Flyers fail again to put together complete game

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Flyers fail again to put together complete game

For the Flyers, playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins is always an opportunity to get a real sense of how they stack up to one of the NHL’s best teams.

And after Thursday’s 4-1 loss, the verdict is in: Never mind their 1-7 record. The Flyers can hang with the Penguins, the team that lays claim to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

They just can’t compete for a full 60 minutes -- and therein lies the problem.

“It’s tough to win games when we played one period like we can,” Max Talbot said. “I think in the third, that’s the type of hockey we want to play. First and second, especially the second period, I really think we didn’t show up.”

After 40 minutes, the Flyers trailed in shots, 29-13. They had incurred four avoidable penalties. They struggled to so much as break out of their own zone, getting caught flat-footed and failing to get much of anything generated offensively.

Had goaltender Steve Mason not put in yet another stellar performance, well, we could be talking about a total blowout in the second period alone. Remarkably, the Flyers entered the third period trailing only 2-1.

They were lucky.

“My opinion, and I think everybody else’s opinion, was [it was] terrible hockey,” Mason said. “You’re not going to win hockey games like that. I thought the guys came out with a lot more emotion in the third period, and that’s the way we need to play. If we can start playing like that, we’ll be more successful than we are.”

For days, head coach Craig Berube has commented on the Flyers’ progress. He’s made note of the small improvements from one game to the next. Even in the team’s last two games, the losses to Detroit and Vancouver, Berube was clear that there were positive takeaways. Their five-on-five play was improving, he said. They were moving their feet better, he said.

So what was the Flyers’ problem against the Penguins, then?

“They stopped playing,” Berube said. “They were standing around watching them play.”

The Flyers fell victim to yet another slow start Thursday night, trailing early in shots, 8-1, and taking two penalties in the first six minutes of play. But they were able to put together a few chances, and where they failed, Mason stood tall.

After 20 minutes, they held tightly to a 0-0 tie. It was after then that, for whatever reason, things truly imploded.

For a Flyers team that now officially owns the worst start in franchise history, it’s no surprise the players are starting to get irritated.

“Obviously, guys are frustrated,” Brayden Schenn said. “You want to win hockey games. But the same time, we have five or six days off here to regroup and look forward to a new start, new challenges ahead, if we can.

“Look at our record -- obviously now we’ve got to look forward, have a good week of practice here, and just be better after the break.”

The good news, perhaps, is that the Flyers really did ramp up their energy in the third period. They might not have scored, and they did give up two goals (one an empty-netter), but they looked like a team working in sync.

In the third period alone, the Flyers almost doubled their shot total to 25 sent in on Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. They were far more disciplined, and actually had a few very good chances on the two power plays they were awarded.

“We’ve got to play like that for 60 minutes,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We need to start being more desperate. It’s just not good enough.

The Flyers will not have a chance to attempt a complete game until next Thursday when they host the New York Rangers. Until then, they’ll have a full six days to skate hard and work to correct the obvious mistakes they’ve made thus far -- and, as Simmonds notes, work on their desperation level.

What they won’t do, however, is dwell on their 1-7 start.

“We all know what our record is,” Schenn said. “There’s no sense in dwelling on it. You might as well try to look forward, look at good things ahead, and not worry about our record right now.”

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Two days before the NHL trade deadline, Mark Streit is content.
 
Not with how the Flyers are playing or anything even close to that.
 
The 39-year-old defenseman is content with his role on the Flyers and would very much like to complete his fourth and final season with the club to the bitter end.
 
Whether that's the playoffs or going home early.
 
Somewhere out there, there's a playoff club with a struggling power play that could use his skill set. Perhaps San Jose, which has a poor power play. Yet the Sharks are in need of a scoring winger, not another blueliner.
 
As an unrestricted free agent, Streit is a perfect candidate to be moved at this point.
 
"I don't know, to be honest," Streit said on Monday. "I don't know. Maybe there is a demand for me. I don't really think about it.
 
"I'm an older guy and my contract is up. Usually, you talk about those guys being dealt. That is just the nature of the business. But I love being here, love the guys and love the team. I want to win with this team."
 
The Flyers aren't going to win the Stanley Cup this season. Right now, they're not even going to make the playoffs.
 
Kimmo Timonen was a Flyer a few years ago, missed nearly the entire 2014-15 season with blood clots, and when he was finally allowed to play, asked to be traded to a playoff contender.
 
Timonen won a Cup with Chicago.
 
Streit has a modified no-trade clause and can give the Flyers a list of 10 clubs to be traded to.
 
"[Timonen] was in a little bit of a different situation," Streit said. "He didn't play a big part of the year and he came back and we were out of the playoffs.
 
"If I were 100 percent sure this was my last year and I would retire, then I would probably look at it differently. I still feel great, I still want to play. So this is a little different.
 
"I am not looking like I want to get dealt and go to a contender or anything like that. That's why I don't look at it like Kimmo's situation."
 
It's entirely possible the Flyers move Streit and then re-sign him for one year to act as a veteran presence in the dressing room next season to bring along some of the younger defensemen, perhaps Robert Hagg and/or Sam Morin or Travis Sanheim.
 
Streit told CSNPhilly.com Monday even if he finishes the season here, he would like to return to the Flyers on a short-term deal to help transition some of the young talent the Flyers are expected to promote next season.
 
"It's on my mind," Streit said. "We're going to have a lot of free agents (defensemen) and maybe there's going to be changes and maybe not.
 
"There's young guys on the team. ... I would like doing that, like I have with Ghost [Shayne Gostisbehere] and Provy [Ivan Provorov] and I think it'd be a great thing to do. I've already thought about that and yeah, it's an option for sure."
 
Group meeting
Streit was part of a leadership group meeting at center ice Monday at Skate Zone during Flyers practice with coach Dave Hakstol. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds were included, as well.
 
Neither Hakstol nor those involved in the meeting would speak to its specifics.
 
"When you win 10 in a row, everything is easy," Streit said. "Everybody is happy and everything works itself out. Times like [this] it's up to guys in the room to lead by example.
 
"If you play good, you've got to play great. If you're playing great, you've just got to play a little bit better and help the team in a good way, a positive way. You can only do it as a team ... you're not going to do it as individuals."
 
Giroux offered his take on the meeting, as well.
 
"We have to find a way to win hockey games," Giroux said. "Everybody is frustrated right now. We can't be pointing fingers.
 
"Everybody needs to be a little bit better and give a little more and go one game at a time here. Tomorrow, we're back in front of our fans. We've got to get this win, we know that. We've just got to keep at it."
 
Loose pucks
Steve Mason is expected to start in goal Tuesday against Colorado after sitting six consecutive games. ... Travis Konecny (ankle and knee) skated with assistant coach Ian Laperriere and then participated in limited practice with the team. He could return by the weekend. 

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning was suspended two games for his illegal hit to Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel during Saturday's 4-2 loss in the Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.
 
Manning's shoulder made contact with Guentzel's head.
 
Manning wasn't surprised and even admitted to reporters that he fully expected "one or two" games because he hit a player who didn't have control of the puck yet.
 
Strangely, there was no penalty on the play for interference, yet the NHL's explanation on Monday afternoon specifically cited "interference" as the reason for the suspension.
 
This is Manning's first NHL suspension.
 
The hearing was conducted on the phone Monday with Stephane Quintal, senior vice-president of NHL Player Safety. Manning will forfeit $10,833.34 in salary.
 
"It was late," Manning said of the hit. "He didn't touch the puck after it hit his skate, which I thought he was going to do. They do their whole breakdown by time frame."
 
Manning said he caught Guentzel's shoulder first, then his head "on the follow through" because Guentzel is shorter than him. The 6-foot-1 Manning has two inches on Guentzel.
 
Guentzel, who had two assists in the game, was not injured.
 
"Looking at it, [the hit] is a little late," Manning admitted. "I thought he was going to touch the puck. Usually, when a puck hits your skate, you pick it up, and he kinda left it. ... The hard part is, there was no penalty called on it."
 
Manning said he had to make a hit or face an odd-man rush.
 
"There were two players there and if I don't play my guy there, it’s a 3-on-1 the other way," he said. "You're giving up scoring chances. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. He finished the game and that's always the good thing."
 
Mark Streit, sitting on the bench at the time, said he saw the hit and was shocked at the suspension.
 
"It was a great hit," Streit said. "You look at the replay and everything looks different. You can slow down every hit and talk about it. I guess it was a little late ..."
 
Manning's suspension likely means Michael Del Zotto will play against Colorado on Tuesday.
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Manning has been a "solid piece" for the club this season.
 
"He brings that physical edge, he's been reliable, and he's been a staple for our lineup," Hakstol said. "That's a hole we'll have to fill over next couple of games here."
 
Manning will also miss Thursday's game against Florida.