Flyers

Nick Cousins scores, draws 5-minute major, stands out in Flyers' loss

Nick Cousins scores, draws 5-minute major, stands out in Flyers' loss

CALGARY, Alberta — The play was long since over when Alex Chiasson skated by Nick Cousins near the Flyers' bench and speared him.
 
Well, truth is, it seemed more a poke into the left side of his midsection.
 
Cousins, excellent at drawing penalties, sold it and Chiasson was tossed from the game barely eight minutes into play, setting up a five-minute power play for the Flyers. Unfortunately, the Flyers were simply dysfunctional in every respect.
 
While it’s true these two teams, who meet just twice a year, don’t like each other, there was no real reason why Chiasson did what he did.
 
“I’m not quite sure, it wasn’t even part of the play,” Cousins said. The play had stopped with a whistle on an icing call, and the Flyers were making a line change.

“I was trying to change and he comes up and spears me. I think the ref made the right call.”
 
Cousins had a very strong game, scoring the Flyers' lone goal in the team's 3-1 loss (see game story). He played 15:17 and had five shots. Only Jordan Weal, who also stood out, shot the puck more — six times.
 
Cousins also won 8 of 10 faceoffs.
 
“I thought we took it to them most of the game,” he said. “Their goalie (Brian Elliott) played well, but that’s been the excuse the last 10 to 15 games. We've got to make it harder on them. We've got to get more traffic. It’s the same excuse here it feels like after every game. We’ve got to score more goals — simple as that.”
 
The Flyers wasted that power play with two shots — both during a 5-on-3 portion that would come later — while Calgary cleared the zone an amazing 11 times.
 
The Flyers' first-unit power play was nothing short of awful.
 
“It wasn’t demoralizing,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We've just got to bear down and put the puck in the back of the net, guys. We’re playing good hockey here. We’re not scoring goals, but playing good hockey. Eventually, it’s gonna turn and when it turns, we’ll score in bunches.”
 
The power play went 0 for 4 and is 1 for 16 over the last five games.
 
Loose pucks
Brayden Schenn had six hits. ... There were 13 NHL scouts at this game, including representatives from the Rangers and Islanders in the Metro Division. ... This game marked the beginning of the 14th set of back-to-back games for the Flyers. They meet the Oilers on Thursday for the first time in their new digs. ... Former Flame and Flyer Joel Otto, an assistant coach with the WHL Calgary Hitmen, dropped by the Flyers' morning skate. He took a photo with fellow Bemidji State grad Matt Read.

It's back to school for Flyers prospect Noah Cates

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Philadelphia Flyers

It's back to school for Flyers prospect Noah Cates

Noah Cates became a hit in high school.

His first year after graduation, though, he didn't exactly mind being away from the classroom. From Stillwater, Minnesota, Cates traveled south to Omaha, Nebraska, for a full season of USHL hockey with the Lancers.

A nice, little perk to the decision?

"No school that year for me, so that was fun just to play hockey," Cates said with a smile three weeks ago at Flyers development camp. "Develop, work on everything."

Despite not hitting the books, Cates, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick of the Flyers, learned a lot, gaining a knowledge base he'll use moving forward.

Because it's back to school.

In mid-to-late August, the 19-year-old is headed to the University of Minnesota Duluth to continue his education and hockey career with the 2018 national champions, where he'll be joined by his older brother Jackson Cates.

"Very excited," the younger Cates said.

A year away from home to prepare for the college hockey life did Cates well. He grew on and off the ice, which built confidence — especially important ahead of development camp, a world junior summer showcase and his freshman season.

"Just how to be a pro, show up every day," Cates said. "It's a long season but you have to be consistent — that was a big part for me. Consistently, doing the right thing, day in and day out.

"It's all about confidence. If you're confident you can play with those guys and that your body can hold up, you can do it. That's just a big part of it and what I developed this year."

Cates, a left winger with a true offensive skill set, came on strong after a feeling-out start to the season in which he totaled 14 points (six goals, eight assists) over his first 22 games. From then on, he broke out for 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in his final 38 contests, finishing second on the Lancers with 55 points (21 goals, 34 assists) in 60 games, while posting a plus-21 rating. 

"Second-half league for me, just got more comfortable with the team, the coaches, the league," Cates said. "The team did well, so I kind of fit in, did my part."

The offense has always been a part of Cates' game. Beyond the statistics, what truly stood out from the 2017-18 season was the added strength to his 6-foot-1 frame. Cates weighed 165 pounds at 2017 development camp. He said he started the year with Omaha at 170. Impressively, by season's end, he was a solid 180 to 185.

"That was a big part, how I progressed throughout the season," Cates said. "That was my main goal going there to step into college hockey and get ready to play against those older guys, so it was a really good season in that case."

Cates will now take his next test — back in class and on the ice.

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Nolan Patrick selected as No. 1 breakout player for 2018-19 by NHL Network

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USA Today Images

Nolan Patrick selected as No. 1 breakout player for 2018-19 by NHL Network

Nolan Patrick's rookie season can be split into two halves, but his performance down the stretch has caught the attention of one national pundit.

NHL Network analyst Mike Johnson, who played 12 years in the league, selected Patrick as his No. 1 breakout player for the 2018-19 season during Friday night's "NHL Tonight."

Johnson scored 375 points in 661 NHL games from 1996-2008 and last played in the league during the 2007-08 campaign with the St. Louis Blues.

Behind Johnson's reasoning for picking Patrick as his No. 1 breakout player was the Flyers' center's two-way instincts, ability to finish, size and a full summer of training ahead of him.

"We know his injury history, his lack of proper training, his lack of ability to hit the gym properly," Johnson said, "and he's still strong on the wall. That's only going to get better as he matures physically."

For what it's worth, Connor McDavid was NHL Network's No. 1 breakout candidate for the 2017-18 season — that was a bit of a softball.

As for Patrick, the center joined "NHL Tonight" on Friday to discuss the honor and also provide an update on how his summer is going.

"Coming off that surgery last year," Patrick said, "I had a slow start. It took a while to get my body back to where I wanted it to be. I missed two summers of training. It's been the first summer for me in a while that I've been back in the gym."

Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, finished with 13 goals and 30 points in 73 regular-season games. He missed nine games in October and November because of a concussion and spent most of the first half of the season getting his mobility back after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery. In fact, he's lost his past two summers of training because of surgery.

Prior to his final junior season and his draft year, Patrick underwent sports hernia surgery. Then 10 days before the Flyers drafted him, he went under the knife again.

Now he's fully healthy and has a full summer of training.

"First time I can get after it," Patrick said during the team's exit interviews in April (see story). "It's going to be a big summer for me. I'm not satisfied with how the year was or how my year was, so I'm looking to take big steps here."

Once Patrick began feeling healthier, he started getting a bigger role with the Flyers. He was elevated to the team's second-line center and stuck. He also found a role on the power play.

The 19-year-old posted 17 points in the final 25 games, which translates to a respectable 0.68 points per game clip and 55 points over an 82-game schedule. Not too bad for a rookie who couldn't actually train during his previous two offseasons.

"My coaches pushed me throughout the year. Then they gave me more opportunity," Patrick told the NHL Network. "Jake Voracek was huge for me. He thinks the game so well. The puck protection that guy has, you just got to get open for him.

"I think my body also just felt better as the year went on. I kind of took a while to get my skating legs there, so I think in the second half, I had a little more pep in my step."

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