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.

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

VOORHEES, N.J. — At the junior level, scoring was second nature to Nicolas Aube-Kubel, like riding a bike after you figure out the balance aspect.

Goals came in bunches and points piled up — that was his game and it came effortlessly at times, especially over his final two seasons with the QMJHL's Val-d'Or Foreurs, posting back-to-back campaigns of 38 markers and 80-plus assists.

"Usually in junior, scoring was always coming naturally to me, having points and goals," he said last week at Flyers development camp.

On the AHL ice last season, it was a whole new ballgame. For Aube-Kubel, Year 1 of pro hockey was a feeling-out process from start to finish. His prolific scoring didn't carry over much at all, as the speedy 5-foot-11 winger finished with nine goals and nine assists in 71 regular-season games for Lehigh Valley.

"Guys are better with the puck," he said of the AHL. "I've always been strong on the ice and skating-wise, too, but translating to the AHL, guys are faster, guys are quicker with the puck and less turnovers."

This was part of toeing the waters in a new surrounding. Not many prospects jump from the junior ranks to the AHL without missing a beat. Aube-Kubel, who turned 21 in May, wanted to fulfill his role and duties first before worrying about scoring. He finished the season as a plus-10, tied for fourth best on the team and tops among Phantoms with 70 or more games played.

"I've always been an offensive player," Aube-Kubel said. "From being my first year in the pros, I was trying more to focus on details and what the coach was telling me. I'm excited for next year and I'll try to step up my game, for sure, and try to do what I was doing in junior."

Following his fourth development camp, Aube-Kubel finds himself heading into an interesting second season with Lehigh Valley. A lot has changed since he was taken by the Flyers in the second round of the 2014 draft. With time, the organization has significantly built up its prospect pool and added depth at forward. 

Aube-Kubel is just fine with that.

"Since I've been drafted, there was depth," he said. "Any way I'm going to play in the NHL, I'm going to make my own spot. No one is going to give it to you. If there are more drafted players, it doesn't change anything."

He's also enjoyed working with the Phantoms' staff, led by head coach Scott Gordon. More development off the ice and a greater workload during games should help moving forward.

"I liked it. They treat you like a pro," he said. "Everyone does their own thing. If you cheat or if you're not serious about it, it's you to pay off. If you're not serious, it's going to be you that gets penalized."

If Aube-Kubel needs any comfort in the quiet start to his pro career, he can look back at his first season of junior play. He tallied just 10 goals and 27 points in 64 regular-season games. Then he jumped to 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 65 games in 2013-14 before scoring at will over his third and fourth seasons with Val-d'Or.

Maybe easing his way in is just part of his hockey DNA.

If so, keep an eye on Aube-Kubel next season.

"This year, I was maybe more focusing on having a role and trying to do what the coach was asking of me," Aube-Kubel said. "Now that it's all set, I'm going to focus on offensive play. I don't want to put pressure on myself, but last year wasn't my best offensive year. It was also my first year. I think I was trying to learn a lot of it and we'll see what happens next year."