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.

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As far as he can remember, in his six years with the Flyers, Matt Read hasn't played on a line with both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Read has spent time with each of the Flyers' top-two scorers at various times but never together. The Flyers hope the cohesiveness comes together quickly after making changes to three of the lines on Wednesday in an attempt keep their sagging playoff hopes.

"We're running out of time here, so hopefully a couple line changes here gives us a little spark offensively," Read said. "We've still got to play better defensively, but you know it's kind of do-or-die right now. So hopefully chemistry clicks right away and things can start going off the bat."

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol had hinted at adjusting the lines recently but stuck with the current structure in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss at Winnipeg (see game story). With the ability to practice Wednesday in Minnesota before Thursday's game against the Wild, Hakstol followed through with the adjustment.

Hakstol met with the four centers before practice and then had Giroux with Voracek and Read. Valtteri Filppula centered Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was teamed with Travis Konecny and Chris VandeVelde.

Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Dale Weise stayed together.

"That line, it's been a good line for us," Hakstol said of Schenn, Couturier and Weise. "Off their game a little bit yesterday, but they've been a good line and I'm confident they'll come back and do a good job tomorrow. The other changes are just looking at different things coming off a road performance yesterday… just looking at a way to inject a little bit more into our lineup for a real tough road game here tomorrow night."

The Flyers didn't lose any ground with Tuesday's loss with Boston, Tampa Bay and Carolina also losing. But the Flyers now have just 10 games remaining as they trail Toronto by seven points for the final wild-card spot.

"We didn't take advantage of the opportunity we had for two points," Hakstol said. "At the end of the day, you can't sit back and watch what's happening elsewhere. You've got to take care of your own backyard, and that's what our focus is. We didn't get it done yesterday. Point blank, we didn't get it done. So, we've got an opportunity tomorrow night for two points and that's what our job is."

Reuniting Giroux and Voracek, along with Read, is one way he hopes to solve the issue. Voracek said he knows the onus is on his line to lead the way.

"We know what to expect from each other," Voracek said. "When we move our feet, we are dangerous. So that's what we've got to do. We've got to have fun. We've got to find a way to score the goals and help the team to win the games, because we're going to play a lot of minutes."

Another possible change for Hakstol could come along the defense. Brandon Manning practiced on Wednesday and Hakstol said it's possible he could rejoin the lineup against the Wild.

Manning hasn't played since March 11 because of a right shoulder injury. Hakstol said he's confident Manning is ready and a decision will be made Thursday morning on which of the seven defensemen will play in the game.

"He's practiced well," Hakstol said. "He got extra work in yesterday. He practiced well today. We'll have a decision to make tomorrow."

Flyers-Jets 10 observations: Lackluster effort, wasted opportunity

Flyers-Jets 10 observations: Lackluster effort, wasted opportunity

Our recap of Tuesday's underwhelming performance by the Flyers in Winnipeg.

Their Tragic Number is now 13, meaning the number of points either lost by the Flyers or accrued by the second wild card -- Toronto -- that totals 13 will eliminate the Flyers from the playoffs.

Sean Couturier said it best prior to the road trip: Unless the Flyers won in Winnipeg, then anything positive they achieved in coming from behind to beat Carolina was wasted.

And it was.  

If you watched the telecast with John Boruk, Alfonso Morganti and myself, you already know how I feel about the loss.

But for those of you who are gluttons for further punishment, here's 10 Things I think, I think, as Bill Lyon used to say:

1. A couple players gave everything they had to make a difference in this game. Radko Gudas had eight of the Flyers' 17 hits. Michael Del Zotto had five strong shots from the point, two of which were almost goals. Shayne Gostisbehere had four shots, two of which almost gave them a goal.

2. The Jets had five injured defensemen out of their lineup, which meant the Flyers' forwards should have been attacking them at the net. Again, the only offense generated for 50 minutes was from the point and not down low, where the Jets were vulnerable.

3. Valterri Filppula matched up against Patrick Laine and held him -- with help from Steve Mason -- to no points, a task in itself. Laine generated five shots and two prime scoring chances that Mason took care of.

4. Jets rookie defenseman Julian Melchiori had played just eight NHL games and had a total of four shots. He had three in the first period alone Tuesday and tied Laine with a team-high five for the game. He was more determined to make something happen than most of the Flyers. That should embarrass coach Dave Hakstol, who insisted the Flyers come out strong. They didn't.

5. Winnipeg moved up and down the ice well in transition. They came into the zone with speed and spread their attack out. Blake Wheeler's goal that made it 2-1 in the third period was the result of the Jets' precise puck movement from Mathieu Perreault to Mark Scheifele to Wheeler that demonstrated nothing moves faster on the ice than the speed of the puck. Wheeler got the puck with a wide-open look inside the right circle. The Flyers didn't have a single play during the game that mimicked that rush.

6. Although the Flyers' penalty kill units gave up a 10th goal in their last 24 chances, they shut down the Jets' the final four power plays of the game, including the four-minute double-minor to Ivan Provorov in the second period. The PK got no help from the power play (0 for 3).

7. Mason had four saves during the Jets' four-minute power play, which should have given the Flyers some momentum for the remainder of the second period and into the third. He also had a terrific stick save on Laine in the slot after the PP that left the rookie so angry he was jamming his stick violently into the ground on the Jets' bench.

8. Following up on that, why were the Flyers hesitant in the third period, tied 1-1, while the Jets peppered Mason at the outset? Where's that sense of desperation Hakstol's team should have shown? This is precisely what happened in Boston a few weeks ago. Game tied going into the third and instead of playing for two points they absolutely had to have, the Flyers were playing to get the game into overtime and earn at least one. That strategy failed spectacularly in Boston when the Bruins won the game in the final 5.6 seconds of regulation and failed again Tuesday.

9. Hakstol talked about effort and determination, yet the numbers say otherwise. With 13:34 left in regulation, the Flyers had just two shots in the period. Two! In the final seven minutes of the game, their sense of urgency finally kicked in when they kept the puck in Winnipeg's zone to the end and even scored shorthanded. That again raises this question: Where was that urgency at the period's start when it was 1-1 and not 3-1?

10. Finally, the Flyers had three power plays in this defeat. During their second power play, trailing 2-1, Winnipeg's lowly PK unit generated two shorthanded chances and cleared the zone four times. On the Flyers' final power play -- they trailed 3-1 at that point -- Hakstol pulled Mason to create a 6-on-4. The Flyers generated several scoring chances. They have scored three times this season under that scenario. Young goalie Michael Hutchinson, who had a 4.06 goals against average head-to-head against the Flyers, had a couple of terrific saves, including one on Wayne Simmonds in the slot. Where was that pressure on Hutchinson earlier in the period? Or earlier in the game?