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Home Sweet Nuthin: Flyers Lose Fifth in a Row at Wells Fargo Center

Home Sweet Nuthin: Flyers Lose Fifth in a Row at Wells Fargo Center

Is it too late for the Flyers to tank their
way out of home ice advantage in the playoffs? I kid, of course, but
the situation in South Philly hasn't been pretty lately. On Thursday
night, the Flyers lost their fifth straight game in the Wells Fargo
Center, a 1-0 shutout at the hands of the soon-to-be-eliminated Atlanta
Thrashers. The folks in the playoff ticket sales department can't be
thrilled. Those OTL points don't sell as well as W's... 

The lone bright spot in the night was another strong performance from
Sergei Bobrovsky. Bob didn't have to face a lot of shots (just 22), but
he managed to stay sharp throughout and stop some tough ones. A puck
directed in off the skate of Nik Antropov was the only "shot" to beat
him. Notes after the jump. 

•The Flyers generated some quality scoring opportunities, but
couldn't solve Thrashers goalie Chris Mason despite piling 43 shots on
him. 

•The importance of shot totals (or lack thereof) was on display
again: Per the postgame notes, it was the 15th time the Flyers have
registered 38 or more shots, and their record in those games is just
7-6-2, with five of the losses being shutouts. Hockey's a sport where
"snakebitten" is a reality, and the goal that beat Bobrovsky being the
sole marker in a game the Flyers dramatically outshot their opponent is a
good illustration. It was mind boggling that some of these shots didn't
go in. It was part bad luck, but there were definitely some
opportunities squandered by not getting the puck over Mason's
outstretched pads. 

•Evander Kane frustrated the Flyers again, and not just by earning
his fourth point in as many games against them this season when
assisting on the game's lone goal. Kane also drew two penalties, with
one in particular involving some flair for the dramatic. Soon after
catching Andrej Meszaros with his butt end while throwing his hands up
to avoid a Big Mesz, cutting Meszaros' nose in the process, Kane would
throw his own head back on a subsequent contact by Meszaros for a
penalty. 

•Great night for the PK unit, which absolutely smothered the
Thrashers over six power plays. Unfortunately, the Flyers' power play
unit was almost as impotent and just as ineffective. 

•Jeff Carter had a great opportunity to tie the game in the waning
seconds, but couldn't get it past Mason after a Mike Richards shot
caught iron. 

The loss wasn't the end of the world, nor cause for ritual sharting,
but it's an exercise in optimism to look for the bright side in getting
shut out. Overall, they outplayed the Thrashers for much of the game,
put a lot of shots on net, and got a very good showing from their rookie
goalie. Fortunately, they won't have to play Atlanta in the playoffs,
because that team just has their number lately. But the Flyers aren't
out of the woods yet, failing to win consecutive games for the fourth
straight opportunity. It's looking likely the they will enter the
playoffs with some questions to answer, and not just the annual one
between the pipes.

In lieu of highlights:

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

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Duties and Responsibilities

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Flyers captain Claude Giroux appears to embrace move to wing

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers captain Claude Giroux appears to embrace move to wing

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dave Hakstol brought up the idea on Monday and Claude Giroux appeared to embrace it.

The Flyers' captain switched to left wing during Tuesday’s practice on a line with Jakub Voracek at right wing and Sean Couturier in the middle.

“That’s funny because I was pretty much a winger all my life,” Giroux said. “I started playing center when I became a professional. It’s hard to complain when you’re playing with Jake and Coots.”

“I liked it,” Voracek said. “He (Giroux) is a very powerful guy, so he always skates into the space on the ice when there’s an opening. I think as a line we’ve been working pretty good. We understand each other. It’s one of the looks Hak might try in the preseason. I wouldn’t read too much into it, but I don’t know, if it’s long term, that means we’re playing good.” 

Over the years, Giroux has found a comfort zone creating a shot off the left half board, especially off the team’s power-play setup, and towards the end of Tuesday’s practice, Couturier was feeding Giroux one-timer after one-timer. 

“We did a lot of drills where I was coming down the left side there,” Giroux said. “I can see the ice pretty good from there because you have the puck on your good side. It was actually a lot of fun. It’s not like I'm against it or I’m not happy with it if it makes the team better. I know we have a lot of centermen. I’m up for the idea for sure.”

The second part of the experiment involves Sean Couturier and whether this type of move could also open up his untapped offensive side. The Flyers' best defensive center, Couturier has consistently scored between 34-39 points in each of the past four seasons, but has failed to take the next step to prove he can evolve into a top-six role. Needless to say, the seventh-year center embraced playing with two highly-skilled linemates.

Especially Giroux.

“It’s been six years we’ve been here and we’ve never really played with each other," Couturier said. "We’ve kind of played with everyone else but each other. Me and G have some good chemistry. The little odd shifts here and there we’d have together we’d seem to create something and get some scoring chances, so hopefully, we can make this work.” 

Giroux grew accustomed to playing right wing when he first entered the NHL under head coaches John Stevens and later Peter Laviolette. With Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Danny Briere occupying the center spots, Giroux still found a way to thrive offensively as he scored 76 points to lead the Flyers in 2010-11, while also taking the second-most faceoffs on the team that season.  

“I think breakouts, when you’re on the right side for me, it’s easier to handle the puck and kind of chip it out and make a play, but offensively on the left side it’s a lot better," Giroux said. "When you come into the zone you got Coots going to the net and Jake on the weak side, I think it’s pretty exciting when you see that.” 

The decision to switch Giroux to wing also comes two days after Nolan Patrick turned in a solid effort in his preseason debut against the Islanders. If Patrick, who turned 19 years old on Tuesday, is to make the opening night roster in San Jose, it’s expected Hakstol will be forced to make some adjustments and re-arrange some of his veterans up and down the lineup. So far in camp Patrick, Valtteri Filppula, Couturier and Scott Laughton are the only ones who have not moved from their center positions.   

“I wouldn’t connect the dots to that (Patrick making the team) quite yet,” Hakstol said. “I think that’s too early of a connection to make. I think it’s obvious that we have a number of players that are good centermen. Jori Lehtera has jumped over to the left side for the first few practices and the first preseason game. Today, this gave us an opportunity to have Jori back up the middle, so no, I wouldn’t draw the connection directly towards Nolan Patrick at this point in time.” 

Giroux would not be the first established veteran to transition from center to wing later in his career as the Flyers captain mentioned Sharks forwards Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, two established centers who have also transitioned to the wing over the past few years in San Jose.

“They take faceoffs on their strong side and it's tough when you take faceoffs all game against the guy who’s on his strong side. It’s tough," Giroux said. "Maybe I’m not going to play one more shift on the wing, but that’s up to the coach, but I really liked it today.”  

We’ll see if the next experimental phase comes during Wednesday’s split squad exhibition against the Islanders. With Hakstol coaching the team in Allentown he would probably want to see firsthand how that line operates.

Health check
Wayne Simmonds missed his second straight day of practice Tuesday suggesting that Monday’s absence was more than what head coach Dave Hakstol has termed “a maintenance day.” Players are rarely given days off during camp, but the Flyers would not elaborate any further regarding Simmonds status. A team spokesman said Simmonds is scheduled to skate with the team Wednesday morning, however, it’s not known whether he will play in one of the Flyers split squad games against the Islanders.

On the blue line
Sam Morin and Robert Hagg, the Flyers top two picks from the 2013 draft class, appear to have separated themselves even further from their fellow rookie prospects. Travis Sanheim was moved to the afternoon group and AHL veteran T.J. Brennan was brought over to the morning practice with the NHL regulars. 

“It was nice to play with these guys at a little bit higher pace,” Brennan said, “Who knows what they’re thinking, but I’m just trying to give them the best I got and hopefully they get a good impression.”

Coming off an all-star season with the Phantoms in 2016-17, the Willingboro, New Jersey native and lifelong Flyers fan hasn’t played in the NHL since suiting up with the Toronto Maple Leafs in April 2016. 

“I’ve just learned to focus that energy in different spots,” Brennan said. “This time a year ago there was a little more anxiety involved. Now I think throughout the entire organization they have an idea of who I am, how I play and maybe how I can fit in.”  

Lines and pairings
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Dale Weise
Michael Raffl-Jori Lehtera-Matt Read
Colin McDonald-Scott Laughton-Taylor Leier

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Sam Morin-T.J. Brennan
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas