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.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process. 
 
Today, we finish up by taking a look at the Flyers.

 
How did we get here?
The Flyers' rebuild had begun when Ron Hextall returned to his old stomping grounds in the summer of 2013 as the team's new assistant general manager.
 
He took over GM duties after one season and the philosophical change was in place. Paul Holmgren was made president and Hextall's imprint, which had already started, was ready to become bigger.
 
What Hextall inherited was a cap-stricken team fresh off a first-round playoff loss, an organization that had tried to spend its way to immediate results instead of putting greater focus on the long game.
 
Some of the past decisions are well-documented: signing enigmatic goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011 after trading for him. With a buyout, the Flyers are still paying Bryzgalov through 2027. Signing veteran center Vinny Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million contract in 2013. And signing imposing defenseman Chris Pronger to a seven-year, $34.55 million extension — nobody could foresee the unfortunate concussion issues that suddenly derailed Pronger's career, but it was nonetheless a hurdle for the Flyers moving forward.
 
Hextall has adeptly maneuvered through much of those rocky waters.
 
Now, the Flyers are a more cost-efficient (partly because they have to be in this salary cap world), draft-oriented organization planning for the future while not ignoring the present. This rebuild hasn't been a total demolition, but more of a retooling — a smart but tricky process, especially down the line.
 
Are the Flyers on the right path back to prosperity?
The youth is coming.
 
Hextall, oftentimes close to the vest, made that abundantly clear at his end-of-the-season press conference.
 
"Our young players, they've done enough," Hextall said in early April. "Our young players are going to get a long look. We don't plan on going out and signing veterans on the back end. Our kids, it's time to give them a shot, and we're going to do that."
 
But the really hard part is just beginning — results. Can the prospects catch up and meet the current core? The pressure for it to start has never been higher.
 
Help does appear to be on the way, though, for a team that regressed this season and missed the playoffs for the third time in the past five years.
 
Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Felix Sandstrom and Carter Hart give the Flyers future options in net.
 
Two promising prospects are expected to join Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and company on the blue line.
 
Oskar Lindblom, a dynamic 20-year-old winger, could crack the Flyers' group of forwards, which should have Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula for a full season.
 
Also, don't forget forward Mike Vecchione, a Hobey Baker finalist who signed with the Flyers out of Union College in late March.
 
Oh, and the No. 2 pick of the draft — likely a talented center — is in the Flyers' grasp.
 
The 2017-18 season will be a telling time for the Flyers. Patience has been required, but when will it be rewarded?
 
The clock is ticking.