Boucher, Flyers take down Lightning in shootout

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Boucher, Flyers take down Lightning in shootout

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Posted: 10:30 p.m. Updated: 11:50 p.m.

By Tim Panaccio
CSNPhilly.com

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. Sometimes, hockey can defy logic.

What are the odds that the Flyers get a Gordie Howe hat trick from James van Riemsdyk, a successful penalty shot goal from Darroll Powe and a shootout winner from Kimmo Timonen all in the same game?

I guess we ran out of options for the shooters, Timonen said after the Flyers 4-3 shootout victory Tuesday over the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. Sometimes you have to put the d-man out there to do something else.

The shootout went seven rounds with Timonen winning it as the 13th shooter.

Though the Flyers downplayed it, this was a significant win. Twice this month the top the two clubs in the Eastern Conference have squared off by the water.

The Lightning continue to prove theyre the quicker team off transition, which is one reason why they won the season series, 3-1.

Should these two teams meet in the playoffs, its going to be interesting. Tampa, seeded second in the Eastern Conference, is now five points behind the Flyers in the overall standings.

The objective is to win hockey games its not about this or that, coach Peter Laviolette said. Making sure we can get home ice for as many rounds as we can. And when you have a team that is creeping up your backside, you make sure you win the game.

For me, that was more important the separation between first and second than just getting one win on the board against them.

Timonen saw it differently.

It was huge, Timonen said of the victory.

Added van Riemsdyk, You dont take it lightly when a team has won all three on you.

Newly-acquired right wing Kris Versteeg made his Flyer debut playing on Mike Richards line with Andreas Nodl most of the night. He logged 17:44 in ice time and was minus-1.

My heart was beating pretty quick out there, Versteeg said. I think once things settled down and the heart started beating a little slower it just felt quite a bit better.

Theyre a tough team to play against. They sit back quite a bit and you want them to come to you. We did a good job of being patient and really executing a game plan.

Versteeg felt he was overthinking at the start.

Were it not for Randy Jones breaking up a pass in overtime, Versteeg would have had a breakaway chance.

It would have been nice, he said.

Brian Boucher was sharp from the drop of the puck and good thing, too, because the Flyers were thoroughly outplayed and outshot 12-4 in the first period. Boucher finished with 24 saves.

Its not as big as the Ranger shootout win because that got us into the playoffs, but it was a big win for us against a team we havent beaten all year, Boucher said.

We had some games that could have gone either way Theyre a good team

Van Riemsdyks first goal in six games gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead after one period.

Besides notching his 13th goal, JVR also recorded his official NHL fight when he went after Jones, who stuck his knee out to trip up Claude Giroux and sent him spilling to the ice in what could have been a bad injury to the Flyers fleet-footed centerman.

You don't like seeing a guy on your team like G getting hit like that, JVR said. I know anyone on our team would stick up for a teammate and I just felt like it was my turn to get in there.

You could understand Dan Carcillo getting a Gordie Howe hat trick but JVR?

I dont know what the odds would be is someone bet on it in Vegas but its pretty unlikely, JVR said. Im sure Im gonna get some heat from buddies on this. Theyre gonna be all over me.

After I scored that goal, Carcillo was all fired up saying I needed to get the assist for the Gordie Howe. Kinda funny it worked out like that.

His goal came shortly after leaving the box. Giroux had the puck behind the Tampa net and centered into the high slot. Van Riemsdyk had to reach for the pass and actually was off-balance when he shot from the outer edges of the left circle over goalie Dwayne Roloson.

It was a nice play by G Giroux and Cartsy Jeff Carter in the offensive zone, van Riemsdyk said. I found a soft spot and they gave me a good pass and I was able to put the puck in the net.

Laviolette was impressed that JVR stood up for Giroux.

I thought he had a great game, Laviolette said. It was really good to see. I thought it was kinda a cheap hit and for him to jump in there like that, that says a lot about him and where hes come.

Last time these two clubs met on Feb. 1, Tampa played a trap. Well, the Bolts did it again with a 1-3-1. The Flyers countered by ragging the puck. During one shift, Chris Pronger just stopped in his own end and waited for someone to come toward him.

Thats their system, Timonen said. They play it really well and thats the reason why they win games. You have to be really patient against this team.

Patience paid off as the Flyers jumped ahead 3-1 in the middle period only to see the Bolts come back to tie.

Dominic Moore got the Bolts on the board at :59 with a shot off Andrej Meszaros skate. Seven minutes later, JVR shot from the high slot and Scott Hartnell tipped it for his 18th goal. That snapped Hartnells six-game goal drought.

Shortly after, Powe was pulled down on a shorthanded breakaway by Steven Stamkos. He converted the shot, making it, 3-1.

I was just coming in, I usually like to go backhand but I saw the blocker was kind of open so I just snapped it home, Powe said. It's a pretty cool feeling.

When Tampa resumed its power play, however, the Bolts scored twice in a minute to tie it. First, Vinny Lecavalier deflected a point shot past Boucher. Then, at even strength, Teddy Purcell one-timed a perfect pass from Pavel Kubina under the cross bar.

Recall that Purcell scored twice in the games opening 90 seconds during that 4-0 loss here earlier this month.

The third period was a standoff but Tampas trap was less effective.

I thought we controlled the puck and made the moves, Laviolette said. We got in the position we wanted to and eventually they had to change. I thought our players did a good job executing.

Loose pucks
JVR eventually replaced Nodl on Richards line with Versteeg for some shifts. ... Powes penalty shot was the Flyers second of the year (Dec. 1, 2010 vs. Boston, Scott Hartnell denied). It was the first successful Flyers penalty shot since Danny Briere scored on February 13, 2010 at Montreal against Carey Price. It was Powes second career penalty shot, both of which have been successful. The last was April 4, 2009 when he was successful at Ottawa against Alex Auld. ... The shootout was the second longest the Flyers have participated in being introduced in 2005. The only longer shootout was when the Flyers lost a 13-round shootout to the New York Rangers on October 7, 2006. ...The Flyers are now 2-3 in shootouts this season. Timonens shootout goal was his first attempt this season. It was also h is first-ever shootout game-winner. Girouxs assist gives him at least one point in 11 of his last 13 games (3-13-16).
Related: Versteeg chooses to wear No. 10 as a Flyer Buy Flyers gear
E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

Stanley Cup: Offseason moves send Sharks to final after missing playoffs

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Stanley Cup: Offseason moves send Sharks to final after missing playoffs

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After watching the San Jose Sharks miss the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, general manager Doug Wilson set out to remake the team last offseason.

Individually, none of the moves sent shockwaves through the NHL. The Sharks hired a coach who made the playoffs once in seven seasons as an NHL coach, traded a first-round pick for a goalie who had been a backup his entire career, added two playoff-tested veterans for depth at forward and defense and signed an unheralded Finnish rookie.

Together, the additions of Peter DeBoer, Martin Jones, Joel Ward, Paul Martin and Joonas Donskoi to a solid core that had underachieved proved to be the right mix to get the Sharks to their long-awaited first Stanley Cup Final appearance.

"I thought this team has a lot of the pieces of that puzzle," Martin said. "Doug did a great job bringing guys in that he did, to make that push for it. I don't think many people would have guessed that we'd be here right now, but I think we believed."

The players all said the disappointment of blowing a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in 2014 and then missing the playoffs entirely last season served as fuel for this season's success.

DeBoer also credited former coach Todd McLellan for helping put the foundation in place that he was able to capitalize on. The Sharks became the second team in the past 10 seasons to make it to the final after missing the playoffs the previous season, joining the 2011-12 Devils that pulled off the same trick in DeBoer's first season in New Jersey.

"Everyone was ready for something a little bit fresher and newer, not anything that much different," DeBoer said. "The additions that Doug made, it just came together. I inherited a similar team in New Jersey when I went in there. First time they missed the playoffs for a long time the year before I got there. I think when you go into that situation, when you have really good people like there was in New Jersey when I went in there, like I was with this group ... they're embarrassed by the year they just had, and they're willing to do and buy into whatever you're selling to get it fixed again. I think I was the benefactor of that."

The transition from McLellan to DeBoer wasn't seamless. As late as Jan. 8, the Sharks were in 13th place in the 14-team Western Conference and seemingly on the way to another missed postseason.

But with Logan Couture finally healthy after being slowed by a broken leg early in the season and the move by DeBoer to put Tomas Hertl on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks rolled after that and made the playoffs as the third-place team in the Pacific Division.

In-season additions of players like depth forwards Dainius Zubrus and Nick Spaling, physical defenseman Roman Polak and backup goaltender James Reimer helped put the Sharks in the position they are now.

"With the new coaching staff we needed to realize how we needed to play to win," Thornton said. "Once that clicked, and that probably clicked maybe early December, I think after that, we just exploded. I think that's really when we saw the depth of this team. Everybody plays a big part."

That has been especially true in the playoffs when longtime core players like Thornton, Couture, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau got the support that had often been lacking during past postseason disappointments.

Jones has posted three shutouts in the playoffs, including the Game 7 second-round clincher against Nashville and back-to-back games in the conference final against St. Louis. He has proven more than capable of being an NHL starter after serving an apprenticeship as Jonathan Quick's backup in Los Angeles.

Ward scored two goals in each of the final two games of the conference final and has 11 points this postseason. Donskoi exceeded expectations just to make the team as a rookie and has solidified his spot on the second line with five goals and nine points.

Martin's steady play has allowed offensive-minded defenseman Brent Burns to roam at times and given San Jose a strong second defensive pair that had been missing in previous seasons.

Zubrus and Spaling played a big role as penalty killers and on the fourth line, while Polak has been one of the team's most physical players.

"Doug did a great job this summer, this season," Couture said. "A lot of credit needs to go to him for the guys he brought in."

Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov named CHL Defenseman of the Year

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Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov named CHL Defenseman of the Year

Flyers prospect and Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Ivan Provorov on Saturday afternoon was named the 2015-16 Canadian Hockey League's Defenseman of the Year.

Provorov, who the Flyers drafted with the seventh overall pick in 2015, recorded 21 markers, 73 points and was a plus-64 in 62 games with Brandon during the regular season.

The 19-year-old beat out Windsor's Mikhail Sergachev and Shawinigan's Samuel Girard for the honor. Both Sergachev and Girard are eligible for this year's draft, which is June 24-25 in Buffalo, New York.

In 21 playoff games with the Wheat Kings, Provorov added three goals and 10 assists. Brandon beat the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL Championship Series to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup. However, in the Memorial Cup, Brandon lost to the Red Deer Rebels on May 25.

What's next for Provorov?

The defenseman will come to Flyers training camp in September with his eye on making the roster. Many believe Provorov is ready to make the jump to the NHL, but Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has built a reputation of being patient, especially with his defensive prospects.

Provorov is one of five prospects in the Flyers' system that has created excitement, joining Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Philippe Myers, an undrafted free-agent signing who made noise this season. Could Provorov — or any of the other prospects — join Shayne Gostisbehere on the Flyers' blue line in 2016-17?

After the Flyers' season ended with a playoff series loss to the Washington Capitals, Hextall hinted he'll continue to be patient with his prospects (see story).

“What we're building towards remains the same,” Hextall said after the season. “I'm not an impatient guy by nature. Maybe I was a little bit on the ice, but I've been off the ice for 17 years or whatever it is, so the whole thing that we started to build two years ago — our vision is the same and we're on a path.

“And we're a lot closer than we were two years ago."

But all eyes will be on Provorov come training camp. Can he force Hextall's hand?

End to End: Which Flyer has the most to prove in 2016-17?

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End to End: Which Flyer has the most to prove in 2016-17?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

The question: Which Flyer has the most to prove in 2016-17?

Dougherty
Scott Laughton will be given every opportunity to prove himself, and if there is any single player under contract on this Flyers roster with the most to prove, it's Laughton.

Laughton, the 20th overall pick in 2012, is coming off his first full season with the Flyers and he left much to be desired. He struggled to stay in the top nine and found himself a healthy scratch for seven games during the most crucial stretch of the season.

What concerns me about Laughton is Dave Hakstol struggled to find a position for him. Laughton is a natural center and the original thought process was he would play center in the NHL, which he still very well may. But Laughton ended up playing some wing this season, too. It was similar to what the Flyers were doing with Brayden Schenn in 2014-15.

Still, Laughton, who turns 22 on Monday, failed to show much at either position. He finished with seven goals and 21 points in 71 games. He found his way into the lineup for three games in the playoffs because of Sean Couturier's shoulder injury and showed little before suffering a scary injury that left him motionless on the ice for a few minutes.

We've said it before — Laughton will have every chance to earn his spot on the opening night roster in training camp. The Flyers won't give up on him after one disappointing season, but Laughton has to come to camp in shape and with an edge we haven't seen yet.

Looking into our crystal ball, the orange and black could have one or two more forwards from outside the organization in camp come September and Travis Konecny will be hungry to crack the lineup. Laughton is going to have competition for his spot on the roster.

And he has to prove to Hakstol, general manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers he deserves it.

Hall
There will be no shortage of pressure for Jakub Voracek next season.
 
Not much went his way this past season, the first after signing an eight-year, $66 million extension following his career year in 2014-15.
 
He started slow. He changed positions. He got hurt and then played through it.
 
It all culminated in a taxing and disappointing season.
 
So, if anyone, Voracek has the most to prove in 2016-17. He’ll want to show that his career season was no fluke, that he can produce near that clip and is worth the hefty deal doled out by the Flyers.
 
Voracek’s health/production will be one of the hottest storylines to start the season.

Paone
No player on the Flyers’ roster has more to prove next season than Voracek.
 
Remember how great he was in 2014-15 when he finished fourth in the NHL with 81 points after leading the league for much of the year in that category, was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and earned a massive eight-year, $66 million extension shortly thereafter?
 
Those contract numbers are important because what Voracek has to prove this season lies in those numbers. His play last season wasn’t necessarily befitting of someone with that type of contract.
 
Voracek put up solid numbers last season with 11 goals and 44 assists in 73 games, but he just didn’t have the same effectiveness that he did in the prior season. If you recall, it took him 17 games to net his first goal of the season, an overtime winner in Carolina on Nov. 14. His ineffectiveness caused Dave Hakstol to move Voracek up and down the lineup and even send him over to the opposite wing, a position Voracek had rarely ever played before.
 
It just so happens that contract extension kicks in this season.
 
The soon-to-be 27-year-old forward holds himself to incredibly high standards. He’ll be out to prove to himself this season was an anomaly and make sure people know he’s a star worthy of those contract numbers.