Greg Paone

Flyers claim D-man with Stanley Cup experience off waivers

Flyers claim D-man with Stanley Cup experience off waivers

NHL trade deadline day is upon us and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has made his first move of the day. 

But it's not a trade. Instead, he decided to pluck a veteran defenseman off the waiver wire.

The Flyers on Monday afternoon claimed Johnny Oduya, a 12-year veteran who has played 849 career games with New Jersey, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Chicago, Dallas and Ottawa, off waivers from the Senators team they just beat on Saturday afternoon.

Oduya, who is 36 and has two Stanley Cups from the Blackhawks' glory run (2013 and 2015), brings a trusted presence to the back of the Flyers' defense. He brings with him a $1 million cap hit on a contract that expires after this season.

"It's the experience and he's a proven veteran guy in the dressing room," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said after Monday's morning skate in Montreal prior to his team's game vs. the Canadiens. "He's an outstanding defender and he's very versatile in terms of being able to play either side. 

"I think he certainly brings an element to our group."

Oduya, a native Swede who was a seventh-round pick in the 2001 draft, has 41 goals and 149 assists for 149 points in his regular-season career. He also brings 106 games of postseason experience in which he's posted six goals and 22 assists. And, of course, those two shiny Stanley Cup rings with Chicago.

This season with a stumbling Ottawa club, Oduya has added four goals and four assists in an overage of 17:51 per night in 51 games. In his career, Oduya has averaged 19:54 of ice time per game.

It remains to be seen who is the new odd man out of the Flyers' defensive rotation now that Oduya is on the scene for the stretch run to the playoffs. 

One player who for certain has fallen out of that rotation is Mark Alt, who was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Avalanche on Monday (see story).

The 26-year-old Alt, a 2010 second-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, played nine games with the Flyers, including eight this season, has yet to record a point in the NHL.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk contributed to this story.

An exclamation point to cap Claude Giroux's stellar week

An exclamation point to cap Claude Giroux's stellar week

The NHL on Monday afteroon placed a cherry on top of the Flyers' successful week.

After posting three goals and three assists in the Flyers' four victories, captain Claude Giroux was named the NHL's First Star of the week.

Giroux's best performance in a studded week came on Thursday when he potted a power-play goal and two assists in the Flyers' 5-3 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens. He also scored against the Coyotes on Saturday and the Golden Knights on Sunday, giving him a goal in three consecutive contests.

Giroux's line with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny has been on fire lately. In the four games this past week, the trio combined for 16 points (seven goals and nine assists, including a seven-point showing in Vegas on Sunday evening.

The captain's redemption tour after last season's down campaign has showed no signs of slowing down. Giroux is now up to 64 points (good for sixth in the NHL) on the season with 18 goals and 46 assists in 56 games. That's already more than his 58-point showing in 82 games last season.

Calgary Flames star and South Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau was named the second star of the week while Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk was named the third star of the week.

Minus a goalie, Flyers treading murky water

AP Images

Minus a goalie, Flyers treading murky water

We are flooded by so many good Philadelphia sports vibes these days, it’s almost kind of weird. We’re not used to this. We don’t know what to do with it. It’s like this unheard of fog we never want to shake.

And the Flyers did their part last week to make sure the fog didn’t lift and that the good vibes kept rolling into town.

The Flyers went 3-0 last week with a frantic 2-1 OT win over the Hurricanes in Carolina on Tuesday night, a sound 5-3 victory back home over the Montreal Canadiens to cap parade day and then finished things up with a hard-fought 4-3 shootout victory in Arizona over the Coyotes on Saturday night.

Let’s continue to express our feelings in a deeper manner with this week’s Flyers observations.

• On Saturday night, the Flyers got over whatever it is about the lowly Coyotes that brings out the worst in them as they topped Arizona for the first time in four tries. And in a shootout no less. But the obvious black mark is how Brian Elliott skated gingerly off the ice during the shootout with what GM Ron Hextall is calling a lower-body injury.

A big reason for the Flyers’ success this week was the play of Elliot, a rock-solid presence in net who was clearly sorely missed in the four-game losing streak that extended across the All-Star break. He was excellent in Carolina on Tuesday with 27 saves. And then he gave the Flyers what they needed against Montreal and Arizona. Simply put, he’s been very reliable and the results have shown for the Flyers.

Conversely, Michal Neuvirth hasn’t been all that reliable this season Again, injuries have played a role, as his career arc continues to dictate. But when he’s been healthy in net, the consistency just hasn’t been there. And as the Flyers head into an important stretch with four of the next six games against teams nipping at their heels in the Metropolitan Division, they need consistency in net.

With as jumbled as things are, if Neuvirth can’t provide that this time around as Elliott is on the shelf, the Flyers could be looking up again in the standings.

• What a beautiful mess that OT was in Carolina on Tuesday night. The Flyers had no business coming out on top in that overtime session as the Hurricanes carried play, controlled the puck, skated circles around the sloppy Flyers and fired six shots on Elliott in the 4:56 played.

That sequence late where Elliott made a save and then Claude Giroux batted the puck out of the air to prevent the winner from going in behind Elliott was a wacky as it gets, but it worked.

Jordan Weal then scooted down the wing and slipped a softie past Cam Ward for the winner.

The 3-on-3 is designed to be fast-paced and action-packed, but that was a disaster that you just couldn’t take your eyes off of. And it worked.

• Remember how discombobulated the Flyers’ power play seemed prior to Thursday’s game vs. the Habs? The power play was just 3 for 30 in the previous 10 games prior to Thursday and things were not smooth, to say the least.

Enter a scoop of the perfect medicine, the Montreal PK, a unit that entered Sunday ranked 25th in the league and surrendered power-play goals to Giroux, in his office at the dot, and Jake Voracek, who whistled one off Carey Price’s ear on Thursday.

The power play struck two more times in the desert on Saturday courtesy of Giroux and Wayne Simmonds.

When this power play is clicking, it can carry the Flyers. With questions looming in net, the power play is going to come more in focus as the Flyers may find themselves in offensive barnburners more often than not. If the last two games are any indication, that’ll be just fine. But we know how streaky this power play is and things can turn sour again in the blink of an eye.

• Ok, so maybe I’m thinking too much into this, but I was watching the shootout in Arizona on Saturday night and it just seems like most of the Flyers’ shootout attempts are missing something. It’s like they struggle to get the goalie moving and then have no option but to shoot right into him.

I watch other teams’ shootouts and their shooters are getting the goalies shifting around the crease. So many times, the Flyers have nothing to shoot at because the goalie isn’t moving.

Am I crazy?

• Seriously, though… let’s take a peek at the Metropolitan Division standings. There are so many cooks in the kitchen right now. Washington is ahead of the pack with 69 points. After Pittsburgh won Sunday afternoon, the Penguins are second in line with 66 points. Prior to Sunday night’s contest in Vegas, the Flyers check in at third with 63 points. And then there’s New Jersey (62 points) and Carolina (61 points) in the wild-card spots. And Columbus and both New York teams are lurking just behind.

The Flyers just happen to play the Devils, Blue Jackets and Rangers in four of the next six games. Those are eight critical points on the table for all those teams.

Yes, these games have incredible importance and the pressure is on because heading south could happen quickly. But on the other hand, destiny is in your hands. And that’s true for the Flyers here.

Coming up this week: Sunday at Vegas (8 p.m. on NBCSP), Tuesday vs. New Jersey (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Friday at Columbus (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Sunday at the New York Rangers (12 p.m. on NBC).