new jersey devils

Devils' Kurtis Gabriel receives 1-game suspension from NHL for boarding Nolan Patrick

Devils' Kurtis Gabriel receives 1-game suspension from NHL for boarding Nolan Patrick

Kurtis Gabriel's reckless hit on Nolan Patrick didn't fly with the Flyers.

And it didn't fly with the NHL, either.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety handed the Devils' forward a one-game suspension on Saturday for boarding Patrick during the first period of the Flyers' 6-3 win Friday at the Prudential Center.

Frankly, the play was dirty and dangerous.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Flyers analyst Chris Therien called it the "dumbest hit" he's seen all year.

On the broadcast, color analyst Bill Clement let out a "what is that?"

Since the 25-year-old Gabriel has played only 30 games in his NHL career and has no history of fines or suspensions, he was given just one game. If not for that, the punishment could have been much worse.

Here was the review from the NHL's Department of Player Safety:

It is important to note that while Patrick does turn to face the boards to compete for the puck, this is not a case of a player turning immediately prior to contact in a way that turns a legal hit into an illegal one. 

Although Patrick does shift slightly as Gabriel approaches, he is in a defenseless position before Gabriel initiates the check and was not in a position to recognize that Gabriel was approaching for contact and brace himself appropriately.

Having entered the zone from across the ice, Gabriel has plenty of time and space to make a better decision. The onus is on Gabriel to deliver this hit in a legal fashion, minimize the force of the contact or avoid this hit entirely, which he fails to do.

Tension only boiled from there as Travis Konecny came to Patrick's defense throughout the game and was seen shouting at Damon Severson and Sami Vatanen in the penalty box during the third period after the Devils' two defensemen tried scuffling with the Flyers' forwards.

"It was just a matter of trying to protect ourselves," Konecny said after the game (see story). "Patty is one of my good buddies and I'm going to stick up for him any time someone is messing with him. That's what it is. Everyone's just sticking together and we're a close team. It's not going to fly with us."

It's probably good that the Flyers and Devils don't meet again this season.

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Travis Konecny defends Nolan Patrick, shows Flyers won't be picked on without Wayne Simmonds

Travis Konecny defends Nolan Patrick, shows Flyers won't be picked on without Wayne Simmonds

NEWARK, N.J. — It was just a matter of time before this new-look Flyers team was forced to take matters into the hands of someone else not named Wayne Simmonds.

To have the fortitude to serve and protect in a way Simmonds was called upon to do so many times before.

Friday night's 6-3 win over the Devils proved to be that first game in which the team’s mettle would be tested (see observations)

“Simmer is one of those guys you don’t want to mess with,” Travis Konecny said. “Teams probably look at us differently. We’re still the same team in that we stick together. I think Simmer left a lot of that with us and taught us young guys to stick up for your teammates.”

You’ll have to forgive the Devils, more notably fourth-line winger Kurtis Gabriel, if he somehow mistook the Prudential Center for one of Newark’s poorly lit alleyways. 

Five minutes into the game, Gabriel unloaded an all-out assault into Nolan Patrick, checking from behind and launching him face-first into the glass. NBC Sports Philadelphia Flyers analyst Chris Therien called it "the dumbest hit I’ve seen all year."

It was certainly one of the most irresponsible ones.

A hit so flagrant that it resulted in a five-minute major, forcing Patrick to leave the game and head into the dressing room as part of the NHL’s concussion protocol.  

“That’s obviously the way that guy plays," Patrick said. "He’s in the lineup for that reason, to do that I guess. The best way to respond is to beat them, which we did."

One could make the convincing argument that Gabriel should have received a match penalty and been immediately ejected from the game, but he was allowed to return after serving the five minutes.

Once the Flyers scored two quick goals in the third period, it was time to settle another score, and that’s when Patrick went into retaliation mode and delivered an open-ice shoulder-to-chest hit that leveled Gabriel, but didn’t appear to be contact directed at the head.

Of course, as you might expect, Devils coach John Hynes saw Patrick’s retaliatory hit differently than the guys on the other bench. 

“I’m sure it’s going to get reviewed," Hynes said. "Blindside hit to the head."

Not long after Patrick’s third-period hit, the tension grew and erupted in Patrick, Gabriel, Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson getting hauled off for roughing penalties, the fallout of a Konecny crosscheck.

“If you look at tonight, there were a few scrums. Guys stuck up for one another,” Sean Couturier said. “There were five-man units in there as battles. It’s good to see and it’s what good teams do. We've got to keep doing that.”

From a crosscheck to a gut-check moment for the Flyers, who were tested for the first time since trading their emotional and spirited leader Simmonds, who would have cleaned up the mess by dropping the gloves or doing what he needed to do to ensure order was restored.

Teams may look at the Flyers differently, but Friday night, they showed there's still a price to be paid (see highlights).

“It was just a matter of trying to protect ourselves,” Konecny said. “Patty is one of my good buddies and I’m going to stick up for him any time someone is messing with him. That’s what it is. Everyone’s just sticking together and we’re a close team. It’s not going to fly with us.”

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Flyers 6, Devils 3: Travis Konecny has plenty to say in lopsided win

Flyers 6, Devils 3: Travis Konecny has plenty to say in lopsided win

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — The Flyers got all the bounces, for once.

Playing in front of their eighth different goaltender Friday night, the Flyers took down the Devils, 6-3, at the Prudential Center to keep their playoff hopes alive.

James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny scored twice and Jakub Voracek added three assists (see highlights).

Here are my observations:

• The Flyers came out of the gates looking as if they were stuck in quicksand. They allowed the Devils to fly around and control the puck for the opening five minutes. Fourth-line winger Kurtis Gabriel took much of that momentum away after clobbering Nolan Patrick in the back up against the glass, which led to a five-minute major.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Flyers analyst Chris Therien called it "the dumbest hit I’ve seen all year."

• As a result of the hit on Patrick, you could sense that things would blow up between these two teams once the score got out of hand, and there were a handful of skirmishes, pushing and shoving after the whistle.

The theater continued into the penalty box during the third period with Travis Konecny jawing with Damon Severson, who took a crosscheck from Konecny that started the fracas.

• However, the Flyers' power play was completely out of sync and it actually gave up more shots (four to two) to New Jersey’s PK during that five minutes. The Flyers had no business getting out of that first with a 2-0 lead.

• A good start for Cam Talbot in his Flyers debut as he came up with a big save on a Blake Coleman’s shorthanded breakaway chance. He was certainly under pressure early on. His first goal allowed came after making the first save on Kenny Agostino, but his rebound was kicked right out to Severson. 

Talbot’s second goal was much of the same as he deflected the initial shot to his right, but Jesper Bratt had enough time to backhand the rebound in for a goal. While he had no shot at stopping the first rebound goal, Talbot was a little slow to react on the second one. Can’t help but wonder if this has been a root of his issues over the past few years in Edmonton.

• After an impressive Flyers debut for Ryan Hartman, I thought the Flyers' winger took a step back with a bad charging penalty and a trip that he got away with. Hartman wasn’t much of an offensive presence on the Flyers' third line, as well. However, he had a beautiful no-look pass from behind the net to JVR to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

Plays like that show a skill set that makes him versatile if interim head coach Scott Gordon needs to move him up and down the lineup. 

• Gordon continues to give Philippe Myers more responsibility. The defenseman was paired with Robert Hagg on the Flyers' second-period penalty kill, and Myers even felt confident to jump in offensively and try to catch the Devils' power play sleeping.  

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