Flyers observations

After shutting out Sidney Crosby, Penguins, Flyers have taken down NHL's top 4 teams in span of 14 days

After shutting out Sidney Crosby, Penguins, Flyers have taken down NHL's top 4 teams in span of 14 days

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The Flyers will confidently go into their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week knowing that they can beat the best teams in the NHL.

Especially after shutting out the Penguins, 3-0, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Over a span of 14 days, the Flyers have taken down the Capitals, Bruins, Blues and Penguins — the top four clubs in the NHL standings.

The Flyers (27-17-6) improved to 9-2-3 against the Metropolitan Division after going 10-16-2 against divisional opponents last season.

Alain Vigneault’s team is three points out of third place in the division, while the 60 points overall are the Flyers’ most through 50 games since 2011-12, when they started 30-14-6 and last won a playoff series.

The Penguins (31-14-5) were shut out for just the second time this season.

• The Flyers’ penalty kill has gone 25 for 28 over the last seven games, which included matchups with the Capitals, Lightning, Bruins, Blues and Penguins.

The Flyers went 5-2-0 during that stretch, in large thanks to the improved PK this season.

• Travis Konecny is surging into his first All-Star Game.

Through 47 games, the 22-year-old already has a new career high in assists with 26 after feeding James van Riemsdyk during the second period to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

At second intermission, Konecny sung the praises of Claude Giroux, who started the whole sequence.

"Everyone looks at the play when the goal happened, but it was one of the nicest plays that G has ever made was that play,” Konecny said. “It is such a heads-up play to lay the puck into an area like that."

Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting new career highs across the board.

Meanwhile, the new line of van Riemsdyk, Giroux and Konecny has starred in two games. Suffice it to say Giroux will be staying at center for at least a little longer.

• Jakub Voracek has looked like a force for a lengthy stretch.

Over his last 28 games going back to Nov. 23, the 30-year-old winger has put up 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) and a plus-14 rating.

Nobody can get on him for his defense right now. If you’ve watched, you’ve seen him skate, forecheck and make plays in the offensive zone on a nightly basis.

“Jake is coming on, like he tends to do,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said last Tuesday. “I remember when I got the job here last year, they were talking about how Jake was struggling and he had a pretty big second half, so he seems to be finding his legs.”

• Since returning from core muscle surgery, Sidney Crosby had eight points (three goals, five assists) in four games, while Evgeni Malkin had gone scoreless only twice over his last 19 games, a stretch in which he had put up 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists).

The Flyers held both stars scoreless and to only three shots.

• Brian Elliott has won three straight with 83 saves on 87 shots.

He has been terrific in Carter Hart’s absence.

Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, who entered 11-3-1 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .929 save percentage over his last 15 games, made 27 saves on 29 shots.

• Kevin Hayes has been a treat to watch on the penalty kill. Instead of quickly clearing the puck, which allows the opposing power play to restart, the 6-foot-5 center will often hold onto the puck to milk more seconds and force the opposition to take it away from him.

The strategy worked perfectly in the first period against the Penguins.

Since 2016-17, Hayes is fourth among all NHL players in shorthanded points with 14 (seven goals, seven assists), behind only Brad Marchand (17), Michael Grabner (16) and William Karlsson (15).

With each game, we’re seeing more and more why.

• Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher J.T. Realmuto took in the rivalry showdown.

Konecny will represent the Flyers at the NHL All-Star festivities this weekend in St. Louis.

The Flyers are off until next Thursday when they practice at 2 p.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before visiting the Penguins that Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk click as Flyers deliver much-needed response with win over Kings

Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk click as Flyers deliver much-needed response with win over Kings

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That’s more like it.

Head coach Alain Vigneault challenged his team to play on its terms and the Flyers responded with a 4-1 win Saturday night over the Kings at the Wells Fargo Center, just two days after a sloppy 4-1 home loss to the Canadiens.

The Flyers (26-17-6) have earned at least a point in 20 of 24 home games (16-4-4).

With the victory, the Flyers are two points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and hold the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

The Kings (18-27-5) have lost seven of their last eight games since beating the Flyers, 5-3, on New Year’s Eve.

• Vigneault was not happy with the letdown against Montreal on home ice after such a positive stretch in which the Flyers took down the NHL’s three best teams.

“We’ve got to execute, we’ve got to compete,” Vigneault said Saturday after morning skate. “We’re at our best when we’re on top of people, we’re taking people out of the equation.”

For the most part, the Flyers took the Kings out of the equation, a team that put up four first-period goals on the orange and black in the previous meeting.

• Vigneault put Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk on a line with Claude Giroux down the middle.

Konecny and van Riemsdyk instantly clicked. JVR found Konecny twice as the duo handed the Flyers a 2-0 lead (see highlights).

Konecny is eight goals and eight points away from setting new career highs in both categories, while the Flyers are 8-0-0 this season when the 22-year-old records a multi-point game.

Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk tacked on the Flyers’ fourth goal to give him a three-point game. The big winger has five points (one goal, four assists) in his last four games.

The Flyers go to a different level when he produces — 15-3-0 in games that he registers at least one point.

Giroux was sharp, as well, with two assists after he had scored just one point in his previous five games.

A good call by Vigneault.

• Brian Elliott received a rare home start with Carter Hart out (right lower abdominal strain) two to three weeks.

The 34-year-old goalie was reliable once again with 34 saves after knocking off the defending champion Blues with 30 saves Wednesday.

The Flyers will need him next Tuesday against the Penguins.

• Joel Farabee has two goals in the last two games after scoring two goals in his previous 30 games.

The 19-year-old climbed to the Flyers with a goal-scoring prowess and could be a crucial secondary option to the team down the stretch.

Expect his role to grow (see story).

• Justin Braun and Robert Hagg were solid as a new defensive pair.

• Nolan Patrick on Saturday got in more work with skills coach Angelo Ricci.

Patrick, who is recovering from a migraine disorder, has not been cleared for contact and there is no timetable for his return. Patrick and the Flyers have said the expectation is for the 21-year-old center to play this season.

“He’s been skating harder,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday. “Getting his heart rate up higher, I think he’s feeling a bit better. Again, it’s hard to predict. Once we have certain information, if he’s cleared for contact or anything like that, we will obviously let you guys know right away. I can just tell you from the on- and off-ice workouts he’s doing, he is progressing. But there certainly isn’t any clear path as to which way this will go.

“We still think he has a real good future ahead of him and speaking with a lot of the medical people that have dealt with him, they all anticipate him coming back and so that's why I'm optimistic he will, but I just can't give you a timeframe.”

• The Flyers host the Penguins Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN) before going on their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week.

Konecny will represent the Flyers at the NHL All-Star festivities Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis (see story).

 

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Flyers upended by Canadiens for the type of loss that always seems to anger fans

Flyers upended by Canadiens for the type of loss that always seems to anger fans

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These ones irritate Flyers fans the most.

After playing up to the competition for four straight games and generating bona-fide excitement, the Flyers played down to the competition in a 4-1 loss Thursday night to the Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sure, Montreal boasts a big-named goalie, but it had lost nine of its last 11 games before upending the Flyers, who had just won three games over the top three teams in the NHL.

This was a letdown any way you slice it for the Flyers (25-17-6) following victories over the Capitals, Bruins and Blues.

The Canadiens (21-21-7) salvaged the final game of the three-game regular-season series with the Flyers after dropping the first two matchups in overtime.

• The Flyers were coming off an emotional high of beating the defending champs on the road and playing the second game of a back-to-back set, but everyone should expect more than losing by three goals on home ice to a team outside of the playoff picture (see story).

On Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers should come out like gangbusters against the Kings, who are near the basement of the West.

• With Carter Hart (right lower abdominal strain) out two to three weeks and Brian Elliott playing an overtime game on the road Wednesday night, Alex Lyon made his first start of the season for the Flyers.

The 27-year-old has played well in his fourth season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

“Alex has put in a lot of time,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said before the game. “He spent the summer here in Philly to work out. I thought he had a good camp and he's been playing well. This is his best start in Lehigh Valley. He is just coming off a shutout and he deserved a chance to play.”

Lyon became the third goalie to suit up for the Flyers. At this date last season, the Flyers had already played seven goalies.

He was strong until he allowed a goal with 55 seconds left in the first period. From the end of the opening stanza to the beginning of the second frame, Lyon allowed three goals in a span of three minutes, 14 seconds.

The tallies weren’t all on Lyon. The Flyers were a step behind on all three. The second was a power play goal in which the Flyers allowed Shea Weber all kinds of room to wind up a slap shot and create a rebound in front (see highlights).

Lyon made 35 saves.

Montreal goalie Carey Price, who won his previous two games with 72 saves on 73 shots, enjoyed the lead and finished with 40 stops to beat the Flyers for the 16th time in his career.

• In the wins over the Capitals, Bruins and Blues, the Flyers were forced to kill 14 of 15 power plays. That’s a lot of work for the PK and it felt like the rising number of trips to the box would eventually burn the Flyers.

They allowed Ilya Kovalchuk’s go-ahead power play goal early in the second period and then the Canadiens scored another marker 11 seconds later to seize a 3-1 lead.

It was a momentum-changing sequence all started by a penalty, albeit a cheap hooking call on Kevin Hayes.

The Flyers also hurt themselves by going 0 for 4 on the power play.

• Kovalchuk, who signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Canadiens two weeks ago, gave Montreal a 2-1 lead on the second-period power play goal. He tacked on the fourth and final goal.

The 36-year-old winger has seven points (three goals, four assists) in seven games with the Canadiens.

Should the Flyers have been interested?

• Recalled a day after being loaned to the Phantoms for the purpose of creating space for Lyon, Joel Farabee scored a big goal to open the game’s scoring.

The marker was Farabee’s first in 16 games. The 19-year-old has offense to add to the Flyers — and if he can show it on the fourth line, his role will grow as the games grow bigger.

“I'd like him to get a little bit more than nine or 10 minutes but we've seen that go up and down, and my expectation is that that’ll come back,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday.

With the addition of Connor Bunnaman, the Flyers’ fourth line has been a positive over the past three games.

• Before the game, Vigneault said he was very optimistic about defenseman Justin Braun’s return Saturday from a groin injury.

• The Flyers play two more games, both at home, before their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week — Saturday vs. the Kings (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Tuesday vs. the Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN).

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