Leigh'd Back: Flyers Strike First, Finish Big

Leigh'd Back: Flyers Strike First, Finish Big

Fie-nah-lee. The Flyers have shaken off their four-game losing streak, winning a sloppy game on warm ice in south Florida, 5-2. They were able to nail down two out of three of everyone's generic keys to the game: scoring first and finishing strong. The third key, playing all 60 minutes, continues to elude them, and that hefty margin of victory is probably a little misleading if you didn't see the game. With 3 minutes left in regulation, the Flyers were up just one goal after giving up a two-goal lead. Still, a win is a win, and clawing two points out of a team that's ahead of you in the standings is that much better. And, it was encouraging to see them put the game away instead of wilting.  

First up, props to the "fourth" line of Dan Carcillo, Ian Laperriere, and especially Blair Betts (the forward lines logged pretty even minutes at even strength). It's well-documented that this is a better team with Betts on the ice, and tonight, he did more than just the little muck-and-grind things and his usual faceoff and PK role-playing. The checking line threw pucks on the net with more efficacy than most Flyers scoring lines have in weeks, generating those lucky-strike scoring attempts that are known for breaking scoring droughts. Betts notched two goals, admitting after the game that he didn't even know the first one was his until he got to the bench. 

A big part of the Flyers' success in the first period was the lack of discipline by Rick Tocchet's team. Now I know what it feels like to watch your team play the Flyers. The Lightning took five minors to the Flyers' two, both of which were assessed to Carcillo. We've seen that Chico can giveth the powerplay, but tonight he again showed that he can take them away too. After crosschecking Vinny Lecavalier, the 'Ning forward was so pissed at Carcillo that he took two shots at his groin area with the stick. Powerplay averted, and Lavvy will trade Carcillo for Lecavalier all night. Of course, in the second, the Flyers gave those three minors back. They weren't beaten on the Lightning powerplays, but they probably didn't help any. 

In other special teams success stories, Richie was able to convert a PPG in the first period on a great pass from Simon Gagne. Richards also scored in the third period, ripping a keeper shot on a 2-on-1 to give him an even pair on the night. After going toe to toe with his captain counterpart in the game against the Panthers, which they ultimately lost, Richie led in another way tonight by scoring a separating goal in the first, and an insurance tally to close out the game in the third. 

It wasn't bad to see Simon Gagne work hard to get the party goal with the empty net either. Right now, the Flyers need as many guys on the scoresheet as possible. 

Michael Leighton looked a little overwhelmed at times, particularly when Victor Hedman blew a howitzer past him in the second, but overall, his positioning was solid, and he gave the team plenty of room to win. I was a lot more impressed than I thought I'd be, and we'll have to wait and see if Lavvy starts him for some revenge against the Hurricanes after Christmas. Anyone else think it's odd he's still just taping over his 'Canes mask? A goalie with his brand of staying power should probably keep a plain white on file.

It wasn't all pretty, but not playing their best and still scoring five goals could be the type of win that gets them back on track. What's that? Don't get too excited over one win? Effff that, we needed this. Hopefully the team is feeling that same release right now. 

Bonus! Ian Laperriere's new mask, courtesy of Santa Coatesy. 

 

Could Flyers have trade partner in Avalanche or Kings?

Could Flyers have trade partner in Avalanche or Kings?

The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. next Wednesday.

As usual, the number of scouts at Flyers home games again reached double digits during a 4-l loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night (see game story).

Two clubs that have been in Philadelphia quite a bit this month are the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.

The Avs, who are dead last in the NHL, have been trying to move Gabriel Landeskog and/or Matt Duchene for quite a while. They would love to do a deal with the Flyers, according to an NHL source.

Colorado is looking for a top forward and defensive help. A number of NHL clubs realize the Flyers have a slew of young upcoming defensemen and not all of them are going to be able to play here, certainly at the same time.

The Kings are in search of a left wing who might be a nice fit with Anze Kopitar, but the Flyers don’t have a left wing they can part with and, frankly, would love to have a scoring winger themselves to pair with Claude Giroux.

Some of the 10 clubs here on Wednesday night are in need of a backup goalie for a playoff run. Perhaps even the Kings, if Jonathan Quick doesn’t return soon. L.A. waived Jeff Zatkoff on Wednesday.

Scouts say there is a market for Michal Neuvirth right now if the Flyers want to move him. He’s been playing a lot and he’s been very sharp and healthy, which is always a factor when talking about him.

Neuvirth made his fifth consecutive start in Wednesday’s game against the Capitals and is expected in net Saturday night at Heinz Field for the Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flyers need a goaltender under contract to expose in this summer’s expansion draft and both Neuvirth and Steve Mason can be unrestricted free agents.

Zatkoff could be that guy if the Flyers claimed him and moved one of their goalies now.

If you’re general manager Ron Hextall, the Flyers' numbers offer a compelling reason to be a seller: 3-6-1 since coming out of the All-Star break and 9-15-4 since the club’s 10-game win streak in mid-December.

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

On Wednesday, the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections (see story).

"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."

The Sixers took to Instagram to express their appreciation for Ilyasova’s leadership. Ilyasova quickly embraced the role of a veteran go-to when he was traded to the Sixers in early November. Both posts below exemplify his team-first mentality.

✊🏼 A true Pro @ersanilyasova7

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Thanks for being a great teammate @ersanilyasova7. Wishing you the best in ATL

A post shared by Rob Covington (@atf_33) on