Flyers Notes: Hal Gill to get more looks


Flyers Notes: Hal Gill to get more looks

Two games won’t be the deciding factor on whether Hal Gill sticks around or not on his tryout deal.

Gill played in Sunday’s 4-3 exhibition loss in London, Ont., to Toronto, and in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sources say Gill will make the trip to Lake Placid early Thursday where the Flyers will continue their camp through the weekend.

The 38-year-old Gill is fighting thick odds with nine defensemen already here on one-way contracts.

While the 6-foot-7 defenseman is in amazing shape, he looked a little slow in both games in coverage areas.

“In a normal situation, when you have a contract, you worry about progressing and getting better in every game,” Gill said. “In this situation, I wanted to speed up the process. But it was good. It was nice to get out there and be competitive and play. I felt good. Like preseason, you’re learning a new system and timing needs to get there.”

The Flyers are taking between 26-28 players to Lake Placid.

“I can show that I am healthy and ready to go and I have that desire,” Gill said. “I want to be part of the team. I don’t have to show people what I can do. I’ve been doing the same thing a long time.”

He had a defensive overplay with Mark Alt in the loss to the Rangers that allowed for Benoit Pouliot’s easy, point-blank rebound in the third period for the winning goal.

Absent of a major injury or trade, it remains hard to see this 15-year veteran making the roster, but coach Peter Laviolette said Gill will get more looks.

“Hal did a good job,” Laviolette said. “His job is to keep the puck and keep people away from our net and he’s done a pretty good job of that. His best asset is defending.

“Think back to Hal in his career and when he is most noticeable, it’s him taking care of the front of the net. Him being physical on top-end players. We’ll get a better look and better read on Hal as the camp moves on.”

Laviolette did admit his skating might not grab your attention, but that was never his primary asset anyway.

“His strengths are different,” Laviolette said. “He’s big, he defends, he ties up bodies, he clears the net ... plays that type of game.”

How it happened
Derick Brassard scored on a shot in the slot that hit the back of the new, shallower net so quick it popped out before the red light went on. ... Max Talbot tied it later in the period and the same thing happened -- the puck flew out of the net even though it was a soft shot. ... Flyers goalie Steve Mason played the entire game. ... Ray Emery gave up a tying goal in the final 21.7 seconds of regulation on Monday against the Caps. Mason gave up one to ex-Flyer Darroll Powe in the second period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. ... Sean Couturier, who had two assists against Washington, made it 2-2 in the third period with his first goal.

Inside the lines
Scott Hartnell played on Vinny Lecavalier’s line with Wayne Simmonds.

“We had one practice together on Day 2 and I was kind of excited to play with Vinny," Hartnell said. "I played against him for so many years, watching him score goals. I think the coaches were happy with how we played. We’re all big bodies. We move the puck well, cycle and protect the puck.”

Laviolette wanted to see the chemistry between Lecavalier and Simmonds. It appears the left side is up for grabs.

“That second day [in camp] with Hartnell, they absolutely destroyed it on the three-on-three competition,” Laviolette said. 

New nets
There’s going to be a lot of replays this season on goals with these new nets being so tight and so much shallower. Pucks hit so hard, the ricochet goes right up the slot. This begs the question: Did the NHL not experiment with these nets to see firsthand there is a legit problem with pucks staying inside them?

Flyers' lackluster power play sets team back in home opener

Flyers' lackluster power play sets team back in home opener

Most times, a team gets five power plays in a game, it’s lights out.

The Flyers had five power plays in the second period of Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Anaheim and were being outshot!

By the time matters were settled, they had scored one, lonely power play goal in seven chances. That almost defies the odds for not being more successful. It’s also a contributing factor in the defeat.

Right now for Dave Hakstol’s club it remains either feast or famine on power play. 

The Flyers either get the puck into the zone cleanly with a setup, puck and player movement and shots or they flub entry passes, turn it over at the blue line, or whiff within the zone and it results in an easy clear.

There’s no real consistency to their power play, which is 3-for-17 through four games. A few more goals and they would have won in Phoenix (0-for-4) and against the Ducks.

“We kept turning the puck over in the neutral zone,” said Wayne Simmonds, who had the only power play marker the Flyers scored in this game.

Simmonds' goal was classic tic-tac-toe passing and movement. There simply wasn’t enough of that in this game, or in others so far, either.

Far too often, the Flyers made it too easy on Anaheim’s penalty kill units with inefficiency.

“Those guys that are out there, they did a hell of a job tonight,” Corey Perry said of the Ducks’ PK units. “They blocked shots, they cleared pucks, they did everything they were asked to do.

“When you’re killing penalties, that’s what you have to do. You have to sacrifice that body and [goalie John] Gibson came up with some big saves for us.”

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol didn’t see it the same way.

“I thought we had pretty good power plays, our first power play,” he said. “I thought we had a good power play during the second, scored a good goal. Had opportunities to stretch to 3-1. It’s disappointing we couldn’t.

“We had one poor power play at the end of the first, where we weren’t able to get set up at all. Our power play was okay, the bigger thing for me is the goal we gave up a few seconds after the last power play in the second period. Those are the type of goals that as a team we can’t give up.”

Hakstol was referring to Perry’s tying goal that made it 2-2 and gave the Ducks momentum carryover into the final period.

Matt Read doesn’t play on the power play but he sees some things from the bench.

“It’s about getting that bounce or making that one extra play or simple play of getting the puck to the net,” Read said. “They’re doing a good job out there and it’s going to come. It’s still early. 

"Hopefully, you watch video and see what you can do better every time. It would be nice to get an insurance goal there, but it didn’t happen. We got to play better the rest of the game.”

More Read
His goal in the second period on a splendid, end-to-end rush, gives him four goals on the season. He’s on pace for a mere 82.

Read has a three-goal scoring streak. This was his fourth career goal streak of three games or more. His career-high there is five games, going back to the fall of 2011 when he scored six goals between Nov. 13-21.

“He has always been a hard working guy,” Hakstol said. “He’s a guy that is doing things with a lot of confidence. For me, it started with Reader back in late August. 

“He was in here working early, getting ready, getting prepared and he has carried that through everything he has done so far this year.”

Loose pucks
Simmonds is also on a three-game goal scoring streak, which is the 12th such streak of his career. His career-high is five games from March 26-April 3, 2012, during which he scored six goals … Attendance was 19,982. That’s the Flyers’ largest home crowd since January 20, 2015 when they had the same attendance figure in a 3-2 overtime victory against Pittsburgh.

Flyers' defense continues to abandon team through 1-2-1 start

Flyers' defense continues to abandon team through 1-2-1 start

It was the home opener Thursday night and his team went 1 for 7 on the man advantage with five such opportunities in the second period alone.

However, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol remembers one play more than any other in his team’s 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at the Wells Fargo Center (see game recap).

The Flyers had swung and missed on their final power play of the middle stanza, when the Ducks came pushing up ice with post-kill energy. Somehow, Anaheim came barreling down on the Flyers with a four-on-two rush seconds after the orange and black just had the benefit of an extra player.

Center Ryan Getzlaf dumped a pass back to winger Corey Perry, who had all the time in the world to wind up and blast one home thanks to 6-foot-4 Getzlaf’s screening of 6-foot defenseman Ivan Provorov.

Just like that, the game was tied when it looked like the Flyers would add cushion and cruise into the third period with a lead to protect.

“Our power play was OK,” Hakstol said. “The bigger thing for me is the goal that we gave up a few seconds after the last power play in the second period. Those are the type of goals as a team that we can’t give up.”

The rookie Provorov couldn’t find his way around the veteran Getzlaf, while defenseman Brandon Manning stayed in retreat, allowing Perry to unleash a slap shot.

“It’s the best league in the world, the best players play here,” Provorov said. “Even a little mistake can cost you, slightly out of position can cost you. I’m still learning.”

Provorov has endured his rookie lumps through the Flyers’ 1-2-1 start. A game after finishing with a minus-5 rating against the Blackhawks, the 19-year-old committed two giveaways and a cross-checking penalty for a minus-1 mark Thursday.

Nonetheless, the Flyers went from a man up to two down in a matter of seconds to relinquish the lead.

“We didn’t handle that well,” Hakstol said. “When you give up a four-on-two after you’ve had those kind of opportunities, it’s going to change the momentum of the game.”

Were the defensemen in a bad spot?

“Yes,” Hakstol said.

Poor defensive coverage cost the Flyers momentum in the second and the game in the third.

About midway through the period, Ducks defenseman Korbinian Holzer carried the puck behind goalie Steve Mason before adeptly finding Ryan Garbutt uncovered with a reverse pass. The Anaheim center scored easily top shelf as Flyers defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Shayne Gostisbehere were caught standing in front of the net without seeing Garbutt.

“We had a little bit of tired legs,” Hakstol said. “We lost coverage on that play. There was a switch. We didn’t lose coverage for long. We had communication, we had talked, but we lost coverage for a split second and that allowed them to make the play to the same side on the backdoor.”

Gostisbehere had trouble working his power-play magic and played big minutes with 22:58 of ice time.

“They’re a big-bodied team,” Gostisbehere said. “We just have to make our plays a little quicker.”

Even on the Ducks’ first-period marker, an outlet pass found its way behind the defense of Provorov and Gostisbehere. Over the first four games, the Flyers have allowed 16 goals, tied for the second most in the NHL.

“You’re playing against a heavy team and they put a lot of pressure on the group back there when they’re able to get pucks deep,” Hakstol said. “So, I don’t think it was particular to one or two guys. When you let them gain the zone with some speed and get in on pucks, they’re a heavy team to handle.”

Facing a heavy team or not, the Flyers know defensive execution must be cleaned up.

“I think that from everyone’s personal standpoint we can all be better,” Mason said. “When you lose three games in a row, we can’t worry about what other people are doing, you just have to focus on your own job. From a goaltender’s perspective, personally, I have to find ways to come out and get a win here.”