Flyers look to redeem themselves as they get another crack at the Capitals tonight

Flyers look to redeem themselves as they get another crack at the Capitals tonight

Following the Eagles’ clunker of a loss in Minnesota this past Sunday, a good portion of you may have flipped over to the Flyers game – which started at 3 PM -- to try and get some of those positive Philly sports vibes back into your system.

If you did flip over to the Flyers game, you saw them blow a three-goal lead with just 8 minutes, 40 seconds left in regulation and eventually lose to the Washington Capitals, 5-4, in a shootout to cap off a titanic dud of a local sports day.

As Liz Lemon would say, blerg.

But the Orange and Black have a chance to rebound tonight when they welcome -you guessed it - the Capitals to Wells Fargo Center for the second game of a home-and-home and a shot at redemption.

This sounds very cliché and generic, but what happened to the Flyers on Sunday evening in our nation’s capital was the result of an issue that has plagued them this entire season: the failure to play a full, complete 60 minutes.

It sounds incredibly simple and obvious but that’s what it came down to.

They had a 4-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left, took their foot of the gas and let the Capitals string together shreds of momentum. With as dangerous a team the Capitals are with the offensive firepower they possess, it was only a matter of time before disaster struck.

The Flyers played with fire and ultimately got burnt.

I’m not one to take solace in moral victories, but let’s crumple all that into a giant paper ball, throw it in the trash and look at some positives that have been around the team lately.

Before the game against Montreal last Thursday, head coach Craig Berube pushed Scott Hartnell down the second line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds and bumped rookie Michael Raffl up to the top line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.

It’s a move that has paid major dividends so far.

In the two games the trio has played together, they’ve accounted for four goals and seven assists. Giroux has two of those goals and Voracek and Raffl each have one. Raffl has three of those assists and Giroux and Voracek each have a pair.

I’ve read your comments. I know just how much you all love – I use that term loosely - Raffl and the way he plays. Say what you want about him but you can’t deny he’s producing on the top line.  I know it’s only been two games, but for a team like the Flyers that averages just 2.27 goals a game, that type of production is huge.

It’s going to be interesting to see if the line can continue to produce like that in the coming weeks.

Despite giving up 14 goals in regulation in his last four starts and facing his first real piece of adversity as a Flyer, Steve Mason gets the call between the pipes for the Flyers tonight. He’s played well in South Philly, winning his last five starts at home.

Overall, the Flyers are on a six-game home winning streak. Too bad that’s been almost cancelled out with a four-game road losing streak.

Braden Holtby goes in net for the Capitals. Anything interesting happen the last time he played in Philadelphia? I don’t remember seeing anything in the national sports media or any game show hosts commenting on anything that happened.

I’ll leave you with your almost-daily reminder of how this is a kind of important game because of how much the Eastern Conference sucks as a whole and how the Flyers are just three points out of the final Metropolitan Division playoff spot and just five points out of the last Wild Card playoff spot.

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds, Flyers not giving up hope with 21 games left

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds, Flyers not giving up hope with 21 games left

PITTSBURGH – Wayne Simmonds remained defiant.

Yes, the Flyers have lost seven of their last nine games. Yes, they are five points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
But it's not over in terms of the playoffs.

"We played a great game, but unfortunately, it didn't go our way," Simmonds said after the 4-2 loss to the Penguins in the Stadium Series outdoor game at Heinz Field (see game recap).

"It wasn't good enough. I don't know what to say, guys. We have 21 games left and a never-say-die attitude. We're gonna keep pushing, no matter what. We've got to be desperate every game and play it as if it’s our last."

The Flyers had their chances and their moments. When Shayne Gostisbehere scored his first goal in 34 games early in the third period, it was a 3-2 game and momentum had been building in the Flyers' favor.

Then a key moment. A lost faceoff and the puck goes back to the point where Chad Ruhwedel fires so quickly that goalie Michal Neuvirth couldn't track the puck.

That was it. Game over.

"We brought it back [to 3-2]," Simmonds said. "We just had to get the tying goal and it slipped away. … We've got to score."

Still, there is time to regroup again with 21 games left.

"We have to have a short memory," Simmonds said. "Whether it's a good game or bad game, you move on."

They’re moving on but they're not gaining traction.

Weal back in lineup
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) re-entered the lineup in place on Roman Lyubimov. Weal missed two games after suffering the injury Feb. 16 in Edmonton.

Weal moved to left wing on Claude Giroux’s line with Simmonds.

“It’s a short sample, but it’s his body of work since he has been with us over the last couple weeks,” coach Dave Hakstol said of moving Weal there.

Before his injury, Weal played left wing on Sean Couturier’s line with Jakub Voracek. Brayden Schenn went back to center Saturday night between Nick Cousins and Voracek. It was another new line for Schenn.

If you’re wondering, Schenn has played left wing 33 times this season in 58 games.

Weal said he “felt good” and seemed excited to play in an NHL outdoor game.

Midway into the game, Michael Raffl went back to the top line and Weal moved to a line with Couturier and Dale Weise.

Weal played 15:43.

Power-play position
Shayne Gostisbehere played the point this game with the first unit and not the half wall. He also scored a goal there.

Coach Dave Hakstol has been rotating him from the point to the half-wall depending upon the personnel on the ice.

"It's a little bit of an adjustment no matter where I am," Gostisbehere said. "It's just nice to be on the power play. Whatever position they put me in out there, up top or on the wing, it's something I have to be ready for. I think I'm comfortable in both spots."

Outdoors
General manager Ron Hextall liked the outdoor game concept.

"It’s unique," Hextall said. "When they first started, I don’t love change. I was a little skeptical, I guess. I think they’re terrific. I really do.

"It’s good for the game. People watch an outdoor game and will pick that game because it’s an outdoor game. There is something about them. They’re neat."

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).