Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

flyers-hurricanes-matchup.jpg

Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

Two struggling Metropolitan Division clubs will hit the ice on Tuesday night.

The Flyers (4-9-0) will look to carry over momentum gained in a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils when they take on the depleted Carolina Hurricanes (2-6-2) for the second time this season.

The puck will drop at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. at 7:30 p.m. (CSN). Here are five things you need to know for the contest:

1. Welcome back, Vinny
After missing one game because of a facial injury suffered in a fight with Washington’s Steve Oleksy on Friday, Vinny Lecavalier will return to the Flyers’ lineup against Carolina (see story).

The Flyers’ big offseason acquisition practiced on Claude Giroux’s line with Scott Hartnell on Monday. Lecavalier denied reports that he had a broken jaw, but did still have some swelling on the left side of his face.

In order to protect himself, Lecavalier will wear a helmet with a half-shield, half-cage. He tried using a bubble shield, but quickly switched to a different bucket.

“I wanted to try both,” he said. “I was happy I started off with the cage because I felt a lot better with the thing [Sidney] Crosby wore last year -- the little protective thing. It fogs up a little bit, but I had better vision with the second one.”

Lecavalier, who missed three games earlier this season with a lower-body injury and four overall through the first 13 games, leads the Flyers with five goals and is tied with Brayden Schenn for the team lead in points with seven. Steve Downie, who is out indefinitely with a concussion, also has seven points but he recorded all of them as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

2. Eye of the storm
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Hurricanes. Carolina enters Tuesday with a five-game losing streak and has several key players sidelined with injuries.

Leading-scorer Jeff Skinner -- nine points in 10 games -- is out with an upper-body injury and missed practice Monday to seek a second opinion on whatever is bothering him. The Hurricanes haven’t clarified exactly what the 21-year-old’s injury is, but he has had concussion problems in the past.

To make matters worse, both of Carolina’s netminders are on injured reserve with lower-body ailments. Starter Cam Ward isn’t skating yet and backup Anton Khudobin, who stopped 17 of 18 shots in the Hurricanes’ win over the Flyers earlier this season, is progressing slowly.

Radek Dvorak (lower body) skated with the ‘Canes on Monday and could be activated from IR to play against the Flyers. In addition, Tim Gleason and Kevin Westgarth are both listed as day-to-day with upper-body injuries and are questionable for Tuesday’s game.

Finally, former Flyer Joni Pitkanen (heel) is out for the season, leaving a big hole on Carolina’s blueline. With the exception of Downie, the Flyers will field a healthy roster.

3. Defensive carousel
The Flyers have already used all eight of their defensemen on the active roster this season, mostly because of inconsistent play on the blueline.

Head coach Craig Berube has inserted Andrej Meszaros and Erik Gustafsson in and out of the lineup a few times, but made another move on Saturday. Luke Schenn was a healthy scratch and Hal Gill made his official Flyers debut.

Gill, now in his 16th NHL season, played nearly 15 minutes and was aggressive in front of the Flyers’ net. Only Braydon Coburn logged more shorthanded minutes than Gill among defensemen. The Flyers allowed just 14 shots and did not register a single giveaway in the win.

At practice Monday, Berube’s defensive parings were identical to the ones used in the New Jersey game. It looks like Gill and Meszaros will remain in the lineup, leaving Gustafsson and Schenn to be scratched again.  

4. Struggling offenses
The Flyers and Hurricanes are two of six NHL clubs averaging under two goals per game in the early going.

The Flyers’ offensive struggles returned after a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders. In the three games since that victory, the orange and black have netted just three markers. In addition, their 21 goals are an NHL-low.

Carolina has only five tallies during its current losing streak. The ‘Canes have 27 goals in 14 games overall.

5. This and that
• Luke Schenn netted the Flyers’ lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Carolina on Oct. 6. Dvorak potted the game-winner for the ‘Canes.

• Steve Mason is 5-1-0 with a .941 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average in six career starts against the Hurricanes. Ray Emery’s numbers are even better. He’s gone 5-0-0 with a .977 save percentage, 0.74 goals-against average and two shutouts against Carolina.

• The Hurricanes will open a five-game homestand on Tuesday.

Connor McDavid: Brandon Manning made 'classless' comments about injury

Connor McDavid: Brandon Manning made 'classless' comments about injury

Connor McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season in the second period during the Flyers' 6-5 win on Thursday night (see Instant Replay). After his 12th goal of the year, McDavid made a point to stare down and exchange words with Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning.

In the first period, Manning and McDavid were in the middle of a scrum after the whistle, chirping each other (see 10 observations). The battle between the two roots back to when Manning broke the rising superstar’s collarbone November 2015 during a play against the boards in Edmonton.

“You know what, I did all I could defending him last year in the media," McDavid said after Thursday's game. "I didn’t want to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose.

"He wanted to make some comments today about what went on last year and I thought it was one of the classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things and our guys responded accordingly.

"We can put the whole 'he did it on purpose' thing to rest, because what he said out there confirmed that. It shows what kind of guy he is, how he doesn’t step up and fight some of our guys.”

Manning received death threats from Edmonton fans last season, and responded after the game Thursday, reiterating the play that injured McDavid was an accident.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here," Manning said, "knows that I am not that kind of player. I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that.

"I think going back to last year, it was a total accident. I mean, there were three players involved and there was never any intention of hurting anyone."

The injury ended up costing McDavid a few months, and a year later, the tension is still high between him and Manning.

As the second period moved along, McDavid continued to make plays for the Oilers. At the 4:35 mark in the second period, he took the puck away from the Flyers and then helped set up Andrej Sekera for a shorthanded goal that tied the game, 3-3.

The shorthanded goal helped give the Oilers momentum at the end of the period, but they could not carry it over to the third. The loss Thursday is the second night in a row in which Edmonton lost a game it looked like it was going to win.

“I’m not too sure what it is but I think we will figure it out,” McDavid said. "I’m not too sure what it is, like I said before. Something we need to figure out real fast here.”

Flyers top Oilers in thriller for seventh straight win

Flyers top Oilers in thriller for seventh straight win

BOX SCORE

Close your eyes and it was the 1980s all over again with the Edmonton Oilers piling up goals and Grant Fuhr giving up just as many.
 
Last goal wins.
 
Ah, but this is a different era with Connor McDavid not Wayne Gretzky.
 
Yet instead of McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, it was Michael Raffl scoring last as the Flyers twice overcame a two-goal deficit to burn the Oilers, 6-5, Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
That’s seven wins in succession for the Flyers, who are now tied for second in the Metro Division with the Rangers (35 points).
 
“We never give up no matter what the score is,” Jakub Voracek said. “We come back. We have a lot of good offensive players. We showed it again. Raffl was outstanding. He had a lot of scoring chances and he came up big.”

So many Flyers made critical plays. Voracek (plus-3) had a four-point game to go with the nifty pass off the offensive boards to Raffl, who then made a sharp cut to the net to wrist the puck past Jonas Gustavsson.
 
“Jakey banked it off the wall there and he wants me to make that play all the time, and he’s been hard on me about that,” said Raffl, who had a power move for the game-winner in Nashville last weekend. “I just put a little fake in there, got around the D-man and chipped it up high.”
 
This was a complete team comeback effort. Claude Giroux (plus-3) had two goals and three points. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare held McDavid to a power-play goal while shadowing him with rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov.
 
“Everyone knows what kind of player he is, what kind of speed he brings to the table,” Bellemare said of McDavid.
 
“I just tried to be as close as possible to him and kind of be annoying and cut off his speed. I didn’t make a big fool out of myself, so that’s a good point.” 
 
Goalie Steve Mason looked tired, but his teammates paid him back for earlier efforts when he stood there alone. Mason now has a personal-best six-game win streak.
 
“A couple nights ago, Mase was the best player and picked up a lotta guys around him,” coach Dave Hakstol said.
 
“Tonight maybe wasn’t his best, but was pretty good. Guys battled hard and they picked up some of the slack. That’s what it takes. Every guy is not going to be at their best every night.”
 
Voracek echoed those thoughts.
 
“That is how you become a great team,” he said. “Mase playing the last six games the way he did, it wasn’t his night tonight, but we got the win for him. That’s how you get into the playoffs and how you have success in the playoffs.”
 
The Flyers fell behind 2-0 early, rallied for three goals in 1:12 in the second, then were stunned by a shorthanded goal from Edmonton’s Andrej Sekera to tie it at 3-3 after two periods.
 
Edmonton scored twice to open the final period before Voracek and Giroux re-tied the game with eight minutes left, setting up the dramatic finish from Raffl at 18:31.
 
“It was an intense game, a lot of emotion. It felt like a playoff game,” Giroux said. “It was the funnest game all year. The fans were unreal. They weren’t wooing. They were cheering.”
 
Edmonton got a brilliant game from Leon Draisaitl, who moved off McDavid’s unit to another line and was dishing out passes like Monopoly money. He had a three-point night, scoring one goal and setting up two more.
 
Back and forth it went. Last goal wins.
 
“The guys bailed me out and that’s a sign hopefully when your goalie is not making the saves you need … it’s huge to see that,” Mason said.
 
“Once it got to 5-4, I tried to lock it down best I could. There are nights when you’re not feeling as sharp as you’d like, but this was a situation where the guys never quit. They earned the two points.”
 
The Flyers’ never-quit attitude is something that should carry them. It has become repetitive this season and they’ll want to remember it during the dog days of the season when their legs get tired.
 
“We’ve shown since the beginning of the season – come back and salvage some points,” Hakstol said. “That’s just guys believing in one another and going out and playing hard.
 
“You don’t want to be in that situation night after night. But tonight, guys stuck with it and great job.”