Flyers open road trip with ugly loss to Leafs

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Flyers open road trip with ugly loss to Leafs

BOX SCORE

TORONTO – All it took to burst the Flyers’ bubble for a strong road trip start was 6 minutes, 15 seconds.

That critical, second period juncture Monday night at Air Canada Centre saw the Maple Leafs turn a tie game into an ugly 5-2 trouncing, as the Flyers' horrific road play continued.
 
“It’s not the chances, we had chances for sure,” said Flyer captain Claude Giroux of 46 shots.
 
“That six minutes in the second period killed us. That hurts. We were playing well. We have to learn from this and not back down.”
 
Three Leafs goals did the trick as Peter Laviolette’s club dropped to 1-6-0 on the road.
 
“There was room for simpler ideas at that point,” Laviolette said of the six-minute disaster where the Leafs had the Flyers pinned in their own end with mistakes.
 
“They’ve hurt us in the past and hurt is in the span of six minutes. It’s tough. The first one goes in, we shot ourselves in the foot, and then it unravels for five minutes.”
 
The six-game trip continues Tuesday night in Winnipeg.
 
“We gave them those turnovers,” Kimmo Timonen said of the middle stanza. “Sometimes you have to play a simple game and we didn’t do that.”
 
Timonen said the club’s road woes comes down to “individual preparation.”
 
“Doesn’t matter if you are home or away, you have to play consistent,” he said. “Once you come on the road you have to prepare yourself even more.
 
“There’s no fans behind you, no one cheering your name. That’s a learning process to me and it’s time to learn this right now.”

Starter Ilya Bryzgalov yielded four goals on just 14 shots before being replaced by Brian Boucher, who was hoping to make his first start against the Jets.
 
Bryz avoided the media by going out the rear door of the dressing room.
 
Not even a five-minute power play that same period could see the Flyers climb back; their continued lack of offense is alarming.
 
Oh yeah. James van Riemsdyk, in his first meeting against his former club, scored on a nice backhander against Boosh in the third period to really rub it in. How ironic that he moved right around Luke Schenn on the goal.
 
Usually, the Flyers give a pretty good effort. They needed a point in this one because there is no guarantee they’ll get one in The Peg, where they split the season series last year.
 
So, the seven points in four home games wasn’t a sign of what was to unfold here, after all.
 
“We need to find a way to be more consistent here and not have these highs and lows,” Nick Grossmann said. “We have to find ways to grind it out for 60 minutes.”
 
Laviolette wanted a strong start and he got it from the opening shift when Wayne Simmonds picked up his third goal at 38 seconds, rebounding a point drive from Schenn.
 
“After that goal, they were the better team – they were hungrier and when that happens, you create turnovers like they did in the second period,” Timonen said.
 
Bryzgalov got a ton of help later in the period when Mikhail Grabovski’s drive ripped off the cross bar and right post in a split-second.
 
No matter, the Leafs tied at 14:49 on Dion Phaneuf’s first point on home ice this season. Bryzgalov never saw his shot from the left point because Nikolai Kulemin was blocking his vision.
 
As usual, the Flyers had a couple of bad penalties at the end, and survived a 36-second 5-on-3 kill. Ironically, they also had the best chance shorthanded there, when it was 5-on-4 off the initial holding call against Zac Rinaldo.
 
Giroux, who was visibly angry after the game, stole a puck in the corner and fed Matt Read down the slot for what should have been an easy marker against goalie James Reimer.
 
Except Read’s initial shot sailed wide. The rebound came back to him. This time, Reimer made a sprawling left pad save.
 
The Flyers came out very lame in the second period and paid a steep price as Toronto scored twice in 28 seconds to take a 3-1 lead.
 
Colton Orr outworked Grossmann in the crease for the first goal at 2:05, but the fault lies in Tommy Sestito throwing the puck behind the net when he could have cleared it down the wall.
 
Then Matt Frattin got a short-side tip to make it 3-1 at 2:33. Laviolette called his timeout less than a minute later to settle things down.
 
Shortly before the four-minute mark, Reimer went down on the ice injured and had to be helped off. He was replaced by Ben Scrivens.
 
That didn’t help the Flyers at all because they again failed to clear the zone under Leafs pressure at 6:15 and paid the price on Clarke MacArthur’s wide-open one-timer from Nazem Kadri that blew the game apart.
 
Laviolette then yanked Bryzgalov, saying he wanted “a different change of direction in the game.”
 
“It’s six minutes you’d like to have back and do over,” Laviolette said.
 
As bad as that was, the Flyers had a real chance to get back into the game when Korbinian Holzer was ejected with a five-minute major on Tye McGinn at 13:31.
 
The Flyers completely squandered the resulting five-minute power play with six shots. Scrivens made a glove save on Brayden Schenn – the only decent shot he faced.
 
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, speaking on Toronto radio after that period, said his team lacked confidence with the puck that entire power play sequence.
 
“That [power play] could have changed the tide,” Simmonds said. “We had chances. Pucks laying around. Guys diving everywhere.
 
“You have scrambles and sometimes you get the benefit of the bounces and sometimes you don’t.
 
“We've got to be better on the power play. We got a lot of chances here to get back in games and put games away and we’re not doing it.”

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 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.

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Maple Leafs RW P.A. Parenteau?

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Maple Leafs RW P.A. Parenteau?

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.

P.A. Parenteau, right wing

Age: 33
Height: 6-0
Weight: 200
Last team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2015-16 cap hit: $1.5 million

Scouting report
Parenteau was drafted with the 264th overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks back when the draft went nine rounds and he's enjoyed a relatively productive career.

The 6-foot right winger has played eight seasons with five different teams, with Toronto being his last club. His most successful seasons came in 2010-11 and 2011-12 with the Islanders.

During the '11-12 campaign, Parenteau set career highs in assists (49) and points (67). He used that season to cash in during free agency, signing a four-year, $16 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche, but he never found much success out in Colorado.

Parenteau spent two seasons with the Avalanche, playing in all 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and 55 games in 2013-14. He registered 76 points in two seasons with Colorado before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens in June 2014.

In Montreal, he was hindered by injuries and found himself as a healthy scratch on occasion. In 56 games with the Habs, Parenteau had eight goals and 22 points.

Last summer, he inked a one-year deal with the rebuilding Maple Leafs and enjoyed his best season since 2012-13, his first in Colorado. Parenteau netted 20 markers, tying a career high, and 41 points in 77 games with Toronto last season.

Projection
I wouldn't be opposed to bringing in Parenteau at the right price, but he's not a great fit.

He made an affordable $1.5 million last season and scored 20 goals again. If the Flyers are looking for a scoring winger on the cheap, he could be an option.

The problem with Parenteau is, he's easy to knock off the puck and is a one-dimensional player. That doesn't sound like he would get along with head coach Dave Hakstol.

Parenteau is a proven playmaker who's produced points at this level. He could help on the power play and when he has the puck, he controls it well.

It depends on how much general manager Ron Hextall is willing to pay for scoring. If he wants a more complete player, Parenteau is not the answer.

But if he wants to bring in a veteran on a one- or two-year contract with a cap hit under $2 million, then Parenteau could be attractive.

Ultimately, I don't see Parenteau signing with the orange and black.

Time will tell if passing on Kieffer Bellows for German Rubtsov will be right or wrong move

Time will tell if passing on Kieffer Bellows for German Rubtsov will be right or wrong move

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Most times, it takes several years to properly gauge whether an NHL club had a good, bad or even great draft.
 
Yet even Ron Hextall admitted after this year’s draft ended Saturday that it would difficult to think the Flyers' top two picks this weekend — forwards German Rubtsov and Pascal Laberge — measure up equally to last year’s top two, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny.
 
“We were [No.] 7 last year and now 18 to 22,” the Flyers' general manager said. “Given where we were at, we did really well. The first four guys — shocked they were there that deep. We thought maybe two of three we get or one for sure.
 
“So we were happy with our whole draft. I am not focusing on our top four guys … you are kind of holding your breath and those two guys were there. We felt we did pretty well.”
 
Hextall’s goal was to stock up on bigger, more skilled forwards, which the organization is sorely lacking.
 
The Flyers went in with 11 picks, flipped one for a pick next year and came away with seven forwards, two defensemen and a goalie. They added size and skill, but they didn’t pluck a pure goal scorer.
 
Rubstov is an all-around center. He’s not Kieffer Bellows, a 50-goal left winger the Flyers should have taken. Both Hextall and Chris Pryor, the club’s director of scouting, said going into the draft that “all Bellows does is score goals.”
 
Exactly. He’s one-dimensional.
 
And goal scoring is the one dimension the Flyers desperately needed. All Danny Briere did was score goals, as well. Where does it say every forward on your team has to be a complete, two-way player?
 
That’s why Hextall stunned people by trading down from No. 18 to 22, thereby leaving Bellows for the Islanders to select at No. 19.
 
Time will tell whether the Flyers drop-down trade with Winnipeg was the right move.
 
Hextall believes the team got everything it wanted in this draft, regardless of how people feel about bypassing Bellows. Rubtsov was ranked the fifth best international skater by NHL Central Registry.
 
“We wanted speed, we wanted size,” Hextall said. “We wanted skill. Obviously, it’s not in every player. But we feel like we got all three elements. We had enough picks.
 
“It was a lot easier to zero in on. Some of it is combinations like Laberge and Rubtsov and [Wade] Allison. Big guys. Good skaters with speed and skill. We’re excited. Excited about the draft. I say it every year.”
 
The top four Hextall referenced were Rubtsov, plus his three picks in the second round. Laberge, taken at No. 36, is a 6-foot-1 center/winger who overcame personal tragedy to become a mentally-tough, top U-18 prospect at the world juniors.
 
Allison, taken at No. 52, is a 6-2 right wing, who had 25 goals in 56 games for Tri-City in the USHL. He’s enrolled at Western Michigan University for the fall.
 
Carter Hart, taken before him at No. 48, was the Flyers' lone goalie selection. He’s 6-1. Central Registry had him ranked second among North American goalies and he ended up being the first goalie taken in the draft.
 
Hart played in 63 of his club’s 72 games — the Everett Silvertips of the WHL — with a 2.14 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
 
Hextall said he envisions him as a No. 1 goaltender in the near future. 
 
Every club tries to locate a sleeper and the Flyers think they might have found one with their last pick. Defenseman David Bernhardt, taken in the seventh round at 199, played for Djurgardens IF in the Swedish Hockey League.
 
European scout Joakim Grundberg spotted him.
 
“Those kids in the back part of your draft, there are certain elements to their game you grab onto and certain things they need to get better at,” Pryor said.
 
“Whether it be getting stronger or a little more consistent. Some of those kids at the back part of our draft, our guys have seen a lot of those guys and usually have a real, good feel for them.
 
“Sometimes those kids slide back a bit and you grab onto them. Like the Bernhardt kid. Joakim saw a lot of him. You know there are some inconsistencies there, but a lot there to like. The Swedes invited him to their Under 20 camp this summer. They think there is something there.”
 
In a few years, the Flyers should find out if their hunch paid off.
 
Free agency
It opens on Friday — July 1. The interview period has begun and Hextall said he might sit down with a few people.
 
Hextall again emphasized that given he still has not re-signed some of his own key players, such as Brayden Schenn and Ryan White, he has salary cap restraints. He was unable to move any veteran players at this draft to create cap space.
 
Schenn, who had a breakout season (26 goals, 59 points) should get close to $5 million even though he is restricted. The Flyers have less than $12 million cap space. When it’s all said and done, they might have just $6 million left and Hextall wants at least $2 million reserve on his cap.
 
Barring moving salary via a trade that implies the most the Flyers can spend in free agency is $4 million on a top nine forward.
 
“If we can add someone for the right term and right price, we’ll do it,” Hextall said.