Flyers

What are Flyers made of? We're about to find out

What are Flyers made of? We're about to find out

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Penguins have the Flyers on the canvas in a headlock.

The faces of the guys who wear orange and black are turning purple, and unless they put up a courageous fight as they did in Game 2, they will tap out of this best-of-seven series after just five games (see story).

General manager Ron Hextall spoke to the media for the first time since the series started and believes the Flyers have displayed a lack of mental fortitude through the first four games.

“A lot of it is mentality,” Hextall said. “We need to be stronger if a bump goes the other way. We need to be stronger and bounce back and create energy going back our way. The playoffs are a series of momentum [swings] — within a period and within a game. We need to do a better job of bringing the momentum back our way."

So where exactly does that start? The return of Sean Couturier would help considerably.

After sitting out Game 4’s 5-0 loss, the Selke Trophy finalist hasn’t ruled out playing in Game 5 after skating Wednesday and Thursday on his own. Hextall said Couturier would travel to Pittsburgh and nothing more than that.

“I’m feeling better every day, and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Couturier said. “It’s really on me to see how I feel every day and hopefully, it keeps getting better. It’s really up to my body to see how it keeps progressing.”

Dave Hakstol switched up his lines once again Thursday, most notably installing Valtteri Filppula onto the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and breaking up the top defense pairing of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere.

Robert Hagg is also expected to make his series debut, playing alongside Andrew MacDonald as fellow rookie Travis Sanheim will serve as the healthy scratch.

“About time,” Hagg said. “I’m looking forward to it tomorrow. Hopefully, I can bring something to the team, some energy. I think it’s perfect and I can’t wait to go in and show what I can bring to the team.”

“He brings a different element than a couple of guys in the lineup if we’re so inclined to make that change,” Hakstol said. “We haven’t generated very much over the last five periods, but at the same time, we’ve given up quite a bit in some of the harder areas.”

Toward the end of Thursday’s 45-minute practice, Giroux gathered his teammates around and delivered a speech he hopes can galvanize the Flyers for Game 5 and bring the series back to Philadelphia for Game 6.

“I think it’s believing in ourselves," Giroux said. "All year we’ve done that, and we’ve talked about it before. You lose 10 in a row and find a way to make the playoffs. Tomorrow’s a big game for us, and if we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down swinging.”

Quick hits
• Speaking on the collision with Radko Gudas, Couturier said, "We've done this drill all year. It was bad timing and a fluke accident. There's no one to really blame, and I should have maybe had my head up there."

• Hextall believes Couturier should be the Selke Trophy front-runner based on his outstanding 2017-18 season.

"I think he should win it," Hextall said. "I know those other players fairly well, and yes, I watch Coots on a daily basis, but the two-way game that he brings to our team is in my mind, the best in the league this year."

• Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist will miss his second straight game.

Claude Giroux's final Hart Trophy voting unveiled — and it should hurt

Claude Giroux's final Hart Trophy voting unveiled — and it should hurt

When the Hart Memorial Trophy finalists were unveiled in late April and Claude Giroux's name was nowhere to be found, there was noticeable outrage across the Delaware Valley — and understandably so.

Giroux, in his age 30 season, tied for the league lead in assists at 68 and finished second in points with 102, behind only Connor McDavid (108). He also recorded a better plus/minus at plus-28 than the three finalists — Anze Kopitar (plus-21), Taylor Hall (plus-14) and Nathan MacKinnon (plus-11).

Not only that, Giroux also emphatically rebounded from one of his worst seasons as a pro with career bests across the board — again, at age 30.

2016-17: 82 games, 14 goals, 44 assists, 58 points, minus-15

2017-18: 82 games, 34 goals, 68 assists, 102 points, plus-28

So when Giroux was not voted a Hart Trophy finalist, it led to the burning and lingering question of how ridiculous was the omission?

Giroux was already considered snubbed, but imagine if the Flyers' captain finished outside, say, the top five or six of the final voting? All hell would have broken loose in Philadelphia.

Turns out, Giroux did get some respect, finishing fourth in the final tally, which was released Wednesday night at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, where Hall won the Hart Trophy.

At least Giroux received his share of love, but in a way, it stings even more for his supporters given the fact he fell only five points shy of being a finalist.

Nonetheless, Giroux's 2017-18 season will never be forgotten, hardware or not. He punctuated the first 100-point campaign in Flyers history since Eric Lindros in 1995-96 by delivering a hat trick in Game 82 of the regular season to clinch the Flyers a playoff berth at the Wells Fargo Center.

Fans chanted MVP.

And that will have to do.

Other NHL Awards tidbits

• Shayne Gostisbehere finished 10th in the James Norris Memorial Trophy voting for best defenseman. Victor Hedman won the award.

• Ron Hextall came in eighth for General Manager of the Year while also notching a first-place vote. Dave Hakstol slotted in at 14th for the Jack Adams Award (NHL Coach of the Year). The Golden Knights swept the categories with GM George McPhee and head coach Gerard Gallant taking home the honors.

More on the Flyers

Was Couturier snubbed for Selke Trophy?

Simmonds narrowly misses out on Flyers history

Wayne Simmonds misses out on Mark Messier Leadership Award to Deryk Engelland

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Wayne Simmonds misses out on Mark Messier Leadership Award to Deryk Engelland

Wayne Simmonds narrowly missed out on becoming the first Flyer to win the Mark Messier Leadership Award. Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland took home the honors Wednesday night in Las Vegas. 

The award, chosen by Messier himself, is presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season and who plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey.

Simmonds was named a finalist through his extensive work in the community. The Flyers' forward has hosted a military unit in his private suite during every Flyers home game while also serving on the board of directors for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.

Simmonds' philantropy also extends to his hometown of Scarborough, Ontario, where he has hosted Wayne's Road Hockey Warriors each summer over the past six years.

Engelland is the first player never to wear the ‘C’ to win the Mark Messier Leadership Award, which was first presented in 2007. Previous winners include Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Shea Weber.  

Engelland’s award marked a big night for the expansion Golden Knights franchise. Gerard Gallant took home the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year, William Karlsson claimed the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy recognizing the player who exhibits the highest standard of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, and George McPhee was named the GM of the Year.

More on the Flyers