Flyers start fast, but fail to hold off Devils

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Flyers start fast, but fail to hold off Devils

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. – Ilya Bryzgalov watched the entire game unfold from the ice. But like his teammates and undoubtedly their fans, the Flyers’ goaltender didn’t know where things went wrong Friday night against the New Jersey Devils.

“I don’t know,” said an obviously frustrated Bryzgalov. “You’ve got to ask the coach. He makes the statements.”

The Flyers sat back and watched a 3-1 first-period lead turn into an eventual 5-3 loss, bringing their record against Atlantic Division opponents to a dismal 1-4.

And as for the coach’s statement, Peter Laviolette didn’t have much to say other than what was immediately apparent to anyone who watched more than the first 20 minutes of Friday’s affair at the Prudential Center.

“We came out and played a good first period,” Peter Laviolette said. “The second period and the third period were not as strong for us offensively. We made a mistake and it ended up in our net.”

The game actually started off poorly for the Flyers, who gave up a goal to Travis Zajac on the very first Devils shot just 40 seconds after the first puck dropped. But instead of deflating and falling back on their heels after the early deficit, the Flyers responded.

Winger Wayne Simmonds kicked off an impressive first-period rebound with a backhanded shot from the slot on the power play that tied the game at 1. Less than two minutes later, Mike Knuble swept a shot up through a crowd of skaters and past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

Forty-eight seconds after that, Matt Read added to the tally, giving the Flyers the 3-1 lead they simply weren’t able to hold onto. The three goals, scored in just 2:36, are the fastest the Flyers have ever scored against Brodeur – 23 seconds faster than their previous record against the veteran goaltender, set in 2002.

“It seemed like every shift we had that period, we were down there cycling pretty good,” Knuble said. “We had a couple of really good shifts right away.”

But once the second period kicked off, those strong shifts became a thing of the past. The Flyers allowed another early goal 26 seconds into the second period to Alexei Ponikarovsky, playing in his first game since returning to the Devils. Patrik Elias capitalized on an ugly turnover by Kimmo Timonen to tie the game at 3.

“In the first period, we were on the attack offensively,” Laviolette said. “The second and third period, not quite as much. They picked up their game a little bit. They had their chances in the second and the third – and they scored on them.

“That’s pretty much it.”

The Flyers managed to hold the Devils to just 19 shots (compared to their 28), which should have resulted in a better outcome. Bryzgalov played a solid game once again, but turnovers were once again a problem. Too many times, the Flyers missed passes or got just a bit too sloppy with the puck.

And when they did, the Devils were able to capitalize.

“We probably had a few too many turnovers in the neutral zone and they were quality chances that we gave up,” Luke Schenn said. “We kept them to a low shot amount, but a lot of those were too quality chances.”

As rough as the Flyers’ final period felt, they held the Devils to just three shots. David Clarkson’s goal with just about nine minutes left in the game felt like the final blow needed. The Devils added to it, though, with an empty-netter from Steve Bernier with less than two minutes to play.

The Flyers have now lost four of their last five regular-season games against the Devils, and their last six including the postseason. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially after the way Friday’s game looked after the first period.

“Guys were skating hard today,” Claude Giroux said. “It’s a hard rink to play in, but when you got a 3-1 lead, I think you need to find a way to get it done. We’re going to learn from this, obviously.”

The good news? The Flyers won’t have long to dwell on the loss. They’re back at it Saturday evening in Montreal, where they’ll face the Canadiens in less than 24 hours.

“You’ve got to forget about what happened tonight and try to win tomorrow night’s game,” Bryzgalov said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Flyers ramp up intensity, physicality on Day 2 of training camp

Flyers ramp up intensity, physicality on Day 2 of training camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Radko Gudas was so hyped up, he was having great difficulty trying to communicate his excitement after having crunched two players during battle drills.
 
“This is the fun where it starts … where the fun starts?” he said with a laugh. “Everybody wants to get the feeling of game-like situations. Everybody is trying their hardest.”
 
After two days of mostly drills with gradually advancing intensity, the Flyers wrapped up Saturday’s training camp with two-on-two battle drills.
 
Two guys going to the net and shooting, getting the rebound, all the while fighting off another player.
 
Gudas wants to demonstrate he can still maim guys along the boards with a taped-up right wrist (stress fracture). And he did.
 
“I haven’t used the wrist for a couple weeks so it’s nice to get a touch with somebody else and get into the battle situation with someone else and know I can still do it,” he said.
 
“This is more for the older guys who weren’t here for the rookie [camp] to get in there, get a feel for it.”
 
All this aside, Gudas might not participate in Sunday’s full squad scrimmage only because he has not been cleared to shoot pucks yet.
 
“I have to stay as much as I can off the heavy slapper,” he said.
 
The Flyers have two split-squad games Monday — one in New Jersey, the other in Brooklyn.
 
“The guys are anxious to have a scrimmage,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Couple good, hard workdays and they handled it really well. It’s time to get into a scrimmage situation, which leads into a game the next day.”
 
Hence the battle drills to get players to take their energy to that next level.
 
“You got to slowly keep moving toward game readiness,” Hakstol said. “There’s a difference from practice to a full preseason game.
 
“Today was a little more battle in practice than yesterday but some subtle detail mixed into each of the drills.”

Broadcast notes
Monday's game in New Jersey will be broadcast on radio on 97.5 The Fanatic, while the Islanders' game is slated to be a video webcast on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com.

Tuesday's game against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center and Wednesday's game against the Devils in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will both air on TCN and 97.5.

Brayden Schenn motivated to build off career season in 2016-17

Brayden Schenn motivated to build off career season in 2016-17

VOORHEES, N.J. — What a difference for Brayden Schenn to walk into Flyers training camp and feel as if he’s arrived.
 
The forward is coming off a season in which he posted career-highs in goals (26), assists (33) and points (59), which earned him the team’s Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as the most improved Flyer. 
 
Best of all, he was rewarded with a four-year, $20.5 million contract in July.
 
“I feel good coming into this year,” Schenn said. “The Flyers showed some trust and confidence in me by signing me for four years. Coming in here, I’m excited to get the season going and build off last year.”
 
At least he won’t have to begin camp on the fifth line like he did last fall after general manager Ron Hextall had challenged him to take his game to another level and new head coach Dave Hakstol made him work to advance himself in the lineup.
 
“You hope it won’t be like that [fifth line], especially with [seven] guys gone,” Schenn said jokingly, meaning the Flyers playing in the World Cup of Hockey.
 
The big question for Schenn is whether he plays left wing on Claude Giroux’s line or plays wing on Sean Couturier's unit. He proved to everyone last season he can play all three forward spots now and be effective on the ice.
 
“I finished on the left,” he said. “I said forward or center but I played so much left wing, right wing a little center in the playoffs. So I feel comfortable now all over.
 
“Wherever the opportunity is to play with great players and make the most of the situation is where you want to be right now.”
 
These first two days of camp, Schenn has been very aggressive and motivated on the ice.
 
Schenn, Giroux and Wayne Simmonds represented the top line much of last season, especially in the second half. That was partly because Jakub Voracek had slumped so badly from his breakout season the year before and couldn’t hold his spot on the first line.
 
“It’s tough to say because lines change throughout the year,” Schenn said. “When you are trying to find chemistry and this and that. Wherever I start, I just have to make the most of every opportunity.
 
“We have a lot of top players around here to play with … to pencil my name into one spot is hard to say. Wherever they place me at the start, I’ll to try with it.”
 
It’s expected he’ll start the season again at left wing on Giroux’s line after he serves his three-game suspension for a hit against Capitals forward T.J. Oshie in the playoffs.
 
“It’s good to have guys who can move around because you never know what you are gonna need in a top six,” Hextall said. “You like a left-hand Brayden on the left side with skill.”
 
Hakstol said he wants guys “who fit well” together, so that may be the answer right there.
 
There was talk last season whether the Schenn Brothers were having negative impacts on each other. Luke Schenn, the veteran defenseman, came to camp and was demoted to eighth on the depth chart. He was angry from Day 1. Brayden Schenn was angry at the fifth line.
 
Both would huddle with each other every day. Both cared so deeply about the other, they acted as each’s confidante. Yet when Luke Schenn was traded, it seemed to benefit both players.
 
“Probably a better question for Brayden, but a lot of people have pointed to that,” Hextall said. “When Luke got traded, Brayden had played six or seven really good games ahead of that.
 
“Whether that was coincidence or not I don’t have an answer. I do think what he said there, there’s obvious reason based on personality and it probably could do you good or do you harm.”
 
Brayden Schenn said he always dreamed of playing with his brother, but it adds other pressures.
 
“When you come to the rink [as brothers], you are so tight and so close, you tend to worry about each other more than you have to, just because it’s family and he’s your brother,” he said.
 
“Now that Luke’s gone, he’s in a good situation in Arizona, I hope he gets a good opportunity. Now you tend to worry about yourself a little more. Come to the rink and focus on what you have to do and not to worry about Luke or vice-versa.”
 
Schenn said it’s obvious that the club has made a commitment to himself, Giroux, Simmonds, Couturier and Voracek with the long-term contracts handed out in recent years.
 
To that end, he said, the window of opportunity for some of these Flyers is fast approaching. Some are in their peak years now. Schenn, 25, and Couturier, 23, are the youngest among that group.
 
“They will challenge us again this year to get better,” Schenn said. “They have invested in us. We all got to step up. Parts on the back end like 'Ghost' [Shayne Gostisbehere] and Gudy [Radko Gudas]. Everyone has got to get better year by year.
 
“I hate to say it. We’re not old by any means, but our core group of guys are in their prime now and we have to try to make it happen.”
 
It starts in training camp.