Penalty kill costs Flyers in loss to Sabres

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Penalty kill costs Flyers in loss to Sabres

BOX SCORE

BUFFALO -- They talked about having a quick start to the lockout-shortened season.

How critical early games were to gain momentum and avoid a slip in the standings.

How important points against divisional rivals would be.

How all the parts needed to quickly click in unison.

Two games into the Flyers 48-game blitz, and special teams have already become a headache for coach Peter Laviolette.

Like five power-play goals against the Flyers' penalty kill units.

OK, one was an empty netter by the Penguins, but still, the trend here is definitely not good after Sundays 5-2 shelling by the Sabres at First Niagara Center.

Theres lots of things, but yes, we have to be better in that area, Laviolette said. the penalty kill we have to look at it and work at it.

Every day is a new opportunity, but we gotta get on track here, get a win in the column and moving in the right direction.

The Sabres scored three power-play goals. New Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn was in the box for two of them.

The first one was a roughing, then one hooking and one tripping, one of those minor penalties you definitely cant take those and put your team down a man, he said.

He became best buds with the box, visiting three times. Schenns last misdemeanor was deadly as the resulting power play saw Tyler Myers shot from distance go off Kimmo Timonens skate and break a 2-2 tie with about five minutes left in the game.

Definitely, this is the area we have to work on, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said of the penalty kill. Every game is so important with a schedule in a short season. They are.

Were in the bottom of the standings. We gotta change the situation quickly if we want to be part of the playoff race.

Buffalo iced it minutes after Myers' goal on a Cody Hodgson crash-the-crease doozy.

Of course, the Flyers had two goals waved off one in the final minutes because the officials lost sight of the puck yet the need here is for more urgency on special teams.

In a shortened season, were thinking of getting a split this weekend or in a best case scenario, winning two, Scott Hartnell said. Its frustrating. Were losing battles we shouldnt be.

Were not getting breaks like the other team. A power play and it goes off Kimmos skate and in. Its a frustrating start.

You cant blame the penalty kill in losses unless they are scoring four-to-five goals, but it has been the difference these first, two games. I think we have to look at it.

Just like the Pittsburgh loss, it took the Flyers until the second period to find their legs and energy.

Back-to-back games with travel in between in less than 24 hours resulted in the Flyers skating with heavy legs at the start. But unlike on Saturday, they did seem to have their hands in this one, as their passing and puck movement was far better.

Those back-to-backs are not easy, but I think we got our legs going and our second period was again our best period, Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. We need to find a way to play the first period like that.

Giroux agreed the team is missing Danny Brieres stick right now.

He can get those big goals for us, Giroux said.

The officials also grabbed control of the game again -- not allowing anything and whistling bogus roughing calls, in addition to the wave-offs.

Not an excuse, Giroux said.

To be honest, I dont know about the replays if there were goals or not, Giroux said.

Any time theres two goals taken away, obviously, it can change a game. Obviously, bounces are not going our way right now.

Buffalo led 1-0 after one period on a one-timer from the left circle by Steve Ott during the Sabres' first power play. Ott had never scored in a season opener during his previous eight years in the NHL.

Max Talbot had the equalizer waved off later because of light contact from Ruslan Fedotenko on goalie Ryan Miller. Talbot batted the puck out of the air.

It looked fairly clean to me; our player was outside the crease, Laviolette said.

The Flyers also lost Zac Rinaldo in the first following a collision with Robyn Regehr. Rinaldo suffered a nasty skate cut above the right knee that required 20 stitches. He did not return.

Much like the Penguins game, the second period saw a turnaround.

Sean Couturier picked up his first goal at 2:23 with a tip-in of Andrej Meszaros wicked point shot to tie it.

At 4:57, the Flyers finally scored their first power play goal after going 0-for-7 to start the season. Giroux ripped a one-timer from the circle off a nice feed from Timonen to give the Flyers their first lead in two games.

They just couldnt hold it.

A bench minor for too many men coupled with Luke Schenns hooking call gave Buffalo a 5-on-3 power play.

As that penalty was about to go into a 5-on-4, the Flyers tried an ill-fated rush into the Sabres' zone. Coupled with Scott Laughton coming out of the box and then a bad change at the bench between Couturier and Talbot, the Sabres caught a break.

I dont think we had the right D out there but those things happen, Hartnell said. Sooner or later it is going to be us getting the breaks and taking advantage of the other teams mistakes.

The result was tic-tac-toe passing starting with Buffalos Jason Pominville to Drew Stafford, who found Thomas Vanek on a breakaway. He deked goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and just like that, it was 2-2.

It was indicative of the way the entire, lost weekend went for the Flyers.

Oh yeah, Vanek had five points in the game.

Its not the start weve been looking for, losing two in a row, Giroux said. We just have to fight through it and come back.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

Ron Hextall on free agency: Flyers hope to get better but 'not at all costs'

Ron Hextall on free agency: Flyers hope to get better but 'not at all costs'

Cautiously optimistic.

That might be the best way to describe how Ron Hextall feels about free agency, which begins Friday at noon.

The Flyers' general manager is going to be very cautious in who he targets, won’t get caught up in a bidding war and is optimistic that he can find the right top-nine player at a fair price and term.

In perfect salary cap world — one in which the Flyers had oodles of money — they would be tempted by L.A.'s Milan Lucic, St. Louis’ David Backes or Boston’s Loui Eriksson.

Lucic, in many ways, is the kind of Flyer-type player the organization covets. But all three of those players are going to command more salary and term than the Flyers can afford, and Lucic appears headed to Western Canada, anyway.

The Flyers need a scoring winger.

They go into free agency with less than $12 million in salary cap space and still have to put aside close to $5 million for restricted free agent Brayden Schenn and $1 million or so for unrestricted free agent Ryan White (see story), a very valuable and versatile fourth-liner who can move around the lineup.

On top of that, Hextall needs about $2.5 million in reserve on his cap for call-ups.

Which means, without losing a contract of say $4.5 million or so, he has at best $4 million to sign a supporting cast player — not an impact player.

“I’d like to upgrade our top six, but I would certainly upgrade our top nine,” Hextall said. “We’re not going to do something that ties our hands next summer. There’s not going to be any short-term vision that doesn’t play out long term.

“I don’t want to get into a spot here where it costs us a young player and we’re forced into a deal.”

A player such as the Isles’ Kyle Okposo would be nicely suited for the Flyers. He’s going to command more dollars than the Flyers have.

So unless Hextall can move a decent-sized contract, the only way to sign an impact free-agent forward would be to gamble and go the CBA-allowed 10 percent over the cap now and hope to get under by October when the season begins.

A number of clubs, including Minnesota and Detroit, are reportedly interested in Okposo and have far more cap space.

Given the conservative approach Hextall has taken so far as GM, it’s unlikely he would go over the cap now unless he absolutely had a deal in hand to move salary.

He tried to trade at last weekend’s NHL draft in Buffalo and failed.

“We didn’t get close to that,” he said.

As it was, there were only a handful of trades during the draft.

“Every time you turn around, someone is trying to trade a pick and you almost lose touch with what is going on,” Hextall said.

“I think the cap being where it’s at kind of restricts things. Guys aren’t easy to move and a lot of teams don’t want to add too much because they can’t afford it.”

This week saw two significant deals leading into free agency involving P.K. Subban and Shea Weber, plus Taylor Hall and Adam Larsson.

And the top pending free agent, Steven Stamkos, re-signed for eight years in Tampa Bay for $68 million.

Don’t be shocked if Hextall waits a few days to see if the market changes for certain players and price tags to come down.

“July 1 is a funny day,” Hextall said. “Now the cap, it’s somewhat flat. Might be some guys out there who are good buys, but that is not going to happen July 1. It’s usually [July] 5th or 10th or 15th when guys figure out there’s not much out there.”

One thing to keep in mind is the Flyers also recognize that defensive prospect Ivan Provorov and forward prospect Travis Konecny could both make the roster this fall.

Such a scenario would add a total of about $1.79 million onto their cap. Hextall has to figure that into the equation, as well.

One player the Flyers had genuine interest in was Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey, the unsigned prospect originally drafted by Nashville in 2012.

The Preds traded his rights to Buffalo at the draft and have until Aug. 15 to sign him or Vesey becomes a free agent.

A possible “stopgap” player today for the Flyers would be Toronto’s P.A. Parenteau, a 20-goal guy, who even at age 33, would upgrade coach Dave Hakstol’s offense at a reasonable price.

He’s the kind of bargain player Hextall seems more inclined to target if he can’t move salary for a top-six winger.

“We’re committed to getting better,” Hextall said. “Just not at all costs. At a reasonable cost.”

Shayne Gostisbehere presents Folcroft police officer Christopher Dorman with Flyers jersey

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere presents Folcroft police officer Christopher Dorman with Flyers jersey

Well done, Shayne Gostisbehere.

Precocious on the ice, the Flyers’ 23-year-old defenseman showed his compassion off it on Thursday by making a special visit to the Folcroft Police Department in Delaware County to meet officer Christopher Dorman.

Dorman last Friday was shot in the face, leg and groin — a total of seven times — as he approached a suspected drug deal in Folcroft. Dorman was discharged from Penn Presbyterian Medical Center on Monday after underdoing multiple surgeries.

Gostisbehere had to meet him.

“When you look at role models — people see hockey players and other athletes, but when you see police officers and firefighters, and you see what he’s going through right now and you see how much of a warrior he is and walking around right now, and it only happened a week ago — he’s pretty amazing,” Gostisbehere said, via Flyers public relations. “And I’m pretty sure kids are going to be looking up to him.”

Gostisbehere brought Dorman his own personalized No. 63 Flyers jersey, representing the Folcroft Police Department 63rd District.

“It’s awesome,” Dorman said. “It’s really good to meet someone like him.”

As for his jersey, Dorman said it’s a “perfect fit!” 

Gostisbehere, in his own Flyers jersey, chatted and took pictures with Dorman and others.

He was just happy to help.

“What he’s been through the last week, I’m pretty sure his world’s been flipped upside down,” Gostisbehere said. “But I wanted to take time out to lift his spirits a bit and get him in some orange and black to make him look really good now.”

NHL Notes: Dustin Brown upset to be stripped of Kings' captaincy

NHL Notes: Dustin Brown upset to be stripped of Kings' captaincy

LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Brown doesn't agree with the Los Angeles Kings' decision to strip him of their captaincy after eight seasons and two Stanley Cups.

Brown aired his displeasure in a phone interview Thursday, two weeks after the Kings appointed Anze Kopitar as their new captain.

Brown feels he was a strong leader while the Kings grew from a terrible team to a two-time NHL champion during his tenure. He was also disappointed when news of the Kings' plan leaked out before the club had announced it.

Brown's production has dipped alarmingly in recent years. The power forward hasn't scored 30 points in any of the Kings' last four seasons.

Los Angeles missed the playoffs in 2015 and got eliminated by San Jose in the first round this year (see full story).

Lightning: Stamkos staying for best chance to win
TAMPA, Fla. -- Loyalty, respect and the potential to win for years to come kept Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning captain said Thursday that he followed his heart in re-signing with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2008 rather than testing free agency, where he likely would have commanded much more than the $68 million he's due to earn over the next eight seasons.

"Some people when they're in this position chase, obviously, the most money possible," the two-time NHL scoring champion said during a conference call.

"For me, I realize the situation and understood that there could have been some money left out there. But for me, that's not what it's all about. It's about going to an organization that I was comfortable with, and something that gave me the best chance to win in my mind," Stamkos added.

"It was a very tough decision. It truly was. I can't sit here and say this past week has been fun. ... It was pretty stressful, to be honest. I'm glad it's over with" (see full story).

NHL: Carle, Seidenberg among those placed on buyout waivers
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are cutting ties with expensive defensemen to save some salary-cap space for next season.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the moves, the Lightning placed Matt Carle and the Bruins placed Dennis Seidenberg on buyout waivers. Nashville Predators defenseman Barret Jackman, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll and Edmonton Oilers forward Lauri Korpikoski were also placed on waivers for the purpose of buying out their contracts.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Thursday because the teams didn't announce their decisions.

The person also said Predators forward Eric Nystrom cleared buyout waivers. The Calgary Flames announced Mason Raymond cleared waivers and will be bought out.

The Carolina Hurricanes also announced they bought out the final season of defenseman James Wisniewski's contract, saving $3 million. Despite playing only 47 seconds for Carolina last season before tearing the ACL in his left knee, the 32-year-old said he enjoyed his time in Raleigh and intends to be back playing for someone (see full story).