Flyers-Canucks 5 things: Claude Giroux’s regression a cause for concern?

Flyers-Canucks 5 things: Claude Giroux’s regression a cause for concern?

Flyers (27-24-7) at Canucks (26-27-6)
10 p.m. on CSN/CSNPhilly.com and NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 9:30

The Flyers’ three-game trip through Western Canada ends tonight in Vancouver against the Canucks, as the orange and black will look to salvage one win on this disastrous road trip.

Vancouver enters the game on the backend of a back-to-back. The Canucks beat Calgary, 2-1, in overtime Saturday at Rogers Arena. The Flyers beat Vancouver, 5-4, in a shootout on Jan. 12.

Let’s take a closer look at game No. 59 for the orange and black.

1. Captain concern
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Since their 10-game winning streak, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 14, the Flyers’ season outlook has undergone a drastic shift toward a higher draft pick.

The Flyers are 8-14-4 in 26 games since the winning streak, and 2-5-1 in their last eight games. They’re 2-10-2 in their last 14 road games, and have lost their last eight games in Western Canada. They remain just two points out of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, but earning a playoff appearance appears to be just a wishful thought.

Not much is going well right now for the Flyers. Neither Michal Neuvirth or Steve Mason has taken grasp of the No. 1 job. Neuvirth has started six of the Flyers’ last seven games and seven of their last nine. Neuvirth will start again tonight.

They can’t score. They’re averaging 1.46 goals in their last 13 games, scoring 19 goals over that span and they’ve been shut out three times. Claude Giroux’s regression continues, as he has just two goals in his past 23 games. Giroux is on pace for 59 points, which would be the fewest he’s had in an 82-game season since 2009-10. (He finished the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season with 48 points in 48 games.)

“For whatever the reason, in the last month, he’s just gone in the wrong direction,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Giroux on Saturday. “That’s not just [the] individual. That’s a team item, and we’ve gotta push that in the right direction.”

As the captain has gone, the Flyers have, too.

2. Weal bad luck
Just as when it appears Jordan Weal had finally turned a corner in the NHL — albeit it in a very small sample size — an injury strikes. Weal will miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury. The Flyers said Saturday the forward will be reevaluated Monday.

Dale Weise draws back into the lineup against Vancouver, and will take Weal’s place on the Flyers’ second line alongside center Sean Couturier and right winger Jake Voracek. Weise checks back in after sitting the last two games and seven of the last 12 as a healthy scratch.

Weal impressed in two games and a period before suffering his injury Thursday in Edmonton. He’s averaged 11:50 of ice time, playing a career-high 15:31 Wednesday in Calgary, a game he had six shots on goal. Through three games, Weal has an 83.0 corsi for percentage, which is remarkably high but an extremely small sample. He was more confident along the boards and with the puck, hungrier than at any point last season with the Flyers.

It was only a matter of time before the 24-year-old was going to pick up his first career NHL point. Now, he’s sidelined at least one game. If it’s not a long-term injury, Weal’s play in the two-plus games should be enough to warrant inserting him back in when he’s healthy.

“He added something every game,” Hakstol said of Weal on Saturday. “Obviously, it was two games and a period, but he’s dynamic. He hadn’t been here [this season], but he had the puck quite a bit. He looked like a player that was confidently on the top of his game, and I didn’t think any of that was lost in the transition from Lehigh to our team.”

3. Mediocre matchup
The Canucks are not exactly a team oozing with confidence, either. With Saturday's OT win over the Flames, the Canucks are now 4-8-0 in their last 12 games. They are four points behind Calgary now for the West's second wild-card spot, and gave up a valuable point to the Flames on Saturday by blowing a 1-0 lead with six seconds left in regulation.

Vancouver sits in the bottom 10 in goals for (2.3, 28th), goals against (2.8, 20th), power play (14.9, 27th) and penalty kill (79.1, 24th). It's a team that doesn't score a ton of goals, but also doesn't give up many, either. It's the epitome of a below-average team from a talent perspective — sound familiar? — that can grind its way to competitiveness.

With how the Flyers have been playing over their last two months and how this current Canucks team competes, it's safe to say tonight's game will be one filled with little scoring, a much different tune than the first matchup.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: There is not a single Flyer worth watching right now. I suggest making one of those origami fortune teller games with a list of Flyers, play it and whoever you get, watch him.

Canucks: Vancouver’s leading scorer is no longer one of the Sedin twins. Instead, it’s 21-year-old Bo Horvat, who has 18 goals and 39 points in 58 games. Horvat, the ninth overall pick in 2013, made his first NHL All-Star Game this season. In the previous meeting with the Flyers, he picked up an assist.

5. This and that
• Lineup change: Andrew MacDonald will be a healthy scratch, along with Nick Schultz. Brandon Manning will move to the left side to the right side, and is expected to play with Ivan Provorov.

• The Flyers’ power play is five for its last 45 dating back 13 games.

• Friendly reminder: Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal drought is now at 31 games.

Future Flyers Report: German Rubtsov tearing up the Q, Robert Hagg hot, look at Phantoms' goalies

Future Flyers Report: German Rubtsov tearing up the Q, Robert Hagg hot, look at Phantoms' goalies

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this week’s report, we highlight the Phantoms’ goalie situation, a defenseman on the brink of the NHL, a center tearing up the QMJHL and much, much more. Let’s dig in.

Robert Hagg, D, 6-1/191, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Hagg’s development progresses a step forward each game, a positive sign for the Flyers. With the NHL trade deadline approaching — March 1 — Hagg could find himself as a call-up if the Flyers decide to sell at the deadline, or find a taker for an expiring contract on the blue line (Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz). Last week, Hagg continued to see his more assertive play in his own zone begin to translate to the stat sheet. He registered two goals and two assists in three games last week, including a goal and an assist on his 22nd birthday Wednesday.

It took Hagg eight games to get his first point of the season and 16 games to record his third. In his last 15 games alone, he has three goals and five assists and is a plus-7. He’s second on the Phantoms with a plus-11 rating and is on track to finish as a plus player for the first time since he played just 10 games in 2013-14. Last season, he finished as a minus-11. Through 42 games this year, he’s at a plus-22 jump in that category. There is an argument as to how much weight we should put into plus/minus, but that's a considerable jump.

German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/190, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Another Future Flyers Report, another check-in on Rubtsov. After escaping an injury scare, Rubtsov didn’t miss any time last week for the Saguenéens and didn’t miss a beat, either. The 2016 first-round pick had his first multi-goal game in the Q, his fourth and fifth multi-point games and seven points in three games last week. He was named the first star (one goal, two assists) of Chicoutimi’s 4-3 win over Rimouski on Sunday, and the second star (two goals, one assist) of the Saguenéens’ 5-2 win over Val-d’Or on Thursday. Since coming over from the KHL, the center has six goals and 10 assists in 10 games. With the increased role and playing on the North American surface, the Flyers have to feel a lot better about Rubtsov’s development now than they did two months ago, and he’s quickly become a must-watch forward in the QMJHL.

Alex Lyon, G, 6-1/201, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Let’s check in on the Phantoms’ goaltending situation. Coach Scott Gordon has done an excellent job splitting the net up between Lyon and Anthony Stolarz since Stolarz returned to Lehigh Valley on Jan. 6. Let’s begin with Lyon, a first-year pro who has started nine of the 17 games since Stolarz’s return. Lyon got the starting nod in two of Lehigh Valley’s three games last week with mixed results. On Wednesday, Lyon turned in a 27-save shutout, his third of the season and his professional career. But on Saturday night, the Yale product allowed four goals on 21 shots in the Phantoms’ 4-3 loss to St. John’s. His 20 wins have him second in the AHL behind Tristan Jarry and Jack Campbell, who both have 21.

Anthony Stolarz, G, 6-6/210, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Stolarz got the nod Friday against St. John’s and stopped 19 of 21 shots faced in a 4-2 win. It was his eighth start since his stint with the Flyers while Michal Neuvirth battled a left knee injury. With how Gordon has divvied up the net, it’s a safe bet Stolarz gets the start Tuesday at Wilkes/Barre-Scranton. The Phantoms have four games this week, so it could be a 50/50 split. What’s interesting going forward is both Stolarz and Lyon are restricted free agents after the season and the Flyers will certainly want to bring both back. Consider both Neuvirth and Steve Mason are unrestricted free agents, too, it’s also a safe bet that either Stolarz or Lyon could be the Flyers’ backup next season to either Neuvirth or Mason. The super early favorite has to be Stolarz considering his experience, both in the AHL and NHL.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
For precautionary reasons, according to Sons of Penn’s Alexander Appleyard, Lindblom was held out of the Sweden Hockey Games portion of the Euro Hockey Tour because of a lower-body injury. Lindblom has been cleared to play for Brynäs IF when the SHL season resumes Tuesday. Last week, Lindblom spoke with Brynäs’ Kari Litmanen about his season, his development and how often he talks with the Flyers. Here are some highlights, with the help of Google Translate.

On his development: “The strength and speed have been developed and I feel like I can do a little more with the puck than before. My development has meant that I can keep the puck an extra second and the little extra seconds allow me to get away a pass for a shot.”

On communication with Flyers: “I’m talking the most with their development responsible for forwards. During the season, it is quite a bit of contact — that the focus is on the present. (The Flyers) usually sends video links and clips of match situations I’ll check in order to develop my game and get better.”

Quick hits
• Rouyn-Noranda defenseman Philippe Myers was cleared to return from his concussion, suffered at the world juniors, last week, but did not play. He’ll likely play Wednesday.

• Phantoms forwards Taylor Leier and Scott Laughton are battling injuries. Leier has missed five straight games, while Laughton suffered his injury Friday. Gordon did not offer any new information Saturday, per Highland Park Hockey’s Tony Androckitis.

Sam Morin had his second career multi-point game last week with the Phantoms, registering a goal and an assist in Lehigh Valley’s 5-0 win over Binghamton on Wednesday.

Pascal Laberge tallied a goal and an assist and was named the No. 1 star in Victoriaville’s 4-3 shootout win over Québec on Saturday. In the shootout, Laberge deked Québec goalie Evgeny Kiselev with a nifty move and scored, but it was ruled no good because he didn’t keep the puck going forward. Close call. You can decide yourself here if it was a goal or not.

• Another shutout for Everett’s Carter Hart, who turned in a 31-save blanking of Moose Jaw Saturday. Hart now has a WHL-leading eight shutouts and 2.01 goals-against average.

• Ohio State freshman Tanner Laczynski has gotten back on track after a brief slump after returning from the world juniors. Laczynski had a goal and two assists in two games against Minnesota. He now has two goals and three assists in his last five games. 

Merrick Madsen made 32 saves and yielded two goals in No. 4 Harvard’s 6-2 rout of No. 6 Union on Friday.

• Western Michigan winger Wade Allison added an assist Friday against Nebraska-Omaha. His five-game point streak was snapped Saturday. He has nine points in his last nine games.

Bryan Colangelo: Joel Embiid has 'very minor meniscal tear' in left knee

Bryan Colangelo: Joel Embiid has 'very minor meniscal tear' in left knee

Hours after Joel Embiid said after the Sixers' morning shootaround Saturday that he was "not healthy," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo revealed the rookie big man has "a very minor meniscal tear" in his left knee found in an MRI on Jan. 20.

"On the MRI that was conducted shortly after the injury vs. Portland, the MRI revealed obviously what we thought it to be — a bone bruise," Colangelo said before the Sixers' game against Miami on Saturday.

"There was also the recognition that there was a very minor meniscal tear. But it was not thought to be acute and it was not thought to be the source of the pain, inflammation or symptoms. That is the case."

Since the tear is not believed to be acute, the injury "likely or could have been pre-existing," according to Colangelo. Embiid is being treated for the bone bruise, Colangelo said.

"The bone bruise treatment and progression toward getting back to play is simply a pattern of loading and recovery and training that ultimately results in him being asymptomatic," Colangelo said. "Once he is asymptomatic, he'll be back on the court."

Embiid has missed nine straight games and 12 of the Sixers' last 13. Embiid missed three games after the Jan. 20 game against Portland, but then returned against the Rockets on Jan. 27 and suffered a left knee contusion. He's been out since and is still dealing with soreness and swelling.

Why let Embiid play against the Rockets on Jan. 27? According to Colangelo, Embiid's symptoms had subsided and symptoms were "non-reactive in any kind of way" in the four days of practicing leading up to the Houston game. It wasn't until Jan. 29 the swelling began, Colangelo said.

"From that time forward, we're back to the same path of trying to treat the symptoms, not the MRI, but once again as we look to get him back," Colangelo said. "We’re trying to do the best path toward him getting back on the basketball court. But all in all, it’s all about the long-term health and viability of the athlete.”

Derek Bodner first reported the injury. According to Bodner, it's a low-grade tear and it will not require surgery.

Embiid is not expected to return before the All-Star break. Colangelo said Saturday that it's "very unlikely" he plays before the All-Star break, citing lack of practice opportunities before then. The Sixers have two games this week before next weekend's break after Saturday's game against Miami. Colangelo also said Embiid will not participate in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge and the Skills Challenge.

"He’s progressing well, but we’re still contemplating that if he doesn’t play in Charlotte on Monday or in Boston on Wednesday, he’s certainly not going to play in the Rising Stars game," Colangelo said. "But it’s more than likely we’ll hold him back until the end of the All-Star break, because that gives us the clearest path to a number of days where he can progress toward full health and recovery."

Colangelo said there was no reason to shut down Embiid because of the injury according to the medical information they have, and they will continue to treat the symptoms. He also pointed to Ben Simmons' potential return as a reason why he wouldn't shut Embiid down because the Sixers would like "an idea of exactly what we have."

"Once he's healthy and has fully progressed to the point where it's a clear path to a return to play," Colangelo said, "we'll get him back out there to play. But again, at this stage, once again, it's not thought to be a severe injury.

"If it was anything other than that, I'd be possibly singing a different tune."

CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.