Flyers upbeat despite OT loss to Bruins

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Flyers upbeat despite OT loss to Bruins

BOX SCORE

Scott Hartnell has never been among the top five goals scorers in the NHL.

Except maybe after the first goal of the season, he quipped.

Sunday at Wells Fargo Center, the most overlooked All-Star who is not going to the big show, scored his second career natural hat trick for the Flyers in a wildly-entertaining 6-5 shootout loss to Boston.

Hartnells hatter gave him 25 goals, tying him for fifth overall in the league.

We didnt get two points, but all the hits, all the fights, the goals both ways and us having a poor start and coming back and having a lead, unfortunately, we werent able to hold on, but it was an exciting game, Hartnell said.

You gotta be able to nail games down when youre up a goal, especially against teams like the Bruins and we didnt do it. We got down a bit, but we fought back.

Ever since that memorable playoff series against the Bruins in May of 2010, the rivalry between these two clubs has ascended into one of the nastiest -- and best -- the Flyers have.

Tyler Seguin won this one in the shootout against Ilya Bryzgalov, who hates shootouts (his body language in them seems to back that up).

Peter Laviolette was forced to dress a depleted lineup with eight rookies, as the Flyers were without Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere and that Italian ruffian, Zac Rinaldo.

Yet, the Flyers were the more physical of the two teams, engaging Claude Juliens club everywhere on the ice. They earned three of four points over the weekend in two, tough games against the Devils and Bruins.

Thats a victory in and of itself.

Coming off a game last night where we needed to play hard to get back into this game, I thought our guys gave everything they had, Laviolette said.

Even when you end up having to fight back, we do it, fight back, we do it, youre looking to get the other point. Its difficult to be happy when you dont get the points but it wasnt about effort of lack of interest. Our guys showed up and competed.

They simply couldnt get a save in the shootout. Despite assembling a strong crop of scorers every season, the Flyers are horrific in shootouts: 0-3 this year, 19-37 lifetime.

Still, the Flyers earned a point, and Hartnells five goals over two games played a critical role in earning three of four total points over the weekend.

Yeah. Five goals in two games, it's a good weekend for anybody, so, I'll take it, Harntell said. Confidence is a weird thing.

I have a lot of confidence and I feel strong on the puck, strong on the ice, my skating is good and when Claude Giroux makes those nice little passes to me, it's nice to get a good shot off and was able to put a couple in.

Hartnell's father, Bill, was here as part of the Flyers FathersSons weekend that continues Monday in Florida. Bill Hartnell had never seen his son score a hat trick professionally.

Giroux, incidentally, had the primary assist on all three Hartnell goals.

All our guys stepped up today and had a lot of character it was a pretty entertaining game, Giroux said. At the end of the day, we dont get two points, but our guys stuck with it and played pretty well.

The Flyers overcame a 3-1 deficit, held a 4-3 lead going into the third, then saw David Krejci tie it at 1:19 into the period.

Greg Campbell then gave the Bruins a 5-4 lead nearly four minutes later, tucking the puck inside the right post from on his knees.

Undaunted, the Flyers retied it soon after on a power play tip from Max Talbot one of three power play goals the Flyers scored.

From the drop of the puck, it was wild.

Boston had a breakaway by Chris Kelly on its first shift and he fired high and wide. No matter. The Bruins scored on their second shift off Patrice Bergerons stick-tap at the net.

Only 50 seconds had transpired.

That period also saw two fights and three Bruins scores sandwiched around Jakub Voraceks eighth goal of the season, which tied the game at 1-1 at 2:05.

Boston quickly regained the lead on a power play goal from Seguin, then made it 3-1 at 12:30 when Milan Lucic stepped behind Kimmo Timonen to score on Bryzgalov, who had given up just one goal in each of his last two starts.

Bryzgalov said he was not screened.

The puck hit me in the blocker I wanted to put the puck in the corner and I deflected my blocker for the high angle and I deflected the puck on my own net, Bryzgalov said.

Timonen called Boston a really great team.

Three points out of four is not bad, but we could have won this game, Timonen said. Theres a reason they won a Stanley Cup. Four solid lines, good defense, good coaching, good goalie Tim Thomas.

I thought it was a good hockey game. Playoff atmosphere, a couple fights. A lot of hits, I liked it.

There were three fights, in all.

Lucic said he didnt want to go, Timonen kidded, about dropping them with Bruins winger Milan Lucic.

Hartnell, who has done everything you could ask to earn an all-star invite, single-handedly got the Flyers back into it with two goals in the second period.

His first was a power play goal at 3:23. Four minutes later, Brayden Schenn forced a turnover, and Giroux fed Hartnell, whose shot from the high slot looked like it was going wide and curled back inside the left post on Thomas to tie the game.

Definitely a curveball goal.

With 1:35 left in the period, Lucic, who plays with an edge, picked up an interference call giving the Flyers an abbreviated power play. Hartnell struck again to bring down a barrage of hats.

That gave him 13 power play goals and the NHL lead in that department.

There were so many hats, the final 46.5 seconds was tacked onto the third period.

After a poor start, I think we played our game kind of perfectly, Hartnell said. We got pucks, we were physical. I'm not sure how many times Zdeno Chara got hit, but that was our main focus, to hit him, get bodies on him, go at him with speed and hopefully he'll turn it over.

Not just him, but all of their defense and we were able to get some goals. Unfortunately, like I said, we weren't able to hold on to it.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

Flyers 2015-16 Redux: Defensemen - Part 1

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Flyers 2015-16 Redux: Defensemen - Part 1

Too many bodies and not enough room at the inn.

That pretty much describes the dilemma the Flyers will face this offseason in addressing their defense, which dramatically improved once Shayne Gostisbehere arrived in November.
 
If there is one thing the Calder Trophy finalist showed, it's you can't have enough quick, young feet with the ability to create offense on the back end.

Gostisbehere gave Flyers fans a glimpse into the defense's future — it's loaded with young talent. The line behind Gostisbehere is long — the deepest pool of young defensive talent in club history.
 
All eyes will be watching this fall to see whether Ivan Provorov can catapult himself ahead of Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin and Robert Hagg and win a roster spot, which means at least one blueliner must go from the 2015-16 roster.
 
“We're not going to change philosophically in terms of young players,” general manager Ron Hextall said April 27, the day after the players cleared out their dressing room stalls following the playoff loss the Washington Capitals.
 
“They have to come in and be better than someone else that's here and, if that happens, we proved last year that we'll make room in our roster for a young player that proves to us that he's ready to play at this level and make our team better.
 
“I'm not putting a player on the team so we can say we're a young team. They're going to come in here and earn a spot.”
 
Here is a deeper look back on this year’s defense:
 
Michael Del Zotto

Age: Turns 26 on June 25
Stats:52 GP; 4G, 9A, 13 PTS, -8, 23:24 MIN
Cap hit: $3.875 million.

Missed the final 28 games of the regular season following surgery to repair a broken left wrist that had been bothering him since being injured initially on Dec. 21 against St. Louis. No doubt the injury played a pivotal role in limiting Del Zotto's offensive effectiveness just one year after rejuvenating his career with the Flyers with 10 goals and 32 points and earning a two-year contract extension. Del Zotto's best years are still ahead of him. He hit his 400th career game in November. He seemed to get it this year, as to when not to join the attack. Just imagine a lineup with Del Zotto, Gostisbehere and Provorov. The 2016-17 season will see what kind of contract he can earn as an unrestricted free agent.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere

Age: 23
Stats: 64 GP, 17G, 29A, 46 PTS, +8, 20:05 MIN
Cap hit: $925,000.

What can you saw about the most dynamic and impactful Flyers rookie since Mikael Renberg, who was the franchise's last Calder finalist back in 1993-94. With bonuses, Gostisbehere earned over $1 million this season. If Mark Streit never gets injured, chances are we don't see Gostisbehere until late in the season. Yet, the way things turned out, he became a Calder finalist.

His offense from the back-end includes things fans have been yearning for: speed, agility, youth and a great shot, as well. He quickly began to quarterback the power play in Streit's absence. "Ghost" led all NHL rookie defensemen in points while setting a couple franchise records, including goals by a rookie blueliner (17).

His rawness on the defensive end was evident all the way through, yet that was expected. It's a fair tradeoff for what Gostisbehere produces at the other end. He had strong chemistry with defensive partner Andrew MacDonald. Offseason hip/abdominal surgery should not be a concern.

The sky's the limit with this kid.
 
Radko Gudas
Age: Turns 26 this June 5
Stats: 76 GP, 5G, 9A  14 PTS, -3; 19:50 MIN.
Cap hit: RFA who earned $991,666 last season.

In the beginning, there seemed to be no middle ground with Gudas. You either loved him or you hated him depending upon whether he threw a questionable hit and was faced a suspension or used his physical edge to the Flyers' advantage. By season's end, however, Gudas seemed to settle in as a consistent defensive presence.

Still, you worry about his questionable hits. His 304 hits were second in the NHL this season. He's the only defenseman the Flyers have who scares people on the back end.

His 157 blocks were second only to Nick Schultz's 174. Gudas is surprisingly mobile given his girth. He played his 200th career game in April and pent much of of the season paired first with Del Zotto and then Brandon Manning. He was effective in the playoffs against the Caps.
 
Andrew MacDonald
Age: Turns 30 on Sept. 7
Stats: 28GP, 1G, 7A, 8 PTS, +10; 20:07 MIN
Cap hit: $5 million

The Flyers didn't want to pay Matt Carle $5 million per year in 2012. The fans never appreciated him and when Carle left for Tampa as a free agent, it took a while for the organization to realize Carle gave them what they wanted on the back end, which is why the Flyers overpaid in trading for and then re-signing MacDonald.

The problem was MacDonald lacked on the defensive side and quickly got caught up in a numbers game, which resulted in him starting the season with Phantoms.

Del Zotto's injury allowed MacDonald's re-entry to the Flyers and he played very well as Gostisbehere's partner right into the playoffs. He was among the team's best players in postseason. MacDonald's time spent in the AHL also saw him improve his defensive play.

MacDonald is deserving on chance to remain a Flyer, but again, numbers and cap hit will again stand in his way.

Flyers legend Rick MacLeish dies at 66

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Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers legend Rick MacLeish dies at 66

Rick MacLeish, the smooth-skating centerman with a potent wrist shot whose goal lifted the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup, has died.

MacLeish was 66.
 
The center from Lindsay, Ontario, had been hospitalized in Philadelphia since mid-May while suffering from multiple medical issues, according to his daughter Brianna.
 
MacLeish was the Flyers’ first 50-goal scorer and second 100-point player behind Bobby Clarke, with both milestones achieved in 1972-73. A three-time NHL All-Star, he won two Cups with the Flyers.
 
He will forever be known for his power-play-tip goal in front of Boston goalie Gilles Gilbert in the first period of Game 6 of the 1974 Cup Final. Bernie Parent made the goal stand the remainder of the game.
 
MacLeish played 16 seasons, including 12 as a Flyer. He was an integral member of the Flyers’ 1974 and 1975 Cup squads.
 
MacLeish's 697 points are second only to Clarke (1,210) in club history among centers, and he ranks fourth in all-time points (697), fifth in assists (369) and sixth in goal-scoring (328).
 
His 741 games in orange and black are tied for sixth overall, and his 12 hat tricks are second only to Tim Kerr (17). MacLeish scored 54 goals with 53 assists (107 points) in 114 playoff games.
 
After leaving the Flyers, he also played in Pittsburgh, Hartford and Detroit, amassing 759 career points in 846 games.
 
Drafted fourth overall by Boston in 1970, MacLeish became a Flyer as part of three-team trade involving the Bruins and Toronto that same year.
 
Known for his effortless motion and blazing speed on the ice, MacLeish had a reputation as an unmotivated player early in his career until his breakout season in 1972-73.
 
“You can’t motivate someone who doesn’t want to play, and the Flyers didn’t keep you if you weren’t committed to winning,” teammate Gary Dornhoefer once said.
 
“It might have taken MacLeish a few years to mature as a hockey player, but he earned his keep as a member of the team.”
 
MacLeish was the Flyers’ first legitimate sniper, often wristing his deadly shot from the circles.
 
During the 1974 playoffs, he led the Flyers in both goals (13) and points (22) and finished second to Parent in the Conn Smythe Trophy voting for playoff MVP.
 
After his retirement, MacLeish dabbled in owning race horses and worked with the Flyers' alumni.
 
Among his last major public appearances with Cup teammates in Philadelphia was at the closing of the Spectrum party on Jan. 16, 2010, hosted by Flyers chairman Ed Snider, who died in April.

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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USA Today Images

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Nick Bonino looks the part. Thatchy beard that juts out well below his chinstrap. Nose a bit askew. The rugged forward has etched out a career making a living in tight spaces, putting his body in places on the ice that aren't for the meek.

Those instincts, honed from years of finding order in the middle of chaos, lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to the early lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

Bonino darted to the net and knocked in Kris Letang's centering pass with 2:33 remaining, lifting the Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 on Monday night.

Pittsburgh recovered after blowing an early two-goal lead and spoiled San Jose's long-awaited debut on the league's biggest stage. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Letang and Carl Hagelin took turns digging the puck out of the corner behind the San Jose net when Letang emerged with it and slipped it to Bonino, who collected himself and flicked it past Martin Jones' blocker for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

"Tanger put it right on my stick," Bonino said. "It was a shot that wasn't my hardest shot by any means but I kind of found a way to flip it over him."

Bonino has spent much of the last two months as the heady, understated center on Pittsburgh's hottest line while playing between hard-shooting Phil Kessel and Hagelin. Dubbed "HBK" -- a chant that occasionally greets them when they flip over the boards and onto the ice -- they have powered the Penguins to their first Cup Final in seven years. Yet it was Bonino, whose hockey IQ is considered his greatest attribute by Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan, who scored the group's biggest goal of the postseason.

"He does all the things right and found himself in a great position and capitalized on it," Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz said. "Any time you're in the slot, get him the puck. It seems like we find a way to win when he scores."

Rookies Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary also scored for the Penguins, though Rust left in the third period after absorbing a shot to the head from San Jose's Patrick Marleau. Matt Murray -- who like Rust and Sheary spent a significant amount of time this season with the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton -- finished with 24 saves.

Jones made 38 stops but couldn't get over in time on Bonino's knuckler. The Penguins threw 41 shots at Jones, the most he has faced in a regulation game during the playoffs. Marleau and Tomas Hertl scored during San Jose's dominant second period, but the Sharks spent a large portion of the third period on their heels and their dynamic power play failed to record a single shot when Ben Lovejoy went to the penalty box with 2:09 to play.

"They played their game for longer stretches than we did and that's what happens," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said.

The Sharks made it to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history by rebuilding themselves on the fly. Two years removed from a brutal collapse from a 3-0 series lead in the first round against Los Angeles, San Jose ended a 9,005 day wait to play in the NHL's championship round by relying on a tough, aggressive style that squeezes opponents with a relentless forecheck while limiting chances in front of Jones.

Yet veterans Marleau and Joe Thornton -- the top two picks in the 1997 draft held in Pittsburgh who had waited nearly two decades to make it to the league's biggest stage -- insisted the Sharks were hardly satisfied after dispatching St. Louis in a cathartic Western Conference finals.

Maybe, but the Sharks looked a step slow -- maybe two steps slow -- while searching for their footing early on against the Penguins, who rallied from a 3-2 deficit to edge Tampa Bay in seven games to advance to their first Cup Final since 2009.

Rust, who surprisingly made the team out of training camp and became an unlikely playoff star by scoring both of Pittsburgh's goals in Game 7 against the Lightning, gave the Penguins the lead 12:46 into the first when he slammed home a rebound off a Justin Schultz shot for his sixth of the postseason, a franchise record for playoff goals by a rookie.

Less than a minute later, Sheary, who didn't become a regular until the middle of January, made it 2-0 when Sidney Crosby whipped a blind backhand cross-ice pass to Sheary's stick. Sheary's wrist shot from the right circle zipped by Jones, and the Penguins appeared to be in complete command by overwhelming the Sharks in a way few have in months.

Maybe it was the Penguins. Maybe it was jitters.

"You try to keep everything normal but you've been dreaming about it for a while," San Jose defenseman Brent Burns said. "Now we know what we're in for and we'll be better."

San Jose regained its composure during the first intermission and responded with a big surge. Hertl jammed a power-play shot from just outside the crease between Murray's legs 3:02 into the second to give the Sharks momentum. Late in the second, Marleau collected a rebound off a Burns one-timer behind the Pittsburgh net and then beat Murray on a wraparound that caromed off Murray's extended right leg and into the net.

Yet Bonino, who arrived in an offseason trade with Vancouver, helped the Penguins improve to 9-3 at home all-time in the Cup Final by sliding to a familiar spot in search of a familiar result.

Notes
San Jose went 1 for 2 on the power play. The Penguins were 0 for 3. ... The Sharks are 5-1 following a loss during the postseason.