Flyers

In comfortable spot, Taylor Leier puts game on display to Flyers during preseason win

In comfortable spot, Taylor Leier puts game on display to Flyers during preseason win

BOX SCORE FROM ALLENTOWN | BOX SCORE FROM BROOKLYN

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — It’s a short bus ride to Allentown, but on Wednesday night, the Flyers preferred to ride a Leier jet.

Taylor Leier, 23, made a strong case to make the opening night roster by scoring a pair of power-play goals in a 3-2 preseason overtime win against the Islanders, to go along with his typical tenacious, aggressive play (see observations).

“These games mean a lot for a lot of guys. It felt good to be back in Allentown,” Leier said of the split-squad game at the PPL Center. “It’s a lot of familiar territory and familiar faces around the rink. I felt good coming into the game. You’re not going to feel good every night, but when you get those games when you feel good, and you know you feel good, you try to run with it.”

Leier brought elements of skill and touch with his two goals and a two-line lob pass over the defense that led to a quality scoring chance, to go along with a relentless, physical forecheck that has been a staple of his success.

“That’s what you love about Taylor. You know what you’re going to get from him,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s the guy who knows and understands the detail of the game. He’s a pretty consistent performer in the role that you give him.”  

Leier’s comfort level in Lehigh Valley is a result of starting his season with the Phantoms over the past three years, where he has put up respectable AHL numbers, scoring 33 goals in his first two seasons. Leier would have likely increased that total much more last year in his third season if it weren't for a painful neck injury that limited him to 48 AHL games, and a brief 10-game stint with the Flyers. 

“Growing up, I was always a scorer,” said Leier, who registered 64 goals in his last two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. “It was an eye opener for me coming from junior to pro, that everyone was a superstar in junior. Everyone that’s here is good. You get put in certain situations, and when you get a break and you get to play in a more skilled position, you try to show what you can do. I’ve always been confident in my offensive abilities, but sometimes it’s a matter of when you get those opportunities.” 

Leier would seem to be an ideal candidate in a fourth-line role with the energy he brings and the potential to chip in with some occasional offense. Phantoms captain Colin McDonald feels as if it’s just a matter of time.

“The easy thing to say is it’s a numbers game,” McDonald said referring to why Leier has spent little time in the NHL. “It takes time and I’ve been telling him that. I didn’t get all of my NHL games until I was 28. Sometimes you lose sight of that because you’re drafted at 18, and it’s a young league. So you get frustrated after a couple of years and you haven’t gotten your chance, but you've just got to stick with it. He’s going to be in the NHL, there’s no doubt.” 

A hack job
Familiarize yourself with NHL rule 71.1 that states, “Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body, the opponent’s stick, or on or near the opponent’s hands that, in the judgement of the referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be slashing.”

In 10 preseason games on Monday, there were 49 slashing penalties called. As the Flyers discovered Wednesday, it apparently doesn’t have to be forceful or even powerful to be considered a penalty. The Flyers were whistled for two slashing minors within the first two minutes of the game, which led to an easy Islanders tap-in 5-on-3 goal.

“You want to get pace of the game, and I was talking with some guys after the second (period), and I think we had played just five minutes of even strength,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “It’s hard to get into the games. It’s just going to put more emphasis on special teams. When they blow the whistle and everyone’s like, ‘What just happened?' That’s not a penalty.” 

Slashing the roster
General manager Ron Hextall said there are "lots" of decisions that still have to be made before the season starts. He’ll make his biggest round of roster cuts Thursday morning following these split-squad games against the Islanders.

“These [games] are huge,” Hextall said. “I remember doing these myself, we all do. Whenever there’s something at stake playing for a team, you hope guys rise up, and that’s certainly what we’re looking for.”

Patrick's progress
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Hextall said he liked what he had seen so far from No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick, but was looking for a little bit more.

“He’s shown the type of player he is,” Hextall said. “He’s a smart player. He’s got good poise. He typically makes the right plays, typically is in the right position, so he’s done a lot of the things we expected, but he’s got to do some things here."

Following his first preseason point — the assist on Gostisbehere’s overtime winner (see video) — Patrick concurred with the GM’s assessment.

“I think there’s a lot more I’m capable of," he said. "I think I’m just getting back into it here. I think I’ve played three games after not playing for a while, so I’m just getting back into it. If I play Thursday, I’m going to try and take another step.”

Most frustrating loss yet gives Flyers their first 4-game skid in October since 2014-15

Most frustrating loss yet gives Flyers their first 4-game skid in October since 2014-15

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The Flyers have a slogan this season that reads "all or nothing."

The Flyers did nothing with prime opportunities in a prime chance to quell an early three-game skid.

That losing streak ballooned to four Saturday night as the Flyers lost to the Stars, 4-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Following some lengthy travel over a 20-day span (the team was in four different countries), the Flyers (2-3-1) scored 43 seconds into Saturday's home game and could have taken the life out of struggling Dallas, which entered 1-7-1. Instead, the Flyers fizzled despite holding the Stars to five shots over the final two periods.

The Flyers hadn't lost four straight games in October since the 2014-15 season, when they opened the year 0-2-2.

• The Flyers' first period was really disappointing for a few reasons and it changed the entire complexion of the game.

After the team jumped out to its lead in the opening minute, the Flyers went on the power play two seconds later but didn't capitalize.

Seven seconds after the Stars tied the game at the 13-minute mark, Dallas committed a silly tripping penalty behind the Flyers' net. It gave the Flyers another chance to regain momentum but the man advantage came up empty.

The Flyers ended up trailing, 2-1, at first intermission. They have three first-period goals through six games — that won't get it done.

• Last season, Carter Hart was pulled in his fifth career start. He went 11-3-1 with an NHL-high 488 saves, a 2.46 goals-against average and .930 save percentage over his next 15 starts before he was pulled again.

Hart was yanked Wednesday in Edmonton after allowing four goals on 14 shots.

On Saturday, he could have been much better. He allowed three goals on 15 shots and failed to deliver timely stops like we've seen him do in the past.

Dallas' first goal came on a nice play by Roope Hintz, who beat Matt Niskanen and then scored on his own rebound. The second goal, Esa Lindell snuck in front of Niskanen on the Stars' power play and redirected a pass by Hart.

Niskanen, who has been pretty darn good so far, was not on his game Saturday.

Hart allowed a killer goal 1:24 into the third period.

Ben Bishop made 38 saves to beat the Flyers.

• The Flyers' power play finished 0 for 4.

Ivan Provorov replaced Shayne Gostisbehere on the first unit. Gostisbehere is scoreless through the first six games and will have to earn back his role.

Dallas, which was 1 for 25 on the man advantage coming into the game, went 1 for 2.

• Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier gave the Flyers the loud start that ultimately led to nothing.

• If you recall, Wayne Simmonds fought Jamie Oleksiak last season in Pittsburgh.

Oleksiak is a big dude, standing at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds.

Chris Stewart challenged Oleksiak during the opening period as the Flyers had lost momentum and an early 1-0 lead.

It was a heavyweight bout.

• A note on prospect Joel Farabee, who is off to a fast start yet again. How long will he be in Lehigh Valley if he keeps scoring?

• The Flyers are off from practice Sunday before welcoming the Golden Knights Monday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Four of their next five games then come on the road.

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Phillie Phanatic tattoo guy got a Gritty tattoo ... seriously

Phillie Phanatic tattoo guy got a Gritty tattoo ... seriously

Rob Dunphy (does anyone in the Delaware Valley not know him at this point?) has become a legend in these parts ever since he went viral for his Phillie Phanatic tattoo (and the optimal location of it).

He met the Phillie Phanatic in epic fashion during the Phillies' season finale.

Now he has met Gritty.

And guess what?

Yup, it happened.

That was during the first period of Saturday night's game against the Stars.

Safe to say Dunphy is ready for Eagles at Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

A "Dallas sucks" chant broke out at the Wells Fargo Center.

Dunphy and Gritty probably led that chant.

There's a great fundraiser for Dunphy's tattoos on Facebook.

So, what tattoo is next?

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