Flyers hit new low with another head-scratching loss to Devils

Flyers hit new low with another head-scratching loss to Devils

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. -- Call it "The Nightmare in Newark."

A film directed by the Flyers and one you've already seen before.

Needing just about every game left on the regular-season slate, the Flyers walked into the Prudential Center on Thursday in favorable position, at least one would think on this specific night.

After all, the Devils had lost 10 straight games and were virtually playing for nothing, unlike the Flyers, clinging for dear life onto their playoff hopes.

In actuality, none of that meant a darn thing. The Flyers were manhandled, yet again, by New Jersey, this version a 6-2 embarrassing loss (see Instant Replay). For Dave Hakstol's team, that's now three losses in three tries against the Devils this season by a combined score of 14-3.

What gives?

"For whatever reason, we don't perform to our capabilities in this arena," Brayden Schenn said. "I don’t know what it is. They were hungrier right from the start tonight and they deserve this win."

How can the Flyers fall so badly in such dire circumstances?

The scary thing is no one really had an answer.

"We were flat," Jakub Voracek said. "No idea why. We knew it was another big game for us."

The Flyers scored first with three minutes left in the opening stanza when Claude Giroux and Voracek created a wide-open shot for Michael Del Zotto.

From there, it was all downhill as the plot turned ugly.

New Jersey scored the next three goals to grab a commanding 3-1 lead in the second period. The Flyers got one back, but then allowed a bad breakaway tally to Taylor Hall early in the third that resulted in Steve Mason's exit because of an injury sustained on the play (see story).

The Flyers went quietly into the final buzzer while the Devils never let off the gas.

It was a listless finish by the Flyers, who had four shots in the third period of which their effort was questioned afterward.

"No, I don't think anybody's giving up," Giroux responded.

"That doesn't mean we're giving up. No one is going to give up here until the end of the season. We're going to keep working and keep working on our game."

Can they be angrier?

"Yeah, we're angry," Giroux said. "We know we're a better team, we know we can be in a better position. That's not the case and we need to keep working, keep working to be a better team."

Hakstol didn't see quit in the third period.

"No, the team didn't give up.

"We didn't win enough of the races and battles tonight. That's the bottom line."

When asked for reasons why that was, why the Flyers were so thoroughly outplayed and slower, Hakstol wouldn't expand.

"I'm not going to get into it," he said. "We're on the second night of a back-to-back, but at this time of year, none of us are going to make excuses for that. It's a fact of life.

"The fourth goal against early in the third period kind of took the wind out of the sails. … Not a real push once we got down by two."

The Flyers are now further down and nearly out in the Eastern Conference playoff race. On Thursday, the Maple Leafs (78 points) beat the Lightning (77) to jump them and the Islanders (77) -- who lost to the Jets -- for the current grip of the second wild-card bid.

The Flyers, at 72 points, have 12 games remaining -- including two more against these Devils.

"We're in a bad position," Voracek said. "Every game we go into, we have to win.

"We just didn't have it today, which is weird battling for the playoffs."

Puzzling, indeed.

NHL Notes: Oilers trade Jordan Eberle to Islanders

NHL Notes: Oilers trade Jordan Eberle to Islanders

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have traded forward Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Ryan Strome.

Eberle has 165 goals and 217 assists over 507 career NHL games, all with Edmonton. He has scored at least 20 goals in each of the past four seasons, and had a career-high 34 in 2011-12.

The Oilers selected Eberle with the 22nd-overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft.

Strome was selected fifth overall by the Islanders in 2011. He has 45 goals and 81 assists in 258 career games with the Isles (see full story).

Panthers: Former Flyer Pronger added to front office
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Former NHL MVP Chris Pronger has joined the Florida Panthers' front office as a senior adviser to team president Dale Tallon.

Pronger played in five All-Star games, represented Canada in the Olympics four times, won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim and appeared in 1,167 regular-season games with five clubs.

The 42-year-old Pronger joins the Panthers after almost three years in the NHL's department of player safety. He joined the league office in October 2014.

The Hall of Fame defenseman's contract expired after this season. He hasn't played in an NHL game since 2012 because of post-concussion symptoms. He got a stick to the eye, which ended his playing career. Philadelphia traded his contract to Arizona in the summer of 2015 (see full story).

Flyers 2017 mock draft: More than just No. 2 pick in Rounds 1-4

Flyers 2017 mock draft: More than just No. 2 pick in Rounds 1-4

Nolan or Nico.

After weeks of debate, it's the 2017 NHL draft eve. Round 1 kicks off Friday in Chicago. The Flyers have 11 picks in total, including the third-round pick from Boston via the Zac Rinaldo trade.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. They'll select whomever the Devils do not draft at No. 1. They won't decide between Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier.

Seven of the Flyers' 11 picks fall in the first four rounds. They have one in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. Will they make all 11 picks? My bet is no.

With enough ammo, we could see general manager Ron Hextall move up in the middle rounds. This mock draft does not take trades into account. We're only mocking Rounds 1-4.

Each team has its own internal rankings that differ from Central Scouting's rankings and those of experts who study the draft. Mock drafts are good fun but largely a guessing game.

Here is our only look at how we think the NHL draft could shake out for the Flyers.

First round (second overall): Nolan Patrick, C, 6-3/198, Brandon (WHL)
Whether it's Patrick or Hischier, it's a win-win situation for the Flyers. The optics here are simple: the Flyers jumped 11 spots during the draft lottery to be in this position; it doesn't matter which one comes to Philly, either will be a significantly better option than at No. 13.

With that said, I still believe the Devils will ultimately draft Hischier, leaving Patrick for the Flyers. Patrick has three years under his belt in the Western Hockey League and may be ready to graduate to the professional ranks, but that will be settled in training camp.

Patrick checks all the boxes as a true 200-foot player who might not necessarily excel at any one aspect of the game but does everything well. Brandon GM Grant Armstrong said the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native "won't let anybody down," and his uncle, James Patrick, knew from when his nephew was 8 years old, he was destined for big things in hockey.

Second round (44th overall): Marcus Davidsson, C, 18, 6-0/191, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
Hextall said recently if the Flyers keep all 11 picks, they'd prefer to draft seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender. With a system heavy on D-men and goalies and a forward-heavy draft, the Flyers should stick with the forward route in the second round.

Brynäs IF center Jesper Boqvist would be an exciting option here but I don't see him falling to the Flyers at No. 44. Still, the Flyers stay in Sweden with Djurgårdens center Davidsson.

Davidsson is a two-way playmaking pivot known for his speed and work ethic. He scored nine points in 45 games last season in the SHL — eighth-best among junior-aged players. He models his game after Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. He would be more of a long-term pick than receiving immediate dividends. He still needs more seasoning.

Third round (75th overall): Josh Brook, D, 18, 6-1/191, Moose Jaw (WHL)
With four picks in the first three rounds, I wouldn't be shocked if the Flyers draft a defenseman in the third round. They should add a right-handed shot in Brook here.

Brook, who finished as the 13th-best North American defenseman by Central Scouting, plays a strong positional game with good size. He emulates Penguins blueliner Kris Letang.

He's touted as a smart defender who also has offensive upside. He doesn't project to be a piece to build around but could fit well on a third pair with second-pair potential. In 69 games last season for Moose Jaw, Brook scored eight goals and 40 points.

Third round (80th overall, from BOS): Nick Henry, RW, 18, 5-11/190, Regina (WHL)
With the Rinaldo pick, the Flyers add their first natural winger into the mix in Henry, who registered 35 goals in his rookie season with Regina last season in the WHL.

Henry likens his game to Bruins forward David Krejci. He's a good skater with a decent shot that he'll benefit to utilize more often but has solid playmaking skills to boot.

He's not a big winger but in today's game, size isn't necessarily as important as it used to be. He'll need to add more muscle, though. The skill is there as evidenced by 1.13 points-per-game clip in his first year in the WHL. He'll end up being a solid prospect.

Fourth round (106th overall): Evan Barratt, C, 18, 5-11/187, USNTDP
The Flyers have three straight picks beginning with this pick — my prediction is they won't make all three — and they will bring the Penn State commit into the fold here.

Barratt is a Philly-area kid and a product of the USNTDP. He was born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, a town in Bucks County. He's an underrated prospect with good vision and playmaking ability and a high ceiling. Has defensive flaws but that's an area he'll need to work on at PSU.

The 18-year-old scored 18 goals and 56 points in 63 games for the USNTDP U-18 team in 2016-17, where he served as an alternate captain. He added 24 points in 26 USHL games.

Fourth round (107th overall, from TB): Kirill Maksimov, RW, 18, 6-2/201, Niagara (OHL)
Maksimov shot up from 185th in the midterm rankings to 66th on Central Scouting's final North American skater rankings and comes with plenty of upside as a middle-round pick.

The Moscow, Russia, native benefitted from a midseason trade from Saginaw. He scored 15 goals and 22 points in 29 games with Niagara and just 16 points in 37 games with Saginaw.

A speedy winger who forechecks well, Maksimov's draft stock has been helped with his strong second half and may get him into the third round, but this is a safe spot for him.

Fourth round (108th overall, from NYI): Tobias Geisser, D, 6-4/200, EV Zug (Swiss-2)
With five forwards in their first six picks, the Flyers go back to the blue line here with Geisser, a big mobile left-handed shot who will be a long-term project.

Geisser spent time in both the Swiss A and B league last year. He scored 10 points in 34 games with EV Zug of the Swiss B league and had one assist for Zug in the Swiss A league.

He has a ton of tools to work with, but will definitely have to get stronger and then adjust to the North American game once he comes overseas whenever that would be.