Flyers

Tough-to-predict Flyers drop a game they had, fall in 11-round shootout

Tough-to-predict Flyers drop a game they had, fall in 11-round shootout

BOX SCORE

The Flyers are still impossible to predict so far.

The team couldn't hold a 3-2 third-period lead Saturday night and eventually lost to the Maple Leafs, 4-3, after an 11-round shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (6-5-2) had a power play in overtime but failed to generate much with it. Travis Konecny, who was the only Flyer to score in the skills competition, was denied on a breakaway in the final minute of the bonus session.

This was the Flyers' third back-to-back set of 17 this season. They are 0-2-1 in the second game of such situations.

A positive for the Flyers: Following consecutive ugly losses to divisional opponents, the team picked up three of a possible four points its next two games.

Andreas Johnsson delivered the shootout winner for the Maple Leafs (7-5-3).

• Coming into the season, it looked like the Flyers' defensemen were going to make or break the team's fortunes and that storyline still rings true.

When the blueliners are good, the Flyers are scoring and dictating tempo. When they're not sharp, they're losing 1-on-1 battles, making mistakes with the puck and breakdowns ensue.

So far, the Flyers' defensemen have been inconsistent. It's no coincidence the team has been, too.

• This felt like a big night for Claude Giroux, who entered with 33 points in 34 career games against Toronto. The Maple Leafs' up-and-down style plays to his strengths. Against Toronto, the Flyers' captain put up his second multi-point game of the season with an assist and this nasty power play goal.

Jakub Voracek was good, too, in his second game after head coach Alain Vigneault challenged the two vets to lead with top-end play.

However, things went somewhat quiet in the final stanza.

• Joel Farabee truly can play anywhere in the lineup. He climbed to the top line and was superb alongside Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. The 19-year-old was making plays and knows how to complement talented linemates. He committed a costly penalty when the Flyers went on the power play with a 3-2 lead in the third, an infraction that led to Mitchell Marner's 4-on-4 goal.

The goal was avoidable, though, if Sean Couturier and the Flyers were cleaner through the neutral zone and Matt Niskanen didn't get beat on the play.

Overall, more positives from Farabee a game after he scored his first career goal in clutch fashion.

• The Flyers shouldn't be overly concerned with Travis Sanheim but it is puzzling to see the 23-year-old have this much trouble skating. He has fallen down in back-to-back games on an opposition's goal and three times this season.

He appeared to be fighting himself in the first period. On one play, Sanheim had an opportunity to hold the blue line but was hesitant and started backpedaling.

What do you know, Sanheim redeemed himself with a go-ahead goal early in the third period. He let out a huge fist pump as the play had to be massive for his psyche.

The 2014 first-round pick was arguably the Flyers' best defenseman in 2018-19 and didn't just forget how to skate. Sanheim will be fine but his confidence is worth monitoring (see story).

• Ivan Provorov replaced a struggling Shayne Gostisbehere on the Flyers' first-unit power play and wasted no time delivering during the first period. He pinballed a shot through traffic to erase the Maple Leafs' 1-0 lead and salvage the opening frame for the Flyers, who were toyed with by Toronto's speed and pressure. He tacked on a power play assist in the second period.

Provorov will put a stranglehold on that role if he continues to produce. Thirteen games into 2019-20, the 22-year-old already has a new career high in man advantage points with six (two goals, four assists). As Gostisbehere still tries to find his game, Provorov might have the first-unit quarterback spot until he shows he doesn't deserve it.

• Couturier took 10 faceoffs and won four of them after losing his only three draws Friday night. He's not 100 percent healthy but good enough to play — and help — right now.

The Flyers have 16 games this month, so it's a tough stretch. He's gutting it out and any day off will be vital.

• After allowing six goals through two periods against the Penguins, Brian Elliott was fine with 23 saves. He gave the Flyers a chance in the crazy shootout.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey, and host the Hurricanes Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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More on the Flyers

Flyers Talk podcast: Is this team convincing us in round robin of NHL playoffs?

Flyers Talk podcast: Is this team convincing us in round robin of NHL playoffs?

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra and Jordan Hall discuss the team's climb in the round robin.

From the Flyers' best line to what's ahead, let's dive in:

1:00 — Exciting times for Flyers fans

5:55 — Who has been the most impressive on the second line?

11:55 — Something we've noticed with the Flyers' first-line production

16:05 — Has this two-game stretch convinced us if we weren’t convinced already?

22:10 — What did we think of James van Riemsdyk being scratched? Big deal or no?

27:50 — Speaking of lineups, would we keep the same D pairs vs. the Lightning?

 33:00 — What we like and dislike about the Lightning matchup

 40:00 — The matchup could do a ton for Carter Hart's confidence

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Jakub Voracek out, James van Riemsdyk back and more changes as Flyers aim to win round robin

Jakub Voracek out, James van Riemsdyk back and more changes as Flyers aim to win round robin

With the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed up for grabs Saturday, the Flyers' No. 1 line will look differently and the reason for why is unknown.

What we do know is Jakub Voracek will not play in the Flyers' round-robin finale against the Lightning at Scotiabank Arena.

"He's not available," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Friday in a video interview, "that's all I can say for tomorrow."

As we learned during training camp when Voracek was absent from a scrimmage, there will be various levels of weirdness, uncertainty and inevitable speculation when a player is unavailable. Because of a mutual agreement between the NHL and NHLPA to respect an individual player's right to medical privacy during this time, clubs are not allowed to release specifications for any injuries/illnesses in the return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Naturally, time will tell about the severity of or length of time needed to return for Voracek's undisclosed absence.

Regardless, not having Voracek hurts the Flyers' chances to win the round robin. If the Flyers beat Tampa Bay, they'll secure the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs, which is slated to begin next Tuesday. If the Flyers lose to the Lightning, they'll settle for the No. 2 seed. The team has won its first two round-robin games by a combined score of 7-2 over the Bruins and Capitals.

Update: What Flyers fans need to know for round-robin finale, 1st-round matchups

When the Flyers started rolling in November of the regular season, Voracek was one of the club's best players. Since Nov. 1, the facilitating winger had 47 points (eight goals, 39 assists) and a plus-14 rating in 58 games. He finished the regular season with a team-best 44 helpers, 56 points and a plus-14 mark in 69 games.

"Jake's got a unique skill set, a veteran guy that's been around and has played in some big games," Matt Niskanen said Friday in a video interview. "We'll welcome him when he comes back. In the meantime, keep chugging forward with the guys we have."

The Flyers will chug forward with 20-year-old rookie winger Joel Farabee climbing to an exciting spot in the lineup. He'll play on the first line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, while James van Riemsdyk will return to the lineup after being interestingly scratched for the Flyers' 3-1 win Thursday over the Capitals. Connor Bunnaman, a 22-year-old forward who will likely be an extra come the first round if the Flyers are healthy, played in van Riemsdyk's place.

"It was less about benching James than looking at the big picture," Vigneault said. "Yes, James had been OK, just OK so far, after having in my estimation a real strong training camp. But I wanted to get Joel in, I also wanted to get Bunny in at some point, and I felt with the opposition, that it was the right time. Probably less to do with benching, more to do with the big picture."

The 31-year-old van Riemsdyk will join the third line. Vigneault is known to communicate with his players when they're taken out of the lineup or there's a notable change. The two-time 30-goal scorer wouldn't disclose the message between the player and coach, but van Riemsdyk was positive Friday, taking everything in stride.

“With those types of conversations, generally like to keep those in-house," van Riemsdyk said.

“For me, I look back at my career and playing in the playoffs and all these things, I’ve had success doing that in the past. My approach is going to stay the same and try to be the best player I can be and maximize every day. That’s always the way I approach things no matter what, I love the game. We have a great team and have a great shot this year, so my motivation and approach remains consistent day in and day out. No matter if you have a day that doesn’t go your way or if you have a day where things are going well, you go to the next day and you have to do it all over again.”

On the defensive side of things, Shayne Gostisbehere will draw into the lineup for Robert Hagg. Vigneault and his coaching staff had wanted to get Gostisbehere some action in the round robin. They trust the 27-year-old defenseman who could give a boost to the Flyers' power play, which is 0 for 8 through the round robin. Expect to see Hagg back with Justin Braun when the first round begins.

Here is the Flyers' lineup for Saturday's round-robin finale:

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman-Nate Thompson-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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