Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

Flyers at Hurricanes
1 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet

The Flyers (31-29-17) will mercifully finish the road portion of their schedule when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes (28-38-11) at PNC Arena Saturday afternoon. 

Here’s what you need to know before puck drop:

1. Road kill
Take it away, Mark Streit.

“The road hasn’t been good this year and it’s a big part of why we’re out of the playoff race,” the veteran defenseman said Friday (see story). “[Saturday], we play a team that plays good at home. We just want to finish on a positive note. It’s a good test for us.”

The road has been an absolute nightmare for the Flyers all season. They’ve scored just 92 goals away from the Wells Fargo Center and have allowed 129 for a pitiful minus-37 differential.

The Flyers are among four teams that have failed to record more than 10 road wins in 2014-15. Their miserable road record (10-20-10) is a major reason why they were eliminated from postseason contention a week ago.

And if the Flyers fall to the Hurricanes, they will finish with their fewest wins away from Philadelphia in a non-shortened season since the 1991-92 campaign (10-26-4), according to STATS. Yikes.

2. Eye of the storm
If we were to use the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale, this Carolina club would probably peak as a Category 2 on a good day.

Simply put, the Hurricanes have no offense. They average just 2.25 goals per game. Only the New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres score less.

Perhaps the team’s biggest crutch is its play at even strength. The Hurricanes rank 27th in the NHL in 5-on-5 scoring (0.75).

Strangely, Carolina is solid on both the power play and penalty kill. They have the league’s 10th-best PP unit and are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for second in the NHL in PK effectiveness at 85.3 percent. 

The Hurricanes also have the Flyers’ number. They’ve taken two of the first three matchups between the two clubs this season and have won the last four meetings in Raleigh.

3. Injuries
The Flyers have a long list of players who will miss the final five games of the season.

Defensemen Andrew MacDonald (hand), Luke Schenn (abdomen) and Radko Gudas (knee) and forwards R.J. Umberger (hip/abdomen) and Wayne Simmonds (leg) are all out. 

For the Hurricanes, forward Riley Nash and defenseman Jack Hillen are sidelined with concussions. Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen will not play because of a sprained MCL. 

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: After scoring twice in the Flyers’ 4-1 win over the Penguins, forward Brayden Schenn is just one goal or assist away from setting a new career high in points. The 23-year-old tallied 20 markers last season, but hasn’t made the most of increase in ice time in 2014-15. He spent a large chunk of games skating on the team’s top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek but enters Saturday with just 16 goals in 77 games. With five games remaining, it’s not outrageous to think he can reach the 20-goal mark for a second straight season. Anything is possible. But the Flyers will certainly be looking for more from the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder moving forward. 

Hurricanes: Carolina hasn’t supplied many goals as of late, but that hasn’t stopped rookie winger Chris Terry from finding his way onto the scoresheet. The 25-year-old has potted two goals and assisted two more during his current four-game point streak. Terry is one of a handful of Hurricanes players who is playing for a job next season. He’s proved he can put up solid numbers in the AHL — 299 points in 375 games — but hasn’t yet shown the consistency needed to play every day in the NHL. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder has good offensive instincts, and could be a solid depth forward on a rebuilding Hurricanes team. He wears No. 25.

5. This and that
• The Flyers have lost six of their last seven matchups against the Hurricanes.

• Carolina has been outscored, 12-4, during its current three-game losing streak.

• Ray Emery is 5-0-0 with a 0.74 goals-against average and .977 save percentage and two shutouts in five career starts against the Hurricanes.

• Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has six goals and six assists in his last 11 games against the Flyers.

• Streit is four points away from becoming the first Flyers defenseman to record 50 points in a season since Chris Pronger accomplished that feat in 2009-10.

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov moved on but didn’t forget.

The 19-year-old still remembers losing his footing on the United Center ice in front of 21,263 fans, alone in his own end and costing the Flyers a goal in a blowout defeat to the Blackhawks on Oct. 18.

In just his third NHL game, Provorov had his rookie moment. He also had a minus-5 rating when the 7-4 loss was all said and done.

Well, on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, he saw the Blackhawks again and made it a point to show them his best. Provorov ripped off two goals in 31 seconds of the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit and spearhead a 3-1 win for the Flyers (see story).

Better output than last time?

Provorov laughed, paused and then laughed again.

“A little bit,” he said. “I think so.

“I was trying to use it as a positive thing. Try to prove that that’s not me, that it’s just one bad game.”

Consider that job done.

“I didn’t play my best at that game,” Provorov said. “But I put it behind me, learned from it and this was a better result tonight.”

In 31 ticks of the clock, the Russian defenseman topped his goal total through the first 25 games (see 10 observations). Provorov uncorked a slap shot and slung a wrister for the tallies early in the middle stanza.

“I think you have to keep everything in perspective from a night like that,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said of Provorov’s first game against Chicago. “He is a guy that continues to work at his game and continues to build.”

Provorov didn’t net the hat trick, but in the same period, saved a goal on the defensive end when he quickly pounced on a puck dribbling toward the goal line off and behind goalie Steve Mason.

“I came from the left corner and I saw the puck was rolling on Mase’s shoulder,” Provorov said. “It went down, rolled to the goal line. I just got there as quick as I could and swiped it out.

“I think it was close. As soon as I saw the puck, I tried to get there as fast as I can.”

After experiencing some growing pains to start the season, Provorov has played better. Once he makes a mistake, he rarely makes it again.

“He’s just beyond his years in terms of maturity and the way he studies the game,” Hakstol said a little over two weeks ago. “He’s a young guy that I can probably ask him about a play that happened two weeks ago in a game and he would immediately have recall on that play. A very intelligent player, he’s handled the ups and the downs pretty well."

Mason isn't surprised by Provorov's development.

"When you come into the league at a young age, it’s not easy and you’ve got to get your feet under you," Mason said. "We’re starting to see that [with Provorov]."

And two goals in half a minute don’t hurt.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said. “Two great plays by our forwards. The whole team, it was a great effort, we played a great hockey game, so it was easy to play.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster. For me, it’s defense first but when you get goals and assists, it’s always nice.”

The Flyers had the players’ dads on hand for Saturday’s game. Provorov’s father, Vladimir, couldn’t make it from Russia, but you can bet he tuned in.

“He watches every game back home,” Provorov said. “Today was a little easier because it’s only 9 p.m. back home when the game started, so yeah, I think my whole family watched it.”

He watches the other games at 3, 4 a.m.?

“Yeah,” Provorov said with a smile, “then he takes my brother to practice at 6.”

Eric Semborski, from Temple club hockey to NHL goalie for a day against Flyers

Eric Semborski, from Temple club hockey to NHL goalie for a day against Flyers

Eric Semborski woke up Saturday and drove to work in Voorhees, New Jersey.

It was just an ordinary morning for the 23-year-old, a Temple graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sports management.

Little did he know, in a couple of hours his world would turn upside down.

Semborski, who works for Snider Hockey and at Flyers Skate Zone running goalie clinics and roller leagues, hadn’t played competitively since suiting up for the Owls’ club team in the spring of 2015.

That was until Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, where, someway, somehow he was draped in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey and squaring up blazing shots off the sticks of Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith, just to name a few.

Quite the promotion, huh?

“It’s surreal, really,” he said. “I can’t explain it.”

Could anyone?

“I couldn’t imagine the rush,” Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling said.

Incredibly and astonishingly, Semborski turned into an NHL goaltender for a day as Chicago’s second string to Darling, who suffered a 3-1 loss to the Flyers.

How Semborski was found and summoned by the Blackhawks is still somewhat of a mystery, even to the Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, native himself. Once Chicago received word that regular starter Corey Crawford had to suddenly undergo an appendectomy at a Philadelphia hospital, the Blackhawks started scrambling for an emergency backup to Darling.

“I was at work, at the rink in Voorhees just coaching,” Semborski said. “My boss called me and I missed it. I walked off the ice and started talking with someone from the Flyers, he started asking me, ‘Where’d you play hockey, what’s your playing history?’” 

Semborski was confounded.

“I didn’t even know what he was getting at,” he said. “I asked, ‘Why are you asking me this?’ And he said, ‘Oh, Chicago needs a goalie.’ I just lost it. He said, ‘Go home, get your stuff and if they’re going to use you, they’ll call you.’ I left right away.

“I was like, OK, this probably isn’t going to happen, there’s no way.”

Ten minutes later …

“I’m in the truck and I got a call from Chicago,” Semborski said.

Who was it?

“I just know his name’s Tony,” Semborski said. “That’s all I know.”

How the heck did the Chicago Blackhawks, winners of three Stanley Cups since 2010, find a regular, hard-working guy living in Manayunk to be their reserve netminder?

“No idea,” Semborski said, still in awe talking after the game outside the locker rooms. “I think it had something to do with me working with Snider Hockey, working at Voorhees. They asked around and people just threw my name out I guess. I really don’t know how it happened. I’ll have to get to the bottom of that and thank some people. I have no idea who gave them my info, but whoever did, thank you, because it was awesome.”

So Semborski hustled from Voorhees to Manayunk, packed up his gear — including his old Temple mask, sporting the words “Philly Proud” and “Temple Tuff” — and quickly made his way to the Wells Fargo Center. He arrived around 12:30 p.m. before puck drop at 1.

“I hit some traffic on 76 (Schuylkill Expressway), of course,” Semborski said. “I got here as fast as I could in my street clothes. No time to put on a tie.”

Once Semborski signed his amateur tryout, it became real. He walked into the visiting locker room and there were the Blackhawks and his NHL jersey, a makeshift uniform with Crawford’s No. 50.

“It was hanging up when I got in there,” he said. “I guess they took Crawford’s and threw a name on it and made it work.”

Prior to hitting the ice for warmups, Semborski got acquainted with his teammates.

“Dream come true,” he said. “That was so cool, just hanging out with those guys. They made me feel welcomed right away, started joking around.

“When I got there, they put my number on the board and said I’m throwing in $200 for the holiday party. That was pretty good. I told them, ‘You better take credit because that’s all I got.’”

What about his big-money contract?

“No, I should be paying them for this,” Semborski said. “That was awesome.

“I signed some stuff when I came in, I don’t know what it was. I’m happy with a hat and the memories.”

Especially taking the net in warmups.

“I was a bit rusty, but no matter how much I play, I’m not going to be ready for them,” he said. “It was fast and I couldn’t even catch my breath because I was trying to take it all in. That was the best 20 minutes of my life out there skating with them.

“You’re playing against the best guys in the world. I knew I wasn’t going to stop most of them. I was lucky if it hit me.”

As for the game, Semborski didn’t play.

“Well you almost saw it,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said, referring to his frustration with a three-goal second period by the Flyers.

“That probably would have been a big mistake,” Semborski said with a laugh.

“That would have been so cool, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The experience was awesome.”

What did Quenneville think?

"That’s part of the process with all of the teams, they have the local amateur guys or sometimes guys who have played pro before," he said. "But with our cap situation, we needed an amateur, so he fit all the criteria and it was a good opportunity for him. ... It’s kind of a cool experience for the kid."

So Semborski sat on the bench, padded and ready. He smiled and watched, supporting his new team.

He, of course, is a Flyers fan, but …

“Not today,” he said with a smile. “Every other day, yeah, but not today.

“When I first got out there, I was like, ‘All right, if [the Flyers] score, don’t stand up. Just relax.’”

Semborski admitted to Chicago breaking his heart in 2010 when it beat the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final.

“That was one of the hardest things I ever watched,” he said. “But today, that’s all forgotten. I’m a ‘Hawks fan today.”

Afterward, Semborski said his phone was flooded with 70-something text messages and 20-plus phone calls.

“I’m going to have to start calling some people,” he said.

His first will probably be to a special loved one.

“It’s my dad’s birthday,” Semborski said. “So, happy birthday, Dad. Best present ever for you.”