Flyers Notes: Woes to open periods continue

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Flyers Notes: Woes to open periods continue

NEWARK, N.J. -- Talk about a rough start.

In Friday’s 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils (see game recap), the Flyers gave up a goal less than a minute into both the first and second periods.

“It’s unacceptable,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “They come off of turnovers. You got to take care of the puck and make good decisions and be in the right spot defensively and defend the rush properly, and things that we continue to harp on and look at. But giving up two goals in the first minute of each period is not a good way to start the period.

After surrendering the first marker of the game 40 seconds in, the Flyers responded with a strong effort in the first stanza. They scored three goals in two minutes and 36 seconds on veteran Martin Brodeur, which was the fastest the Flyers have ever scored that many markers on the Devils’ netminder.

The Flyers also outshot New Jersey 11-7 in the opening period and limited the Devils to just 19 shots for the game.

So where exactly did things go wrong for the orange and black?

“A couple there first shift, in the first and second period,” captain Claude Giroux said. “That didn’t help, obviously. I think the whole game we kind of gave the puck to Brodeur -- he kind of played it, it’s pretty easy for him. We played a pretty good game, but at the end of the day, it’s 3-3 going into the third. We’ve got to find a way to get that win.”

The Flyers got off to an even worse start in the second period. Alexei Ponikarovsky, in his first game since being reacquired by the Devils, beat Ilya Bryzgalov just 26 seconds into the second stanza.

Ponikarovsky’s tally proved to be the turning point. The Flyers were once again plagued by turnovers in the second period of the game and a sloppy third period ultimately led to another loss to an Atlantic Division rival.

“We gotta be a little bit more ready to start up the period,” defenseman Luke Schenn said. “Obviously, they got off to a big start. We weren’t on our toes to start both those periods.”

The Flyers won’t have to dwell on their latest defeat long. They are back in action Saturday night as they continue their six-game road trip in Montreal.

Leighton still not ready
Goaltender Michael Leighton, who sustained an upper-body injury at practice a week ago, is still not ready to return, according to general manager Paul Holmgren.

Leighton was originally expected to miss about a week. However, Holmgren said, the netminder is still at least seven to 10 days away from returning to the Flyers.

In one start this season, Leighton is 0-1 with a .808 save percentage and 5.08 goals-against average.

Knuble vs. Marty
Mike Knuble’s first-period tally was his 18th career goal against Brodeur. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the second most of any NHL player against Brodeur.

Interestingly enough, Knuble is sandwiched in between two former Flyers on the list. Simon Gagne has the most career goals against Brodeur with 19, while Jaromir Jagr has the third most with 17.

Knuble, who played just under 13 minutes on Friday, has two goals and three assists in 11 games since rejoining the Flyers this season.

Loose pucks
Friday’s game was the 300th of Claude Giroux’s career. … Giroux’s two assists matched the number of his previous five games. … The Flyers are now 1-4 against Atlantic Division teams this season. … The Flyers lost for the first time this season when leading after the first period. … For the fourth time this season, the Flyers lost a game that was tied after two periods.

Former Flyers coach Pat Quinn elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Flyers coach Pat Quinn elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Pat Quinn, who took the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1980 and coached them to the longest unbeaten streak in NHL history — 35  games — was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in the Builders category.

He will be joined by former Flyers great Eric Lindros, who was selected in the player category (see story).  

The 6-foot-3 Quinn, a proud Irishman, who defined blueline toughness for two decades into the late 1970s, died after a long illness at the age of 71 in November of 2014.

His historic unbeaten streak occurred during the 1979-80 season.

Quinn succeeded fellow Hall of Famer Fred Shero in 1977-78 and stayed with the Flyers through all but the final eight games of the 1981-82 season when he was replaced by Bob McCammon.

Quinn had been an assistant under Shero previously.

Bill Barber was Quinn’s veteran left wing during their famed unbeaten streak — the same season the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Islanders in a controversial six-game series.

“I always put Pat Quinn up there with Fred Shero because he was a very big part of our success when he was there,” Barber told CSNPhilly.com.

“He was a huge part of the 35-game unbeaten streak. We didn’t have the most talent in the league but we had a team that worked together and Pat made sure everyone understood their role.

“He was a good communicator and he was quiet. He gave every player the opportunity to be themselves. He did not restrict or any of those other things within the game. I had the utmost respect for him.”

After he was fired by the Flyers, Quinn enrolled in Widener University to study law. He eventually earned his degree at the University of San Diego and would use his knowledge of law as a GM throughout the remainder of his career in hockey.

Quinn was Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame in recent years prior to his passing, and worked tirelessly to get Shero elected to the Hall in 2013.

He was just one of four men to win the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year with two different clubs — the Flyers (1979-80) and Vancouver (1991-92).

He played over 600 games on defense — among the last of the original Atlanta Flames — and coached more than 1,400 games.

After leaving the Flyers, Quinn joined the Los Angeles Kings in 1984-85, then Vancouver (1990-91) and Toronto (1998-2006).

He also served as general manager in both Vancouver and Toronto. Upon leaving the Leafs, he took a few seasons off before returning in 2009-10 to coach the Edmonton Oilers.

Quinn was actively involved with Team Canada and the Olympics throughout his coaching career.

When the 2009-10 season ended, Quinn left the NHL to join the Hall’s Selection Committee. He assumed the role as board chairman in 2013.

At the 2012 Winter Classic played at Citizens Bank Park, Quinn served as the Flyers Alumni team coach.

The late Flyers’ chairman, Ed Snider, said of Quinn two years ago, “Pat Quinn was an outstanding hockey coach. He had an excellent career as a player, coach, general manager and hockey executive. He was terrific at everything he did, including Chair of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He truly knew how to get our players to play hard every night.”

Bob Kelly, a member of the 35-game unbeaten squad, said Quinn lived life to the fullest. People who knew him referred to him as “The Big Irishman.”

“He enjoyed St. Paddy’s Day to the fullest,” Kelly said. “I remember he always got dressed up. Just a fun guy and a positive guy, too. He had his cigars and Freddie used to have his beers. That’s what it was. You can’t change the era. Just a good guy to be around.”

Quinn was nominated for the Hall’s consideration last year, as well.

This time, he made it.

This story contains previous published information from Tim Panaccio on CSNPhilly.com.

Dominating Flyers great Eric Lindros gets call to Hall of Fame

Dominating Flyers great Eric Lindros gets call to Hall of Fame

When Eric Lindros’ Flyers career ended with a fourth concussion in the spring of 2000, the last thing anyone considered was whether the franchise centerman would someday be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The viable question then was whether he’d ever wear orange and black again in the NHL. He didn’t.

Eventually, the former captain did don his No. 88 Flyers jersey once more at a 2012 Winter Classic alumni game a few days before the Flyers faced the New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park.

And on Monday, the most heralded Flyers center since Bobby Clarke was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The 43-year-old Lindros becomes the 11th member of the Flyers organization in the Hall. The last was defenseman Mark Howe in 2011.

Because of his tumultuous relationship with Clarke, then the general manager, plus the fact he missed more than two seasons with injuries — nearly all of which were concussion-related — it was questionable whether the third-leading scorer among Flyers centermen (659 points) would ever enter the Hall.

Clarke, who sits on the Hall’s selection committee and was instrumental in getting Lindros enshrined, said some years ago that regardless of how things unfolded in the past, Lindros was deserving of enshrinement as one of the preeminent centers of his generation.

Anyone who saw Lindros play in 1990s would admit he was the most dominant power forward of his era and rightfully belonged there.

NFL coaches design defenses to stop specific quarterbacks and running backs, and NHL coaches had to design game plans to contain the towering 6-foot-4 Lindros.

“You look at Eric when he played, he was dominant,” former teammate John LeClair said in 2014. “When you compare some of the players who have gotten in that played with him, it’s not even close.

“When players were getting ready to play, they weren’t saying, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to play against so and so or so and so.’

“Every time they had to play against Eric, they knew they were playing him two or three days ahead of time and they were ready because they knew that he was just a dominant force out there and they had to be ready.”

LeClair was Lindros’ linemate for 5½ years. Their line with Mikael Renberg — "The Legion of Doom" — ranks among the best in team history.

The Legion of Doom line had two years of remarkable performances under coach Terry Murray with a record 255 points in 1995-96 followed by 235 points in 1996-97, the only year they skated together in a Stanley Cup Final.

“John, Mikael and I were a pretty special group,” Lindros recalled two years ago. “We set up one another and we certainly enjoyed playing with one another and being together on and off the ice. It really was a special group to be involved with.

“We were a pretty confident bunch. Certainly, there we some times that it didn’t turn out that way. But we’d like to think that overall we had a pretty good positive effect on the outcome of our games.”

The biggest blemish against Lindros was that he played just 760 games (486 as a Flyer) and wasn’t a 1,000-point player (865 points).

Well, neither was Peter Forsberg, who had 885 points in 708 games, and like Lindros, lost a third of his career to injury, mostly regarding his feet and ankles.

Forsberg, who was part of the mega eight-player (including draft picks), $15 million deal that saw Lindros become a Flyer, did win two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche.

“Eric Lindros versus, whether it’s (Cam) Neely or Forsberg, Eric was a dominant player,” current Flyers GM Ron Hextall said. “Was it long enough? I don’t have the answer. He was a dominant player.

“There were years when you would say ‘Is he a Hall of Fame player? Yes.’ And probably other years where he was injured or hurt. Whether he did it long enough, for me, would be the question. He was a dominant player, no doubt.’’

The Hart Trophy winner in 1995, Lindros ranks in the top 10 in Flyers history in goals (290), assists (369), points, power play goals (82) and hat tricks (11).

His 1.36 points per game remain a franchise record.

“His comparison blows a lot of guys out of the water,” LeClair said.

During the 2014-15 season, Lindros and LeClair were inducted into the Flyers’ Hall of Fame.

All of the negativity that engulfed Lindros and the club during his eight years here has evaporated over time as fans came to understand that Lindros was at the forefront of players who suffered from post-concussion syndrome.

Whereas in the 1990s few knew or understood the disease, now both the NHL and NFL have guidelines in place to help protect players, though it’s arguable how closely those guidelines are followed.

For Lindros himself, he said he loved his time in Philadelphia, regardless of his feuds with the team over concussions. “The Big E” played 13 years in the league and was traded to the Rangers in 2001 after sitting out the previous season as a Flyer.

“They know hockey here,” Lindros said of Flyers fans. “They know the ins and outs of the game. They know when things are going well and when they’re not. They know, in some cases, really definitively why.

“As vocal as they are, it’s great when things are rolling, and it’s a real pick up your socks when things aren’t going so strongly. They’re true fans.”

And Lindros is a true Hockey Hall of Famer.

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Panthers RW Jiri Hudler

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Panthers RW Jiri Hudler

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.

Jiri Hudler, right wing

Age: 32
Height: 5-10
Weight: 183
Last team: Florida Panthers
2015-16 cap hit: $4 million

Scouting report
A second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, 11-year veteran Jiri Hudler is known for his offensive acumen. He’s scored 161 goals in his career and added 256 assists for a total of 417 points. He also has a Lady Byng Trophy to his name, if “sportsmanship and gentlemanly play” are the things you enjoy in a hockey player.

A Stanley Cup champion with the Wings in 2008, the Czech native spent seven seasons in Detroit before joining the Flames on a four-year deal prior to the 2012-13 season. It was in Calgary where Hudler had his best NHL season. Playing alongside young stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan in 2014-15, Hudler potted 31 goals and added 45 assists to help the Flames come out of nowhere and reach the second round of the playoffs.

But as the Flames faltered this season, Hudler became expendable and was dealt to the Florida Panthers shortly before the trade deadline. With Florida, Hudler scored six goals and recorded five assists in 19 regular-season games. He had just a single assist in the Panthers’ six postseason games.

At just 5-foot-10, Hudler doesn’t really have a physical element to his game. And that hurts him at the defensive end of the ice where he’s known to be inconsistent.

Projection
Hudler seems ticketed for a younger, up-and-coming team that could use a veteran presence with some scoring punch. Teams with interest in Hudler will want him to try and replicate the success he had with Gaudreau and Monahan two seasons ago.

But the Flyers likely aren’t a fit for two reasons — size and age.

Yes, the Flyers need a winger who can put the puck in the net. But, as general manager Ron Hextall has said numerous times since the season ended, the Flyers specifically need a scoring winger with size. The 5-foot-10, 183-pound Hudler doesn’t fit that need. Plus, the Flyers will want someone younger than Hudler, who will turn 33 in January, in that role. Also, his defensive inconsistencies wouldn't help him in Dave Hakstol's eyes.

Expect Hudler to land a short-term deal for less than the $4 million per year he earned on his last deal. Where is anyone’s guess.