Flyers-Ducks: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Ducks: 5 things you need to know

Scoring outburst? Check. Back-to-back wins? Check. The Flyers are still far from perfect, but there were several positives that came from the club’s 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday.

The Flyers (3-7-0) will look to build on their best effort of the early season when they host the Anaheim Ducks (9-3-0), who are in the midst of an eight-game road trip, at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. (CSN) and here are five things you need to know for the contest:

1. Keep it going
The Flyers entered Saturday with their leading goal scorer in the AHL. Tye McGinn, who had three goals in a brief stint with the Flyers as an injury call-up, was sent down to the Phantoms to make room for a returning Scott Hartnell.

So what did Vinny Lecavalier do? He made sure the Flyers left Long Island with a leading goal scorer who is actually on the current roster. Lecavalier netted his seventh career hat trick, and now has four goals and two assists in his first seven games in orange and black.

Lecavalier, however, didn’t act alone in the Flyers’ victory over the Isles. Several players had solid performances including Jakub Voracek, who netted his first marker of the season, Michael Raffl, who picked up his first NHL point, and former Islander Mark Streit, who collected two helpers. Even struggling center Claude Giroux got himself into the mix, earning two assists of his own.

After a horrid 1-7-0 start, the Flyers certainly appear on the precipice of breaking out after two wins over the New York teams of the NHL. They’ll search for their first three-game winning streak of the season against a very good Anaheim club.

The Ducks are capable of putting up goals at will -- they are averaging 3.17 per game -- but will also wear teams down physically. If the Flyers carry over their effort from the Islanders game, then Tuesday should be an entertaining matchup.

2. Advantage Flyers?
Believe it or not, the Flyers are actually better on special teams than the Ducks, statistically speaking. Both teams have struggled this season while on the power play, but the Flyers have the advantage in this game (see story).

The Flyers, who snapped a 1-for-25 skid on the power play against the Isles, are 10 percent on the man advantage. They’ll be going up against a Ducks penalty-killing unit that is at 76.2 percent.

As good as Anaheim has been offensively, its power-play units have disappointed early on. The Ducks rank dead last in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 8.2 percent.

That’s not to say Anaheim is weak on the PP. The Flyers can’t afford to give players like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne more ice to work with in the game.

However, one of the few things the Flyers have done well this season is kill penalties. They’ve allowed just seven goals in 43 shorthanded situations. If you take away the three power-play goals the Flyers allowed in a loss to Detroit, the team’s PK would be at 88.8 percent instead of 83.7.

3. Clipped Ducks
While the Flyers are fielding a healthy lineup, the Ducks have a handful of injuries to key players.

Veteran Saku Koivu returned to Anaheim for tests after taking a hard hit during Sunday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Koivu was knocked unconscious on a check by Brandon Dubinsky and must be tested and evaluated before he is allowed to return to the Ducks, per NHL protocol.

Netminder Viktor Fasth also returned to Anaheim on Monday. Fasth, who is receiving additional treatment on his lower-body injury, hasn’t played since Oct. 16.

In addition, the Ducks are missing forwards Jakob Silfverberg (hand), Matt Beleskey (upper body) and defensemen Luca Sbisa (ankle) and Sheldon Souray (wrist).

Forwards Dustin Penner (concussion) and Mathieu Perreault (wrist) were both full participants at practice Monday and head coach Bruce Boudreau said it was possible one or both could return to the Ducks’ lineup on Tuesday.

4. Ducks fly together
Tuesday will be a measuring-stick game for the Flyers’ defense. The Ducks have a potent offense, led by Perry, Getzlaf and company.

A big reason for Anaheim’s strong start is the balance throughout its lineup. Six players have scored three or more goals already, with Perry (six) and Getzlaf (five) leading the way. In addition, 12 Ducks have registered four or more points.

In comparison, the Flyers have just two players with at least three goals (Lecavalier and McGinn) and only five have four or more points (Lecavalier, Giroux, Streit, Voracek and Brayden Schenn).

The Flyers would be smart to pay attention to Perry. The former MVP has back-to-back two-point games and has three goals and four assists in his last five contests.

Don’t forget about Getzlaf, either. The Ducks’ captain is at a point-per-game pace (12) and trails Perry by just one point for the team lead.

5. This and that
• The Flyers have not played Anaheim since Dec. 2, 2011. In that game, Jaromir Jagr scored twice and added an assist to help the orange and black to a 4-3 overtime victory. Kimmo Timonen registered three helpers, while Giroux and Hartnell each had a goal and an assist.

• Selanne, who is in his 22nd NHL season, has faced the Flyers 21 times in the regular season. The 43-year-old has 17 goals and 13 assists in those contests.

• Due in large part to the strong play of Steve Mason, the Flyers have allowed the fewest goals of any team in the Metropolitan Division (27).

Flyers' disallowed early goal costly for team struggling to score

Flyers' disallowed early goal costly for team struggling to score

It was just pouring out of Flyers swing forward Dale Weise after Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.

A disallowed goal because of him.

A strong game in every respect from his teammates.

A realization that things never seem to change for Dave Hakstol’s club.

“We come out with a great start,” Weise said. “Get on the forecheck. The building is lively. We score what we think is a first goal which we haven’t done a lot this year.

“I’m not going to say it’s a game-changer. Whatever it was, it didn’t end the game. But that’s a pretty big part of the game.” 

Weise ended up grabbing Caps goalie Braden Holtby. He said he did so for support or he would have knocked him over since he was trying to position his stick.

Funny things is, Holtby apparently never felt the contact. When the Caps challenged Jakub Voracek’s goal on the first shift of the game, it was overturned.

“Yeah, I obviously didn’t see the interference part I just kind of followed the puck and next thing I know it was kind of out of the play so a little fortunate, a great call by our video coaches,” Holtby said.

Weise wasn’t sure what he did amounted to much because it happened before Voracek’s shot and not during the act of shooting that would have prevented Holtby from getting position.

“To be really honest with you I don’t think I really touched him that hard,” Weise said.

Goals are so hard to come by these days for the Flyers. To score one a half-minute into play in a huge rivalry game, with them so desperate for points, and then to lose the goal and the momentum early, it becomes a significant event in the overall outcome.

The Caps made the most of their chances. Just like Calgary did last week.

“Winning and losing is so thin in this league and when you’re playing a team like that who just has loads of offensive talent, you give them one, two opportunities and they score on it,” Weise said.

“For a team like us that doesn’t score very often, that’s tough. We are playing behind the eight ball every night. It’s frustrating. I’m not going to lie and say it’s not in our head when we get down because you can see the way we play.

“We’re gripping the sticks. I really liked our effort though. I thought we played hard the whole night. Full marks to our team but it’s just kind of the same story every night.”

It’s trite but the term “snake bit” has been used a lot lately in talking about the Flyers since their 10-game win streak ended.

“That’s a good way to put it,” Weise said. “Look at that one there. Touch the goalie, goal disallowed. [Ivan Provorov] hits the cross bar. We had a couple other chances in tight. Snake bitten, I don’t even know if there’s a word for how I feel right now.”

It doesn’t get any easier this weekend with the Flyers' playing in their first outdoor game in five seasons.

Another even more bitter rival: the Penguins at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field on Saturday night. Taking two from the Pens will require a supreme effort and maybe a little luck for a change. The Flyers have been real short on luck all season.

The Flyers' dressing room after games, of late, has the feel of a morgue sometimes. Over the last 10 games, the Flyers have seven losses (including overtime). In six of those losses, they have scored one goal or no goals.

“We got a pretty positive group in here,” Weise said. “We try our best to come in every day and be positive. It’s a tough situation right now. Every day we’re fighting for our playoff life so that’s in the back of everyone’s mind.

“It makes it more frustrating when you’re playing, so well. I thought we played a pretty good game tonight. That goal disallowed we come right back. They make it two nothing on the power play.

“We kept going. We played well. We had a lot of chances. Good start to the second period again. We came out strong but we just can’t seem to finish.”

Veteran defenseman Mark Streit said they're playing well, but losing doesn’t make up ground in the standings. The Flyers remain three points out of the wild card going into the weekend.

Of their remaining 22 games, 19 are against the Eastern Conference, so mathematically, they have a chance to recoup points.

“We keep telling that we’ve been playing pretty well but lose a lot of hockey games,” Streit said. “We just got to find a way ...

“We have to find a way to turn it around, to get the bounces, just to get a little bit lucky out there, and to get the ugly goal. It’s tough. It’s frustrating. But it’s also the bloody truth.” 

Flyers gearing up for first outdoor game since 2012

Flyers gearing up for first outdoor game since 2012

It’s been five years since the Flyers played an NHL game outdoors: the 2012 Winter Classic.

Seems like yesterday, doesn’t it?

Citizens Bank Park. The day after New Year’s. Sun beating down amid 40-degree temperatures and the game being moved back to 3:30 p.m. to assure better ice.

Well, it’s going to happen again Saturday night at Heinz Field as the Flyers meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL’s Stadium Series.

Dave Hakstol’s team will practice Thursday morning at Skate Zone, fly to Pittsburgh, then practice Friday at 5 p.m. on the outdoor ice.

Seven current Flyers played in the 2012 Winter Classic: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Michael Del Zotto, who played for the Rangers.

“It was kinda fun,” Del Zotto said this week. “Wasn’t that when [Danny] Briere had that penalty shot at the end? How much time was left? Couple seconds?”

More than that. There were 19.6 ticks left when Briere was foiled by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in a 3-2 loss, in which Mike Rupp, of all players, scored twice on Sergei Bobrovsky.

Even worse, the Flyers blew an early 2-0 lead.

“It was a ton of fun, just awesome,” Del Zotto recalled. “You try not to get too hyped up in the moment. That one, our first one and one of the first they had done. So much fun. It bring you back to your roots.

“For me, growing up, I had a backyard rink. I remember it was like yesterday being on that thing. All day every day I had a chance. But we also have to realize it’s a huge game for us. It’s a four-point game. Although it is outdoors or indoors, we need those points.”

Things could be rather wet. For starters, the temperature in Pittsburgh is supposed to hit 77 degrees on Friday. That could severely affect the Penguins skate at 2:30, the Flyers practice later and their family skate, as well.

Then on Saturday, the temperature drops into the low 40s but not before some significant rain. When the Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Winter Classic, it rained but the ice didn’t melt.

“I'm sure they will do the best they can to have it ready,” Del Zotto said. “Unless it is really cold, the ice is always going to be chippy playing outdoors

“It doesn’t matter what the ice conditions are because both teams are playing with it. It’s not an advantage or disadvantage for either team. Both have to deal with it.”

In all, there are 14 Flyers, who have participated in an outdoor game either in the NHL, AHL, Europe or in college, during their lifetime.

Most of them say the hardest thing to get used to is ocular – looking through the glass and not seeing the fans. It’s like playing in an open environment all around you without people.

“It’s a little bit different, but you get used to it,” Del Zotto said. “After the anthem, you kinda get used to it. From there on, the game is going on and the crowd, you zone them out. You don’t even hear them and just focus on the game.”