Flyers

Why Flyers should tread carefully with Brian Elliott

Why Flyers should tread carefully with Brian Elliott

There’s a nursery rhyme aspect to the Flyers' goaltending position this season.

Something resembling Humpty Dumpty where (until recently) no matter who’s sitting atop that wall, it’s just a matter of time before they endure a great fall.

Brian Elliott is now attempting to climb back up that wall with a bandaged eggshell following another core muscle injury he suffered in a game against the Devils on Nov. 15.

The 33-year-old goaltender has ramped up his activity level to where he’s a full participant in practice, and on Thursday, head coach Scott Gordon said there’s a possibility that Elliott could see game action next week — more than likely with the Phantoms.

“There’s a lot of things that factor into it,” Gordon said, “To me, there’s no right or wrong. it’s just a feel and what feels right for the situation.”

Elliott is an unrestricted free agent and doesn’t appear to factor into next season’s plans, but on a personal level, he’s looking for employment beyond this season while proving he can be a serviceable goaltender for a team looking for help.

“I’m confident enough that I could step in,” Elliott said. “With how the team is rolling, it would be nice to get a feel for games. It’s a thing we’re talking about right now. I definitely want to be sure to take the necessary precautions to be ready and eventually help the team win some games games down the stretch here.”

Unfortunately for Elliott, the timing for him couldn’t be any worse. The Flyers have been playing their best hockey utilizing the tandem of Carter Hart and Anthony Stolarz. That duo has combined for an unthinkable .940 save percentage over their last 11 games (9-1-1), helping the Flyers cut their playoff deficit from 15 point back in mid-January to just eight points as of Friday morning.   

NBC analyst and former Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher has been part of a similar three-way timeshare, and firmly believes that if it’s not broke, why fix it, or even touch it. 

“To me, you’re chipping away at valuable NHL experience, so I would continue to play those guys (Hart and Stolarz). That’s your future, that’s what you’re looking at,” Boucher said after watching Friday’s practice at the SkateZone. “If you want to send Elliott for a game or two in the minors to see how he responds, you can do that.” 

Unless the Flyers package someone in a trade before the deadline, the team is expected keep three goaltenders on the active roster for the remainder of the regular season. It’s not ideal, but that’s the reality of a goaltending situation that has been unsettling for most of this season.

When the Flyers' braintrust ultimately chooses to give Elliott a start will not be an easy decision, and certainly not one that will be met with a favorable response. The fans have generated a buzz at the Wells Fargo Center recently, and feel a lifeline to the future of Flyers goaltending.

The perfect scenario would be to get Elliott that first start somewhere on the road, and more importantly, at a time in the schedule that wouldn’t disrupt the Flyers' current playoff push.

Otherwise, it could feel like walking on eggshells.

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Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers picked up a huge win in their playoff push with a 5-1 decision Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Philippe Myers, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek all scored goals for the Flyers (33-20-7), who notched their 20th home win of 2019-20. They won only 19 games in Philly last season.

More impressively, the Flyers improved to 7-0-2 against the Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In 2018-19, they were 0-10-2 against those divisional foes.

Major improvements.

The Flyers also rebounded from another defeat as they haven't dropped consecutive outings since Jan. 4-7. In games after their last seven losses, the Flyers are 7-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 36-16.

The Blue Jackets (30-19-12) have allowed 15 goals to the Flyers through three matchups.

• Big, big win for the Flyers.

They’ve now jumped the Blue Jackets and Islanders to take over third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New York has two games in hand on the Flyers.

One of the more noticeable aspects of this win was the contributions from players who were not here in 2018-19. Hayes got things started, Myers (played only 21 games last season) was strong, Joel Farabee added two assists and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was reliable yet again.

• Thanks to a goal and two assists, Konecny set a new career high in points as he now has 51.

There are 22 games left in the Flyers’ season and the 22-year-old forward has already delivered in the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.

• An impressive franchise record for captain Claude Giroux.

• Carter Hart improved to 15-2-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average at home.

Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who came in leading the NHL with five shutouts, was pulled during the third period after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

• During the second period, everyone saw why there’s so much potential and excitement behind the Travis Sanheim-Myers defensive pairing.

Some serious size, skating and skill — and both are only 23 years old.

• The Flyers’ 200-foot forces set the tone.

During the first period, Hayes and Couturier jumped on the Blue Jackets, who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.45.

From a crazy angle, Hayes scored his 18th goal of the season. The 27-year-old center has a great chance to break his career high of 25 goals set in 2017-18.

Couturier might finish the season as the Flyers’ leading scorer. He has 48 points and a plus-27 rating over his last 50 games.

• The Flyers fly to Columbus Wednesday afternoon ahead of another matchup with the Blue Jackets Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers then play three straight games at home against teams not in playoff position — Jets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Sharks next Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Rangers next Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

The Jeff Carter-Flyers buzz is back.

It started humming in January when Carter and the Kings visited the Flyers. It picked back up Tuesday with the latest 31 Thoughts article from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, always a must-read.

Per Friedman:

It might come down to Nolan Patrick’s health, but I think Philadelphia is considering Jeff Carter.

That would not be terribly surprising, as we noted in January. The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference and selling with Monday's NHL trade deadline on the horizon. As they retool, being open to moving an older player like Carter would make sense. The 35-year-old has a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com, and is under contract for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

That is most significant as it relates to the possibility of the Flyers adding Carter for their playoff push. The Flyers have just over $2 million in cap space. Even with Los Angeles retaining 50 percent of Carter's cap hit, the Flyers would have to do some juggling. And then the fact that Carter has two more years left on his deal might make things less appealing for the Flyers.

However, there are reasons why the Flyers are probably peeking in at Carter's availability. The center is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time 30-plus goal-scorer and understands the pressure of playing in Philly. Returning to the city during a playoff race would only rejuvenate Carter, who could help the Flyers' depth down the middle and be a positive influence on the team's younger bottom-six forwards. Not to mention the former Flyer has 17 goals this season and is projected to finish with 24.

The Flyers could interest the Kings with a prospect and/or a draft pick. But what would they be willing to give up from a prospect pool that will build the future? And how do they make it work for the roster moving forward?

Those are big questions for a 35-year-old center with a big contract.

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