10 observations from Flyers-Blue Jackets


10 observations from Flyers-Blue Jackets


Ten random observations from the Flyers' 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

1. Brayden Schenn began the game on the Flyers’ top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. The line went without a shot for 20 minutes. In the second period, Michael Raffl replaced Schenn — and was an immediate boost. That period alone, the line combined for five shots on net.

2. And speaking of Schenns, Tuesday’s game was a rough one for both Schenn brothers. Luke, too, had a tough outing. Too many times he sent a pass into an area dominated by white jerseys or simply lost control of the puck in critical situations. He was on the ice for three Blue Jackets goals (see Instant Replay).

3. Ray Emery gave up two goals on four shots to start the game. He did the same thing Jan. 27 against the Arizona Coyotes, and was pulled. That didn’t happen this time, but this was not Emery’s best performance; he had trouble tracking the puck, gave up far too many big rebounds and simply wasn’t the goalie he seemed to be in his last few starts.

4. Which leads me to my Emery theory: I think he plays better when he feels he is “The Guy” — as in, someone like Anthony Stolarz is backing him up — than he does when Steve Mason or even Rob Zepp is on the bench. In a weird way, knowing he wouldn’t get pulled takes the pressure off while, at the same time, there’s “good” pressure on him to perform and carry the team. Feel free to tell me how wrong you think I am in the comments.

5. Wayne Simmonds has been a bright spot in recent games while others’ offensive output has declined. He now has seven points in his last five games — and his line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read has looked good. His tip-in goal against the Jackets Tuesday night was particularly impressive.

6. Read, too, had another solid outing, which is encouraging, especially taking into account how he spent the first half of the season. His four-game point streak came to an end, yes, but it’s good news for the Flyers to see his improved play continue.

7. Blame the ice? The circus was in town while the Flyers were on the road, and reconfiguring the arena for hockey lasted well into Tuesday. That could be one reason why the passing seemed off — for both teams — throughout the night. But the Flyers seemed to struggle particularly early on in the night.

8. It was a classy move by the Flyers to honor Scott Hartnell, who recently appeared in his 1,000th game. PA announcer Lou Nolan read a congratulatory message as Hartnell was shown on the big screen to loud cheers and applause, and Flyers Charities donated $10,000 to his #HartnellDown foundation. Hartnell is still loved in this city.

9. The Flyers’ nine-game point streak was curious, if only because the team didn’t look particularly impressive through that stretch of games. (Don’t get me wrong; they did at times, just not consistently.) But one thing they were doing well consistently was starting games strong. That was not the case Tuesday, however, and is exactly why they found themselves down 2-0 less than seven minutes into the first period.

10. Both Luke Schenn and Michael Del Zotto were on the ice for three of the Blue Jackets' four goals — but Del Zotto's game was far less troubling. Yes, he had the goal that tied the game 2-2 in the second period, but beyond that, he actually looked solid in all areas Tuesday night. Not perfect, but definitely passable.

Best of NHL: Shea Weber's PPG gives Canadiens' 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Shea Weber's PPG gives Canadiens' 5th straight win

NEW YORK -- Shea Weber's power-play goal with 2:57 remaining lifted the Montreal Canadiens to their fifth straight victory, 3-2 over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

Paul Byron and Phillip Danault also scored to help Montreal improve to 6-0-1 and remain the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss. Al Montoya, who played for the Islanders from 2010-12, stopped 26 shots in his first start since Oct. 18 as the Canadiens beat New York for the seventh straight time.

John Tavares and Dennis Seidenberg scored for New York and Thomas Greiss had 26 saves in his second straight start and third of the season.

With the Islanders' Nick Leddy off for slashing, Weber fired a shot from the point for the tiebreaking goal. It was just the second power-play goal in 23 opportunities given up by New York's league-leading penalty-killing unit (see full recap).

Pirri, Rangers rally to topple Bruins
NEW YORK -- Brandon Pirri scored twice to help the New York Ranger beat the Boston Bruins 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey also scored for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots. The Rangers won their third straight game, overcoming a 2-0 deficit to improve to 5-2-0.

David Pastrnak and Austin Czarina scored for Boston. The Bruins have lost three straight to drop to 3-4-0.

Zane McIntyre made 26 saves in his first NHL start. He was called up prior to Boston's 5-0 home loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night to back up Malcolm Subban due to injuries to Tuukka Risk and Anton Khudobin (see full recap).

Pouliot scores twice, Oilers beat Capitals
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Benoit Pouliot scored twice, Cam Talbot made 34 saves and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Wednesday night to stretch their winning streak to four games.

Patrick Maroon and Milan Lucic also scored for the Oilers (6-1-0). They have won four of five games at Rogers Place, their new downtown arena.

Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals (3-2-1). Braden Holtby made 25 saves (see full recap).

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.”