Flyers

Flyers blank lowly Avalanche in final game before trade deadline

Flyers blank lowly Avalanche in final game before trade deadline

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If only every game for the Flyers down the stretch could serve up the Colorado Avalanche. Were that to transpire, Dave Hakstol's club would be a lock to make the playoffs.
 
Tuesday was the final time the Flyers will see Colorado this season. Too bad for the Flyers because they threw snowballs at the Avs to the tune of a 4-0 win at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
The Flyers finished February with just four wins in 11 games. Now the team gets set for the post-trade deadline portion of its schedule, which features 20 games in 40 days to end the regular season.
 
How the Flyers fare will determine their playoff fate.
 
Amid this rout, general manager Ron Hextall was spending a lot of time on the phone while assistant GM Barry Hanrahan, his capologist, was on his computer much of the night as the deadline hits Wednesday.
 
According to a report by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Flyers had contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent Michal Neuvirth. Sources said Neuvirth did not agree to a contract. His agent, Patrik Stefan, did not comment.

Hextall is apparently trying to work a deal, and you would have to think it was something larger (see story).
 
The opening period was all Wayne Simmonds on Tuesday, who briefly appeared to have a natural hat trick midway into the first period before it was determined the Flyers' third goal went off an Avs player and was credited to Jakub Voracek (see feature highlight).
 
"I hope it's the first and last time I get booed for scoring a goal," Voracek said after it was taken away from Simmonds.
 
The Avs are the worst team in the NHL. This win was certainly welcome news for the Flyers, who played a fast and energetic game in which they seemed relaxed.
 
"Twenty games left … a good step but the thing is not to get too high," said goalie Steve Mason, who picked up his first win this month. "It's one win, but we have a lot of work to do."
 
It gets harder immediately with Florida and Washington up next.
 
"We had the same type of start tonight we had the last couple nights and tonight we had some reward for it," coach Dave Hakstol said. 
 
Simmonds came into this game with one of the club's two shorthanded goals this season. He now has two himself after Matt Duchene coughed up a puck to Andrew MacDonald to start a rush that ended with Simmonds scoring on goalie Jeremy Smith.
 
His next goal was a redirect on the power play off a point blast from Shayne Gostisbehere. Voracek's goal was actually a pass intended for Simmonds on the power play when it glanced off of Francois Beauchemin to make it 3-0 at 10:35.
 
"It was good for us. We need that," Simmonds said. "It was a good win. I thought we played well. We didn't play perfect but well enough to get the win."
 
Asked about losing a natural hat trick, Simmonds didn't want any part of taking credit for the goal. 

"No, not a chance," he said. "I knew it was Jake's goal."
 
All those hats on the ice went to no good, too. Feel any responsibility to return them to their rightful owners?
 
"What am I supposed to do?" Simmonds said. "Go give every single one their hat back? It's not my fault, sorry."
 
Simmonds is on pace to score 35 goals this season. Of his 27 so far -- most of which have come in the crease -- he has 13 on the power play, which places him second behind Brayden Schenn (14) for the NHL lead.
 
"I'm lucky, I'm getting some bounces right now," Simmonds said. "But the whole idea is to try to disrupt the goalie's flow and to take his eyes away and get some rebounds.
 
"Whether I am scoring goals or not scoring goals, I am doing the same thing. I got a good bounce on the first one and G (Claude Giroux) and Ghost made a great play on top of the second one."
 
Now Mason, who sat six straight games, certainly wasn't going to be in game shape. Yet he had several good stops and finished with 33 saves. His last win, Jan. 25, was a shutout, as well.
 
He also had to handle a penalty shot from Mikko Rantanen, who was hooked from behind by Radko Gudas early in the second period. Mason knocked Rantanen's penalty shot away into the corner with his stick. 

This was Mason's 216th game played, third most of any Flyers goalie all-time.
 
"It's been a tough month, a lot of practice," he said of being benched in favor of Neuvirth. "When you're practicing, you're not getting game action and practices become tedious. … Pretty much every game now is must-win.
 
"It's hard to make up ground with three- and four-point games and people playing each other. For us, we have to focus on one game at a time and understand the importance of each."
 
Jordan Weal's first NHL goal early in the second made it 4-0. The Flyers had not scored four goals since Jan. 12 when they came from behind to stun Vancouver, 5-4, in a shootout.
 
"It felt really good," Weal said. "It was a long time coming. I'm just trying to work as hard as I can and create as many chances when I'm out there."
 
He again played on the top line with Giroux and Simmonds.
 
"It's awesome when you get to play with guys like that," Weal said. "First couple games, I was playing with Coots (Sean Couturier) and Jake and when you play with guys like that, you play your own game and work with them.
 
"If you can get your give and go and cycle game going with them, you'll create a lot of offense. When you get to play with guys like G and Simmer, you just have to get open and good things will happen."

Flyers cover Kate Smith statue, remove her 'God Bless America' after racist songs come to light

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AP Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers cover Kate Smith statue, remove her 'God Bless America' after racist songs come to light

The Flyers have removed Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" from their music library and covered up the statue of the opera singer near the Wells Fargo Center in light of several songs by Smith containing racist lyrics being unearthed.

Here is a statement released by the team Friday morning:

We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization. As we continue to look into this serious matter, we are removing Kate Smith's recording of 'God Bless America' from our library and covering up the statue that stands outside of our arena.

Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" was first played at select Flyers home games in the late 1960s. She first sung the song live in Philadelphia in 1973. Smith died at 79 years old in 1986 and her statue originally stood outside of the Spectrum. Now, it stands outside of XFINITY Live!


(NBC Sports Philadelphia)

The Flyers' decision comes in the wake of a New York Daily News report, which stated the Yankees were no longer going to play Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch because of Smith's history of potential racism.

Below is a section of the report:

Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, 'Pickaninny Heaven' which she directed at 'colored children' who should fantasize about an amazing place with 'great big watermelons,' among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, 'That’s Why Darkies Were Born,' which included the lyrics, 'Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.'

In recent years past, before very select home games, whether it be a big playoff contest or a special occasion, Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" would play in cohesion with team anthemist Lauren Hart singing live, making for a duet.

That will no longer be the case moving forward.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Sharks face elimination against Golden Knights

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USA Today Images

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Sharks face elimination against Golden Knights

Many pinned the Sharks as a favorite to make a run at the 2019 Stanley Cup, especially with the addition of Erik Karlsson.

On Thursday night, they face elimination in the first round against the Golden Knights, who hold a commanding two-game series advantage.

Below is the full schedule for Day 9 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC.

Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes (WSH 2-1)
Game 4, Eastern Conference first round
7 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here

St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets (tied 2-2)
Game 5, Western Conference first round
8:30 p.m. ET | TV: USA | Live stream here

Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks (3-1 VGK)
Game 5, Western Conference first round
10 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here