Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

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Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

Flyers at Devils -- 7:30 p.m., CSNNBCSN
Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.

For the first time since 2008-09, the Flyers have opened their season 0-2 after back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

Poor special teams play and a lack of scoring have plagued the Flyers in the early going.

Next up for the Flyers are a familiar foe in the New Jersey Devils. Tuesday night's matchup will mark the first of five meetings this season between these two bitter Atlantic Division rivals.

Records
Flyers: 0-2

Devils: 1-0

Last meeting
The last time these two teams met, the Devils ended the Flyers' 2012 postseason run with a 3-1 Game 5 victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Bryce Salvador, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored for New Jersey and veteran netminder Martin Brodeur made 27 saves. Max Talbot netted the Flyers' only marker.

After taking Game 1 of the series, 4-3 in overtime, the Flyers dropped four in a row to the Devils. New Jersey outscored the orange and black, 18-11, in the five-game series.

The Flyers went 3-2-1 against the Devils in the 2011-12 regular-season series, outscoring New Jersey 18-15 in the process.

Previous games
The Flyers allowed three third-period goals and fell to the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon. Thomas Vanek recorded five points (two goals, three assists) for the Sabres. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each netted second-period goals for the Flyers.

New Jersey is coming off a 2-1 road victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Clarkson scored the game-winning goal at the 8:17 mark of the third period. Travis Zajac also scored for the Devils and Brodeur made 18 saves.

Who's hot
The Flyers are only two games into their 48-game, lockout-shortened season, but Claude Giroux is picking up right where he left off last season. The 25-year-old has found the back of the net in two consecutive games and has ripped six shots on opposing goaltenders.

Giroux finished 2011-12 third in the NHL in scoring with 93 points (28 goals, 65 assists). It was the most points by a Flyer since Eric Lindros had 93 in 1998-99. Giroux also collected eight goals and nine assists in 10 playoff games last postseason.

Who's not
Special teams seem to be a problem for the Flyers in the early going. The Flyers have allowed five goals on nine attempts while shorthanded and have cashed in on just 1 of 9 attempts on the power play.

Keep an eye on ...
Now that Zach Parise is gone -- he signed a 13-year deal with the Minnesota Wild in the offseason -- it's now Kovalchuk's show in New Jersey. The sharpshooting Russian forward scored 37 goals and had 83 points in 77 games for the Devils in 2011-12. The 29-year-old, who is used to having the spotlight on him having carried the Atlanta Trashers for parts of five seasons, registered 15 points in 10 total games against the Flyers last season.

Ilya Bryzgalov has looked sharp in net through two games, although his numbers don't indicate it. The Flyers' netminder has a 3.05 goals against average and .909 save percentage. Bryzgalov has performed well against New Jersey in his career. He is 4-1-0 with a 1.40 GAA in five regular-season starts against the Devils, and has shutouts in two of his last three.

Potential debut?
The Flyers on Monday recalled winger Tye McGinn from the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. McGinn will be available for Tuesday's matchup with New Jersey and could potentially make his NHL debut with Zac Rinaldo and Danny Briere nursing injuries.

The 22-year-old participated in last week's Flyers training camp and has 11 goals, four assists and 52 penalty minutes in 33 games with the Phantoms this season.

Injuries
Flyers: Rinaldo will be out a minimum of seven days because of a laceration on his right thigh, per general manager Paul Holmgren.

Briere is still recovering from a hairline fracture in his left wrist. Sources told CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio that Briere will not play against the Devils.

Devils: Adam Henrique (thumb) is on Injured Reserve and is expected to be out for at least two more weeks.

Sound off
Who do you think will win the Atlantic Division this year?

E-mail Tim Riday at triday@comcastsportsnet.com.

2016 Flyers free-agent target: Lightning C Steven Stamkos

2016 Flyers free-agent target: Lightning C Steven Stamkos

Each day from now until July 1, the day NHL free agency begins, CSNPhilly.com producers Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile some of the league’s top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.

Steven Stamkos, center

Age: 26
Height: 6-1
Weight: 194 lbs
Last team: Tampa Bay Lightning
2015-16 cap hit: $7.5 million
 
Scouting report
Every year, there’s that one big fish in free agency who teams would love to get a crack at signing. Say hello to Steven Stamkos, by far the biggest fish swimming in this year’s free-agency waters.
 
The first overall pick of the Lightning in the 2008 entry draft, Stamkos is one of the most lethal goal scorers the league has seen in decades, as you probably already know. In eight NHL seasons, Stamkos has scored 312 goals. He’s earned two Rocket Richard trophies for most goals scored during a season — 51 in 2009-2010 (shared with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby) and 60 in 2011-12.
 
The three-time All-Star possesses an unbelievable wrist shot that features a lightning-quick (no pun intended) release. That shot allows him to do plenty of damage on the power play, where he’s scored 108 goals in career. As it is with most prolific scorers, the top of the faceoff dot is Stamkos’ sweet spot for the wrister or a one-timer.

While a natural center, Stamkos can also play wing as he did for a period of time this season.
 
Stamkos has played a full schedule of games in five of his eight NHL seasons. His 2013-14 campaign was cut short thanks to a broken leg. This season brought a more concerning ailment, as he missed the last five games of the regular season and all but one playoff game (Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals) thanks to blood clots. It’s a tricky situation to deal with because you never know if or when blood clots are going to happen again and there’s no exact timetable for a recovery.
 
Projection
Let’s get this out of the way now: If you really think the Flyers, who have about $11 million of cap space as of this writing and still need to re-sign Brayden Schenn, Nick Cousins and likely Ryan White as well, are going to offer Stamkos the $10 million-plus per season he’s could get in his next deal, it’s going to be a long, hard fall back to reality for you. Get out and enjoy the lovely weather in the Delaware Valley this weekend instead of dreaming about something that will never happen.
 
As for where Stamkos will land, that question added another layer of intrigue Friday night at the draft when the Detroit Red Wings traded the last year of KHL-bound Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5 million cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes. That frees up a boatload of money the Wings can dump into Stamkos’ lap. Detroit has some nice young talent to put around Stamkos, too.
 
And, of course, there’s Stamkos’ hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, who can have a Brinks truck loaded with loot back into his driveway at the snap of a finger. But he may not want to take part in Toronto’s rebuild.
 
And, who knows, maybe there’s a mystery team out there lurking in the weeds with a huge offer.
 
The main question here is does Stamkos really want to leave Tampa, the only NHL home he’s known. The Bolts may not be able to give Stamkos the same money Detroit, Toronto or another team can as Tampa has to re-sign restricted free agents Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov this season and Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat next season. All of those players are key parts of Tampa’s successful nucleus and will be due nice raises. Not an easy task to accomplish by any stretch in a cap world.
 
One homefield advantage Tampa does have is the fact there’s no personal state income tax in Florida. So less money in a contract from the Lightning could actually come close to the money a team in another state or province offers in a contract.
 
Gut feeling: Stamkos re-ups with Lightning in the $8.5-9 million per year range. He has unfinished business there with the Bolts being so close the Stanley Cup over the last few seasons and there’s so much young talent in Tampa that the Lightning can be a legitimate threat for years to come. But this is the true wild card of free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him land with another team …
 
… Not named the Flyers.

Flyers address goalie, wing depth with Carter Hart, Wade Allison in 2nd round

Flyers address goalie, wing depth with Carter Hart, Wade Allison in 2nd round

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- At last year’s NHL draft, the Flyers selected three goaltenders; however, that didn't stop them from adding between the pipes during the second round Saturday (see draft tracker).

With their second pick in the second round (48th overall), the Flyers drafted goaltender Carter Hart out of the Everett Silvertips' organization in the Western Hockey League. 

The 6-foot, 177-pound puckstopper had a busy 2015-16 season, appearing in 63 regular season games with the Silvertips, posting a 35-23-4 record to go along with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. 

For his solid second season in Everett, the 17-year-old was named the Canadian Hockey League’s goaltender of the year. 

“I felt good. You just got to keep your body in shape, eat right and get some good sleep and keep your body loose,” Hart said of dealing with the heavy workload.

“I think that’s the key, keeping your mind fresh and body in shape.” 

Hart already has a connection to the Flyers' organization. 

“I know their development goalie coach Brady Robinson really well," Hart said. "He used to be the Vaughn rep down in Victoria, so he’d come down and treat the U.S. guys and I know Brady pretty well now."

Hart, the fifth-ranked goaltender in ISS Hockey’s draft guide, is known for his good focus and concentration. He has a strong lateral push, quick glove hand and is solid with his blocker. Hart positions himself well, keeping him square to shooters and isn’t afraid to get out of his crease aggressively to cover the net.

The Alberta native will be one of four goaltenders trying to earn a spot on Team Canada’s world junior team this summer. 

With the 52nd overall selection, the Flyers took 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward Wade Allison. The 18-year-old forward spent this past season with the Try-City Storm of the USHL, where he was second in team scoring with 25 goals and 47 points in 56 games. 

The Manitoba native is committed to attend Western Michigan University in the fall. 

“I’m a big, powerful player who likes to battle down low, like to be physical, take the puck to the net, I like to shoot the puck,” said Allison, who tries to model his game after Troy Brouwer and Jeff Carter. “I got to work on my skating a little bit, edge work, my first two steps, they’re not great — definitely room for improvement.” 

One of the big reasons Allison chose Western Michigan is because of its head coach, Andy Murray. Murray has a plethora of NHL experience as a head coach winning over 300 games with the L.A. Kings and St. Louis Blues. He also spent time as an assistant coach with the Flyers (1988-90). 

“He’s a Manitoba guy, definitely felt a connection there," Allison said. "He trusts in me, I trust in him and I think he definitely gives me the best opportunity to be a pro player one day. I think he’ll definitely help out in my defensive zone. I think he’s a very well structured defensive coach. 

“We talked about my weaknesses and how he’s going to make them strengths and I think he’ll give me the best opportunity to be a professional hockey player one day.” 

Allison was ranked 62nd amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. ISS Hockey had him at 178th overall.

After battling personal hardships, Pascal Laberge ecstatic to be drafted by Flyers

After battling personal hardships, Pascal Laberge ecstatic to be drafted by Flyers

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sometimes you have to look behind a player's stats or missteps to find out what has been happening in his life.
 
That was the case last fall with Pascal Laberge, an 18-year-old swing forward selected by the Flyers in the second round (No. 36) Saturday during Day 2 of the NHL draft at First Niagara Center (see draft tracker).
 
Last summer, Laberge’s stepmother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She died in September. Shortly after her diagnosis, however, Laberge’s father rocked his family again by telling them he had prostate cancer.
 
“My dad is OK now,” Laberge said. “It’s been a hard year for me. I did what I can and played good hockey when I got it cleared it my head my dad would be OK.”
 
His father had his prostate removed last fall.
 
Laberge's training camp and start to the QMJHL season with Victoriaville was poor. Though his season recovered, his agent, Allan Walsh, was concerned NHL clubs might wonder why he had such a poor start.  
 
That’s when Laberge decided to write a story for The Players' Tribune, which appeared in June.
 
“The truth is, it’s not always easy to concentrate on moving and passing the puck when people you love are fighting for their lives,” he wrote.
 
It was cathartic for him.
 
“It [was] more for all the teams to know what I had been through,” he said. “My agent, Allan Walsh, is real dedicated to players. He wanted people to know.”
 
The Flyers knew about him and contacted him first at the NHL combine.
 
“We had a good chat at the combine,” Laberge, who was born in Châteauguay, Quebec, said. “They had good interest in me. I had a good feeling.”
 
NHL Central Scouting ranked him 28th among North American skaters with the possibility of moving up as a late first-round pick. He’s a two-way forward whose strength is on the right wing — something the Flyers needed in this draft. He finished the season with 28 goals and 68 points for the Tigres.
 
“It was really hard,” Laberge said. “At the beginning of the season, I didn’t have a good start. It was a tough moment for my family. After that, my coach said if I performed in hockey, my parents would feel good. I just started playing hockey.”
 
Laberge had an enormous entourage present in Buffalo. Mom, dad, brothers, aunts, uncles, girlfriend, etc. When the Flyers announced his name, he jumped into a hug with his dad.
 
“It’s amazing," Laberge said, "you dream about playing in the NHL and to hear that with my family here, it’s an amazing feeling."
 
Scouting reports say he has a reputation as a player who hunts down the puck and plays the game with a physical edge.
 
“I don’t like to compare myself to anyone — I’m more of skilled power forward,” Laberge said. “My offensive aspect of the game, I can make plays and shoot the puck.”
 
He’s already shown tremendous mental tenacity for overcoming tragedy and hardship. The hockey stuff should come easier by comparison.