Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers can't be 'soft' this time vs. Lightning

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Flyers can't be 'soft' this time vs. Lightning

VOORHEES, N.J. – Whether it was tired legs, poor team defense or just a fluke, the Flyers simply do not want a replay of last week’s Tampa Bay Lightning game when those very same Lightning take the ice tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

In that game, Jan. 27, the Flyers were 0 for 5 on the power play. They gave up two goals to Tampa’s man-advantage. They were sloppy, undisciplined and unacceptably slow on the backcheck during even-strength play.

They lost, 5-1, in one of their worst efforts of the season.

“Yes, they’re playing well, and they have a lot of guys that can score, but at the same time, we were way too soft on the battles,” Danny Briere said. “We weren’t moving our legs. Nothing really to help us win games. We have to change that mindset [tonight].”

The Flyers entered that game having played only 24 hours earlier downstate against the Florida Panthers, but that’s no excuse for what ensued on the ice. That’s especially true in a lockout-shortened season like this one; there are plenty more back-to-back games to come.

Either way, though, almost everything about the way they played a week ago in Tampa needs to change tonight in front of the home crowd.

“It’s a tough one to evaluate, because we really didn’t skate the way we’re capable of,” Briere said. “Obviously, we played the night before, and there’s going to be a lot of situations this year when we’re gonna be stuck that way, and we have to find a way to come out and play harder than we did in that game.”

The Flyers have perhaps turned a corner in the week that’s passed since they last faced Steven Stamkos and company, but their efforts still haven’t been perfect. With a 3-6 record and a recent big win over the Carolina Hurricanes, the pressure on them has lessened a bit. That said, there are still facets of their game that must improve in order to come away with a win over a tough competitor like the Lightning.

“I liked what we did the first two periods [against Carolina],” coach Peter Laviolette said. “In the third period, the score was in our favor, and we kind of sat back. ... The fact that we sat back a little bit with 5-on-5 in the third period, I wasn't as happy with that as I was the first two [periods].”

Tampa Bay, of course, poses a much more difficult challenge than the Hurricanes did. For whatever reason, the Flyers have struggled against the Lightning in recent years, going 2-7-1 in their last 10 meetings -- and 1-3-0 in their last four in Philadelphia.

It might be nothing more than a bad matchup for the Flyers.

“Sometimes it’s just the way it is,” Briere said. “But at the same time, we’re going in to tomorrow believing that we can beat them.”

Andre Markov to return to Russia to play in KHL

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Andre Markov to return to Russia to play in KHL

You can mark off Andrei Markov as a potential training camp tryout. Markov said he talked to a few NHL organizations during the free agency period but has elected to move back to Russia to play in the KHL.  

“I couldn’t see myself playing with any other NHL teams,” Markov said Thursday afternoon during a conference call. 

Thursday, the Canadiens bid farewell to Markov, who spent the past 16 seasons in Montreal, the only NHL team the defenseman has ever played for.  

According to published reports, Markov, who turns 39 in December, had been seeking a two-year contract in the $6 million range, but was willing to settle for one year to stay in Montreal. However, the Canadiens elected to go considerably cheaper in signing former Flyers defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year deal for just $700,000.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has shot down previous reports the Flyers were the only team negotiating with Markov during free agency.  

“No. That’s not true. Don’t believe everything you hear,” Hextall said after returning from the NHL draft.  

However, Hextall also made it clear that he’s looking bring in a veteran defenseman on a camp tryout as a backup in case one of the younger defensive prospects may not be ready to start the season at the NHL level. Had Markov been willing to come in on a tryout basis, the Flyers would have been interested.

With Markov’s decision and the recent signings of Streit and Johnny Oduya committing to the Senators, the prospective free-agent pool of defensemen is beginning to thin out with Francois Beauchemin, Dennis Wideman and Cody Franson as veteran blueliners still looking for a job for next season.

NHL Notes: Bruins, Ryan Spooner avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

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NHL Notes: Bruins, Ryan Spooner avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and center Ryan Spooner avoided arbitration on the day of their hearing, agreeing to a one-year, $2,825,000 deal Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Spooner became a restricted free agent July 1 after finishing a two-year contract that was worth $950,000 per season.

Spooner said that he didn't want to go through the hearing because it's "not a pleasant thing" and he didn't think the Bruins wanted to participate, either. He's the 24th player to settle this summer without a hearing after filing for arbitration.

Spooner can be a restricted free agent again next summer.

"For me, I'm going to spin that into a positive and say that I'm going to take that as a challenge to have a good year and show that I can be the player that they want me to be," Spooner said during a conference call. "And then on the (other) side too, it kind of just shows that they need to see a little bit more out of me as a player. There's a lot of things that I can also bring to the table that I need to work on" (see full story).

Devils: Five forwards re-signed to deals
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils have re-signed Stefan Noesen and four other forwards who spent most of last season with New Jersey's top minor-league franchise in Albany, New York.

General manager Ray Shero announced the signings of Noesen, Blake Coleman, Blake Pietila, Kevin Rooney and Ben Thomson on Wednesday.

Noesen, who split the 2016-17 season between Anaheim, San Diego (AHL) and New Jersey, got a one-year, two-way contract worth $660,000 at the NHL level. The Plano, Texas native had six goals in 32 regular-season games with the Devils.

Pietila signed a two-year, two-way contract with an average annual salary of $667,500 at the NHL level. The 24-year-old had an assist in 10 games with New Jersey.

Coleman got a one-year, two-way contract worth $660,000 at the NHL level. He played in 23 regular-season games for the Devils and had a goal and an assist.

Thomson and Rooney each signed one-year, two-way contracts worth $650,000 at the NHL level. Rooney played in four regular-season games with the Devils, one more than Thomson.

Coyotes: MacLean, Allen hired as assistants
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes hired John MacLean and Scott Allen on Wednesday as assistant coaches on Rick Tocchet's staff.

MacLean played 18 NHL seasons with four teams before becoming an assistant coach in the New Jersey Devils organization for seven seasons. He was an assistant with the Carolina Hurricanes from 2011-14 and served as an analyst for the NHL Network from 2015-17.

A former minor league player, Allen served as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers from 2009-12 and has held numerous coaching jobs in the minors, most recently with the San Antonio Rampage.

The Coyotes also hired Mike Van Ryn as head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team's AHL affiliate.

Tocchet was hired earlier this month to replace Dave Tippett.

Sharks: Barr hired as assistant coach
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks have hired Dave Barr as an assistant coach on Peter DeBoer's staff.

Barr will serve as the team's "eye in the sky" this season. Barr had previously worked with DeBoer for four years in New Jersey and helped the Devils make the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.

Barr was associate coach in Florida last season and has also been an NHL assistant with Buffalo, Minnesota and Colorado.

Barr joins assistants Steve Spott and Rob Zettler, goaltending coach Johan Hedberg and video coach Dan Darrow on the staff.