peter laviolette

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Nolan Patrick adjusting offensively

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Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Nolan Patrick adjusting offensively

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s still a feeling out process for 19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick, who continues to acclimate himself to the speed and style of the NHL’s brand of hockey. While he’s been defensively reliable in his own end of the ice, we’re beginning to see where Patrick prefers to do his damage offensively.

Patrick has utilized his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame to create space down low around the goal line and behind the net. In one of most dazzling plays of the preseason, Patrick fed a blind pass to Oskar Lindblom for a quality scoring chance, and Saturday in Anaheim there was a similar play to Travis Konecny. 

“I’ve always felt I had a good vision to make plays from down there,” Patrick said. “I don’t know if I pride myself on making plays from down there, but I think in this league, there’s not much off the rush. Everyone tracks back pretty hard. I think that’s where the offense is going to come from down there, so I just try to make quick cutbacks and make plays, so that’s something I’ve been trying to focus on.”

“He’s got great vision from below the goal line, from down low in tight spaces,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “He made the play from down low on (Ivan) Provorov’s goal the other night. He had a similar type play to (Konecny) at the end of the game there. Those are strengths of his game, and we’re starting to see those things come out more and more.

Flipping the switch
After starting the season 3 for 3, the Flyers' power play is now 0 for its last 12. Hakstol will continue to leave Valtteri Filppula on the No. 1 unit, as they worked on their setup and puck movement during Monday’s practice. 

“Part of that role is shooting,” Hakstol said. “He hasn’t spent a lot of time in that spot. I think just overall adjusting to that position and that role on the power play is something that he’s done pretty well. It’s a real puck support role as well. You’re in a support role with anybody on the rink that has the puck and you’re in a puck retrieval role. I think he’s adjusting to it really well.”

Sour jam
Peter Laviolette is one of three coaches since 2010 to take two different teams to the Stanley Cup Final only to come up short on both occasions. Peter DeBoer led the Devils in 2012 and Sharks in 2016 and was on the losing end twice. Alain Vigneault went with the Canucks in 2011 and again with the Rangers in 2014.

After the Predators bowed out to the Penguins in six games, Laviolette is now attempting to draw off his experiences in the year after he guided the Flyers to the Cup Final, when they finished with 106 points, third best that season behind the Canucks and the Capitals. However, he still hasn’t moved past the gut-wrenching loss to the Blackhawks.

“It’s never easy to get over,” Laviolette said following Monday's morning practice. “Anytime you go that deep and lose it leaves a pit in your stomach, and you carry that pit forever. I look back at Philadelphia as a missed opportunity for all of us, and certainly in Nashville I look back at it the same way. You’re here to do one thing and that’s win championships and when you don’t do it, it hurts.”  

Laviolette will be reminded of that once again as the Predators raise their Western Conference Champions banner in front of their fans prior to their game against the Flyers.

Hartnell down in Nashville
Philly fan favorite Scott Hartnell returns to the Predators, the franchise that selected him in the first round (6th overall) of the 2000 NHL draft. 

Entering his 17th season, Hartnell is one of 21 active players with at least nine or more 20-goal seasons, and he believes he can reach that mark again filling the hole left by James Neal. (Neal was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft.) Laviolette still views Hartnell as an important part of the team’s power play and has him working with the No. 1 unit Monday.

For the first time in his career, Hartnell is taking his career year-by-year after signing a one-year, $1 million deal with the Predators.

“It’s a young man’s game now and the speed of it is incredible, and you just got to do your thing,” Hartnell said. “My game’s still pretty simple, it doesn’t change much from when I started at 18. I go to the net and that’s where I score my goals. That’s where all the action happens, and just looking forward to this year. I’m so excited to be a part of this and we’re looking forward to getting in the playoffs and making a run like last year.”

Hartnell got married for the second time over the summer after he exchanged vows at The Country Club at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. Many of Hartnell’s Flyers teammates were in attendance including Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen, Brayden Schenn, Sam Gagner and Nick Schultz.  

Flyers-Predators 5 things: A new streak begins?

Flyers-Predators 5 things: A new streak begins?

Flyers (19-11-3) vs. Predators (13-12-5)
7 p.m. on CSN, and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

It was a fun ride.

The win streak ended at 10 games on Saturday, but the Flyers are ready to start a new one Monday night when they welcome the Nashville Predators to the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the matchup:

1. Back to square one
The Flyers’ run was their longest since Oct. 19-Nov. 17, 1985, when they won 13 games in a row.

The orange and black are ready to start over.

“You build up a 10-game winning streak, it’s pretty cool,” Wayne Simmonds said after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Stars. “It’s over with now and we've got to start again. You build on the positives you had during the streak.”

In many ways, the Flyers made a statement — to themselves more so than anyone else.

“We’ve reset the bar a little bit for ourselves in terms of expectations — that we can beat anybody, we can go on a run and be competitive every night,” general manager Ron Hextall said Sunday (see story). “So we just need to continue on.

“I’m not sure you ever envision, in this day and age, a 10-game winning streak. They’re hard to come by. I think you expect your team to play better. I think we’ve got a good team and we do have expectations that are reasonable, but also, we expect to win. I don’t know if I say I expect a 10-game winning streak, but do you expect to win maybe 10 of 12 or 10 of 13? Yeah, I think that’s fair during times of the year.”

2. Knowing your strength
The man advantage is where the Flyers can really hurt you, but the power play has been missing the past three games. In that span, the Flyers are 0 for 8, marking just the second time they’ve gone three consecutive games without a man-advantage goal.

The Flyers still have four of the NHL’s top 12 power-play producers in Claude Giroux (15 points), Wayne Simmonds (14), Jakub Voracek (13) and Brayden Schenn (13), while remaining atop the league in man-advantage goals (28).

Considering they haven’t gone four straight games this season without a power-play marker, it would be surprising to see them come up empty against Nashville.

3. An old friend returns
Predators head man Peter Laviolette returns to Philadelphia, where he of course coached for parts of five seasons and led the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

Laviolette hasn’t had much luck against the Flyers since being fired by organization three games into the 2013-14 season. Now in his third season with Nashville, Laviolette has lost four of five meetings (1-2-2) with the Flyers.

He’s led the Predators to the playoffs in his first two seasons, but in 2016-17, Nashville is currently in sixth place of the Central Division. The Predators have lost 11 of 14 road games, sport a 2-4-2 December record and will be without defenseman P.K. Subban (seven goals, 10 assists) because of an upper-body injury.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere seems due for a goal. He has only one in his last 18 games. Last season, he scored an overtime winner at home against the Predators, one of his NHL rookie-record four such goals.

Predators: Winger Viktor Arvidsson just had a five-game point streak snapped, so he’ll want to get back on the score sheet. The 23-year-old has six points (two goals, four assists) over his past six games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 8-7-5 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 21 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• The Predators are 2 for their last 31 on the power play.

• The Flyers have not lost at home since Nov. 25.