Flyers lack finesse, fight in blowout loss to Sharks

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Flyers lack finesse, fight in blowout loss to Sharks

BOX SCORE

It wasn’t ugly. It was Flyer ugly.
 
Five goals against in the second period. Two players coming off extended injury absences to burn them for two goals.

In short, this was not how the Flyers wanted to begin their 23-game stretch drive to the playoffs -- with a stunning 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
It was also the first of 14 home games to finish the season.
 
After a full week of hard practices and even harder scrimmages, the Flyers lacked fight.
 
“Not competing around our net, that’s what it came down to,” coach Craig Berube said. “People there, not getting sticks, not boxing people out. Not being hard on people. We didn’t compete hard enough to win the hockey game. Nobody.”
 
The game saw Steve Mason give up four goals on the first 13 shots, leave for Ray Emery, then return late in the third period because Emery, in his own words, had something that “didn’t feel right.”
 
Berube himself wasn’t sure about his goalie.
 
“Ray had an issue. Something was bothering him,” Berube said.
 
Strangely, the Flyers started out well, matched the Sharks in skating, and even led 2-1 going into what Scott Hartnell called a “disastrous” second period.
 
San Jose found another gear that period, crashed the net and scored five unanswered goals. The Flyers gave up five in Chicago earlier this season in one period.
 
“A frustrating game,” Hartnell said. “We wanted to be involved in the game. Even me, I was a little too emotional, reacting to refs calls or plays I didn’t make.
 
“I don’t know if there was a lot of buildup for this game over two weeks, but we channeled our energy in a negative way. And when I do it, it follows through to everyone else.”
 
Flyers captain Claude Giroux said he thought the team was playing well before a fluky goal from Raffi Torres tied it for San Jose. Then the Flyers “started panicking.”
 
“We didn’t stick with the plan,” Giroux said. “We got away from what we are supposed to do and when we don’t do what we’re supposed to do, we get in trouble.”
 
The Flyers noticeably sagged when it became 2-2 in the second period as the Sharks scored those five unanswered goals. Both Torres and Logan Couture, coming off long injuries, had two goals in the game.
 
“It almost looked like we stopped competing after they tied the game up,” Berube said.
 
The back-breaker there was Torres scoring with 2.2 seconds left in the period to make it 5-2.
 
“The most important part of the ice is in front of our net,” Hartnell said. “The last goal they scored with two seconds left, I was on the ice and kind of swung away [from them], leaving guys to whack away. It’s not fair to Mase or Emery when you leave them hung to dry like that.”
 
Time change
The Flyers' showdown in Pittsburgh on March 16 against the Penguins has been designated an NBC national telecast and will now start at 12:30 p.m. that afternoon, instead of 7:30 p.m.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.