Flyers Notes: Holmgren seeing another slow start

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Flyers Notes: Holmgren seeing another slow start

Paul Holmgren was grim.

His hockey team, which lost six of its first eight games last season, has lost four of its first five games this season and already fired one coach.

That same Flyers squad has six goals through five games in what may be a franchise low -- still checking on that.

So what does the Flyers’ general manager see?

“I thought we had enough opportunities to score,” Holmgren said after the Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Coyotes on Friday night (see story). “We’re just fighting it right now.

“We are obviously having a difficult time and you know we had some good opportunities as Wayne Simmonds had that open net on the power play -- I think it was a power play.”

They have had good scoring chances every game. They've fired high and wide on open nets and fired right into goalies when other parts of the net are open.

“Obviously, we need to do a better job in front of the net,” Holmgren said. “And we are in one of those situations where I thought the difference in the game earlier was they scored a goal because they were in front of the net, hit somebody and ran.

“Then we shot at their goalie, we didn’t have anybody in front of the net, had lots of guys off to the side but unfortunately we need to score goals and to get into those areas.

“It’s hard to score and the fact that we are [pressing forward], I thought there were more good things again tonight -- still going to take a while to catch on with what Craig [Berube] wants them to do. Overall, it’s a loss and we need to turn around quickly.

Compensating for injury
Berube compensated for Scott Hartnell’s early absence (upper-body injury) by moving one player up from each of the team's remaining three lines.

That meant Brayden Schenn replaced Hartnell on the first line with Claude Giroux and Simmonds. Matt Read moved up to Schenn’s spot on the second line and Adam Hall took Read’s spot on the third line.

However, when Vinny Lecavalier got hurt in the second period, it was a mad scramble with the lines.

Rinaldo vs. Bissonette
Zac Rinaldo drew a deserved charging call in the opening period on Tim Kennedy, and linemate Paul Bissonette immediately went after Rinaldo.

It was pretty good fight, too, with each player taking the other down and the decision going to Bissonette.

Loose pucks
The Flyers had a season-high 37 shots. Another 11 attempts were blocked and 22 shots missed. ... Andrej Meszaros and Braydon Coburn each were credited with four blocked shots. ... The Flyers had three forwards play 6:11 or less -- Rinaldo (6:11), Jay Rosehill (3:18) and Hartnell (3:28). ... Sean Couturier was 10 for 17 (59 percent) on faceoffs and now sits at 57.5 percent on the season.

Brandon Manning to face hearing for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning to face hearing for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

As if Saturday night's deflating loss to the Penguins at Heinz Field wasn't enough, the Flyers could be coming out of the defeat minus a defenseman in the lineup.

Brandon Manning will have a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Monday morning for his hit on Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel during the second period of the Stadium Series game.

That means a suspension is looming.

Just over three minutes into the second stanza on Saturday, Guentzel tried to corral a bouncing puck as he exited the Penguins' zone. He did not see Manning, who flattened him with a huge hit.

While the hit did seem a bit late in real speed to the naked eye, no interference penalty was called and play continued. Manning did look to leave his feet to the deliver the hit and make contact with Guentzel's head, though, so both could work against him during the hearing.

Video of the hit in question can be seen above.

Guentzel was not injured on the play, stayed in the game and finished the evening with two assists.

Manning has a clean history as he has never been suspended in the NHL.

If Manning does get suspended by the league, Michael Del Zotto is likely to draw back into the Flyers' lineup Tuesday against visiting Colorado.

Del Zotto, who is a prime candidate to be moved before Wednesday's trade deadline, has sat out the past three games as a healthy scratch.

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds, Flyers not giving up hope with 21 games left

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds, Flyers not giving up hope with 21 games left

PITTSBURGH – Wayne Simmonds remained defiant.

Yes, the Flyers have lost seven of their last nine games. Yes, they are five points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
But it's not over in terms of the playoffs.

"We played a great game, but unfortunately, it didn't go our way," Simmonds said after the 4-2 loss to the Penguins in the Stadium Series outdoor game at Heinz Field (see game recap).

"It wasn't good enough. I don't know what to say, guys. We have 21 games left and a never-say-die attitude. We're gonna keep pushing, no matter what. We've got to be desperate every game and play it as if it’s our last."

The Flyers had their chances and their moments. When Shayne Gostisbehere scored his first goal in 34 games early in the third period, it was a 3-2 game and momentum had been building in the Flyers' favor.

Then a key moment. A lost faceoff and the puck goes back to the point where Chad Ruhwedel fires so quickly that goalie Michal Neuvirth couldn't track the puck.

That was it. Game over.

"We brought it back [to 3-2]," Simmonds said. "We just had to get the tying goal and it slipped away. … We've got to score."

Still, there is time to regroup again with 21 games left.

"We have to have a short memory," Simmonds said. "Whether it's a good game or bad game, you move on."

They’re moving on but they're not gaining traction.

Weal back in lineup
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) re-entered the lineup in place on Roman Lyubimov. Weal missed two games after suffering the injury Feb. 16 in Edmonton.

Weal moved to left wing on Claude Giroux’s line with Simmonds.

“It’s a short sample, but it’s his body of work since he has been with us over the last couple weeks,” coach Dave Hakstol said of moving Weal there.

Before his injury, Weal played left wing on Sean Couturier’s line with Jakub Voracek. Brayden Schenn went back to center Saturday night between Nick Cousins and Voracek. It was another new line for Schenn.

If you’re wondering, Schenn has played left wing 33 times this season in 58 games.

Weal said he “felt good” and seemed excited to play in an NHL outdoor game.

Midway into the game, Michael Raffl went back to the top line and Weal moved to a line with Couturier and Dale Weise.

Weal played 15:43.

Power-play position
Shayne Gostisbehere played the point this game with the first unit and not the half wall. He also scored a goal there.

Coach Dave Hakstol has been rotating him from the point to the half-wall depending upon the personnel on the ice.

"It's a little bit of an adjustment no matter where I am," Gostisbehere said. "It's just nice to be on the power play. Whatever position they put me in out there, up top or on the wing, it's something I have to be ready for. I think I'm comfortable in both spots."

Outdoors
General manager Ron Hextall liked the outdoor game concept.

"It’s unique," Hextall said. "When they first started, I don’t love change. I was a little skeptical, I guess. I think they’re terrific. I really do.

"It’s good for the game. People watch an outdoor game and will pick that game because it’s an outdoor game. There is something about them. They’re neat."