Flyers

Radko Gudas maintaining physical presence for Flyers after learning from past mistakes

Radko Gudas maintaining physical presence for Flyers after learning from past mistakes

You don’t have to work at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to realize Flyers blueliner Radko Gudas has toned down his act.
 
That the league hasn’t had to review any of his hits — legal or suspicious — is positive reinforcement that it’s finally beginning to sink in with the 6-foot, 204-pound defenseman what he can and can’t get away with on the ice.
 
“In general, he’s kinda gone back to the adjustment he made in his game last couple months of last season,” coach Dave Hakstol said after the Flyers' 3-0 loss to Tampa on Saturday. “He’s most effective when he is playing good, solid defensive hockey and letting plays come to him .”
 
Both Hakstol and general manager Ron Hextall sat Gudas down prior to the start of the season after he was hit with a six-game suspension to begin 2016-17 for a preseason incident.
 
Gudas has also been watching video of what is clean, borderline and illegal in terms of hits.
 
“One of those things, having to figure out because guys are smaller than they used to be,” Gudas said. “Four years ago, when I came into the league, guys were 6-foot plus and 220-plus and now it’s slowly going back to smaller, lighter guys. You have to learn how to hit these guys, too.
 
“I’m still trying to be as physical as I can. If you hit them hard enough, he’s going to get hurt or stay down. I don’t want to say it’s a lot different, but there are some changes to be made, that’s for sure.”
 
During Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa, Gudas had a tremendous legal check off the boards on the Senators’ Mark Stone. He simply waited for Stone to come into the Flyers' end moving directly at him, turned his body and drove a hard shoulder into Stone without touching any part of the neck or head.
 
“The biggest thing is letting the play come to him,” Hakstol said. "The hits, the physical side of the game. He is a physical presence for us and we need that. He’s done a very good job of just letting the physical game that is naturally there come to him.” 
 
On Saturday, he had a tough clean hit on Ryan Callahan in the second period and J.T. Brown took exception and went after him. Gudas tuned him up in his first fight of the season.
 
Gudas leads the Flyers with 53 hits despite missing the first six games of the season. He came into Saturday’s game 20th overall in the NHL. 
 
Toronto’s Matt Martin, who has been the league’s leading hitter five years in succession, is the current leader this year, too, with 76.
 
Imagine where Gudas would rank now if he had not begun the season suspended for six games after a preseason hit on Boston’s Austin Czarnik.  He avoided a previous suspension for a hit on the Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey.
 
“I didn’t want to change a lot in my game,” Gudas said. “Just be smarter with those hits. There is nothing I can do about the suspension now except be the best I can for my team.”
 
Brandon Manning is second on the Flyers in hits with 42 and has played 17 of 18 games.  
 
Gudas does, however, lead the Flyers with 36 blocked shots and is 24th overall in the NHL in that department. Rookie Ivan Provorov is next with 30.
 
“I am trying to do the best possible,” Gudas said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody out there either, but still play that hard, physical game. It’s part of my hockey. For me, staying physical was an important thing. I’ve got to learn from my own mistakes.”
 
For now, he certainly seems to be doing that.
 
Power play
The Flyers are 0 for 10 in the last three games. It’s the first time this season they’ve gone three games without scoring on the power play.
 
Shutout
The Flyers were shut out by the Lightning for only the fifth time since Tampa Bay came into the NHL in 1992. One of those previous shutouts was a 0-0 tie on Feb. 24, 2001. 
 
Four of the five shutouts have been witnessed in South Philly. The last time the Lightning shut out the Flyers was Feb. 1, 2011, in Tampa (4-0 loss). The last time it happened at the Wells Fargo Center was Jan. 28, 2006, (6-0 loss). The next day, the Flyers named Derian Hatcher their 13th captain.

It was also the Flyers' first shutout loss of the season.
 
Concussion? 
Chris VandeVelde took a high hit from Braydon Coburn early in the game that resulted in a boarding penalty. VandeVelde did not return.
 
Review coming? 
Brayden Schenn had a legal shoulder hit on Jonathan Drouin in the final 4:40 of the opening period that caught the Lightning forward with his head down. Schenn’s shoulder appeared to make contact into Drouin’s chest. 
 
Initially, Drouin looked hurt going to the bench but did not go through the concussion protocol until the spotter alerted Tampa before the start of the second period. Drouin went to the quiet room but did return to play later in the period. 
 
Regardless, you can expect the Department of Player Safety to review the hit Sunday, as Drouin was concussed earlier this season.
 
Donation
The Flyers Alumni Association will make a Thanksgiving food donation to the St. Francis Inn in Kensington on Monday. This is the 11th consecutive year the association has performed this charity event. On hand will be Brian Boucher, Danny Briere, Terry Carkner, Doug Crossman, Todd Fedoruk, Bob Kelly, Brian Propp, and Brad Marsh.

Shayne Gostisbehere, not Ivan Provorov, cracks NHL Network's top 20 active defensemen

Shayne Gostisbehere, not Ivan Provorov, cracks NHL Network's top 20 active defensemen

A young Flyers defenseman cracked the NHL Network's top 20 defensemen list, but it's not exactly who you are thinking.

Shayne Gostisbehere, not Ivan Provorov, was listed Sunday night as the league's 17th best blueliner as NHL Network continued its nine-part series looking at the game's top players.

That's not a slight to Gostisbehere by any means, but many would argue that Provorov's overall game is far more in tune of a top-tier player than Gostisbehere.

Here is NHL Network Ken Daneyko's explanation for "Ghost," who ranks right behind Boston's Torey Krug and ahead of Carolina's Dougie Hamilton:

"He really came into his own last year. This kid is dynamic, and for me, I think there are some defensive liabilities, but because how offensive the game has become and defensemen being part of that offense, Gostisbehere can do it all. He's shifty and can make a pass in the blink of an eye for a great scoring chance."

Gostisbehere had a frustrating sophomore season in 2016-17 after exploding onto the scene in 2015-16. Last season, though, he rebounded in grand fashion.

The 25-year-old finished fourth in the NHL among defensemen in points with 65. He led all defensemen in power-play points (33) and was tied for the league lead with seven power-play goals.

His offensive production returned — actually increased substantially — to his rookie season level, when he scored at a 0.72 points per game clip in 2015-16. Last season that number was 0.83.

But Gostisbehre's defensive game began to round into place. He credited that to "a little more snot," but the player we saw in his own end was far better than what we've seen before.

We can chalk some of that up to Dave Hakstol putting Gostisbehere with Provorov in late December. The pair became dynamic because, at any moment, either could jump up in the offensive zone and create, but Provorov was the pair's anchor.

“He’s a 1,000 of years better than me defensively,” Gostisbehere said in April. “We use that to our advantage and it really showed as a pair. Provy’s very good defensively, but offensively, he took another step.

"He’s probably one of the best, if not the best two-way defenseman in the NHL.”

Provorov did not totally get snubbed by the NHL Network. Daneyko had Provorov on the bubble and if we return to this list after the 2018-19 season, it's safe to say Provorov will likely, at least, make the leap.

"For such a young age, poise, good in all three zones and only getting better," Daneyko said of Provorov. "He moves the puck and has good offensive instinct. He's going to be a real good player for a long time."

Provorov, 21, was tied for the league lead among defensemen with 17 goals in his second NHL campaign but didn't post ludicrous overall numbers — just 41 points and not many on the power play.

But Provorov played the tough, shutdown minutes (see story). He led the team in ice time with 24:09 per game, more than 2 1/2 minutes more than Sean Couturier's 21:35 and 2 minutes and 42 seconds more than Gostisbehere.

We're splitting hairs here, really. Lists are lists and a good list often creates debate. Does it matter that Gostisbehere, not Provorov, made the NHL Network's top 20 defensemen list? Not really, but it's still a neat honor.

If anything, it's another testament that the Flyers are doing things right even if the process at the rink is slower than fans would like.

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Flyers featured heavily on NBC national broadcast schedule

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Flyers featured heavily on NBC national broadcast schedule

NBC Sports on Monday revealed its 2018-19 national broadcast schedule and the Flyers, per usual, are heavily featured.

The Flyers will have 17 games aired on either NBC or NBCSN in 2018-19. It's important to note, though, that some of the NBCSN games will be blacked out locally and air on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

The local TV broadcast schedule typically comes out in early September. The full 2018-19 schedule was released in June (see Flyers highlights here).

Still, the Flyers will be featured in six major national TV games — four on NBC and two on NBCSN's "Wednesday Night Hockey" games.

Wednesday Night Hockey

Both of the Flyers' "Wednesday Night Hockey" games will be home games.

Jan. 16, 2019: The Flyers will host the Boston Bruins for their first appearance on the NBCSN's signature hockey night.

March 6, 2019: The defending Stanley Cup champions Washington Capitals come to Philly for a tilt against the Flyers.

NHL on NBC

The Flyers will be on NBC four times, including the 2019 NHL Stadium Series showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field.

Nov. 23, 2018, 1 p.m.: The Flyers host the New York Rangers on Black Friday — it will be the first of 13 NHL games aired on NBC in 2018-19.

Feb. 23, 2019, 8 p.m.: Yep, Flyers-Pens are going back outside. This time, at the Linc. It'll be on NBC in primetime.

March 24, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: The Flyers will face the Capitals in Washington.

March 31, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: Back-to-back Sundays the Flyers will be on NBC. This time, they're playing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Flyers' full national TV schedule

Oct. 4, 2018, 10 p.m.: Flyers at Golden Knights (NBCSN)

Oct. 9, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Sharks (NBCSN)

Nov. 21, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Sabres (NBCSN)

• Nov. 23, 2018, 1 p.m.: Flyers vs. Rangers (NBC)

Dec. 27, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Lightning (NBCSN)

Jan. 8, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Capitals (NBCSN)

Jan. 16, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Bruins (NBCSN)

Jan. 28, 2019, 7 p.m.: Flyers vs. Jets (NBCSN)

• Jan. 29, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Rangers (NBCSN)

Feb. 11, 2019, 7 p.m.: Flyers vs. Penguins (NBCSN)

Feb. 17, 2019, 6 p.m.: Flyers at Red Wings (NBCSN)

Feb. 23, 2019, 8 p.m.: Flyers vs. Penguins (NBC)

Feb. 26, 2019, 7 p.m.: Flyers vs. Sabres (NBCSN)

March 6, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Capitals (NBCSN)

March 17, 2019, 7:30 p.m.: Flyers at Penguins (NBCSN)

March 24, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: Flyers at Capitals (NBC)

March 31, 2019, 12:30 p.m.: Flyers vs. Rangers (NBC)

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