Flyers-Canadiens: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Canadiens: 5 things you need to know

Flyers vs. Canadiens
7 p.m., CSN

The Flyers will try to bounce back from back-to-back losses when they host the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night.

Montreal could become the first team to reach 3-0 this season while the Flyers will try to avoid an 0-3 start for a third consecutive year.

Here are five things you should know before puck drop:

1. Fright night
Halloween came early for Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn, who had arguably his worst outing as an NHL player in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils. The 24-year-old was on the ice for five goals against and had a puck deflect off his skate and past netminder Steve Mason.

Schenn wasn’t alone, however. The entire defensive corps was underwhelming. But it’s a telling stat that Schenn has been on the ice for six of the eight goals scored against the Flyers through the first two games.

So how will Schenn bounce back? According to the rugged blueliner, it’s as simple as just forgetting about it.

“You pick your head up and get back to the drawing board and work hard,” he said Thursday. “I felt good tonight. It’s bounces, bad luck, gaps. You have to have a short memory to move on.”

2. That’s a relief
The Flyers received good news Friday as it pertains to Braydon Coburn’s lower-body injury (see story).

General manager Ron Hextall said Coburn still needs to see a specialist Monday, but is optimistic the defenseman will miss only a few days.

“I’m hoping it’s short-term instead of mid-term is the best way to put it,” Hextall said. “Before, I was thinking weeks … hopefully now, it’s less than that.”

Coburn receives quite a bit of criticism from a portion of the Flyers’ fanbase. Yes, he’s prone to make some questionable decisions on the ice and doesn’t use his huge frame enough. But with Kimmo Timonen already on the shelf, Coburn is one of the hardest players for the Flyers to replace. He can play a lot of minutes and his valuable on the penalty kill. His absence Thursday was noticeable.

3. Line changes … already?
It took Flyers coach Craig Berube four and half periods to shuffle his lines this season.

Sure, the Flyers had just one goal during that span, but it was still interesting to see Berube mix up his players so quickly.

Michael Raffl saw time with the top line, R.J. Umberger skated with Sean Couturier and Matt Read and Vinny Lecavalier had Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn on his wings for much of the third period.

One thing that didn’t change was the Flyers’ fourth line of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Zac Rinaldo and Jason Akeson. All three skaters have been solid through the first two games, often pinning the opposition in its defensive zone and working hard along the boards.

It’s unclear what Berube will opt to do with his lines for Saturday’s game. Guess we’ll have to wait until gametime to find out.

4. Keep an eye on …

Flyers: Wayne Simmonds was a beast Thursday night. Plain and simple. The Flyers’ new assistant captain did the best he could to help the Flyers claw their way back into a game that looked out of reach after the first 35 minutes. He scored twice in the final minute of the second period — once on the power play — and picked up an assist on Vinny Lecavalier’s third-period marker, which came just 15 seconds after New Jersey took a 4-3 lead. He was also ferocious on the forecheck. Expect Simmonds to carry over that intensity into Saturday’s game.

Canadiens: Tomas Plekanec is off to a hot start for the Habs. The 31-year-old centerman has three of Montreal’s five markers this season and is playing with a ton of confidence. He’s fired seven shots on goal through two games and gave Toronto and Washington defenders headaches with quickness and playmaking instincts. He’s not a true sniper, but he will burn teams if given him time and space. Plekanec posted two points (one goal) and averaged just over 20 minutes of ice time in three games against the Flyers last season.

5. This and that

• The Flyers won two of three meetings against the Canadiens last season. Brayden Schenn had an assist in each contest.

• Montreal goalie Carey Price is 8-9-0 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 18 career games — 17 starts — against the Flyers.

• The Flyers were 1 for 12 on the power play against the Canadiens in 2013-14. Montreal went 2 for 14 on the man advantage in the season series. 

• Entering Saturday, there are six players in the NHL who are minus-4 or worse. Five of them are Flyers (Voracek, Raffl, Claude Giroux, Michael Del Zotto and L. Schenn).

• For only the sixth time in NHL history, all 30 teams will be in action during a 15-game Saturday. The last time all 30 clubs suited up on the same day was April 7, 2012, the final day of the 2011-12 regular season.

Best of NHL: Red Wings' 25-year playoff streak snapped in loss

Best of NHL: Red Wings' 25-year playoff streak snapped in loss

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Lee Stempniak and Joakim Nordstrom scored about five minutes apart in the first period, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 Tuesday night in the teams' second meeting in two nights.

Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm also scored for Carolina and Cam Ward stopped 21 shots. The Hurricanes have earned a point in 12 straight games (8-0-4) to move four points out of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.

The Red Wings beat the Hurricanes on Monday in a makeup game rescheduled from Dec. 19 when a Freon leak at PNC Arena made for unplayable ice. Tuesday's contest was regularly scheduled.

The postponement resulted in three games in the three days for the Red Wings. They won the first two but visibly struggled with their energy in the finale to snap a four-game point streak.

Tomas Nosek scored his first NHL goal and Jimmy Howard made 28 saves for Detroit (see full recap).

Rask backstops Bruins to important win over Predators
BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in his return from a one-game absence and the Boston Bruins beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Tuesday night, boosting their playoff chances.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Noel Acciari and David Backes scored for the Bruins, who moved three points ahead of idle Tampa Bay for the second Eastern Conference wild card with six games remaining. Boston began the night a point behind Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Rask was sidelined with a lower-body injury for Boston's 2-1 road win against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Bergeron's goal was his 18th of the season, and Krejci got his 22nd. Acciari scored his first career goal in 43 NHL games, Backes netted his 17th of the season and Zdeno Chara earned his 600th NHL point with an assist on Boston's first goal (see full recap).

Matthews sets rookie scoring mark in Leafs' win
TORONTO -- Auston Matthews broke Wendel Clark's 31-year-old franchise rookie record with his 35th goal of the season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

The victory kept Toronto (87 points) one point up on the Boston Bruins (86) for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and four up on the Tampa Bay Lightning (83).

Curtis McElhinney made 25 saves to earn the win for the Leafs. Leo Komarov and Zach Hyman also scored for Toronto.

James Reimer allowed two goals on 14 shots for Florida before he was knocked from the game with an injury and replaced by Reto Berra, who made 10 saves. Reilly Smith and Jaromir Jagr scored for the Panthers (see full recap).

Oshie's OT goal for Caps beats Wild after Ovi hat trick
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- T.J. Oshie scored his second goal of the game 1:42 into overtime to bookend Alex Ovechkin's hat trick, Braden Holtby earned his 40th win and the Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.

After Eric Staal's goal for the Wild tied the game with 26.6 seconds left in regulation, Oshie took a pass in the left circle from Marcus Johansson and beat struggling Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk with a wrist shot. Johansson had four assists.

Martin Hanzal and Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist apiece, but the Wild lost for the eighth time in nine games and fell to 3-11-1 in March after forward Zach Parise exited early with an injury (see full recap).

Flyers win game over Senators, but fail to gain ground in wild-card race

Flyers win game over Senators, but fail to gain ground in wild-card race

BOX SCORE

It was a special night as 24-year-old Jordan Weal hoisted his team upon his young shoulders, saving the Flyers in regulation and then winning for them in the shootout.
 
Yet in the end, even though the Flyers defeated Ottawa 3-2, they still lost (see Instant Replay).
 
Lost where it counts most -- in the wild-card standings.
 
Boston's 4-1 win over Nashville kept the Flyers six points behind in the wild card, but more significantly, reduced the Flyers' tragic number to six.
 
Six Bruins points or six points lost by the Flyers moving forward will eliminate Dave Hakstol's club from the playoffs.
 
"The last five or six games, we've been playing pretty good," Wayne Simmonds said. "After I looked up and saw Boston win, it sucks."
 
These last four games -- including the loss to Columbus -- have seen the kind of consistency the Flyers have craved and not gotten enough of during the second half of the season.
 
Had they been playing this type of sound, focused hockey in late January through February, they'd own a playoff spot right now.
 
"Even before that, we were losing games we should have been winning," Michael Del Zotto said. "That's the beauty of the game: there's no easy games.
 
"Consistency is the biggest factor. The teams at the top of the standings have been consistent all year long … not stringing three or four losses in a row, which is tough to come back on, especially this year with our division playing so well."
 
These days, one Flyer playing with every-night consistency is Weal, the kid the LA Kings sent to the Flyers as part of the Vinny Lecavalier deal.
 
Ottawa's Kyle Turris broke a 1-1 tie with 7:25 left on a goal that Steve Mason never saw through a thick screen. It was a deflating moment given how hard the Flyers worked defensively.
 
Two minutes later, Sens goalie Craig Anderson tried to clear the puck from behind the net and Weal intercepted, then scored on empty net to tie, 2-2.
 
Ottawa challenged that Simmonds interfered at the net and lost. Simmonds skated to the post and effectively prevented Anderson from getting there in time.
 
"It's my ice. I got there before him. It doesn't matter so long as I'm not in the blue paint," Simmonds said. "He touched me. It's my ice. He ran into the back of me."
 
That set up overtime and a bunch of missed opportunities before Weal beat Anderson once more during the shootout to clinch it. He's 2 for 2 here in shootouts.
 
Weal has six goals in 18 games. He is playing aggressively above his 5-foot-8 or so height. He seems to have earned his keep for next season as a regular and not a call-up, which he's been since early February.
 
Asked if he felt he's cemented his position as a Flyer, Weal replied, "Not at all. No, this is one of the best leagues in the world. Nothing is given to you here. You've got to keep working all the time, year to year. Your position is never guaranteed."
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol likes what he has seen, but won't talk about Weal's future.
 
"He's earned everything he's got and continues to do that on a daily basis," Hakstol said. "I wouldn't say he's brought a different vibe or energy. He's brought energy in his own way and has been a good two-way player. He's scored some big goals for us. He's a reliable player, who generates and creates offensively."
 
Weal's play on Valterri Filppula's line with Simmonds has had a trickle-down effect on the lineup, creating better matchups for the Flyers. He's taken pressure off Claude Giroux's line, and particularly, Sean Couturier's unit with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn.
 
"They've been good together," Hakstol said of the Filppula unit. "Simmonds is playing some of his best hockey of the year, in terms of a power forward game.
 
"He's very tough to handle down low and that's adding an element for Fil and Wealer there. They seem to have chemistry here in the very short amount of time they've been together."
 
It's something for Flyer fans to look forward to next season. No one is talking about next season yet, but deep down inside, the players realize some of them need to make lasting impressions with the season running out on them.
 
The consistency in effort the Flyers have shown recently is exactly what they should have shown when it counted most -- right after the All-Star break.
 
"Yeah, you know we're competing hard," young Travis Konecny said. "We're not going to quit until the end of the season. That's the way we are. It's the character of our team. It's the things we've shown all year.
 
"Our games may not show it at times, our scores, but I think each and every night we always compete, we always battle. I think things are starting to happen for us. Pucks are starting to bounce the right ways for us and we're getting on the score sheet and it's helping us a lot."
 
What's not helping is all those teams ahead of them, especially Boston, are posting wins. Every two points Boston gets puts another dagger in the Flyers' side.
 
"Watching what other teams are doing is more stressful," Mason said. "Teams are going to win, teams are going to lose. But we obviously have to win and that's really all that matters."