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.”
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.
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.
VOORHEES, N.J. — Even before Flyers training camp opened, Ron Hextall talked about a plenitude of internal competition for jobs.
It’s all over the ice, too.
Who starts in goal: Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth, who came on strong at the end of last season?
Does Ivan Provorov win a spot on the roster? And if he does, who gets sent packing?
Between Scott Laughton and Nick Cousins, who gets the lion's share of ice time?
Can Travis Konecny or Roman Lyubimov force a veteran forward off the team?
Then there’s free-agent signee Boyd Gordon, a PK specialist who was second only to Claude Giroux in the league last season on winning defensive zone draws. More competition.
Well, one of the key battles in training camp for both roster space and minutes concerns how veteran fourth-liner Chris VandeVelde handles the competition from Lyubimov — the 24-year-old Russian who plays a heavy game and can handle special teams — and others.
VandeVelde saw a bit of an offensive drop-off last season with 14 points. Though just a point fewer than the year before, the bigger dip was going from nine goals to two.
With no real goal-scoring additions in the offseason, Hextall is expecting bigger outputs from returning players.
In VandeVelde’s case, two goals is something Lyubimov could easily match or exceed.
“You have to go out there and give it your all,” VandeVelde said. “Hopefully, work hard and kinda make an impression. There’s a lot of guys fighting for a fair amount of spots. It’s going to be interesting.
“I think I’ve felt pressure every year. Obviously, you want to make an impression and get noticed out there. Reassure [them] I can still do the job and add a few things to my offensive game.”
And his self-evaluation?
“I think I was solid,” he replied. “As a fourth line, we were very good at times. Individually, I can add a little more and chip in a little more.”
VandeVelde is not scheduled to play in either of Monday’s split-squad games in New Jersey or Brooklyn.
At stake here isn’t just his job on the fourth line but the penalty kill, as well. VandeVelde’s 2:17 shorthanded ice time per game was second only to linemate Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (2:35) among the forwards.
The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Lyubimov has played on the penalty kill in the KHL, and Gordon is a PK specialist. What was VandeVelde’s edge is now something up for grabs, especially given both Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol have vowed there will be improvement on the PK, which ranked 14th last season after being among the bottom 10 much of the year.
Hakstol has said he intends to tweak the PK with some structural changes. That sounds like personnel changes and Gordon could be a guy on the fourth unit and will certainly be in the mix on the penalty kill.
How to make the kill better remains at large.
“We have to start a little more aggressively,” VandeVelde said. “Kinda like we finished last couple games there against Washington (in the playoffs). We kinda got burnt there 6-1 (in Game 3). We switched styles a little too late.”
The Flyers gave up five power play goals in Game 3 to the Caps.
VandeVelde admits his penalty kill experience gives him a bit of an edge going into camp.
“If I can bring that extra edge and solidify a role, that is huge,” he said.
VandeVelde returned to his home in Moorhead, Minn., over the summer to focus on his skating, hoping to get a more explosive start on the ice that he could utilize better during the penalty kill.
One thing seems certain: VandeVelde says there’s a greater comfort level for returning players as to what to expect from Hakstol. Also, whereas last year’s camp was one of implementing systems, this year’s camp is one of expanding on them.
“Everyone knows what to expect,” VandeVelde said. “So do all three coaches. They are going to tweak some things, whether it's penalty kill or power play or other systems. We’ll learn that. That is what preseason is for. All the players know what to expect and are ready to go.”
VandeVelde said he’s already been informed what the team expects from him this season. The competition could push him in that direction.
“I know what they want,” he said. “Obviously, I can do more offensively and want to chip in a little more as a fourth line and as an individual. Maybe just work on that.”
The Flyers on Monday night kick off their preseason schedule, with split squad games against the Islanders in Brooklyn and New Jersey Devils in New Jersey.
And Monday night offers the first chance for prospects Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov to impress the Flyers' brass in game competition, as their quest to make the orange and black continues. Both Konecny and Provorov will be with the Flyers' split squad in New Jersey.
Carter Hart and Mark Dekanich will be the goalies with Konecny and Provorov in New Jersey, while Anthony Stolarz and Martin Ouellette will goaltend in Brooklyn.
Travis Sanheim and Sam Morin will be with the split squad team in Brooklyn, along with veteran defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
The Flyers' game in Brooklyn can be streamed on their official website, while the game in New Jersey will be aired on the radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.
Here are the full lineups for Monday's split-squad contest, via the Flyers.