'Such a relief' as Flyers put 10-game skid to bed with win over Flames

'Such a relief' as Flyers put 10-game skid to bed with win over Flames


CALGARY, Alberta — Jakub Voracek called it the biggest win of his career dating back to the 2010 IIHF World Championships when the Czech Republic won the gold medal.

“It was such a relief,” Voracek said. “You have no idea. It’s crazy.”

No medals were handed out, but a tremendous weight was lifted off the Flyers' shoulders after snapping a 10-game winless streak, their first victory in nearly a month, by beating the Calgary Flames, 5-2, Monday night at Scotiabank Saddledome (see observations).

“That’s a big streak to end,” goalie Brian Elliott, whose last win came on Nov. 9, said. “In doing it the way we did tonight with punctuation was really good for our group. We've got to take that and harness that and take that to the next game. We've got to enjoy this. We’ve waited a little too long for it.”

The biggest change coming into this game was Dave Hakstol’s decision to move Voracek off the team’s top line and match him with Valtteri Filppula and Michael Raffl. That proved to be a lethal combination as the trio combined for two goals, five assists and a plus-8 rating (see highlights).

“It’s a group that makes sense together, and I think you can credit all three of those guys,” Hakstol said. “I thought they were all very good tonight. Fil played a lot of minutes tonight and he played a real strong game with those two guys on his wing. They seemed to click right away, and they played a real strong game through the 60 minutes.”

Raffl and Voracek connected on a nifty give-and-go goal in the second period to hand the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

“I always like to play with Jake. What’s not to like about it? We’ve been on the same team for five, six years now,” Raffl said. “I’ve played with him for a couple of years so I know what he wants me to do. We talked about it and it was a good start.”

Voracek contributed three assists but was more impressed there was nothing attached to Johnny Gaudreau’s name, as the South Jersey native finished with just two shots, no points and a minus-1 rating.

“For half the game we matched up against the Gaudreau line, and I think we played them pretty well," Voracek said. "When you score on that line and don’t get scored on, it’s always a success. I think we played a real smart hockey game today and it showed.” 

Elliott had been relatively solid through the 10-game winless skid, but coming to Calgary was extra special after his last game at the Saddledome was a terrible memory of losing in a first-round four-game sweep to the Anaheim Ducks. Elliott was pulled in the first period of the series-clinching game.

In his return, Elliott made 43 saves and earned the game’s No. 1 star.

“It was pretty good,” Elliott said. “I got a lot of friends over there but when the puck drops, there’s no friends, and I really wanted that one tonight.”

While the Flames outshot the Flyers by a whopping 45-21 margin, the two teams were actually even with nine chances in the high-danger zone of the ice. A product of that was creating turnovers behind the Flames' net.  

Hakstol not only switched up his lines, but he also altered his system as he employed a 1-2-2 zone for this game that created opportunitistic turnovers for the Flyers.

“It was just a different look for us,” Hakstol said. “We made a couple of slight adjustments tonight. Those things just kind of help you refocus a little bit, but it comes back to what the players have done.”

“We needed to change something up obviously,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “Some little adjustments here and there and I think it worked for us. I think a little more passive works for us and it makes them make plays and we avoid our mistakes.”

The Flyers will now travel to Edmonton, where they take on Connor McDavid and the Oilers, looking to start just their second winning streak of the season after opening up their first homestand with back-to-back wins over the Capitals and Panthers. 

“It’s one game,” Voracek said. “We fully expect to win on Wednesday. We have to play the same way. We have to be ready. It’s another tough matchup again.”

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers. 

Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

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Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

Updated: 9:44 p.m.

Three young forwards will all be staying in the Flyers organization, at least for one more year.

Sunday, the team announced that Danick Martel accepted his qualifying offer on a one-year contract, and that restricted free agents Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne signed one-year deals.

Restricted free agent goalie Anthony Stolarz has also accepted his qualifying offer of $761,250, according to a report from John Hoven. Stolarz, 24, played in just one game for the Phantoms in the 2017-18 season after undergoing surgery on a meniscus tear last summer. A second-round pick by the Flyers in the 2012 draft, Stolarz went 18-9 and posted a 2.92 goals against average with Lehigh Valley in 2016-17.

Though the team didn't include any salary details, Martel's deal is reportedly a two-way contract worth $715,000.

The 23-year-old Martel made his NHL debut last season, finishing with no points and six shots over four games. He scored a career-best 25 goals for Lehigh Valley.

With Leier, the Flyers avoided a possible arbitration hearing. According to CapFriendly, Leier's contract is a one-way deal for $720,000. Leier's hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3. The team also earlier avoided a hearing with Alex Lyon, their other player who filed for arbitration, signing the goalie to a two-year deal.

A fourth-round selection in 2012, Leier had one goal and four assists in 39 regular-season games with the Flyers as a rookie.

Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, appeared in nine regular-season contests, with 15 hits.

If Stolarz is indeed back in the fold, Robert Hagg would be the team's only remaining restricted free agent. 

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