Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere leads Flyers to season-high winning streak

Shayne Gostisbehere leads Flyers to season-high winning streak

BOX SCORE

The wins just keep on coming.

The Flyers on Saturday night extended their season-high winning streak to six games with a 2-1 overtime win over the Dallas Stars after Shayne Gostisbehere scored the game-winning goal just seconds into a power play.

Gostisbehere scored both of the Flyers' goals with the man advantage. His first power-play goal was the Flyers' first home power-play goal since Nov. 18, snapping an 0-for-20 drought.

The OT victory also snapped the Flyers' seven-game losing skid in games ending after regulation.

Brian Elliott, who made his seventh straight start, stopped 26 of 27 shots.

Former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock was looking for his 800th career win.

• It was a rather interesting start to the game, as Claude Giroux and Jamie Benn got tangled up at center ice between the two benches. Benn extended his glove underneath Giroux's chin and a lot of pushing and shoving ensued. Both guys went off for roughing minors.

• During the matching penalties, the Flyers dominated the 4-on-4 play. First, the Flyers' fourth line had an extended possession, though Travis Konecny tried to create a play on his own and wound up with a very low percentage shot near the blue line. The Flyers' best opportunity came when Wayne Simmonds worked a beautiful give-and-go with Sean Couturier that resulted in Simmonds having a break.

• The Stars struck first with their fourth line when Gemel Smith beat Elliott on a one-timer to the far post. The Flyers had enough men back on defense, but they lost coverage when Scott Laughton was caught puck watching and didn't cover the backside pass. By the time Laughton realized it, he was a step behind. Not a good goal to give up, but the Stars have a pretty effective fourth line. 

• Tensions rose again when Dan Hamhuis grabbed Simmonds after firing a shot, and as Couturier came to his defense, he gave Hamhuis a subtle jab that resulted in a two-minute roughing, which negated a Flyers power play after just 30 seconds. Hamhuis appeared to have embellished when he launched his head backward. A no-call should have been the way to go.

• The Stars' combo of Jason Spezza and Alexander Radulov had some effective zone time and took advantage of the Flyers' third defensive pairing of Travis Sanheim and Radko Gudas. Radulov drew a penalty when he made a move past Valtteri Filppula, who reached out and tripped up Radulov. The Stars generated two power-play shots, including one that Elliott appeared to glove after it had been deflected.

• Twenty-five minutes into the game and there wasn't much open ice at all. It was tight checking with both teams clogging up the middle and disrupting the passing lanes. Even when the Flyers turned the puck over, they were able to minimize the damage.

• The Flyers' power play finally got on the board after they were buzzing all over the Stars' net. After Ben Bishop came up with a remarkable save on Simmonds at point-blank range, the Flyers threw everything at Bishop as a result of their quick puck movement, which kept the Stars' penalty killers out for an extended shift. The hard work paid off when Gostisbehere cut backdoor and cleaned up a backside rebound off the boards. One of the Flyers' best all-around power-play efforts of the season.

"We were putting everything we had but the kitchen sink at the net," Gostisbehere said after the second period. "We missed a couple of shots, but they were banking off the boards pretty good and thankfully, I was there to clean it up."

• Gostisbehere came right back and sprung Jakub Voracek on a breakaway with a heads-up two-line stretch pass. Voracek elected to go forehand, but his shot went a foot wide.

• Konecny's scoring frustrations continued when he broke in all alone off a feed from Michael Raffl. Konecny chose to cut across the crease and fire a backhand, but his shot went wide. Konecny could have brought the puck wide to his forehand, creating a better 2-on-0 opportunity with Raffl, but you could see Konecny is more desperate to score a goal.

• The Stars had a matchup advantage late in the second period when a line of Benn, Spezza and Radulov was matched up against the Flyers' fourth line and third defensive pair. As the Stars entered the zone, Sanheim was turned around and fell to the ice. Sanheim's partner, Gudas, hit the deck and broke up a centering pass with his stick. The Flyers finally survived and were able to dump it out of the zone.

• The Flyers' third line of Jordan Weal, Nolan Patrick and Jordan Weal had a strong opening shift to begin the third period. They logged about 30 seconds in the Stars' zone and generated a couple of shots on Bishop.

• Sanheim is usually good for one defensive gaffe per game. The Stars and Lance Pitlick caught Sanheim flat-footed when the puck was lofted high, up and out of the Dallas zone. That resulted in Pitlick blowing past Sanheim and attempting a backhanded breakaway play that went wide of the Flyers' net, similar to Konecny's in the second period.

Lines, pairings and scratches
Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Travis Konecny

Defense
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

Scratches: Forward Jori Lehtera and Mark Alt. Both were healthy.

End to End: What is Ron Hextall's next big signing?

End to End: What is Ron Hextall's next big signing?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What is Ron Hextall's next big signing?

Boruk
There are three ways to look at this …

1. The Flyers re-sign Wayne Simmonds, who's eligible for an extension that would take effect in 2019-20.

2. Ron Hextall inks one of his restricted free agents to a team-friendly, lengthy multi-year deal.

3. The Flyers go big in free agency next summer. 

Let’s start with the latter. There are some interesting names that are headlining next summer’s potential UFA class: Tyler Seguin, Tyler Myers, Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin. 

Who knows which of these players will be re-signed or traded, but I don’t see the Flyers paying big dollars to add another forward now that you include James van Riemsdyk. According to Spotrac.com, the Flyers have $46.5 million (fourth highest in the NHL) committed to forwards, with Travis Konecny due for a pay raise next summer, as well.

With that knowledge, I’m not sure it makes sense for the Flyers to extend Simmonds another four to five years with an AAV of $6-7 million. Hextall has a good barometer of what Simmonds is worth on the open market, which is why term would be the sticking point in negotiations. If he’s willing to look at a three-year deal, it could get done soon, but if I’m Simmonds' agent, I’m trying to maximize the length of any new contract, which very well could be the last one his client signs.

I think the next big contract will be signed by defenseman Ivan Provorov, who’s entering the final year of his entry-level deal. It’s not out of the financial realm to think Provorov could sign a Drew Doughty-type bridge deal similar to the eight-year, $56 million pact the Kings' defenseman signed in 2011 at the age of 21. Doughty was coming off a monstrous 16-goal, 59-point season. Last season, Provorov ripped off 17 goals and 41 points and appears poised to build on that for this upcoming season.

Prepare yourself. Provorov will receive the next big pay day in Philadelphia.

Dougherty
Outside of teaching the Sixers and Phillies how to close a deal, Hextall's only item left on his offseason to-do list is to re-sign restricted free agent Robert Hagg.

During his end-of-season-news conference in April, Hextall said "initially, my thought right now is that we would be open to either long term or short term" with Hagg.

Whether Hagg qualifies as a "big signing" isn't really up for debate. It's not. Hagg is a quality third pair defenseman in the NHL and he proved as much in his rookie season.

But re-signing Hagg is the only move left I envision Hextall making this summer, or at the very least, the next move. A Provorov or Simmonds extension remains possible too.

As Hextall mentioned, the Flyers are open to either a short or long-term deal with Hagg. Both have their upside. That is also likely the holdup right now.

While Hagg wouldn't qualify as a "big" signing, he is next on the checklist. Once his contract is out of the way, then I could see the Flyers knocking out Provorov or Simmonds.

Hall
Hextall tends to get ahead and take care of his own.

When you look at the track record, he's not one to let contract decisions linger, especially when it comes to his core pieces — which makes for good business.

Just like in any profession, stability and happiness are important.

The Flyers' general manager extended Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier the summer prior to their contract years. 

He signed Shayne Gostisbehere, a restricted free agent last summer, in early June before the expansion draft and free agency opened. 

He even signed Michael Raffl in February 2016 before the role forward was set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

With all that said, my gut tells me Hextall's next big move is extending Simmonds at some point before the start of the season. Simmonds, coming off an injury-ravaged year in which he still managed to score 24 goals, can hit unrestricted free agency following the 2018-19 season. He wants to be back and Hextall values him greatly.

And the GM made it clear that when the Flyers signed van Riemsdyk to a five-year deal, it meant nothing to their situation with Simmonds.

"We like Wayne Simmonds," Hextall said July 1. "This doesn't change anything for Wayne. This is a left winger; this is a different player than Simmer. We're excited to have James, and certainly, we would like to have Simmer for a long time, too."

I expect that to be the next major check on the agenda.

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Another Oskar Lindblom? Marcus Westfalt has footsteps to follow with Flyers

Another Oskar Lindblom? Marcus Westfalt has footsteps to follow with Flyers

Ron Hextall knows how these things can work out.

He remembers plucking Oskar Lindblom in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL draft. Not much was made of the pick, barely even a peep, because, well, the 138th overall selections don't typically draw heaps of praise.

Lindblom quietly slipped back to Sweden. Three summers later, Flyers fans couldn't stop talking about him.

"Oskar went away, no one knew who the hell he was, fifth-round pick, over there getting better and better and better and bang," Hextall said last July. "He's the SHL Forward of the Year."

One has to believe Lindblom's name popped in the general manager's head when the Flyers saw Marcus Westfalt still available and the clock ticking on their 2018 seventh-round pick. At 205th overall, Westfalt became the Flyers' final selection, making for eerie similarities to Lindblom, who forced his way to the big club in 2017-18.

Westfalt plays for the same Swedish junior team (Brynäs IF J20) and SHL squad (Brynäs IF) as Lindblom did when he was taken by the Flyers. Both prospects are from Sweden and dropped in their respective drafts. Lindblom, a left winger, stands 6-foot-1, 191 pounds, while Westfalt, a center/left winger, comes in at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds.

Another Lindblom in the works?

"Hopefully, that's my dream, of course," Westfalt said three weeks ago at Flyers development camp. "But he's a really good player, he's got a lot of skill. But, yeah, hopefully."

The 18-year-old was well aware of Lindblom. It was hard to not hear or see his fellow countryman transform from fifth-round pick to ballyhooed Flyers prospect. In 2016-17, when Lindblom really took off with Brynäs IF and won Swedish Hockey League Forward of the Year, Westfalt witnessed the rise.

"I watch him a lot," Westfalt said. "His last year in Brynäs before he got here, I watched him a lot. He's a [role model] because I think he's really good, he's good with his hands, his speed, he uses his body well. I watch him a lot."

In his draft year, Lindblom played only four SHL games compared to 43 for Brynäs IF J20. For Westfalt, it was a bit different. He appeared in 39 SHL games, including playoffs, while playing 26 contests at the junior ranks, where he put up 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) and a plus-19 rating.

Westfalt's goal for 2018-19 is to play the whole season in the SHL. Lindblom did a bit later than Westfalt, but once the jump was made, he impacted games.

"Try to get more ice time," Westfalt said. "Bigger role in the game.

"[Brynäs IF] told me that I have some things I need to work on and if I do that, I can get to play."

Westfalt, who had four points (one goal, three assists) in those 39 SHL games, said he tries to be "a smart, two-way centerman," and feels his "play in the D-zone is better than the offense."

"I'm strong without the puck and with the puck," he said.

While the goal is to stick in the SHL, he's uncertain which level will be best for his on-ice growth at this stage of his development."

"When I play in junior, I get more ice time, I get to play a lot more with the puck, I get to play the power play and stuff like that," he said. "I want to play in the juniors, too, because I want to work on my skills, but my big goal is to do the same thing I do in the juniors in the SHL."

Lindblom eventually did, carving out his path to the Flyers at 21 years old.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said last summer.

With Westfalt, there is no chip on his shoulder as a seventh-round pick.

"No, for me, I'm just glad that I'm here," he said. "It's a great organization. It's fun to go earlier [in the draft], but I'm just happy to be here."

And eager to climb like Lindblom.

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