Bringing back Ray Emery was best fit for Flyers

uspresswire-flyers-ray-emery.jpg

Bringing back Ray Emery was best fit for Flyers

Ray Emery wasn’t the only goalie the Flyers had their eyes on to back up Steve Mason, but in the end, he was probably the best fit. That's why the club re-signed the 31-year-old on Tuesday.

There is genuine chemistry and compatibility between the two, general manager Ron Hextall said after Tuesday’s opening day of free agency.

Emery represented the Flyers' biggest move, as such, in addition to signing two minor-league players in goalie Rob Zepp and Blair Jones.

“It’s an important thing,” Hextall said of goalie relationships. “I’ve been on teams where goalies don’t get along and sometimes it can divide a team and it’s not a good working relationship.

“With Ray and Mase getting along so well and knowing their roles, it obviously worked well for us last year and we expect the same this year.”

Emery took a $650,000 pay cut to re-sign -- $1 million for the year. Emery said he knew the Flyers had salary cap issues.

“[He] knew the position we were in and it’s tight for us,” Hextall said. “In trying to be fair with Ray, would we have liked to have a guy lower than that? Yeah, that’s kind of the market. Ray stretched down for us and certainly we appreciated that.”

Hextall said he had “a couple guys” in mind besides Emery as a backup, but the dollars didn’t work.

He added the Flyers were very “comfortable” with Emery.

Flyers suffer deflating outdoor loss to Penguins, fall in playoff picture

Flyers suffer deflating outdoor loss to Penguins, fall in playoff picture

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH – They won the battle inside the faceoff circle. Outshot their opponent badly. Blocked more shots, too.

And the Flyers still lost. Sound familiar?

Saturday's 4-2 defeat (see Instant Replay) to the Penguins at Heinz Field in the Stadium Series outdoor game likely confirms for general manager Ron Hextall it’s time to be a seller at the trade deadline with a playoff berth seemingly out of sight.

"We gotta score goals. We got good opportunities, but it’s getting old," Jakub Voracek lamented. "If we don’t find a way to win a game, nobody cares."

Not enough scoring from their pop-gun offense, which now has just 25 goals over their last 16 games. Which is a major reason why they've lost seven of their last nine.

"It's that cliché, gripping your stick and I don’t like to use that," Voracek said. "The bottom line, if we want to make the playoffs we got to score the goals. We're not scoring."

It was 36 degrees at puck drop and there were swirling wind gusts. Players said the first period was tough, but they adjusted as the game went on.

"It feels good. It feels awesome," Wayne Simmonds said. "It's the way ice hockey should be played."

So should a few wins with this club and it's not happening. They play well enough to win but ...

"We got to get going here," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We're [five] points back and that's the biggest thing and it's in all of our heads now. It's getting down to not a lot of games left and we've got to get two points."

Goalie Michal Neuvirth did not have a strong game facing 29 shots.

"We walk away with the wrong result," coach Dave Hakstol said. "We have a day in-between to turn the page and get back at it."

Things began Pittsburgh's way with Sidney Crosby scoring at 11:18, sneaking to the low right slot near the goal line to take a perfect pass from Jake Guentzel and one-time into the far side on Neuvirth for his 34th goal.

Brayden Schenn, centering a new line with Nick Cousins and Jakub Voracek, had a solid scoring chance in the final minute of the period, but Pens goalie Matt Murray turned his shot aside. Murray also had two good saves on Sean Couturier earlier from in-tight.

Nick Bonino, one of the heroes from the Stanley Cup Final last season, made it 2-0 at 6:44 of the second period on the power play. He scored almost from the same spot where Crosby scored.

Minutes earlier, Guenztel took a questionable hit to the head area from Brandon Manning which the Penguins felt was illegal (see video). Pittsburgh came back with Chris Kunitz rocking Ivan Provorov two shifts later.

Manning’s hit energized the Flyers, who owned the second period.

Hours before the game, Voracek said what most people were already thinking.

"I would expect this to be the biggest game of the year," he said. "You look at the standings. We can’t afford to lose."

Voracek wasn't kidding when he said the Flyers needed to do something here. He went behind the net 4-on-4 with Justin Schultz and came around the front with the puck to muscle it past Murray at 11:14, cutting the Flyers deficit in half.

Voracek's goal, his second in three games, gave the Flyers even more of a lift and they made a strong push to tie the game before the period ended.

"We spent a lot of time in their zone and we were very strong on the forecheck," Voracek said. "We had comebacks early in the season … but two penalties in the end, it's tough … How do you rebound? You have no choice. We're not out. We have to start winning."

The Flyers killed off a carryover penalty to start the third but immediately after, the Pens got a strong forecheck with Eric Fehr behind the net, getting the puck over to 40-year-old Matt Cullen, who snuck up on Neuvirth and stunned him with a wraparound.

That was a terribly costly goal and made it 3-1 but Gostisbehere got it right back minutes later with his first goal in 34 games off a point shot during the power play.

It was as close as the Flyers got. Pittsburgh scored off a faceoff to make it 4-2 in the final six minutes. Sean Couturier lost a draw to Evgeni Malkin and the Pens scored off a point drive Neuvirth couldn't find.

"That was deflating," Gostisbehere said. "We can be sad for ourselves all we want … bad bounces or we can say, 'well, it's lucky.' But you know, it keeps happening for a reason."

Instant Replay: Flyers fall in Stadium Series to Penguins, 4-2

Instant Replay: Flyers fall in Stadium Series to Penguins, 4-2

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH – The Flyers still haven't won an outdoor hockey game.

They dropped to 0-2-1 lifetime after Saturday night’s highly-competitive 4-2 loss to the Penguins at Heinz Field in the NHL’s Stadium Series.

Given the Flyers came into play five points out of the wild card and desperate for points, this was a fairly significant loss and sixth in their last eight games.

Shayne Gostisbehere's power play goal drew the Flyers to 3-2 at 6:48 in the third period, but the Pens scored a late goal off a faceoff to put it away.

Michal Neuvirth did not have a very strong outdoor showing.

Questionable hit
The Penguins thought Brandon Manning hit Jake Guentzel with a high elbow to the chin in the second period (see video). You can be sure the NHL will review it on Sunday.

Numbers
As cool as the Flyers' jerseys looked, it was nearly impossible to identify numbers from the press box because they blend into the jersey. White numbers would have been better for ID purposes.

Notable goals
Sidney Crosby's opening goal at 11:18 of the first period was his 36th lifetime against the Flyers in 57 games.

Goalie report
Matt Murray played well. Not much Neuvirth could do on the Pens' first two goals but clearly he fell asleep on Matt Cullen's critical wraparound goal early in the third period that made it 3-1.

Power play
Flyers had one good chance on their first power play with a shot from Mark Streit from the circle on Murray. Gostisbehere made it 3-2 with his first goal in 34 games from the point. Flyers were 1 for 4. 

Penalty kill
Penguins got a power play goal from Nick Bonino in the second period that made it 2-0, off a Guentzel assist, his second in the game.  Pens were 1 for 5.

Injuries
Michael Raffl was speared by Evgeni Malkin in the second period without a call. He limped to the bench but stayed in the game.

Fights
There was a scrum between Dale Weise and Chris Kunitz in the second period.

Scratches
Defensemen Nick Schultz and Michael Del Zotto – both healthy; forward Travis Konecny (knee and ankle).

Up next
Flyers are off on Sunday and resume practice Monday at Skate Zone. They will host Colorado on Tuesday.