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. — They are among the very best – and highest scoring — lines in the NHL this season.
And they’re gunning for the Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Connor McDavid’s unit with Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl have a combined 30 goals and 78 points worth of offense.
Among them, the lightning quick McDavid leads the NHL with 36 points. All 11 of his goals are even strength.
He doesn’t have a single power-play goal, but is tied for the league lead with several players, including Claude Giroux, with 10 power-play assists.
You can expect to see Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s unit with Chris VandeVelde and Dale Weise against this line with defenseman Ivan Provorov drawing McDavid for the first time this season.
“Speed and skill that Edmonton has up front presents a real good challenge for our team,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We have to be better with the puck tomorrow.
“We didn’t do enough when we had the puck. Gave it up a little too easily and because of that, you end up playing defense a lot of the night and that’s what happened last night to us.”
Bellemare, who had his share of forward battles with Jaromir Jagr in Tuesday, likes to analyze the matchups against McDavid.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Bellemare said of the 19-year-old McDavid. “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. That line is an impressive line.”
The Flyers better have some bad, choppy ice to slow McDavid down. Edmonton has some of the fastest ice in the league and the Oilers use it to their full advantage.
Asked of McDavid’s tendencies, Bellemare said, “Is that a tendency? To be super fast?”
Yes it is.
“When you play against them, he is a kid who is freaky fast right from the start,” Bellemare said. “Against that line, you saw [against Buffalo] that everyone knows how fast he is and he still had two breakaways.”
Which means the Flyers need to watch their turnovers, especially in the neutral zone where McDavid can go 60 feet in a flash.
“Even blue line to the top of the circle, you can’t turn the puck over,” Bellemare said. “Or he’s gone. This is a tendency we have to be careful of. All of the ice, you can’t give him any time or space. The less time you give him, the bigger chance you have to frustrate a player like this.”
Bellemare did some talking with Jagr a couple times in Tuesday’s game. So did Provorov. Bellemare says it helps to add psychology to the mix.
“You try to be in his face,” Bellemare said. “If you can win that battle against that line and our first line can win the battle against their fourth line, then it’s a win-win situation. I was trying to be in [Jagr’s] face.”
Jagr actually got angrier at Provorov and it showed with his hooking calls. But when Bellemare and Jagr went into the corner, Jagr got testy with his stick there as well.
“He was trying to give it to me a little harder,” Bellemare said. “Exactly what I need. If he is less focused on the puck, then maybe I have a chance to win that puck.”
McDavid’s focus will be solely on the puck.
“McDavid has been playing some pretty good hockey,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “They’re a high-tempo team. A smart team. We’ve got to be ready.”
Boyd Gordon came off long term injured reserve onto the active roster to give the Flyers 13 forwards. In doing that, Matt Read (oblique pull) went on injured reserve. … Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will sit against the Oilers while Radko Gudas returns from an illness. Gudas will be paired with Mark Streit, as Ivan Provorov remains with Andrew MacDonald for now. … Steve Mason, who did not practice Wednesday, will start in goal.
VOORHEES, N.J. — Maybe he saw some old video of how Chris Therien did it.
Or maybe Ivan Provorov just shrugged his 19-year-old shoulders and figured he’d do it his way.
Whatever the Flyers' rookie defenseman did, he shut down the ageless Jaromir Jagr during Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime victory against the Florida Panthers.
Just like Therien used to do back in the day.
Provorov frustrated Jagr into taking penalties. And when he wasn’t in the box for hooking the rookie, you could visibly see Jagr’s frustration across his face.
At one point, they were talking to each other on the ice. A Russian and a Czech. What was said?
“It stays in the game,” Provorov said with a smile Wednesday.
Provorov said he didn’t spend time watching a ton of video.
“We did our pre-scout in the morning,” he said. “That was it.”
Provorov, with help from centerman Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, held Jagr to one shot. His teammates were impressed.
“Unbelievable, a 19-year-old kid going against Jaromir Jagr,” Wayne Simmonds said. “I think he did a pretty good job.
“I think he has done a great job all year long and he is only going to get better. If you watch him play, he is getting better and better, not every game but every shift.”
Provorov had an assist and two blocked shots, including a critical block on Reilly Smith that could have been a game-winner in overtime.
“Well we haven’t used him a lot in the 3-on-3 but we felt that it was time,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Again, coming off of a real solid night where he’s playing against really good players all night long, he continued that right through the OT.
“The impressive thing on that play is the read that he made to make that block … I haven’t looked at it on the replay or on tape yet. But I think that Mase might have been over on it but that play that Provy made was potentially a game saving play right there.”
Provorov doesn’t make flashy plays. He just makes the steady play every time he needs to. At season’s start, he was struggling to get his shot off without being blocked. Now he finds space along the blue to better position himself to get his shot through. He thinks before he reacts.
Behind the net, he is one of the few Flyers defensemen who almost never loses a puck battle. It’s often hard to believe he’s as young as he is.
“He moves so well and makes good reads, he’s a very intelligent player,” Andrew MacDonald said. “He has great poise with the puck, and not just for a 19-year-old, but for any aged player.
“Defensively he always seems to be in the right positions and communicates well. We were fortunate to have some time together in camp, and a few games. I feel like we picked up where we left off the past few games.”
Jagr’s assets are size, strength — especially his lower core — and a skill set of moves without blinding speed.
Thursday will present a new challenge for Provorov: Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer with 36 points. McDavid is all about youth and raw speed.
“They’re different players, but it doesn’t matter,” Provorov said. “You take away time and space. Don’t give him time to get a lot of speed.”
This is another learning experience for Provorov. In a different age category. Hakstol credits assistant coach Gord Murphy for bringing Provorov up to speed at the NHL level.
“I think Murph has done a really good job in managing that progression along, most importantly, with Provy, managing it," Hakstol said.
“You can go back to the tell-tale sign of the tough night back in Chicago [third game]. That didn’t shake or rattle Provy in any way. He came back with pretty good determination the next day.
“You have to be an honest evaluator of your own game. I think Provy … whether it’s a real good night or a tough night, that allows you to keep an even keel and an even balance. I think that’s a real strength.”
The Flyers on Wednesday placed left winger Matt Read on injured reserve and activated center Boyd Gordon. Gordon has been out since Nov. 3.