Flyers Notes: McGinn providing instant offense

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Flyers Notes: McGinn providing instant offense

There have been a number of positives for the Flyers in their last three games.
 
Although it may be hard to fathom with a 1-6-0 record in the Eastern Conference, Craig Berube’s club is getting better each game.
 
On Tuesday, they had a couple of breakdowns to ruin what should have been a victory (see story). And in the process, wasted Tye McGinn’s two goals.
 
Berube wants guys with passion driving the net, diving for pucks and hitting people. McGinn is all of that right now.
 
He is the Flyers' leading scorer after just two games having been called up from the Phantoms as Scott Hartnell’s injury replacement.
 
“I am just trying to be open ears right now,” McGinn said. “I’m trying to get as much information as I can right now.
 
“Coach is telling me to drive the net and you have guys like [Claude Giroux], [Jakub] Voracek all saying drive the net, drive the net and that is what I’m trying to do, and right now I’m [working for it].
 
Career-wise, the 23-year-old native from Fergus, Ontario has six goals in just 20 NHL games.
 
McGinn, who also had three hits, gave the Flyers two leads in Tuesday's game but they couldn’t hold onto it.
 
“Definitely is tough,” he said. “You know, we were going 2-1 in that third period and to give up two goals against them in the third, it definitely bites you in the tongue, but we have to find ways to win.”
 
What tied it
Vancouver’s Chris Higgins had the killer goal early in the third period that made it 2-2.
 
It saw Henrik Sedin nab his 800th career point with an assist, standing behind the net playing with the puck, then making a move to draw Nick Grossmann toward him before passing the puck to Higgins.

Giroux and Braydon Coburn each failed to react in time to cover Higgins in the slot.

Higgins said the plan was to free Sedin so he could work his magic with the puck.
 
“If teams are going to leave them back there, if they are going to chase him, it doesn’t really matter. He is so good,” Higgins said.
 
“Like I said, you just have to get open and he feathers a saucer pass right there in the slot for me.”
 
Special guests
United States Army Specialist Brian Frammigen from Hillside, N.J., currently serving with the Army’s 462nd Transportation Battalion out of Trenton, N.J., escorted Lauren Hart during the national anthem.
 
Tuesday was cancer awareness night at the arena. In collaboration with the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, the Flyers welcomed 6-year-old Philadelphia native Andrew Voyiadjis, along with representatives from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
 
Voyyiadjis was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma more than a year ago. He underwent countless treatments and surgeries, and is now cancer-free. His family credits his recovery to the support he received from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
 
Voyiadjis lends support to the LLS, and volunteers his services for fundraisers to help others with cancer.
 
Children and families from the Virtua Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia were part of Giroux’s Crew in Suite F for the game.
 
Loose pucks
The Canucks came into the game with a power play nearly as poor as the Flyers -- ranked 25th at 10.5 percent efficiency. The biggest difference on special teams was the Canucks' penalty kill, which was ranked third at 90.5 percent. ... Vancouver coach John Tortorella is now first among active U.S.-born coaches with 414 victories. ... The Flyers won 15 faceoffs and were a poor 30 percent (15 for 35) on draws. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, it was their worst night in the circle since Feb. 15, 2009, when they were 15 for 52 (28.8 percent) in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers. ... Voracek has just eight shots in seven games. He had one against Vancouver.

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers (15-10-3) vs. Oilers (14-10-4)
7 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live at 6:30

The hottest team in the NHL will meet the hottest young star on Thursday night when the Flyers host the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the matchup:

1. McDavid and Co.
The Flyers are going for their seventh consecutive victory, which would tie their longest winning streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011, when they also won seven in a row.

In order to do so, they’ll have to slow down transcendent talent Connor McDavid and the prolific but streaky Oilers.

McDavid, a generational player, has thus far lived up to all the hype surrounding him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. In just his second NHL season — and first with a healthy start after an injured-shortened rookie year (45 games) — the 19-year-old leads all of hockey in points with 36, while no other player has yet to eclipse 30.

His 25 assists also rank atop the NHL, while his 11 goals are among the top 22 and his plus-8 rating is tied for ninth best between all centers.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said Wednesday. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice.”

And he has help.

Linemates Leon Draisaitl (11 goals, 11 assists) and Milan Lucic (eight goals, 12 assists) can do damage, as can Jordan Eberle (eight goals, 13 assists).

2. Defense wins games
The Flyers are playing better and cleaner in front of their goaltender — who has been great (see below) — and the results are showing.

The orange and black have gone five straight games of allowing two or fewer goals.

Why were they so up and down before this run? Well, they had surrendered two or fewer goals in just five of their previous 23 games.

“That’s unbelievable for us,” Wayne Simmonds said after Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Panthers. “At the beginning of the year, to say we’d have five straight without giving up more than two would be a stretch.

“We’ve locked it down defensively and Mase has played unbelievable. We’ve been pretty good as five-man units.”

3. Mase the man
A confident Steve Mason is a dangerous Steve Mason.

Right now, Mason has the net and is gaining steam by the game.

Over his past five outings, the 28-year-old is 5-0-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Just as impressive, since Nov. 12, Mason is 8-3-1 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

“I've said it numerous times, I want to be playing lots of hockey,” Mason said Tuesday. “This is a position that I'm used to being in and where I'm most comfortable. So just have to keep continuing to put my work in and whenever [head coach Dave Hakstol] calls my name, be ready."

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: You always have to watch Simmonds, but especially now with the winger coming off back-to-back two-goal games. Simmonds leads the NHL with eight power-play goals and is second in man-advantage points (13) to only teammate Claude Giroux (14).

Oilers: With all the attention zeroed in on McDavid, we’ll go with the 21-year-old Draisaitl, who has seven goals in his last nine games and 14 points in his past 12. The No. 3 overall pick in 2014 is an intelligent playmaker capable of hurting you.

5. This and that
• Mason is 8-4-0 with just a 3.49 goals-against average and .872 save percentage in 13 career games against Edmonton.

• Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson will make his fourth start of the season. He’s 1-1-1 on the year with 84 saves on 91 shots faced, but is 0-4-1 lifetime against the Flyers with a 3.57 goals-against average and .865 save percentage.

• The Flyers are fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.11), while Edmonton is seventh (2.93).

• The Oilers have lost 10 of their last 15 games (5-7-3).

Wayne Simmonds, power play key to Flyers beating Oilers

Wayne Simmonds, power play key to Flyers beating Oilers

Todd McLellan saw a lot of Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov as a junior player in the Western Hockey League whenever the Brandon Wheat Kings would turn up in Edmonton.

“I watched him play in junior and had a chance to see that Brandon team play in Edmonton twice last year,” said the Edmonton Oilers coach.

“Obviously, a smooth, confident [player] with great vision. He has patience with the puck. Those are his offensive assets. 

“But he also positions himself well, defensively. He accepts that responsibility. For a young d-man, he is ahead of a lot of others because he can play on both sides of the puck.”

Provorov rattled Jaromir Jagr Tuesday when Florida was here (see story). Tonight he gets his first NHL taste of Connor McDavid.

McLellan said the Oilers' biggest challenge against the Flyers will be stopping the NHL’s second-ranked power play. Edmonton has the 11th best penalty kill.

His concern is Wayne Simmonds (8 power play goals) and Claude Giroux (14 power play points). 

“That power play is deadly and it really hasn’t changed — it’s just clicking,” McLellan said. “It has a couple trigger points. Obviously, Simmonds has the most goals in the league  and Giroux has the most points. But there’s other pieces to that power play, which are exceptional. 

“Our penalty kill has been taking it on the chin and I had to ask our guys today, 'Is it the penalty kill or the penalties?' In my opinion, it’s as much the penalties as the penalty kill. We have to stay out of the box.  

“This is a confident Flyers team. They feel very good in the offensive zone and make things happen. Their goaltender [Steve Mason] has been making saves for them that keeps them confident going the other way. It’s a team on the rise.”

The Streak
The Flyers are looking to make it seven straight wins tonight against the Oilers. The last time they won seven in arrow was Dec. 2-15 in 2011. They did not have a morning skate.

On Mason
Tuesday’s win against Florida was Steve Mason’s 88th as a Flyer, moving him past Pelle Lindbergh into sixth in franchise history. Mason needs six wins to move into third place in franchise history. 

Debut
Defenseman Dillon Simpson will make his Oilers debut tonight in Philadelphia. He is the son of former Oiler Craig Simpson. 

The oddity? Last year, Keegan Lowe made his Oilers' debut here in Philadelphia. He is the son of Kevin Lowe, longtime coach and front office executive for the Oilers. 

Colors
The Oilers wear three colors during their morning skate. Their defensemen dress in orange; their third and fourth lines dress in white and their top six skaters dress in blue. Now that’s an NHL hierarchy.