Tag Archives: Jakub Voracek

Rask, Bruins, shutout Flyers, 2-0

The Boston Bruins snapped the Philadelphia Flyers’ nine-game winning streak with a, 2-0, shutout at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Tuukka Rask (26-8-6 record, 2.12 goals against average, .929 save percentage in 41 games played) made 36 saves en route to the shutout victory for the Bruins on his 33rd birthday.

It was also his 5th shutout of the season and the 50th in his NHL career.

Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart (24-13-3, 2.43 GAA, .913 SV% in 42 games played), stopped 27 out of 29 shots faced for a .931 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 44-14-12 (100 points) on the season and became the first team to reach the 100-point plateau this season, while Philadelphia fell to 41-21-7 (89 points) and remained in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also improved to 22-10-3 on the road this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Brandon Carlo (upper body) and Torey Krug (upper body) in Philadelphia.

Miller has yet to make his season debut and has missed all 70 games this season.

Meanwhile, Connor Clifton returned to the lineup for the first time since being injured in a game on Dec. 29th against Buffalo.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, adjusted his defensive pairings with his usual second pair on the blue line out of the action on Tuesday.

Matt Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon were moved up to the second pairing, while John Moore and Clifton slid into the third pairing role with Moore on the left side and Clifton on the right side.

Anders Bjork and Anton Blidh were the only healthy scratches for Boston against the Flyers.

There were no other lineup changes from Saturday night’s, 5-3, loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning to Tuesday night’s matchup in Philadelphia.

Tuesday night also marked the 400th career NHL game for Bruins winger, Joakim Nordstrom.

Chris Wagner tripped Shayne Gostisbehere and presented the Flyers with their first power play opportunity of the night at 6:20 of the first period.

Philadelphia did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Almost ten minutes later, Brad Marchand cut a rut to the sin bin for holding Jakub Voracek at 16:06 and the Flyers didn’t score on the resulting power play.

Late in the opening frame, Ivan Provorov caught Ondrej Kase with a high stick at 19:50, but Boston did not convert on their first power play of the game– despite the advantage carrying over into the second period.

Heading into the first intermission, the Bruins and Flyers were still tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite Philadelphia holding the advantage in shots on goal, 12-8.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2) and hits (9-7), while Philly led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (5-4) and faceoff win percentage (61-39) after one period.

The Flyers were 0/2 and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Past the midpoint of the second period, Marchand went back to the box for holding against Sean Couturier at 14:12.

Once more, Philadelphia was not able to convert on the skater advantage as Rask and Boston’s penalty kill stood tall.

Less than a minute after the two clubs resumed even strength action, Justin Braun was penalized for interference at 16:55 of the second period.

Late in the ensuing power play, Boston worked the puck around in the attacking zone with an umbrella formation.

David Krejci tossed the puck to David Pastrnak who gave it to Grzelcyk (4) for the shot from the point that beat Hart to give the Bruins the first lead of the night, 1-0, on the skater advantage.

Grzelcyk’s power play goal was assisted by Pastrank (47) and Krejci (30) at 18:39 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action in Philly, the Bruins led the Flyers, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite Philadelphia holding a, 24-12, advantage in shots on goal.

Entering the second intermission, Boston led in blocked shots (11-7), while the Flyers led in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (10-6), hits (16-13) and faceoff win% (62-39).

Philadelphia was 0/3 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play heading into the final period.

Late in the final frame of regulation, Patrice Bergeron (31) received a pass, broke into the attacking zone and wristed a shot over Hart’s blocker side to make it, 2-0, for the Bruins at 14:40 of the third period.

Marchand (59) and Zdeno Chara (9) notched the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the B’s had their insurance marker for the victory.

Just 20 seconds later, the Flyers were on the penalty kill as a result of Scott Laughton catching Pastrnak with a high stick at 15:00 of the third period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on their last power play of the night.

With 2:40 remaining in the game, Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but Philadelphia couldn’t find a way to breakthrough Boston’s defense and goaltender.

At the final horn, the B’s had won in Philly and defeated the Flyers for the first time in their last five regular season meetings.

Boston won, 2-0, despite trailing in shots on goal, 36-29.

The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (12-11) and hits (23-22), while Philadelphia wrapped the night up with the advantage in giveaways (15-12) and faceoff win% (62-38).

The Flyers finished 0/3 on the power play, while Boston went 1/3 on the skater advantage.

With the win, Boston became the first team to reach the 100-point plateau and marked the third consecutive season of 100 points or more in a season for Cassidy in his third full-season with the club.

Meanwhile, the Bruins improved to 26-7-8 (14-5-2 on the road in that span) when scoring the game’s first goal, 14-2-6 (7-1-0 on the road) when tied after one period, 28-1-6 (16-1-2 on the road) when leading after two periods and 17-4-5 (8-3-2 on the road) when being outshot this season.

The Flyers, on the other hand, fell to 13-14-3 (5-3-4 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 17-3-3 (12-3-2 at home) when tied after one period, 2-21-4 (2-6-2 at home) when trailing after two periods and 22-15-4 (15-5-2 at home) when outshooting their opponent this season.

Boston wraps up their two-game road trip (1-0-0) in Buffalo on Friday before returning home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets next Monday (March 16th).

The Bruins then venture out to California for their annual West Coast road trip.

Flyers overcome three-goal deficit to beat Bruins, 6-5, in shootout

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a three-goal lead and dismantled the Boston Bruins, 6-5, in a shootout on Monday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Carter Hart (15-11-3 record, 2.61 goals against average, .905 save percentage in 32 games played) made 26 saves on 31 shots against for an .839 SV% in the win.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (10-4-6, 2.46 GAA, .920 SV% in 20 games played) stopped 34 out of 39 shots faced for an .872 SV% in the shootout loss.

Boston fell to 27-8-12 (66 points), but remained in command of the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Philadelphia improved to 24-16-6 (54 points) and remained in 5th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also fell to 12-6-3 on the road this season.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Monday against the Flyers, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Saturday night’s, 3-2, win in overtime against the Islanders in New York.

Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, skated in his 1,000th game with the club– becoming just the 6th player in franchise history to do so, joining Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Don Sweeney, Wayne Cashman and current teammate, Patrice Bergeron.

Chara has played in 1,530 career NHL games with the Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Bruins.

Par Lindholm, David Backes and Steven Kampfer served as Boston’s healthy scratches in Philadelphia.

Anders Bjork (7) scored his first goal in nine games after sending the puck into the twine on a backhand shot while Hart dove paddle first to try to make a save.

Jake DeBrusk (12) had the only assist on Bjork’s goal at 4:15 of the first period and the Bruins led, 1-0.

Midway through the opening frame, Mark Friedman and Bjork got tangled up after a stoppage at 11:55. Each received minor penalties for roughing and the two side escaped the ensuing 4-on-4 action unharmed.

Late in the period, Michael Raffl tripped Bergeron and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:30.

Almost 90 seconds into the resulting skater advantage, the Bruins capitalized on the power play after David Krejci (10) redirected a pass from Danton Heinen behind the Flyers goaltender.

Krejci’s goal extended the current franchise record for the most consecutive games with at least one power play goal to 14 and was assisted by Heinen (12) and Charlie Coyle (16) at 16:49.

The B’s led, 2-0, but not for long, however, as Bergeron caught Scott Laughton with a high stick at 18:00 of the first period and drew blood.

Bergeron’s infraction was upgraded to a high sticking double minor penalty and Philadelphia began a four-minute power play as a result.

The Flyers struck fast on the ensuing skater advantage when Kevin Hayes (14) rocked home a one-timer off the bar and in while Boston’s defense was out of position.

Hayes’ goal put Philly on the board and cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, while Travis Konecny (25) and James van Riemsdyk (12) notched the assists at 18:22.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led the Flyers, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 14-12, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in hits (7-6) and faceoff win percentage (71-29) through 20 minutes of play, while Philadelphia led in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (3-2) and giveaways (4-1).

Both clubs were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Less than a minute into the second period, David Pastrnak (36) drew the puck quickly to his backhand after receiving a break-in pass from Brad Marchand and slipped the rubber biscuit through Hart’s exposed five-hole to give the B’s another two-goal lead, 3-1.

Marchand (43) and Chara (9) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal 33 seconds into the second period, but once more the Bruins couldn’t get too comfortable.

Less than a minute later, Travis Sanheim (6) sniped a wrist shot past Halak from just outside the high slot with traffic in front of the net to bring Philadelphia back to within one-goal at 1:12 of the second period.

Sean Couturier (25) and Jakub Voracek (27) tallied the assists on Sanheim’s first goal of the night and the Flyers trailed, 3-2, 39 seconds after Pastrnak scored for Boston.

A few minutes later, after Heinen sent a flawless pass to Coyle in the attacking zone, Coyle (9) ripped a shot over Hart’s glove and into the corner of the twine to give the Bruins another two-goal lead.

Heinen (13) and Brandon Carlo (10) had the assists on Coyle’s goal at 4:50 and the B’s led, 4-2.

Less than a few minutes later, Krejci (11) tallied his second goal of the night after Boston worked the puck deep before Bjork ultimately wrapped around the net and tossed a quick pass to the second line center for the one-timer over Hart while the Flyers goaltender dove from one side of the net to the other in desperation.

Bjork (7) and DeBrusk (13) were credited with the assists on Krejci’s goal and Boston led, 5-2, at 7:21.

For just the second time this season, however, the Bruins blew a three-goal lead as the rest of the game did not go as planned for Cassidy’s crew.

First, Chris Wagner was penalized for roughing Konecny after the whistle was blown on a play in the corner whereby Konecny made contact with Charlie McAvoy as both players were nowhere near the puck that some B’s players took offense to and responded accordingly in effort to stand up for their young blue liner.

Wagner was sent to the box at 9:02 and the Bruins killed off the minor infraction, but couldn’t quite escape the momentum that swayed into Philly’s hand.

Couturier (13) slipped a fluke goal through Halak’s five-hole on what became a recurring theme for the Boston netminder Monday night– soft goals.

Voracek (28) and Matt Niskanen (13) had the assists on Couturier’s goal at 13:12 and the Flyers trailed by two-goals once more, 5-3.

About a minute later, Friedman threw a shot towards the net that deflected off of Connor Bunnaman (1) and bounced off a Bruins defender before beating Halak and hitting the twine to bring Philadelphia to within one at 14:46.

Friedman (1) and Robert Hagg (5) had the assists on Bunnaman’s inadvertent first career NHL goal as Boston’s lead was cut to, 5-4.

After two periods of action in Philadelphia, the Bruins led the Flyers, 5-4, on the scoreboard, but trailed in shots on goal, 27-20.

Philly’s stronghold on the second period included a, 15-6, advantage in shots on net in the middle frame alone, as well as the lead in takeaways (5-3) and giveaways (7-5).

Boston, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (7-6) and faceoff win% (60-40) through two periods, while both teams had 19 hits aside.

The Flyers were 1/3 on the power play and the B’s were 1/1 on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.

Niskanen interfered with Marchand 28 seconds into the third period, but Boston’s power play couldn’t muster the desired outcome of another power play goal.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Joel Farabee and Torey Krug became entangled and received roughing minors at 12:30.

Just 28 seconds later, the Flyers got what they had wanted as Sanheim (7) scored his second goal of the game while Halak was helpless as his defense lacked in coverage.

Philippe Myers (11) and Couturier (26) tallied the assists on Sanheim’s game-tying goal and the score was even, 5-5, at 12:58 of the third period.

At the horn, the two teams were heading to overtime, tied, 5-5, on the scoreboard, despite the Flyers leading the Bruins, 35-28, in shots on goal.

Philadelphia notched the advantage in takeaways (7-3) and giveaways (9-7), while Boston led in blocked shots (15-8), hits (28-24) and faceoff win% (59-41)

As there were no penalties called past regulation, the Flyers finished 1/3 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1/2 on the power play.

In overtime, Cassidy elected to start Bergeron, Pastrnak and John Moore, while Philadelhia’s head coach, Alain Vigneault, matched Boston’s starters with Couturier, Voracek and Ivan Provorov on the blue line.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the extra frame, despite the Flyers leading in shots on goal in overtime, 4-3.

At the horn the Flyers finished the evening leading in shots on goal (39-31) and giveaways (10-7), while the Bruins ended the night leading in blocked shots (19-10), hits (31-24) and faceoff win% (59-41).

Before both teams could vacate the ice, however, a shootout was needed to determine the winner of the extra point in the league standings.

Philadelphia chose to shoot first and sent out Hayes, but the veteran forward tried to go low with a forehand shot and was denied by Halak’s leg pad.

Boston retaliated with the NHL’s leading goal scorer in Pastrnak, but No. 88 in black and gold deked and tried to go backhand and was stopped by Hart with a pad save– leaving the first round of the shootout still even at, 0-0.

Next up for the Flyers was none other than Philly’s captain himself, Claude Giroux, as Giroux skated in on Halak– elevating a shot over the Bruins goaltender that rang the post and bounced off of Halak’s back and out.

Cassidy matched Vigneault’s second shooter with Coyle, but Coyle was denied by Hart with a glove save after the third line center sitckhandled and didn’t get enough on his shot to duplicate Giroux’s effort at elevating the puck.

Couturier was the first shooter of the third round and hit the post with a backhand shot that might had deflected off of Halak’s glove before catching the iron and going wide.

DeBrusk was Boston’s third choice in the shootout, but tried to go five-hole (a classic move for the B’s in shootouts this season) and was stoned by Hart with a predictable save.

Farabee had the chance to put the Flyers ahead with the first advantage in the shootout, but couldn’t get enough on a low-blocker side attempt as Halak turned the puck away.

Despite scoring two goals in the game, Krejci’s shootout attempt left more to be desired as the veteran Bruin tried to go short side on Hart with a close range backhand shot that the Philadelphia netminder stopped with his leg pad.

Finally, in the 5th round of the shootout, Konecny connected on a goal with a shot off the post and in behind Halak’s glove.

Boston had to score to continue the shootout or they would lose, so Cassidy sent out Marchand thinking the noted puck handler could get the job done and extended the already extended effort.

Nope.

Marchand skated towards the puck at the center ice dot, barely scrapped the top of the vulcanized rubber with his stick and moved it a few inches from where an official had left it prior to the attempt and had his chance waved off by the refs as an official shot that did not reach the net.

The game ended on an untimely error that Marchand shrugged off in his postgame interview, whereas other players might have been too frustrated with themselves to speak or too embarrassed to show their face to reporters afterwards.

It’s one game. It was one attempt. It went wrong.

Unfortunately for the Bruins and their fans, it cost them the game.

But for the Flyers and the home crowd, Philadelphia had won, 6-5, in the shootout and handed Boston their 7th loss in a shootout this season.

The Flyers improved to 5-5 in shootouts, while the Bruins fell to 0-7 in the one-on-one– skater vs. goaltender mini-games.

Boston is now 3-12 past regulation this season as a result of the loss on Monday.

The Bruins fell to 18-6-8 when scoring the game’s first goal, 16-4-3 when leading after the first period and 14-0-6 when leading after two periods this season.

Boston concludes their three-game road trip (1-0-1) on Tuesday in Columbus before returning home for a home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and Sunday. After the Bruins swing through Pittsburgh on Jan. 19th, the B’s finish their game action before the All-Star break with a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 21st. 

Philadelphia Flyers 2019-20 Season Preview

Philadelphia Flyers

37-37-8, 82 points, 6th in the Metropolitan Division

Only misses the postseason in odd years (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)

Additions: F Andy Andreoff, F Kyle Criscuolo, F Kurtis Gabriel, F Kevin Hayes (acquired from WPG), F Tyler Pitlick (acquired from DAL), D Chris Bigras, D Justin Braun (acquired from SJS), D Matt Niskanen (acquired from WSH), D Nate Prosser, D Andy Welinski, D Tyler Wotherspoon, G Jean-Francois Berube

Subtractions: F Justin Bailey (signed with VAN), F Cole Bardreau (signed with NYI), F Greg Carey (signed with Lehigh Valley, AHL), F Byron Froese (signed with CGY), F Tyrell Goulbourne (signed with VGK), F Ryan Hartman (traded to DAL, signed with MIN), F Corban Knight (KHL), F Jori Lehtera (KHL), F Roman Lyubimov (KHL), F Phil Varone (signed with MTL), F Mike Vecchione (signed with STL), D Radko Gudas (traded to WSH), G Mike McKenna (retired), G Michal Neuvirth (signed a PTO with TOR), G Cam Talbot (signed with CGY)

Still Unsigned: F Travis Konecny, D Jacob Graves, D Ivan Provorov

Re-signed: F Nicolas Aube-Kubel, F Scott Laughton

Offseason Analysis: It’s the dawn of a new age for the Philadelphia Flyers. Gone are the days (hopefully) of the revolving door of goaltenders in a Flyers sweater as Carter Hart’s first full season is about to get underway– and with a stable defense in front of him too.

Last season, Philadelphia set an NHL record for the most goaltenders used in a season with seven different netminders.

This season, Philadelphia’s looking to set a record for the most current/former head coaches to be behind the bench at any given time as Alain Vigneault is the new head coach, while Mike Yeo and Michel Therrien are playing supporting roles as assistants.

General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, nabbed Kevin Hayes in June in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets– sending a 2019 5th round pick to the Jets in return.

Shortly after acquiring Hayes, the Flyers “re-signed” him to a seven-year, $50 million contract worth $7.143 million per season. He’s never scored more than 25 goals in a season and just had a career-high 55 points in 71 games with the New York Rangers and Winnipeg last season.

While Hayes certainly isn’t a standout superstar, he does solidify the top-six forward group and provides a long-term foundation for Philadelphia’s core with his seven-year deal.

Claude Giroux is only 31-years-old and signed through 2021-22 at $8.275 million per season and Jakub Voracek, 30, is signed through 2023-24 at $8.250 million per season.

Any contract with a cap hit under $9 million for your best players is considered a steal in today’s NHL, but not all “steals” are good contracts.

Regardless, Philadelphia has a versatile group of forwards and upgraded their defense over the offseason– something that was badly needed to help lessen the load on a high turnover of goaltenders over recent years.

Radko Gudas was traded to the Washington Capitals in a one-for-one deal that sent Matt Niskanen to the Flyers. Though Philadelphia retained 30% of Gudas’ salary ($1.005 million) in the deal, they did not keep any of his future suspensions in the transaction.

While Niskanen alone isn’t the most impressive thing in the world, adding Justin Braun to the mix that includes Niskanen, Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin certainly is.

Provorov is still an unsigned restricted free agent with training camp opening later this week.

Braun was acquired by Philadelphia in a trade with the San Jose Sharks in which Fletcher gave up a 2019 2nd round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick to get the top-four defender while the Sharks were looking to unload salary now that they’ve locked up Erik Karlsson to an eight-year, $92 million extension.

The Flyers have made themselves into serious playoff contenders on paper, but the hard part still remains in front of them– actually making it.

Luckily for them, Vigneault has been to the Stanley Cup Final more recently than Philadelphia has as an organization.

Vigneault made it to the Final behind the bench of the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 and New York Rangers in 2014. His team lost in seven games in 2011 and in five games in 2014.

The Flyers lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

To win the Cup– sometimes– it takes a couple of hardships first before the sweet taste of victory.

Philadelphia’s in “win now” mode. Future be damned.

They have $13.417 million in cap space with Travis Konecny and Provorov to re-sign, plus Nolan Patrick in the final year of his entry-level contract this season.

Offseason Grade: A-

Sure Hayes is overpaid and Vigneault, Yeo and Therrien are behind the bench, but Fletcher built a legitimate defense, a mix of youth and quality players in their prime, plus he has a dark horse in net.

How far can Philadelphia go? That remains to be seen, especially as some of the younger players don’t have a lot of playoff experience– if any at all. However, the Flyers are playoff contenders nonetheless and as long as you make the postseason, you have a chance of winning the Cup.

DTFR Podcast #161- Battle For Gloria (Part Three- The Games Are Happening Part)

The Battle For Gloria rages on with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues tied 2-2 in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Nick and Pete also discuss the latest coaching moves (Dave Tippett, Bob Boughner, Marc Crawford), trades (Kevin Hayes) and rumors (Patrick Marleau, Nikita Zaitsev, Phil Kessel), while Nick introduces a new game segment that has Pete stumped.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

Flyers extend win streak to six games, beat Bruins, 3-2 in OT

Travis Sanheim ended things in overtime with his fifth goal of the season as the Philadelphia Flyers cruised to their sixth win in-a-row over the Boston Bruins, 3-2, on Thursday night at TD Garden.

Carter Hart (8-5-0 record, 2.48 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 14 games played) made 23 saves on 25 shots against (.920 SV%) in the overtime win for the Flyers and became the 10th different goalie in National Hockey League history to record a personal win streak of at least five games before his 21st birthday.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (14-8-4, 2.45 GAA, .920 SV% in 27 GP) turned aside 38 out of 41 shots against for a .927 SV% in the overtime loss and remains tied with Tiny Thompson for the most wins by a goaltender in Boston’s franchise history (252 wins).

The Bruins fell to 27-17-7 (61 points) on the season, but improved to 3rd place in the Atlantic Division.

Boston is tied with the Montreal Canadiens in points (61) and regulation-plus-overtime wins (26), but leads the Canadiens in standings as a result of having attained a greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs (Boston went 2-1-1 in the season series against Montreal, thereby yielding the Bruins five points in the standings to Montreal’s four points in the standings in games against each other).

If that doesn’t make sense, hopefully things will be clearer after both teams play their next game (the Canadiens play on Saturday, B’s play on Sunday).

Philadelphia improved to 22-23-6 (50 points) on the season and remain 7th in the Metropolitan Division standings. In addition, the Flyers extended their current win streak to six games.

Boston finished the month of January with a 6-3-3 record (15 points out of a possible 28 points, .538 points percentage).

While David Backes (900 career games) and Brandon Carlo (200 career games) both reached milestones Thursday night, Bruce Cassidy celebrated the return of Joakim Nordstrom to the lineup for the first time since the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.

Nordstrom missed the last 11 games with a non-displaced fractured fibula he sustained against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 1st, but he didn’t miss a shift outdoors in true hockey player fashion.

Rask was also back in action after missing one game due to a concussion sustained on Jan. 19th against the New York Rangers. As a result, Zane McIntyre was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) prior to puck drop against the Flyers.

John Moore was inserted back into the lineup in place of Matt Grzelcyk, having been a healthy scratch for the last few games.

Joining Grzelcyk in the press box on Thursday were Noel Acciari (out of the lineup due to Nordstrom’s return) and Steven Kampfer (the de facto depth defender since being re-acquired by the Bruins in the Adam McQuaid trade in October).

Nordstrom suited up to the left of Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner on the fourth line, while Cassidy juggled his defensive pairings, placing Torey Krug alongside Kevan Miller to round out the top-four blue liners with Zdeno Chara paired with Charlie McAvoy.

Moore slid in as the left shot defender on the third pairing with Carlo to his right side.

Cassidy did not make any adjustments to his first three forward lines.

Almost two minutes into the game, Claude Giroux got his stick between the legs of David Pastrnak and brought the young Boston winger down to the ice.

Giroux was assessed a minor penalty for tripping at 1:47 of the first period and the B’s went on the power play for the first– and only– time of the night.

As the seconds ticked away on the ensuing skater advantage, Boston sustained a level of pressure on the special teams that had been seen in Tuesday night’s, 4-3, shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets– it was only a matter of time before the Bruins would strike.

Brad Marchand worked the puck back to the point to Krug, whereby the Boston defender sent a pass across the slot to Pastrnak (29) for the one-timer past Hart while falling to one knee, giving the B’s the, 1-0, lead.

Krug (29) and Marchand (38) recorded the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Pastrnak’s goal at 3:05.

In the final minute of the opening frame, Giroux (15) tied things up, 1-1, on a breakaway goal that he fired past Rask’s glove-side. Jakub Voracek (30) was tabbed with the only assist on the goal at 19:16 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, both teams were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, with the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 10-8.

Both teams were also tied in blocked shots (4-4), takeaways (4-4) and face-off win percentage (50-50), while the Flyers led in giveaways (4-2) and hits (7-4) after 20 minutes of play. Boston was 1/1 on the power play, while Philadelphia had yet to see any action on the skater advantage.

Pastrnak (30) gave Boston the lead, 2-1, for the second time of the night at 5:11 of the second period when the young Bruins winger redirected a shot past Hart that originally came off Patrice Bergeron’s blade from the face-off dot to the Flyers netminder’s right side.

Bergeron (28) and Chara (4) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as the 22-year-old Pastrnak became the first Bruin to reach the 30-goal plateau in a season before the month of February since Cam Neely did so in the 1993-94 season (Neely had 36-11–47 totals in 31 games played entering February 1994).

With his second goal of the game, Pastrnak surpassed Neely, Bobby Orr and Barry Pederson for sole possession of first place in franchise history for having three consecutive seasons of at least 30 goals prior to turning 23.

Entering the second intermission, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Flyers, 25-17, in shots on goal. Philadelphia outshot the B’s, 17-7, in the middle frame alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (14-9) after 40 minutes of play, while the Flyers went into the dressing room after two periods with the lead in takeaways (9-6), hits (13-10) and face-off win% (52-49). Both teams had eight giveaways each and the B’s were still 1/1 on the power play.

As a matter of fact, Boston would finish the night 1/1 on the power play, while Oskar Lindblom would be the one to notch Philadelphia’s first power play goal of the night on their only power play opportunity in the third period (more on that in a minute).

Early in the final frame of regulation, Scott Laughton had a clean break with Moore and Carlo trailing.

Moore tied up Laughton with his stick, hooking the Flyers forward and preventing a scoring chance, yielding a penalty shot for the Philadelphia forward.

Laughton’s penalty shot was denied by Rask with a blocker save, leaving the Flyers forward 0-for-2 in his career on penalty shots.

Kuraly was penalized for holding the stick of Sean Couturier at 8:46 of the third period, sending Philadelphia on their first power play of the night.

With 10 seconds remaining on the power play, the Flyers net front presence led to a redirection that squeaked past Rask at 10:36 to tie the game, 2-2, thanks to Lindblom’s 7th goal of the season.

Voracek (31) and Sanheim (12) had the assists Lindblom’s power play goal.

With the score knotted at two goals apiece, the Bruins and Flyers were headed for overtime at the final horn of regulation. Philadelphia held the advantage in shots on goal (36-25) through 60 minutes of the Thursday’s effort.

Less than a minute into overtime, Marchand tripped up Travis Konecny 57 seconds into the 3-on-3 action.

Philadelphia head coach, Scott Gordon, followed the stoppage in play for the delayed call against Boston by using his team’s timeout to draw up a soon to be game-winning game plan.

Just like their first power play goal of the game, with one second remaining on the skater advantage, Sanheim (5) fired a wrist shot past the Bruins goaltender as his own defender (Miller) and Flyers forward, Wayne Simmonds, screened Rask’s view of the puck.

Couturier (22) and Konecny (16) had the assists on Sanheim’s game-winning power play goal at 2:56 of the overtime period, snatching the, 3-2, victory for Philadelphia on the road.

Philly finished the game leading in shots on goal (41-25)– including the 5-0 shots on goal advantage in overtime– as well as hits (18-13) and face-off win% (63-37).

Meanwhile, Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (20-18) and giveaways (13-10).

The Flyers finished the night 2/2 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/1.

Despite scoring the game’s first goal in their last six games, the Bruins are 1-2-3 in that span– including their current three-game losing skid.

Boston is now 4-6 in overtime (1-1 in shootouts) this season, while the Flyers improved to 2-6 (2-0 in shootouts) past the 60-minute mark this season.

Boston travels to Washington, D.C. for a Sunday matinee matchup with the Capitals this weekend before heading back home to host the New York Islanders on Tuesday. The B’s travel to Madison Square Garden for a Wednesday night battle with the New York Rangers before hosting the Los Angeles Kings next Saturday (Feb. 9th) afternoon.

Couturier nets hat trick against Bruins, Flyers win, 4-3

Sean Couturier recorded his first career hat trick in the Philadelphia Flyers’, 4-3, victory Wednesday night over the Boston Bruins on home ice.

Oscar Lindblom had the only other goal for the Flyers, while David Pastrnak and Peter Cehlarik (two goals) did the scoring for Boston.

Carter Hart (5-5-1 record, 2.72 goals against average, .915 save percentage in 11 games played) made 39 saves on 42 shots against for a .929 SV% in the win for Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, Bruins netminder, Jaroslav Halak (13-8-2, 2.46 GAA, .920 SV% in 25 GP) turned aside just 15 out of 19 shots faced for a .789 SV% in the loss and allowed four or more goals in his fourth straight appearance.

With his goal in the first period, Pastrnak surpassed Barry Pederson for the most goals in Bruins franchise history by a player prior to his 23rd birthday.

Pastrnak has 121 career goals, while Pederson notched 120 before turning 23 (3rd-5th, Bobby Orr, 113 goals, Joe Thornton, 101 and Tom Fergus, 98).

As a result of the loss, Boston is now 16-4-3 when scoring first this season.

The B’s fell to 26-15-5 (57 points) on the season and remained 3rd in the Atlantic Division, while the Flyers improved to 18-23-6 (42 points) and now trail the New Jersey Devils by one point for 7th in the Metropolitan Division. In other words, Philadelphia is still last in the Metro.

After Colby Cave was claimed off waivers by the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the Bruins brass called up 23-year-old, Peter Cehlarik, from the Providence Bruins (AHL).

Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, assured reporters prior to Wednesday night’s battle that Cehlarik would be inserted on the second line, sliding in to the left of David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, with David Backes as the odd forward out of the lineup.

Backes joined John Moore and Steven Kampfer as the healthy scratches out of the lineup against Philadelphia, while Joakim Nordstrom remains sidelined with a non-displaced fibula fracture.

Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup.

Cehlarik riled up the Wells Fargo Center crowd when he boarded Travis Konecny at 1:25 into the first period– even more so when the Flyers weren’t able to score on the ensuing skater advantage.

A few minutes later, Jori Lehtera took a skate to the sin bin for tripping Boston defender, Brandon Carlo, at 4:14.

It only took 15 seconds on the power play for the Bruins to crack the code on Hart as Torey Krug sent a cross-ice pass to Pastrnak (27) for the one-timer from one knee near the side of the goal to give Boston the lead, 1-0.

Pastrnak’s 13th power play goal leads the NHL in that stat category and was assisted by Krug (26) and Brad Marchand (33) at 4:39 of the first period.

Moments later, Cehlarik (1) followed up with his first goal of the season in his 2018-19 debut as Boston entered the zone on a rush led by DeBrusk that began with a pass from Krejci through the neutral zone.

Similar to Pastrnak’s goal, Cehlarik received a pass on the open weak side for the one-timer, but from the opposite side of the ice from where Pastrnak scored his goal from.

DeBrusk (4) and Krejci (27) were credited with the assists on Cehlarik’s first goal of the night and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 9:12.

A few minutes later, Philadelphia answered back on the scoreboard with a similar rush going the opposite way resulting in Lindblom (5) firing a shot past Halak’s blocker side on the short side to cut the lead in half, 2-1.

Claude Giroux (37) and Ivan Provorov (12) had the assists on Lindblom’s goal for the Flyers at 12:44.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 12-7, in shots on goal.

Boston also held onto the advantage in blocked shots (6-5) and hits (12-6), while Philly led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (7-2). Both teams were 50-50 in face-off win percentage, while the Flyers were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s were 1/1 on the skater advantage through one period.

Early in the second period, with momentum going their way, the Flyers pounced early on a shot by Jakub Voracek that was tipped in by Couturier (17) to tie the game, 2-2, at 5:32 of the middle frame.

Voracek (27) and Travis Sanheim (11) notched the assists on the goal and less than a minute later, Philadelphia had a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the scoreboard on the power play after Patrice Bergeron tripped up Couturier at 6:10.

Just 37 seconds into the ensuing skater advantage for the Flyers, after Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner failed to convert on a shorthanded bid and were caught up ice, Philadelphia raced back the other way– catching the Bruins lagging behind the play.

With the B’s severely outnumbered, Couturier (18) rocketed home a one-timer goal past Halak to give the Flyers their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 6:47 of the second period.

Wayne Simmonds (8) and Giroux (38) had the assists on Philadelphia’s power play goal and first lead of the night.

Late in the second period, Lehtera hit Ryan Donato from behind and drove Donato’s face into the boards right where the glass meets the dasher, leaving Donato bloodied and headed for the dressing room as per concussion protocol.

Lehtera was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct at 16:48, resulting in a power play for Boston that would carry into the third period.

The B’s failed to convert on their longest– guaranteed– extra skater advantage of the night.

After 40 minutes of play, Philadelphia held onto the lead, 3-2, despite being outshot by Boston, 29-14 (17-7 in the second period alone for the Bruins).

The Flyers dominated blocked shots (18-7), takeaways (9-7) and giveaways (10-5) through two periods as the Bruins entered the second intermission leading in hits (17-13) and face-off win% (58-42).

Both teams were 1/2 on the power play entering the third period.

Early in the final frame, Philadelphia was caught up in a poor line change, resulting in an automatic bench minor penalty for too many men on the ice.

Flyers head coach, Scott Gordon, sent Konecny to serve the minor penalty at 3:39 and Philadelphia killed off the ensuing shorthanded bid.

Scott Laughton hooked Pastrnak at 12:00 of the third period, but the Bruins did not score on the resulting power play opportunity.

Having killed off Laughton’s minor infraction, the Flyers went for the jugular in the vulnerable minute after a power play.

From the face-off dot to the right of Halak, Couturier (19) unloaded a wrist shot that Halak got a chunk of– but not enough of– as the puck twirled past the Boston goaltender and into the twine for Couturier’s first career hat trick at 13:53 of the third period.

Philadelphia led, 4-2, thanks to Couturier’s three goals and Lindblom (9) and Provorov (13) recorded the assists on his third goal Wednesday night.

With under two minutes to go in regulation, Cassidy pulled Halak for the extra attacker.

Boston was able to bring the game back to within one-goal as Marchand threw the puck towards net from almost the goal line for Cehlarik (2) to redirect for his second goal of the night at 18:54.

Marchand (34) and Krug (27) tallied the assists as the Bruins trailed, 4-3.

While attempting to disrupt an otherwise surefire empty net goal for the Flyers, Krejci interfered with Couturier at 19:44 and was surprisingly handed a two-minute minor penalty instead of automatically awarding Couturier with his fourth goal of the night.

The Bruins finished the game shorthanded as the final horn sounded on Philadelphia’s, 4-3, victory.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal (42-19), hits (18-17) and face-off win% (57-43), while the Flyers led in blocked shots (30-8) and giveaways (13-10).

The B’s went 1/4 on the power play Wednesday night, while Philly was 1/3.

For the first time since March 3-8, 1999, a player (Couturier) registered a hat trick in the National Hockey League in six consecutive days.

Of note, Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara tied Teemu Selanne for the 3rd most regular season games played by a European born player in league history, reaching his 1,451st career game on Wednesday.

Boston heads back home to take on the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and finish up three games in four nights with a matchup on Saturday against the New York Rangers at TD Garden.

Saturday’s game is also the last game before the All-Star break for the Bruins. Pastrnak is the lone representative for the B’s that will be heading to SAP Center in San Jose, California for the weekend of festivities.

DTFR Podcast #139- They Ran Out Of Beer!

A bunch of minor trades were made in the last week, the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game rosters were released, as well as the 2019-20 outdoor game schedule. Nick and Connor also discuss the legacy that was the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the 2019 IIHF World Junior Quarterfinal upsets.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

*Editor’s Note: Of course, after recording this week’s episode, the Philadelphia Flyers claimed G Mike McKenna off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.

Halak records 2nd shutout this season in Bruins 3-0 win

Zdeno Chara kicked off Thursday night’s scoring for the Boston Bruins against the Philadelphia Flyers on home ice and Chara ended scoring too. Jake DeBrusk added a power play goal in between Chara’s goals as Jaroslav Halak and the Bruins shutout the Flyers, 3-0, at TD Garden.

Boston improved to 6-2-2 (14 points) on the season with the win– good enough for 2nd in the Atlantic Division, despite being tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for 1st on points (Toronto has one more regulation-plus-overtime win than the Bruins, yielding the tiebreaker).

Philadelphia fell to 4-6-0 (8 points) through their first 10 games, currently sitting 6th in the Metropolitan Division.

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Halak (3-0-2, .945 save percentage, 1.43 goals against average in 6 games played) made 26 saves on 26 shots faced for a 1.000 SV% and his 2nd shutout of the season in the win, while Flyers netminder, Brian Elliott (2-5-0, .912 SV%, 3.38 GAA in 8 GP), stopped 22 out of 24 shots faced for a .917 SV% in the loss.

After ending a three-game losing streak in Ottawa, the Bruins now have back-to-back wins with a chance of extending their current winning streak to three games against their arch-rival– the Montreal Canadiens– Saturday night on home ice.

Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, didn’t make any changes to his lineup, save for the National Hockey League debut of Bruins defender, Jeremy Lauzon, out of necessity. Lauzon laced up on the third defensive pair alongside Steven Kampfer in place of the most-recently injured Bruins blue liner, Urho Vaakanainen (concussion).

David Backes (upper body), Torey Krug (lower body), Charlie McAvoy (upper body) and Kevan Miller (hand) also remained out of the lineup Thursday night, though Krug has begun practicing and should return to action next week.

Meanwhile, Lauzon became the first Bruin to wear No. 79 in a regular season game since current defender in the Colorado Avalanche organization (and Marshfield, Massachusetts native), David Warsofsky, did so in the 2014-15 season.

David Pastrnak and Gritty’s favorite Flyer, Claude Giroux, were given matching minor penalties 7:11 into the first period as the opening frame featured largely dull action.

Robert Hagg was guilty of slashing Brad Marchand at 11:27 of the first period and the Bruins went on their first power play of the night, but they failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the first period, Chara sent the puck over the glass and received a delay of game minor. The timing of the penalty came at 18:05 of the first period, so the ensuing Flyers power play would carryover into the first five seconds of the second period (unless Philadelphia scored before the end of the period).

After 20 minutes of play, the score remained tied, 0-0, with both teams amassing seven shots on goal. Boston had the advantage in takeaways (7-4), giveaways (2-1) and hits (6-5) entering the first intermission, while both teams were 0/1 on the power play.

The pace of play picked up in the second period, as both Elliott and Halak found themselves locked into a goaltending battle– in which the Bruins netminder made several impressive saves on 2-on-1 opportunities for the Flyers.

Halak’s strong performance (and eventual shutout) serves as a reminder that while there is no goalie controversy in the Hub (Tuukka Rask is the long-term starter), Cassidy’s decision making in determining which goaltender to play any given night (for now) continues to get tougher. It’s generally advisable to go with the hotter hand until one can’t any longer.

That said, Cassidy remained firm on his plans to start Rask Saturday night against the Canadiens after Thursday’s win.

Time (and stats) will tell after that. A little competition is a healthy thing– especially if the team is still able to put up “W’s” in the “win” column.

A little past midway in the second period, Danton Heinen worked the puck back to the point to Chara. The Bruins captain fired a slap shot– from just about the blue line in Boston’s attacking zone– high glove side past Elliott to give the B’s a 1-0 lead while David Krejci tried to screen the Philadelphia goalie from the slot.

The goal was Chara’s 2nd of the season and assisted by Heinen (3) at 13:00 of the second period.

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Shortly thereafter, Philadelphia’s bench bungled a line change and was handed a two-minute minor penalty for too many men at 15:32. Travis Konecny served the penalty.

Late into the ensuing power play, the Bruins extended their lead on the scoreboard as Krejci threw a saucer pass to Jake DeBrusk (3) for the redirection from point blank and a 2-0 lead.

Krejci (7) and Kampfer (1) were credited with the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 17:28. Kampfer’s assist was his first point for Boston since being re-acquired by the Bruins in September and his first point in a black-and-gold sweater in over six years (he had two assists in 10 games for the Bruins in the 2011-12 season prior to being traded).

Through two periods, Boston led Philadelphia, 2-0. Shots on goal were even, 18-18, while the Flyers led in blocked shots (12-9) and face-off win percentage (65-35). The Bruins held onto the advantage in takeaways (11-8) and hits (12-9) after 40 minutes of play.

Both teams had five giveaways each entering the second intermission, while the Flyers were 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2.

Early in the third period, tempers started to flare as they usually do when the Big Bad Bruins square off with the Broad Street Bullies as Steven Kampfer and Scott Laughton got into a kerfuffle. Wayne Simmonds even jumped in as a third-man in and penalties soon followed.

Despite clearly attempting to fight with his gloves off, Kampfer was handed a four-minute double minor penalty for roughing, while Laughton received a two-minute roughing penalty.

Simmonds also received a roughing minor at 6:38 of the third period, resulting in a power play for the Flyers, thanks to Kampfer’s four-minute double minor.

Ryan Donato served one of Kampfer’s penalties in the box.

Late in the penalty kill for Boston, Chara tripped up Konecny and was sent to the box on a minor penalty for tripping (of course) at 8:34. The Flyers would have four seconds on a two-skater advantage before resuming play under a normal 5-on-4 power play scenario.

Philadelphia did not convert on either power play opportunity.

At 14:30 of the third period, Konecny himself was summoned to the sin bin for tripping Bruins forward, David Pastrnak.

Just under two minutes later, while on the power play, DeBrusk got into a shoving match with Flyers defender, Andrew MacDonald.

DeBrusk was going to be penalized for interference, while MacDonald received a slashing minor after a quick conference held by the refs once things settled down after the whistle.

Why did it take so long in comparison to the other penalties? Well, a scrum ensued and a slew of penalties followed in the same stoppage as the original DeBrusk retaliation call based on MacDonald’s infraction.

Laughton received another roughing minor– this time against DeBrusk– and was sent to the locker room early on a ten-minute misconduct. This additional two-minute penalty against the Flyers resulted in an abbreviated 5-on-3 power play for Boston for about 27 seconds, while Oskar Lindblom served Laughton’s penalty at 16:03 of the third period.

As time expired on Lindblom’s time in the box, the door opened and the puck rolled right by as a Bruins player was chasing it down.

Lindblom tried to play the puck while still in the penalty box. His feet had not set foot on the ice, thereby resulting in an automatic interference penalty and Boston went back on the power play at 18:06.

With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Flyers head coach, Dave Hakstol pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker. Things didn’t go as planned.

Halak sent the puck from the trapezoid to his captain along the boards behind the goal line, where Chara (3) then flung the puck through the air and into the empty net at the other end of the ice for the empty net power play goal at 19:37.

That’s right, Chara scored from the endboards in his own zone for what’s undoubtedly the longest empty net power play goal in NHL history. For all intents and purposes, he could’ve been having a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry in the North End and hit the net.

Halak (1) picked up his first point as a Bruin in the form of an assist on Chara’s goal and Boston secured the 3-0 victory at the final horn.

The Bruins finished the night ahead on the scoreboard, but trailed the Flyers in shots on goal (26-25), blocked shots (14-13), giveaways (9-7), hits (17-16), penalty minutes (26-12) and face-off win% (60-40). Philadelphia went 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s went 2/5 on Thursday.

Among other stats…

Chara (41 years, 221 days) became the third defender in the NHL to score multiple goals in a game at 41 years of age or older, joining Tim Horton (41 years, 277 days) and Nicklas Lidstrom (41 years, 191 days).

Despite winning, 3-0, no Bruins skater was more than a plus-one in plus/minus Thursday night. Heinen, Krejci, DeBrusk, Chara and John Moore were all plus-one, while Chara led the way for Boston in shots on goal with five.

Patrice Bergeron, Pastrnak and DeBrusk were the next highest with three shots on net.

Noel Acciari led the B’s in the physical department with three hits and Brandon Carlo led his team in blocked shots with four.

Nolan Patrick, Laughton, Jakub Voracek, MacDonald and Shayne Gostisbehere were all minus-ones for the Flyers, while Claude Giroux led his teammates with five shots on goal. Travis Sanheim was the next closest with four.

Gostisbehere, Hadd and Corban Knight each recorded two hits for Philadelphia and Gostisbehere led his teammates in blocked shots with four.

The Bruins take on the Canadiens Saturday night on home ice for their next matchup before venturing out on the road to visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 30th and the Nashville Predators on Nov. 3rd as part of a quick, two-game, road trip.

DTFR Podcast #125- 2018-19 Metropolitan Division Season Preview

Injuries, Stealth, Miles Wood, Brian Gionta’s retirement, Gritty, Ottawa, Shea Theodore and our 2018-19 Metropolitan Division Season Preview. Bring on the regular season already.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

Philadelphia Flyers 2018-19 Season Preview

Philadelphia Flyers

42-26-14, 98 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division

Lost in the First Round to Pittsburgh (4-2)

Additions: D Christian Folin, LW James van Riemsdyk

Subtractions: C Valtteri Filppula, G Leland Irving, D Brandon Manning, RW Colin McDonald, G Petr Mrazek, G John Muse, D Johnny Oduya, RW Matt Read, G Dustin Tokarski

Re-signed: D Robert Hagg, G Alex Lyon, C Danick Martel, D Samuel Morin, G Anthony Stolarz

Offseason Analysis: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Flyers could be seriously dangerous if they get some solid goaltending.

After a rough 2016-17 campaign, the Flyers struck gold in the draft lottery, snagging the No. 2 overall pick and using it to draft top-ranked prospect Nolan Patrick. This added yet another weapon to one of the more potent offenses in the league, but questions remained about the defense and, particularly, in net.

It took a rotation of four different goaltenders (Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth, Petr Mrazek and Alex Lyon) to get it done, but Philly managed to punch their ticket back to the playoffs mostly on the strength of unbelievable seasons from captain Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, a breakout year from Sean Couturier, a rebound year from Shayne Gostisbehere and a ridiculous 10-1-2 month of February that took them from treading water in the Wild Card picture to solidly in third place in the Metro. A big push from Columbus nearly knocked the Flyers back into the Wild Card spot at the end of the year, but they managed to hang onto the Divisional spot by a single point.

Unfortunately, this only meant that they’d play in-state rival Pittsburgh, and while Philly would manage to take the Pens to six games, it was often a very one-sided series. Only a heroic nine-point-in-six-game effort from Sean Couturier even kept the series as competitive as it was.

With a few notable underperformers coming to the end of their contract and a fairly well-stocked prospect pool, GM Ron Hextall and crew decided to let a host of players walk into free agency, including longtime Flyer Matt Read, along with Valtteri Filppula, Brandon Manning, Johnny Oduya and Petr Mrazek, among others. Using the newly freed up cap space, they brought back former Flyer and perennial 30-goal man James van Riemsdyk, and brought in a solid defenseman in Christian Folin. JVR is certainly a known commodity, while Folin is a quiet, confident defender that has impressed under the radar over the past few years in Minnesota and LA.

Armed with yet another potent offensive weapon, and with improved depth on defense, the Flyers (yet again) look to the net in hopes of improvement. Though they boast on of the best pools of goaltending prospects in the league, they don’t want to rush the development of any of the youngsters, and will likely again turn to the tandem of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. While neither is a world-beating goaltender, they’re both more than capable of quality play.

Well…at least they would be outside of the goalie-hell of Philadelphia. Not sure what it is about that city, but it seems capable of ruining the reputation of basically any goaltender that dons the orange and black. So, maybe hope to win every game 5-4, Philly fans?

Speaking of 5-4 victories, let’s take a look at that dangerous forward corps.

While the top-six are pretty well all shoe-ins, the bottom-six does have a few positions that are definitely up in the air. Down the middle there’s likely to be strong competition for the No. 3 and 4 center spots, as Jordan Weal, Scott Laughton, Jori Lehtera and former Union College standout Mike Vecchione will battle it out with youngsters German Rubtsov and Morgan Frost (Flyers’ first round picks in 2016 and 2017, respectively). Rubtsov and Frost have yet to play North American pro hockey, so they’ll have the steepest hill to climb to try and nab a spot, and will likely head back to Juniors or to Lehigh Valley for the year. While Vecchione has only two NHL games to his credit, and isn’t nearly as well-known to Flyers fans as the remaining three, he’s a very interesting option. Boasting a strong two-way game, as well as the ability to play center or right wing, he put up terrific rookie numbers in the AHL last year and could be a strong camp away from grabbing himself an NHL roster spot.

On the wings you’ll have veterans Michael Raffl and Dale Weise competing with some young talent in guys like Oskar Lindblom, Taylor Leier, Danick Martel, and Isaac Ratcliffe. Lindblom scored some time with the Flyers last year after impressing in the AHL. Martel is undersized but not afraid to play with an edge, and does bring some decent offensive skill with him. Ratcliffe is possibly the most intriguing option. At just 19-years-old, he can still continue to hone his game in Juniors, where he’s found his offensive stride over the past two seasons. But a 6-foot-6, sub-200 pound winger with some scoring touch and a mean streak might be hard to overlook for the big club.

My projected depth chart shakes out like this:
Giroux – Couturier – Konecny
JVR – Patrick – Voracek
Lindblom – Lehtera – Simmonds
Raffl – Laughton – Vecchione
Extra forwards Weise and Weal

On defense, the biggest problem facing the Flyers to start the season is injuries to veteran Andrew MacDonald (should only miss a few weeks of the season) and promising youngster Samuel Morin (likely out until February). Until MacDonald returns they’ll lack a true top pair reliable defender to partner Gostisbehere, so that could be of concern at least in the opening weeks. While the defense corps looks to be fairly set (particularly after MacDonald returns), there are a handful of names who could challenge for a depth spot. Philippe Myers was an undrafted signing out of Juniors, who blossomed late to catch the eyes of Flyers brass. At 6-foot-5 and approximately 210 pounds, he’s got no shortage of size, but also put up respectable offensive numbers as a rookie in the AHL last season. He’s also a right handed shot, something the Flyers are a tad short on. Veteran T.J. Brennan is definitely a reliable option to fill some minutes in MacDonald’s absence, as well.

Once MacDonald makes his return, I have the Flyers defense corps shaping up as:
MacDonald – Gostisbehere
Provorov – Gudas
Sanheim – Folin
Extra defender Hagg

In net, as previously mentioned, it’s likely the Flyers will head into the season with the Elliott/Neuvirth tandem. With both vets in contract years, Philly will likely give the trio of Alex Lyon, Carter Hart and Anthony Stolarz another full year of development if possible before potentially calling upon two of them to take the reigns as a tandem in the near future. Felix Sandstrom is a sleeper pick to find his way into the picture next year as well, after what will be his fourth season of SHL action in Sweden.

Offseason Grade: B-

On paper, it looks like the Flyers lost much more than they gained this year. But although there were some household names that departed, most had underperformed greatly in recent years. Hextall cleared cap space, grabbed a big fish in van Riemsdyk, and used the depth of his organization to fill the remaining holes.

The offense is deadly. The defense is young, but quite promising (particularly once it gets back to full strength). The goaltending is…well, Philadelphia goaltending. But the future in net looks incredibly bright, and Philly would be wise to not rush that future unless absolutely necessary.

A likely fringe playoff team this year, but in the next two or three years, we could see the orange and black making serious noise once again. Because the depth doesn’t stop in net, and I only mentioned about half of the recent first round picks still waiting in the wings.