Flyers stay positive after loss in opener
The Flyers racked up 32 shots but managed just one goal in a 3-1 loss to Toronto. (AP)
As good as the Flyers looked in playing a strong, overall game despite losing, 3-1, to Toronto in their season opener, they lacked in finishing at the net.
That is something that happened continually all last season.
You could make the argument that Game 1 resembled Game 16 or 26 or even 40 from last year. No finish, no goals.
The Flyers had 73 attempts at the net and just one goal against the Maple Leafs.
Viewed in that overall context, you could understand if they called up a scorer from the Phantoms to replace prospect Scott Laughton, who was sent back to his junior club in Oshawa.
And there’s the rub. The player they called up is more of an energy guy -- Kris Newbury (see story).
Yes, he’s been a consistent 62-point man in the AHL for the past three seasons. In some ways, he is the newest version of Peter White -- a bona fide minor-league scorer.
That’s just it, though. He’s not an NHL scorer, which is what they need instead of another Zac Rinaldo.
“It would be nice to bang a couple in,” Newbury said. “I don’t think they brought me up to put points on the board.”
It’s ironic that all the players who were vying for that extra forward spot on the final roster -- Laughton, Michael Raffl, Tye McGinn, Chris VanderVelde and Jason Akeson -- are all gone. None of them won the battle.
Instead, it now goes to the 31-year-old Newbury by default until someone else appears.
“He can play center or wing,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “He’s a good energy guy. If you’ve ever seen Newbury in the American League, he’s a good player.
“He comes up to the NHL whether it be with Detroit or the Rangers or Toronto a few years ago, he’s a plugger and a role player. He’s willing to mix it up. A good energy guy.”
Is that what the Flyers need right now?
“More energy or penalty killing or fourth-line guys is what we’re looking at,” Holmgren said. “Down in the American League, he plays on the power play. He has the ability to move up. He is a first- or second-line center in the American League who puts up points.”
Newbury was centering Akeson and McGinn on the Phantoms' first line. Again, he’s not been a proven goal guy at the NHL level -- just four goals and nine points in 72 NHL games.
Of course, it would help if the current group that can’t shoot straight start burying its chances.
“When you get chances to score, that is one thing,” Holmgren said. “We got to bear down and bury the ones we get. I would be more concerned if we weren’t getting opportunities.
“I do think we played a good game -- certainly well enough to win the game. The bottom line is we didn’t. Now we have to figure out a way to get back on the winning side. I thought we made a couple of mistakes at key times in the game that cost us. We have to eliminate those, too.”
A lot of what happened in the opener goes away if the Flyers score on more than one of their seven power plays.
“There were lots of looks, good things,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I could think of times we were close as well. G (Claude Giroux) sifted one in there to Scotty (Hartnell) in the slot and he fired it and it just missed over the cross bar.
“There were lots of looks and in-zone and shots and maybe it hit a stick or redirected the wrong way or we weren’t in the right spot for a rebound. Again, there were good things on the power play.”
Just not enough goals. Again.