Flyers, Bryzgalov bounce back in Winnipeg

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Flyers, Bryzgalov bounce back in Winnipeg

BOX SCORE

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- If the Flyers are going to pull out of their scoring slump, they’re going to need nights like Tuesday in which one line gets hot.

Jakub Voracek had his first two-assist game, while linemates Brayden Schenn and Tye McGinn each had tip-in goals to propel the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Jets on Tuesday night at MTS Centre.

It was just the Flyers' second road win this season (2-6-0). They lost, 5-2, Monday in Toronto.

“Everyone stepping up -- Jake, Schenner and Tye on their line, they were unbelievable,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “It was a real team effort and Bryz (Ilya Bryzgalov) made the key saves for us.”

McGinn, whose physical presence can’t be understated on the ice, also scored in the Leafs’ loss. The 22-year-old rookie was a mere assist away from getting a Gordie Howe hat trick, too.

“That would have been nice,” McGinn said. “I haven’t had one of those in a while. We played together before a few games and had some chemistry.

“Jake and Schenn make the game very simple for each other out there and for myself as well. They find me and I try to find them.”

For the second night in succession, there was a goalie change caused by injury. Jets starter Al Montoya suffered a lower-body injury late and was replaced by Ondrej Pavelec to start the third period.

Bryzgalov, who again had a strong outing, had to protect a 2-1 lead going into that final stanza.

At 4:17, Voracek caused a turnover along the boards and shot the puck to the paint where McGinn tipped it past Pavelec.

“He’s been such a nice addition to our lineup,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s big, he’s strong. He checks. Fights once in a while. Score goals. Sticks up for his teammates. All things you look for when a player comes up -- positive contributions.”

That said, the Flyers' penalty killers had their work cut out for them again late with consecutive kills before Winnipeg scored with an extra attacker in the final minute.

Bryzgalov had 24 saves.

“Bryz was sharp for us the entire game, and he’s been that way for us. And to bounce back from last night … you gotta bounce back from that and he was terrific,” Laviolette said.

With Sean Couturier back home with the flu, Laviolette switched up all four lines.

The Jets were all over the Flyers in the opening three minutes of play, pinning them inside their own zone, where Bryzgalov had to make a point-blank save on Bryan Little and watched pucks crisscross in front of him.

Through six minutes, the Flyers didn’t even have a shot on net despite having an early power play.

Yet, they rebounded to stun Winnipeg at 8:07 as Schenn tipped a Voracek shot past Montoya for a 1-0 lead.

“My brother [Luke] held the blue line there and threw the puck around the back of the net,” Brayden Schenn said. “I can't remember so clear, but Voracek picked it up at the back of the net.

“He told me before the game to go to the front of the net and to keep my stick on the ice and that's what I did. Jake obviously has great vision and he was able to find me.”

Harry Zolnierczyk, called up to replace Couturier, had a terrific block midway in for a breakaway but got stoned on his backhand shot. Right after, during a Jets' power play, Ruslan Fedotenko nailed the post on a shorthanded chance.

Andrew Ladd tied the game at 14:12 just turning his stick perfectly to get a blind feed across the slot from Blake Wheeler. It was so quick, there was nothing Bryzgalov could have done.

The Flyers were 1 for 12 over their previous four games on the power play coming into the game. On their second opportunity of the night, they passed the puck around crisply and quickly, and Kimmo Timonen’s firing from the point off a Claude Giroux assist regained the lead, 2-1.

The assist represented only Giroux’s second point over the last five games.

“We were playing desperate hockey and Winnipeg has played great at home,” Giroux said. “It was great to get out of here with a win. But we’ve got a lot to do.”

Bryzgalov was outstanding in handling the Jets’ second-period onslaught of 10 shots, among them another point-blank drive in the slot off the rush.

This time it was Olli Jokinen. In the final minute of the period, the Jets were buzzing all around Bryzgalov, with the puck playing like a ping pong ball in constant motion.

Just trying to see through a maze of traffic, including 6-foot-5, 265-pound Dustin Byfuglien, was a challenge in itself. However, Bryzgalov held steady, getting his pad on a shot in the paint from Evander Kane.

“He finds a way to make the save,” Giroux said.

End to End: Will Ron Hextall dip into Flyers' farm system before season's end?

End to End: Will Ron Hextall dip into Flyers' farm system before season's end?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
 
With the Flyers returning from the bye week, let’s discuss a few topics.
 
Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.
 
Today’s question: Will we see Ron Hextall dip into the farm system before season's end?
 
Dougherty
This is a tough question because it has layers, some of which are not easy to peel. According to CapFriendly.com, the Flyers have about $377,545 in cap space. They are not in a cap-friendly position, which ties Hextall’s hands in any move he’d want to do.
 
The Flyers, as currently constructed, are a fringe playoff team with a long-term plan, and Hextall has shown no signs of deviating from his vision. That means no big shakeups. It also means, however, that dipping into the farm system is a legitimate option for Hextall. He has said in the past he’d make room for kids if they are NHL ready, and he has. He has to ask himself, would bringing up a prospect at Lehigh Valley improve the Flyers?
 
Perhaps it would. The Flyers do have an influx of young blood on the way, perhaps as early as next season. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities to see three more kids on the roster when 2017-18 begins. DefensemenRobert Hagg, Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim are knocking at the door, and then there is Philippe Myers, too. The Flyers have three expiring contracts on the books, and they will not block kids with Band-aids.
 
But the question is this season. Would Hagg, Morin or Sanheim upgrade the Flyers’ defense? Hagg is “just about NHL-ready,” Morin stuck around training camp longer than expected and Sanheim has found his footing in the professional ranks. It certainly would not hurt to bring one of them up, but a corresponding move would have to be made.
 
That would mean Hextall would have to find a trading partner to clear space and room on the 23-man roster for one of the kids. Michael Del Zotto, Mark Streit and Nick Schultz will all be unrestricted free agents come July 1. Del Zotto and Streit could be attractive options for teams at the trade deadline, if the Flyers decided clear way for a prospect.
 
However, I don’t see the Flyers dipping into Lehigh Valley unless injuries start hitting the NHL roster. There are too many roadblocks with the salary cap to realistically see Hextall being able to move a body out in order to inject more youth to the Flyers.
 
Hall
My gut tells me Hextall will make at least one move at the trade deadline.
 
Why not?
 
It makes for an opportune time to clear cap space and expedite the rebuild.
 
As Tom noted above, Streit, Del Zotto and Schultz are all unrestricted free agents after this season. If you don’t think any of those three can be moved, remember Hextall found a way to deal Kimmo Timonen, who was 39 years old and without a game played in 2014-15 because of blood clots, for a 2015 second-round draft pick and 2016 conditional pick.
 
And don’t forget role forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde — cheap and also set to be UFAs this offseason.
 
So the cap-stricken Flyers have trade chips and aren’t contending for a Stanley Cup this season. Which brings us to the question of will Hextall dip into the farm system before season’s end? I see it happening with some room made after the trade deadline.
 
That doesn’t mean the Flyers can’t compete for the playoffs, either.
 
Paone
To me, this question comes with an "if" attached to it for a couple of reasons. The first is because of how hell-bent Hextall is on keeping the Flyers' prospects in Lehigh Valley for seasoning until he believes they're truly ready for the NHL level. And the second depends on where the Flyers are in the standings. If they come out of this bye week hot and pick up points to rise back into legitimate playoff talk, Hextall will likely sit pat and let this group play it out. If things continue to unravel, then the Flyers move into seller mode before the March 1 trade deadline. If what we've been conditioned to over this recent miserable stretch is reality, that's the path we're heading down.
 
So if the Flyers do sell, it's inevitable that a prospect or two makes it up from the Phantoms toward the end of the season because there will finally be some space on the roster to fit in. If the Flyers are all but out of the playoff hunt, bringing a prospect up and letting him play in the NHL level for the last month and change of the season can do wonders for a prospect's confidence heading into next season. Life in the NHL is much different than the bus ride-filled life in the AHL. Once you get a taste, you don't want to go back if you don't have to. And that's a motivating factor heading into training camp.
 
The next question is who would be brought up? That's a question I don't think is fair to answer right now because only Hextall, his staff and his coaches know who they feel could be ready for a call-up. Of course, the Phantoms are loaded with talent on the back end and that's where the Flyers could use a jolt. To speculate on exactly who that could be right now just wouldn't be fair, in my opinion. 
 
But, for right now before the schedule picks up again this weekend with dates against the Devils and Islanders, this prospect call-up scenario still fits under the "if" scenario. 
 
But if the Flyers continue to falter out of the bye week, I feel seeing a prospect or two with the big club before season's end is inevitable.

Flyers-Devils 5 things: First rematch since brawl-filled game

Flyers-Devils 5 things: First rematch since brawl-filled game

Flyers (22-18-6) vs. Devils (19-19-9)
7 p.m. on TCN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30
 
The bye week has come and gone as the Flyers return from their NHL mandated five-day break by welcoming the New Jersey Devils to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
 
Here are five things to know for the game.
 
1. We meet again
Remember the last game between these two?
 
It certainly didn’t lack for entertainment, as Fight Night broke out at the Prudential Center right before the commencement of the holiday break.
 
The Devils were looking for any reason to drop the gloves after general manager Ray Shero called out his bunch in hopes of halting a seven-game losing streak.
 
New Jersey answered and jumped on the first chance to throw its fists, hammering the Flyers, 4-0, a contest in which blood never stopped boiling. The matchup resembled more of a UFC lineup card than an actual hockey game.
 
“Should be a good rivalry here this year,” Nick Cousins said then. “Two teams that don’t like each other. I’m excited for the next game.”

The Flyers get it tonight.
 
2. New perspective?
The Flyers are hoping the bye week was a remedy for their free-fall.
 
They’ve lost 11 of 14 games since winning 10 straight and no longer hold a playoff spot after clinging to the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card bid for dear life during their skid. Salt was rubbed in the wound with a 5-0 loss to the Capitals last Sunday, as the Flyers limped into the bye week.
 
Still, the Flyers are in prime position for the playoff push, unlike last season when they had to scrape and claw just to squeak in on the second-to-last day of the regular season.
 
“We know we've got to be better,” Wayne Simmonds said following practice Friday. “We all have to be accountable to each other. We’re not starting from scratch, but we need a new perspective here. Come out of the gate and do it the right way, again.”

3. Time to capitalize
The Flyers should not only be refreshed mentally, but also physically.

They’ll need the energy this weekend as another back-to-back arrives. It’s one the Flyers really need to take advantage of against the two last-place teams in the Metropolitan Division.
 
What makes it of even greater importance is that a crucial three-game stretch follows against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes. New York sits ahead of the Flyers in fourth place of the Metro, while the Maple Leafs currently own the second wild card because of fewer games played than the Flyers, who lead the Hurricanes by only one point.
 
“Guys realize the situation we are in,” Brayden Schenn said Friday. “We know the circumstances. The break came at a good time, mentally … guys know what we’re coming into there with the back-to-backs.
 
“You were kind of scoreboard watching. We know where we’re at. We’re in a dogfight battle with teams for those wild-card spots. There’s a lot of hockey left. It’s no secret. Everyone pays attention where we’re at.”

4. Keep an eye on …​
Flyers: The gut feeling is Shayne Gostisbehere makes his return felt by snapping his 22-game goal drought. The 23-year-old defenseman has two goals in four career games against New Jersey and is playing through a trying sophomore season.
 
Devils: Forward Taylor Hall has a great last name and is on a five-game point streak. New Jersey’s leading scorer also has five goals and five assists in seven lifetime matchups with the Flyers.
 
5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth is 6-2-5 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 13 career games against the Devils.
 
• New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider is 5-3-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in nine career games against the Flyers.
 
• The Devils have a Metropolitan-worst minus-29 goal differential.
 
• The Flyers have been outscored, 19-9, over their last four games.