Flyers

On top of a new GM, just about anything can happen for Flyers in net

On top of a new GM, just about anything can happen for Flyers in net

The Flyers' goalie situation will be an area to clean up — or at least amend — for the new general manager.

It's been a mess this season.

Already, the Flyers have played five goalies, a group that has combined for a league-worst .879 save percentage. As a team, the Flyers are allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.58.

One of those five goaltenders, Calvin Pickard, was placed on waivers Wednesday and claimed Thursday by the Coyotes.

So where do the Flyers stand now in net? Let's take a look:

Brian Elliott

Head coach Dave Hakstol on Tuesday said the 33-year-old is week to week with his lower-body injury. Elliott was on the ice Wednesday and the Flyers desperately need him — not only now, but to stay healthy.

That'll be a big concern when he returns. The injury appears to be a groin issue and Elliott also underwent core muscle surgery last season in February.

Prior to the Nov. 15 game in which he suffered this injury, Elliott had been playing well over his previous eight outings, going 5-3-0 with a 1.73 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.

Michal Neuvirth

The oft-injured goalie is considered day to day but appears ready to return from a lower-body injury, especially given Pickard is gone and Anthony Stolarz is the only healthy goalie currently on the roster.

Similar to Elliott, the question is how much will the Flyers get out of Neuvirth?

After coming back from an injury he sustained in the preseason, Neuvirth played one game Oct. 27 before going right back on the shelf.

He could be the guy Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Stolarz

The 24-year-old is here but probably for not much longer. In Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Senators, Stolarz made his first NHL start since April 9, 2017.

When Elliott returns — or another goalie arrives — Stolarz will head back to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Alex Lyon

The 25-year-old did not look sharp in his one game, a 5-2 loss to the Sabres last week. He allowed four goals on 12 shots before being pulled after the first period.

He's back with the Phantoms.

Carter Hart

Yes, we're mentioning Hart. Given his name came up in Tuesday's press conference with Flyers president Paul Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott, that's enough to list him here.

Deemed by many as the goalie of the future, the 20-year-old Hart has shown he clearly still needs time to develop at Lehigh Valley. In his first year with the Phantoms, Hart is 5-4-2 with a 3.61 goals-against average and .884 save percentage.

But who knows, it seems like everyone is getting a crack with the Flyers this season. We'll have to wait and see how the new GM wants to approach Hart's situation — and the Flyers' situation overall in net (see story).

Outside options

Scott Darling was placed on waivers Thursday by the Hurricanes. He's 29 years old, 6-foot-5 and went 2-4-1 with a 3.14 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in seven games with Carolina this season.

Also, you can bet the Flyers will be actively looking leading up to the Feb. 25 trade deadline. Time will tell where the team is with its goalies and in the standings come closer to that date.

A lot can change across the league, but here's a look at the netminders set to become unrestricted free agents in 2019-20 that the Flyers could swing for at the deadline or in the offseason.

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Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

With the NHL's 24-team return-to-play plan, naturally some hockey fans have enjoyed poking fun at the seven clubs left out of the field.

The Devils being one of them.

But not is all bad for the Flyers' Metropolitan Division foe. New Jersey has a 7.5 percent chance to earn the No. 1 overall draft slot after landing the top pick in 2019 (Jack Hughes) and 2017 (Nico Hischier). For the 2020 draft, the Devils could end up with three first-round selections.

Not an awful spot.

New Jersey is also in the market for a head coach after finishing the 2019-20 campaign with interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine. There are some big fish out there and the Devils could reel one in — possibly a former Flyers head coach. According to a report Thursday by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts column, New Jersey is eyeing at least four candidates for its vacancy.

Two of them spent time behind the Flyers' bench in 2009-10, when the club made a run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Per Friedman:

As for the coaching search, word is the Devils are eyeing at least four candidates. I believe that includes incumbent Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette and John Stevens. There may be one more. The wrinkle here is that [interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald] did the initial interviews, and will any of them want him as their boss should they be choice? It’s also possible ownership will want a conversation before any decision is made. It’s a unique time to try and hire someone.

Flyers fans had it difficult enough seeing Wayne Simmonds in Devils red for most of this season. Laviolette attempting to lead New Jersey back to playoff hockey for just the second time in nine seasons would be interesting to follow from afar. Nobody would doubt his ability to do it. Laviolette, who was fired by the Predators in January, has taken all four teams he has coached to the playoffs and three of them to the Stanley Cup Final, winning it all with the Hurricanes in 2006.

Stevens hasn't been an NHL head coach since 2018-19, when he was fired by the Kings 13 games into the season. He led the Flyers to back-to-back playoff appearances from 2007 to 2009 and was let go by the club 25 games into the 2009-10 campaign, opening the door for Laviolette's tenure in Philadelphia.

If Laviolette goes to the Devils, he'll have coached four teams now currently in the Metropolitan Division. Alain Vigneault (Rangers, Flyers), Barry Trotz (Capitals, Islanders) and John Tortorella (Rangers, Blue Jackets) have also coached multiple clubs in the division.

Laviolette would certainly give the division another heavy hitter behind the bench.

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2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' outlook for round robin, first round

2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' outlook for round robin, first round

The round-robin tournament of the NHL's 24-team return-to-play format will represent different kinds of importance for the fourth-seeded Flyers.

Firstly, they couldn't ask for a better tune-up ahead of their first-round series. They'll play each of the Eastern Conference's top three teams once before meeting their opening-round opponent.

Secondly, those dates with the East's best could help the Flyers climb even more. The total points accumulated in the round-robin tournament will determine the conference's seed Nos. 1-4. If there are ties after the set of games, which will feature regular-season overtime and shootout rules, the regular-season points percentages of each club will serve as the tiebreaker.

How could the Flyers fare in the round-robin portion and what would it ultimately mean for their outlook in the 24-team setup?

Here are three factors to note:

1. Can Flyers win round robin?

They shouldn't be considered heavy underdogs. The Flyers will be confident in their opportunity to improve their seed after going 2-1-0 against the top-seeded Bruins during the regular season and 3-0-1 vs. the third-seeded Capitals. The second-seeded Lightning were the one club that gave the Flyers trouble. The Flyers dropped two games in regulation to Tampa Bay, but one was a 1-0 defeat and the other was a chippy 5-3 loss with an empty-netter in the final 22 seconds.

The Flyers have a goalie who keeps them in games and a group that held its own with the fellow top seeds in major statistical categories:

Goals per game

Lightning — 3.47
Capitals — 3.42
Flyers — 3.29
Bruins — 3.24

Goals against per game

Bruins — 2.39
Flyers — 2.77
Lightning — 2.77
Capitals — 3.07

Power play percentage

Bruins — 25.2
Lightning — 23.1
Flyers — 20.8
Capitals — 19.4

Penalty kill percentage

Bruins — 84.3
Capitals — 82.6
Flyers — 81.8
Lightning — 81.4

2. Wait, would they want to climb?

It's an interesting question right now because the NHL and NHLPA are undetermined on the format for the first and second rounds, whether it be bracketed or reseeding after the qualifying round.

That's a huge question.

Say the Flyers stayed at No. 4 in a bracket-style scenario and the 12th-seeded Canadiens knocked off the fifth-seeded Penguins, the Flyers would face Montreal. On paper, that would be a pretty favorable matchup against the lowest seed in the East. Whereas the No. 1 seed in the conference would face the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup.

If the league instead agrees to reseed, such a scenario would see the No. 1 seed face the Canadiens during the first round, whereas the Flyers, as the fourth seed, would get the highest remaining seed to advance from the qualifying round.

When/if the Flyers play round-robin games, the NHL will have made a decision on the format for the first and second rounds. Right now, just about everything is undecided for the Flyers.

3. The good thing?

The Flyers can't hurt themselves in the round robin. As the lowest seed of the four, they can only improve their seed. If the Flyers struggle, they stay put at No. 4 and at least played three competitive warmup games for their first-round series.

The Flyers went 22-8-5 against the Eastern Conference playoff field during the regular season, so they'll like their chances against whichever team they draw.

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