Flyers-Devils 10 observations: An inexcusable lack of fight

Flyers-Devils 10 observations: An inexcusable lack of fight

Ten things I think, I think after the Flyers' complete meltdown at Prudential Center at the hands of the New Jersey Devils, 6-2 (see game recap).
 
Obviously, the Flyers' wild-card hopes took a major hit when goalie Steve Mason exited with cramps after trying to make a save on Taylor Hall's breakaway goal in the third period.
 
Yet the effort in front of him even before the injury was appalling for a team that claims it wants to win the wild card.

Dave Hakstol's club showed more fight after the game than during regulation. That's inexcusable, even considering it was on the second night of back-to-back games.
 
1. This was a classic case of the Flyers' playing down to the competition a night after they kicked the Pittsburgh Penguins around the rink. The Devils, who aren't playoff-bound, were the hungrier team while the Flyers were too docile. New Jersey played with the kind of desperation that the Flyers should have shown given their place in the wild-card standings. Simply put, it's inexcusable and it's a reason why they won't make the playoff cut with 12 games left.
 
2. What is it about the Devils' penalty kill that simply frustrates the hell out of the Flyers? Hakstol's bunch is now 0 for 12 against New Jersey this season. After all, the Devils' PK units are just barely better than the Flyers' – 19th in the NHL. There's no rationale for the Flyers not scoring against them.
 
3. Hard to believe Harry, but John Hynes' Devils came into play having lost 10 consecutive games (0-8-2) and yet they came out challenging the Flyers. Truth is, this is a rivalry going back to the Meadowlands where New Jersey always showed up against the Flyers on home ice, regardless of where either team was in the standings.
 
4. The Flyers have had some issues this season with teams scoring off the faceoff against them. It happened recently at home against Columbus and it reoccurred against the Devils late in the first period when Travis Zajac won a faceoff from Valtteri Filppula. Kyle Palmieri came out of a pile in the high slot for a screen shot that Mason had trouble finding. That tied the game 1-1 when the Flyers should have gone into the intermission with a lead. Between the time the Flyers scored first and got their next shot, 11 minutes had elapsed.
 
5. Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov has been the club's best defenseman this season. Like all young D-men, he makes mistakes. Most of them are turnovers. He had a bad one in the opening minutes against Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Mason had to make a save on Conor Sheary. Provorov made an uncharacteristic lazy-stick play in the second period behind his own net in New Jersey and the Devils' Adam Henrique jumped all over it for a go-ahead goal, 2-1.
 
6. The Devils' Joseph Blandisi scored a power-play goal for a 3-1 lead. New Jersey has 10 power-play goals against the Flyers' sagging penalty-kill units this season. Ten!
 
7. Zajac's line with Hall and Palmieri had a dominant game against the Flyers with two goals and two assists. The six goals by Jersey were a season-high.
 
8. The Flyers came back in the second half of the middle stanza to play better. Yet the fact that the Devils were outplaying them from the get-go is disconcerting given New Jersey is going nowhere and the Flyers are still mathematically alive in the wild-card chase. The Flyers had no shots through the first eight minutes of the third period. Where's the urgency?
 
9. Michal Neuvirth came off the bench when Mason got hurt and immediately was tested. This is where you need a save badly. Instead, Henrique put the game away at 5-2.
 
10. The total inconsistency of the Flyers with a brilliant effort against their most hated rival, followed by a tepid one against a team that is far below them, says volumes about their playoff aspirations or lack thereof.

Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier know Flyers by now, ready for anything at NHL draft

Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier know Flyers by now, ready for anything at NHL draft

CHICAGO — Nico Hischier was nervous, swaying a bit as he spoke to the media, admitting he had some jitters as this NHL draft approaches on Friday.

About 60 feet away, Nolan Patrick leaned on a stick and said not only was he not nervous, he also really couldn't care less whether he's picked first overall Friday by New Jersey or second by the Flyers because his goal is just to get into the NHL.

"Doesn't matter to me," Patrick said Thursday. "A lot of guys will tell you what you want to hear. That they don't care, but deep down, they do.

"I don't care. It's not going to change my chances in the NHL if I go No. 1 or 4. I'm gonna take it. Where I go is not gonna help me any more. At the end of the day, I've got to work hard."

That said, Hischier is poised to become the highest-drafted Swiss player ever and if he went first overall …

"I would make history and that would make me proud," Hischier beamed. "Really happy, for sure."

Both players participated in Thursday's ball-hockey clinic in a parking lot just across the street from United Center where one of them will go to the Devils and one to the Flyers on Friday night.

"Yeah, I little bit nervous," Hischier admitted. "It's not up to me. I just have to enjoy it."

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall took both players out to dinner separately in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month at the NHL Scouting Combine to try and get a peek behind their personalities (see story).

"We talked about Philadelphia, talked about the club, the goals, what's important for them," Hischier said. "It was good dinner and went well."

Patrick, who is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, said he was impressed with the steakhouse and said what he liked best about the meal was getting into arguments with fellow Manitoban, Hextall, who is from Brandon.

"He's a really nice guy," Patrick said. "It was a fancy steakhouse. I'll take those dinners any day. He knows what he is doing in Philly. If I were lucky enough to go there, I'd be happy.

"I know all about him. He's a Brandon Wheat King. Us Manitobans always going at each other. We got into a few arguments about some of his guys. Manitoba is the best place in the world."

Right now, for a couple hundred hockey players, Chicago is the best place in the world because this is the NHL draft and what happens Friday and Saturday will impact their lives forever.

Which is why Hischier brought his older brother, Luca, here. He plays for Bern in Switzerland where Hischier also was before transferring to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to play for Halifax this past season.

"My idol is my brother," Nico said. "He is playing pro in Bern. We have a good relationship. I'm happy he is here because I can ask him everything, on and off the ice."

Both players have some Flyers familiarity.

Hischier skated with Mark Streit last summer but hasn't talked to him since.

"Last summer, I skated with Streit, [Roman] Josi, [Shea] Weber and those guys," Hischier said. "It was fun."

Patrick played with Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov two years ago in Brandon.

"Talked to Provy two weeks ago," Patrick said. "I was talking to Brayden Schenn the last couple days. Provy works out 10 hours a day."

A few weeks from now, one of these guys will be at the Flyers' developmental camp working out in Skate Zone.

"It's not up to me," Hischier said. "I don't focus on expectations, I don't focus on teams. Everything can happen.

"I'm going to be open for everything and happy, for sure. If it's No. 2 or 3, I'm gonna be happy anyway."

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

For the second straight year, the Flyers are beginning the season out West.

The NHL on Thursday released its 2017-18 schedule and as reported Wednesday, the Flyers open the season in San Jose on Oct. 4 as part of a four-game road trip that includes games in Los Angeles, Anaheim and concludes in Nashville on Oct. 10.

They'll return home on Oct. 14 for their home opener against the Washington Capitals that kickstarts a five-game homestand (see story). The Flyers will host the Islanders on Black Friday.

Flyers fans will have to wait a while for their first taste of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Flyers will face the Golden Knights for the first time on Feb. 11 in Vegas.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and the Golden Knights come to Philadelphia on March 12

The Flyers will end the season at home against the New York Rangers.

You can see the Flyers' full schedule here (and buy tickets here).