Flyers

Why Flyers' shootout loss to Capitals was a major positive

Why Flyers' shootout loss to Capitals was a major positive

The Flyers missed out on a few accomplishments that could have been proudly placed in their back pocket as they left the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

A victory over the Capitals would have given the Flyers their longest winning streak (five games) in the opening two months of a season since 2010-11, when the club won six straight games from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6.

A win would have also improved the Flyers’ home record to 7-1-1, which would have marked the team’s best start on home ice since 2005-06, when it went 9-1-0.

Alas, the Flyers had to settle for a 2-1 shootout loss to Washington (see observations).

That result holds far greater meaning in the grand scheme of the 2019-20 season than some historical feats among past franchise teams. This season, the Flyers are aiming for a jump back into contention and relevancy among the NHL’s better clubs.

They want to show everyone they are not the 2018-19 team that fell well short of expectations and finished with 82 points, the organization’s fewest in a full season since 2006-07. The demoralization of last season is why Alain Vigneault is in Philadelphia this season, leading the charge of making this Flyers team different.

Wednesday represented an eye-opening indicator of how things have changed.

In 2018-19, the Flyers were manhandled by the Capitals, losing all four meetings to the tune of an 18-9 margin. The Flyers allowed Washington to put up 4.50 goals per game in the matchups. As shown by the outcomes, the Capitals had their way.

“For me, it’s a new season,” Vigneault said Thursday. “I’m new here, my staff is new, players are new to us. I’m really not interested or focused on what has happened in the past.

“It was about us going out last night, going out and trying to win a game against the best team at this time in the league. I thought our start wasn’t real good because we were a step behind and a second behind in making the plays that we needed to defensively. Got better in the second, got better in the third and we made a game out of it and were able to come back and get a point."

Entering Wednesday, the Capitals were still the Capitals. They were leading the NHL with 30 points, were scoring a league-high four goals per game, were on a 12-game point streak and were 8-1-1 on the road.

They came rolling into the Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers held them to one goal through three periods and overtime. Washington had scored three or more goals in 16 straight games before the Flyers limited it to one in 65 minutes.

“Give them credit, I mean they came out hard and they proved in that first period there’s a reason why they’re first in the league right now,” Vigneault said Wednesday. “Their execution and their speed were very challenging. In the second period, we got better, made better decisions as far as giving them a little bit less space and time. We were able to make a couple plays with the puck and, in the third, we found a way to even it up.”

Over their last three games, the Flyers took five out of a possible six points and allowed only five goals against the Capitals, Bruins and Maple Leafs, who are a combined 34-12-12. Last season, the Flyers went a combined 3-7-0 against those three clubs and were outscored 43-27.

The Flyers are clearly a better team this season compared to last. 

They have proven that with hard evidence.

How much better compared to the rest of the league is a question to be answered when the games become bigger and the playoff race has truly begun.

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Eric Lindros reveals awesome insight on his career during Twitter Q&A

Eric Lindros reveals awesome insight on his career during Twitter Q&A

There are so many Eric Lindros memories.

During his playing days, No. 88 was a rare breed of size and skill. Lindros' blend of strengths would still be rare in today's game.

His dynamic was intimidating and imposing because of those strengths, so to hear Lindros open up about his toughest opponents is really cool.

"Big E" did just that in a question-and-answer session Sunday on his Twitter account.

It's awesome to see Lindros talk hockey with his fans. He has always respected the knowledgeable fan base in Philly.

"Flyers players are lucky to play in a city where the fans truly know the game of hockey, appreciate the little things and are of course rowdy, but also show heart," Lindros said on his jersey retirement night in January 2018.

Here were Lindros' interactions Sunday night and we look forward to the next time.

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Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award, presented to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect both on and off the ice.

Destra

The best part about the Flyers and their organization is that they are filled with top-notch people. Just about every player on the team could win this award. 

This year though, I’d have to go with Jakub Voracek. He is one of the most respected players on the ice but what stands out the most is the person he is off the ice. The person he is when the cameras aren’t on him. The person he is when it comes to being an ambassador for the phrase, "It’s more than just a game."

There are many examples from this season, but one of my favorites that simply showcases why Voracek should win the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award dates back to Feb. 27-28, when the Flyers signed Blake Steigauf to a one-day contract.

All throughout this video, you catch glimpses of Voracek with Steigauf, but the one moment that stuck with me was the shot of him waiting for the 15-year-old to come off the ice and into the tunnel before heading back to the locker room. 

All class. 

Emmer

The Flyers' dressing room is full of players with good character and high respect for the game, so this one was hard for me. 

This season, I’m picking Matt Niskanen.   

Niskanen is a highly respected, veteran player in the league and general manager Chuck Fletcher knew that when he decided to bring him in during the offseason.  

Coming into this year, the 33-year-old had 14 NHL seasons under his belt, 10 playoff runs and a Stanley Cup in 2018 — he had the experience the blue line needed.  

Where I think Niskanen really exceeded expectations so far this season is the leadership he brings. He’s highly respected by his teammates and has some of the best well-rounded character you could ask for in your dressing room.

We’re all able to see the example he sets on the ice with the defensive group as well as the team as a whole. He has certainly helped with the Flyers’ success this season. On top of that, he sets an example off the ice by showing respect toward those around him, from the Flyers’ personnel to members of media.

He has been a great addition to the team and I believe he’s the most deserving of the Yanick Dupre Award.  

Hatcher

I’m giving it to Niskanen. This was tough for all the right reasons though. I think you could make a case for quite a few players on the team to take this one home.

There are a lot of great guys in that dressing room that are both the type of player and the type of person you’d want on your hockey team. But when you say “character, dignity and respect,” my mind jumps right to Niskanen. He holds himself and his teammates accountable in the most respectful way following tough contests. He has experienced success and exudes the maturity that comes with that, without ever talking about it or being boastful about it.

He’s the “Steady Eddie” of the team, keeping things in balance on the ice and off it. Never complains, not even with 15 stitches in his nose. And beyond his character contributions, he’s been exactly what Fletcher hoped he’d be in terms of a player — a dependable defenseman that has perfectly complemented Ivan Provorov on the Flyers' top D pairing.

Hall

During his first season in Philadelphia, Kevin Hayes has fully embraced the community on top of augmenting the dynamic in the Flyers' dressing room.

Through a mixture of lightheartedness and leadership, Hayes has brought the Flyers closer together. The 27-year-old center has been a quality teammate and a go-to interview all season.

He has shown nothing but respect and character in his dealings with fans, media members and Flyers employees.

There isn't a bad choice here, but Hayes' value has gone beyond the ice.

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