet wouldn’t deter Hextall, who admitted he would utilize every resource within the CBA to gain an advantage.

“It’s business. A guy takes a player off waivers, it’s business,” Hextall said. “It’s within the rules. The rules are the rules. It’s the rules we’re given. Player wants to hold out, or if we want to keep a player out of camp that’s not signed, those are the rules. That’s business, not personal. To me, none of that stuff is personal.”

So the question going forward is not whether Hextall would exercise the offer sheet option, but if a player like Nylander is actually worth it. Any offer sheet over $10.1 million in value, which is where the Flyers would have to go on a multi-year deal, the compensation is once again four first-round picks.

Perhaps you can forfeit future picks for a 25-minute-per-game defenseman, but it’s simply a price way too steep for a skilled winger like Nylander.

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