Flyers have shot to gain ground on rest of trip

slideshow-021413-flyers-simmonds-ap.jpg

Flyers have shot to gain ground on rest of trip

There are four games left on the Flyers' road trip, even though they returned home briefly to Skate Zone on Thursday for practice.

Three of those games loom as extraordinarily significant because they involve New Jersey, Montreal and Pittsburgh -- three clubs currently ahead of the Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings.

If anyone thought the Devils' run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring was a fluke, coach Peter DeBoer is again proving there’s more to this team than meets the eye.

“It would have been easy for them to dwell on losing [Zach] Parise,” Mike Knuble said. “You miss a 40-goal guy, it’s easy to look around your locker room and feel sorry for yourself.

“That you’re missing that guy and who’s going to replace him. They’ve done it by committee. Seems like no matter who they switch in or out, they play by the same philosophy and Marty [Brodeur] has been in net and they keep turning out good seasons.”

The Devils occupy the No. 1 seed in East simply because they made the most of their head-to-head matches against tough opponents.

They picked up a point in a shootout loss to Boston in January. This month, they have victories over Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and the Rangers, plus a road loss to the Penguins. In other words, they’ve amassed seven of a possible 10 points against clubs right in the thick of the race.

Which is precisely why the Flyers need to get wins against the Devils, Canadiens and Penguins to finish off this road swing with a significant advance in the standings.

“All the games are important -- the two points are important,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We have to continue to climb back into this from the hole we dug early.

“We seem to be going down a road that is putting us back on track, but we continue to work regardless of who comes into our building or which building we go into.

“The most important thing is to keep winning hockey games. Don’t necessarily pick ones which are important or not important.”

Fattening up on Washington or the Islanders doesn’t help enough because they’re below the Flyers in the standings.

DeBoer has had Laviolette’s number since before the playoffs, winning six of the last eight games going back to last season.

“They were great last year. Look how great they have been for how many years now?” Jakub Voracek asked.

“All those years in a row they made the playoffs. Such a solid team from the goalies to the forwards and they are so tough to play against. It’s always tough against them.

“These are tight standings. Every time you win it’s a four-point game. What do we have, 13? We had a tough start, but we’re 4-1-1 right now. We need every point possible.”

The Flyers played the Devils hard in January, dominating early, holding them without a single shot for almost 13 minutes and still trailed 2-0 after one period.

A couple bad bounces, a penalty, plus a converted penalty shot by Ilya Kovalchuk did them in.

“I really liked the first game we played against them,” Laviolette recalled. “The first period-and-a-half we played a game we needed to play to be successful and it got away from us.

“We have to make sure we’re disciplined and stay out of the box and don’t give them opportunities on the power play ... we have to clean up our game a little bit from the last time.”

The Flyers fought hard behind goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for a narrow 3-2 victory in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

“Guys dug in and paid a price, too,” Danny Briere said. “Everybody sacrificed their bodies, even if they were tired. That is what impressed me about that win.”

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game. 

Brayden Schenn's power-play hat trick leads Flyers past Stars for eighth straight win

Brayden Schenn's power-play hat trick leads Flyers past Stars for eighth straight win

A power play hat trick.
 
Now that is truly something you don’t see every day in hockey.
 
Brayden Schenn is one of the very few Flyers to ever do it.
 
“Third [goal] was a lucky play where he [Jakub Voracek] broke a stick,” Schenn said. “Right place at the right time.”
 
Schenn’s diving third goal at 17:45 gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead and insured their eight-game win streak Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.
 
Only four other Flyers have had power play hat tricks in franchise history:
• Tim Kerr vs. Los Angeles, November 3, 1985
• Tim Kerr vs. Chicago, November 20, 1986
• Brian Propp at Minnesota, October 13, 1988
• Scott Hartnell at NY Islanders, January 19, 2008
 
Schenn pretty much doubled his offense in one game given he had just four goals coming in, and just one over his previous 13 games.
 
Think that’s something? 
 
Voracek had his second consecutive four-point game (empty net goal, three assists). The last Flyer to do that was Eric Lindros on Dec. 31, 1997 and Jan. 3, 1998.
 
Voracek has piled up 15 points during this Flyers streak. He’s got the blazing hot stick on this club right now.
 
“I don’t think I have necessarily changed my game,” Voracek said. “If I went without a point a couple weeks back, I’m not playing any different now. When you stick with it, work hard, the points eventually are gonna come.”
 
In this one, the Flyers changed up their power play moving Voracek into the right slot and having Schenn closer to the net on the opposite side.
 
“Sometimes it is open [the pass] and sometimes it’s not,” Voracek said of how team’s kill penalties. “Schenner had a free stick a couple times. I’m glad it worked.”
 
Just like other games during this streak, and the season itself, the Flyers had to come from behind. 
 
They trailed 1-0 early and 2-1 in the third period before Schenn scored back-to-back on the No. 2-ranked power play which went 3-for-6 on the day.
 
“Coming out in the third period, you see determination,” said coach Dave Hakstol. “That’s the word I would use. Just as an overall group, no matter what the situation is. Very tight, close hockey game all the way through.
 
“Different parts of our game have pushed us over the finish line on different nights. Most of our game was pretty good all the way through and when needed, the PP was the difference tonight.”
 
There’s a certain amount of confidence right now with the Flyers. Trailing doesn’t scare them. It invigorates them. They know it. They feel it on the bench.
 
“You have confidence that you’ve done it over and over again, you can do it again,” Voracek said. “It was a big chance to tie the game and we did. Big points for us. We never give up.”
 
The Flyers came into play two points behind second place Pittsburgh in the Metro Division.
 
Hakstol says Voracek’s play has been “pretty consistent” all season. 
 
“When you watch him most nights, very consistently without the puck, he is one of the hardest-working players getting back, reloading, getting on top of plays,” Hakstol said. 
 
“Coming out of the offensive zone.  When his line has the puck, or the PP unit, he is very confident in making plays.” 
 
The Flyers had just 21 shots in this one, including only five in the second period. Their offense came in bunches. 
 
Dallas had two goals from Devin Shore and led 2-1 at 10:32 of the final period before Schenn took over.
 
Steve Mason was the surprise starter in net and looked fresher than he did against Edmonton. Surprise in that given this was the front end of a back-to-back with Flyers playing in Detroit on Sunday, it seemed the perfect game to play Anthony Stolarz.
 
Give Mason a day of rest for a more important conference game tomorrow. 
 
Mason asked to play, however, and most coaches won’t say no to a goalie who has now won a career-high seven in a row.
 
“It was fun to watch from the back end there,” Mason said of the game. “Power play in general and two late goals to get us over the hump. 
 
“It’s fun right now to find different ways to come out on top. The boys aren’t satisfied. We keep pushing forward here.”