Flyers-Canadiens: 5 things you need to know


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.

Rival Penguins may be what Flyers need to get off to fast start

Rival Penguins may be what Flyers need to get off to fast start

VOORHEES, N.J. — Saturday might be a good time for the slow-starting Flyers to meet their cross-state archnemesis.
The Pittsburgh Penguins often bring out the best in the Flyers.
They’re sitting atop the Metro Division with 11 points and their veteran leaders, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are having an impact.
“Stanley Cup champs, it’s going to be emotional,” Jakub Voracek understated. “Something has to change tomorrow. That team is very fast. If we’re gonna have a slow start, they’ll jump out 2-0 or 3-0 and it will be hard to come back. We can’t afford to do that tomorrow.”
The Flyers had been living off comebacks lately, but fell short against the Coyotes in Thursday's 5-4 loss.
Since 2014, the Flyers are 4-1-0 against the Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. That’s the good news. 
The bad news is the Flyers have given up 30 goals this season — tied for worst in the league — and they’re meeting an offensive machine.
“These are always intense games with a fun atmosphere and we’ve got to be ready for it,” said goalie Steve Mason, whose slot has been under siege with uncontested shots lately. “We don’t want to take them lightly and get off on the wrong foot like we did [against Arizona]. 
“We've got to take the play to them and not sit back and let them dictate things. They’re too good for that.”
Dave Hakstol said after the Flyers’ poor first-period performance against the Coyotes that it shouldn’t matter who they face next, they simply need to start faster. It’s been a problem most of this season and haunted them early last fall, as well.
“They’re a team that comes out hard and it’s as good a challenge as any for us,” Hakstol said. “After the loss in our building, it shouldn’t matter who we’re playing at the start of the hockey game.”
Interestingly, Mason said following that loss that the Flyers seem hellbent on trying to outscore their opponents without taking care of their defensive responsibilities. 
Given the influx of speed and some new offensive talent, perhaps the emphasis has switched to offense at the expense of defense.
Offensively, Claude Giroux (9 points) and Voracek (8) are among the top 10 in NHL scoring. Giroux leads the league in three areas: nine assists, six power play assists and six power play points.
Rookie Travis Konecny is tied for fifth with six assists. Wayne Simmonds’ four power play goals rank first with Matt Moulson (Buffalo). 
Lotta offense behind the Flyers' 28 goals scored.
“It’s a good question,” Voracek said. “It’s tough to say. It’s still early, but if you’re going to get scored on so many goals a game, you’re obviously doing something wrong. Might be the case. It’s hard to answer. 
“We have to make sure even if we have talented players offensively ... we have to be responsible defensively. In today’s hockey, everybody can play defense.” 
You never know which direction these games against Pittsburgh will go. They can be very physical and low-scoring. Or they can be wide-open, pond hockey with a goal fest. 
“Bluntly, last year, they played a fast, pressure-type game and I didn’t think we dealt very well with it,” Hakstol said. “That won’t be any different tomorrow. 
“They’ll play a fast, pressure-type game and we have to be ready to deal with it and take advantage of it. That will be a challenge for us.”
Defensive pairs
Hakstol changed his defensive pairs in practice. 
Brandon Manning worked with Radko Gudas; Ivan Provorov worked with Mark Streit; and Nick Schultz was with Shayne Gostisbehere.
Why the changes?
“They weren’t very good [against Arizona],” Hakstol replied. “It’s not all on the D-pairs, that’s for sure. There is some thought process behind ... switching the pairs. But ultimately, the goal is to have a more competitive group of six back there playing below the top of our circles.”
Andrew MacDonald, who had several turnovers/miscues this week, will sit against the Penguins.
Hakstol didn’t mince words when asked why he was reinserting Schultz into the lineup.
“Absolute, competitive, prideful defender,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
As for the lines, it would appear Nick Cousins will be scratched because he centered Michael Raffl and Scott Laughton in practice and both are injury-scratches right now.

Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Ryan White was whisking by to the visiting locker room when he had to stop.
With huge delight, the long-haired forward hugged a Flyers employee in bright orange athletic gear standing outside the laundry room. 
The two exchanged hellos and good wishes before White’s path was impeded again.
None of this was a nuisance. This is what he loved.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I miss here in Philly is the people around the rink are great,” White said late Thursday night inside the Wells Fargo Center. “The guys from the locker room attendants to the security guys to people taking care of my girlfriend and stuff like that. It’s a special place to play and I always felt like I was welcomed here.”
White had just scored his first goal of the 2016-17 season. All offseason, he hoped and planned for the occasion to be in a Flyers sweater. He talked about his endearment for the organization trumping the worth of money elsewhere.
But on Thursday night, he was wearing an Arizona Coyote uniform and, what he called, “putting the final nail in the coffin” of a 5-4 loss for the Flyers.
“It feels good scoring here,” he said.
Not at all how he pictured it.
Playing fourth-line minutes (8:09), White somehow snuck a shot past Steve Mason from a nasty side angle with 4:19 remaining in regulation, making it 5-3 and virtually snuffing another Flyers comeback bid.
“Any time you’re coming back playing your old club, you want to make sure you get a win. … I loved playing as a Flyer, it was a lot of fun playing here,” White said. “Guys over there are a great group of guys, good coaching staff, good people in the organization. It’s just a special place to play.”
It’s where White wanted to be but he holds no ill will towards general manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers. Hextall liked and expressed interest in re-signing White, a role-playing fourth-liner, but went out and inked free-agent right winger Dale Weise (four-year, $9.4 million deal), more of a third-line player with similar attributes.
That signaled White’s end with the Flyers after two seasons.
“I think I’d be crazy if I didn’t want to come back here, it just didn’t work out,” White said. “I’m just happy I’ve gotten a chance to play in Phoenix and it’s been pretty good so far.”
White on Wednesday night caught up with former Flyers teammates Radko Gudas and Michal Neuvirth. While with the Flyers, he lived in the same building as the two. They all had dinner and White got to visit Gudas’ baby daughter.
On the ice, White, gritty and physical-minded, made his presence felt. He was penalized in the second period for charging Nick Cousins. He was also called for a delay of game penalty in the final two minutes for closing his hand on the puck. The Flyers scored on the power play, ironically turning White’s goal into the gamer-winner.
“He told me he just wanted the winning goal,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said with a laugh. “So that’s all that counts.”
White enjoyed the rough-and-tough nature against his old friends. 
“All those guys play hard, they know how the game goes,” he said. “I had a little conversation with Gudy last night at dinner and he said, ‘You’re going to be running around out there.’ I figured it would be no other way. You’ve got to expect that coming from those guys, they’re a hard group over there.
“Those guys know how I play and they all play the same way, too, so it was fun.”
He also appreciated seeing the Flyers Heritage Night pregame ceremony honoring the organization’s legends, led by late founder Ed Snider. White kept tabs on the Flyers’ home opener last week when a banner commemorating Snider was raised to the rafters.
“I even heard about the first game coming back, it was pretty emotional in here,” he said. “It was a pretty special time playing here with Mr. Snider around. I think he’ll obviously be forever missed and like I said, it was just special to be a part of it.”
White wasn’t sure what to expect in his return. In the end, he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s funny, I thought maybe coming back here, it would be a little bit different,” White said. “But they’re a pretty welcoming group and it’s nice to be here.”
Even if it’s just for one game.