Flyers-Ducks: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Ducks: 5 things you need to know

Flyers vs. Ducks
7 p.m., CSN

The Flyers (0-2-1) will try for their first win of the season when they host the Anaheim Ducks (2-1-0) at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday evening.

The schedule is only going to get more difficult for the Flyers. After concluding their three-game homestand against the Ducks, the orange and black embark on a three-game road trip to Dallas, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Here are five things to get you ready for Flyers-Ducks:

1. Bad luck for Lecavalier
Vinny Lecavalier was right where he needed to be during the Flyers’ first power play attempt in Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. The veteran forward put himself in a good position to redirect a shot while screening Canadiens netminder Carey Price.

Unfortunately for Lecavalier, Mark Streit’s rocket from the point struck him in the left foot and will cost him some playing time. The Flyers announced Monday that Lecavalier will miss two weeks with what the team is calling a lower-body injury.

Lecavalier has suffered a handful of injuries since joining the Flyers. Last season, he missed three games in October with a lower-body injury, one game in November because of a facial injury and nine games in December with an ailing back. The 34-year-old was off to a strong start this season, posting a goal and two assists in the Flyers' first three games.

2. Movin' on up
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has done a superb job centering the Flyers’ fourth line. He’s a responsible two-way player and has proven to be one of the hardest working skaters on the ice night in and night out.

With Lecavalier sidelined, Bellemare now has an opportunity to play with more offensively-minded wingers in Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. The 29-year-old Frenchman instantly brings a new dynamic to the line. He’s much faster than Lecavalier and is a ferocious forechecker, which could lead to more scoring chances for his new linemates.

It was an interesting decision for Flyers coach Craig Berube to leave Schenn on the wing. Berube wants Schenn, who has jockeyed back and forth between center and wing the past few seasons, to adjust to life as a winger. Bellemare also appears to be a better option in the faceoff circle as he’s won over 61 percent of his draws this season.

Don’t be surprised if Bellemare picks up his first point as a Flyer against the Ducks. He could benefit from playing with the red-hot Simmonds, who has been playing some inspired hockey early on. The pair could also spark Schenn, who has picked up just one assist so far this season.

Blair Jones will make his regular season debut, barring a call-up. He turned heads during training camp, registering four assists and a plus-3 rating in four preseason games, but has been a healthy scratch the past three games. He’ll likely center Zac Rinaldo and Jason Akeson.

3. Quack attack
The Ducks boast a potent offense. They’ve collected 12 goals in three games and don’t show any signs of slowing down.

Anaheim relies heavily on superstars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The dynamic duo combined for 74 goals and 95 assists last season alone. To take some of the attention off their top line, the Ducks went out and acquired former Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler this past summer.

The move has paid off already. Kesler has collected two goals and three assists in his first three games in a Ducks uniform. To nobody’s surprise, Getzlaf and Perry also have five points apiece this season.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: How about the entire defense? It could be a long night for the defensive corps if they hang back and allow Anaheim to set up shop. The Flyers simply cannot afford to give the Ducks time and space with the puck. If they do, they’ll get embarrassed. The Flyers have been without Braydon Coburn, who is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury, and Nicklas Grossmann’s (stomach flu) status is questionable. Shutting down the Ducks will be no easy task. But if the Flyers can survive the night, it could serve as a major confidence booster for their suspect blueline.

Ducks: Since we already covered Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler, let’s go with rookie netminder John Gibson. Frederik Andersen has started the past two games for Anaheim, including Monday afternoon’s 5-1 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres, so expect Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau to give Gibson the nod vs. the Flyers. Gibson has an impressive frame and developed a strong mental toughness at a young age. The 21-year-old should also be eager to get back between the pipes. He allowed six goals on 39 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Anaheim’s season opener.

5. This and that
• The Flyers dropped both meetings against the Ducks in 2013-14. Matt Read had two goals and an assist in the season series.

• Anaheim outshot the Sabres 44-12 in Monday’s dominant victory in Buffalo. Rookie William Karlsson scored twice.

• Steve Mason is 0-3-0 with a 4.93 goals against average in his last four starts against the Ducks.

• The Ducks, who will conclude a four-game road trip, have won five of their past six games against the Flyers.

• The Flyers haven’t dropped their first four games since the 2008-09 season.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process. 
 
Today, we finish up by taking a look at the Flyers.

 
How did we get here?
The Flyers' rebuild had begun when Ron Hextall returned to his old stomping grounds in the summer of 2013 as the team's new assistant general manager.
 
He took over GM duties after one season and the philosophical change was in place. Paul Holmgren was made president and Hextall's imprint, which had already started, was ready to become bigger.
 
What Hextall inherited was a cap-stricken team fresh off a first-round playoff loss, an organization that had tried to spend its way to immediate results instead of putting greater focus on the long game.
 
Some of the past decisions are well-documented: signing enigmatic goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011 after trading for him. With a buyout, the Flyers are still paying Bryzgalov through 2027. Signing veteran center Vinny Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million contract in 2013. And signing imposing defenseman Chris Pronger to a seven-year, $34.55 million extension — nobody could foresee the unfortunate concussion issues that suddenly derailed Pronger's career, but it was nonetheless a hurdle for the Flyers moving forward.
 
Hextall has adeptly maneuvered through much of those rocky waters.
 
Now, the Flyers are a more cost-efficient (partly because they have to be in this salary cap world), draft-oriented organization planning for the future while not ignoring the present. This rebuild hasn't been a total demolition, but more of a retooling — a smart but tricky process, especially down the line.
 
Are the Flyers on the right path back to prosperity?
The youth is coming.
 
Hextall, oftentimes close to the vest, made that abundantly clear at his end-of-the-season press conference.
 
"Our young players, they've done enough," Hextall said in early April. "Our young players are going to get a long look. We don't plan on going out and signing veterans on the back end. Our kids, it's time to give them a shot, and we're going to do that."
 
But the really hard part is just beginning — results. Can the prospects catch up and meet the current core? The pressure for it to start has never been higher.
 
Help does appear to be on the way, though, for a team that regressed this season and missed the playoffs for the third time in the past five years.
 
Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Felix Sandstrom and Carter Hart give the Flyers future options in net.
 
Two promising prospects are expected to join Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and company on the blue line.
 
Oskar Lindblom, a dynamic 20-year-old winger, could crack the Flyers' group of forwards, which should have Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula for a full season.
 
Also, don't forget forward Mike Vecchione, a Hobey Baker finalist who signed with the Flyers out of Union College in late March.
 
Oh, and the No. 2 pick of the draft — likely a talented center — is in the Flyers' grasp.
 
The 2017-18 season will be a telling time for the Flyers. Patience has been required, but when will it be rewarded?
 
The clock is ticking.