Flyers Notes: Team reacts to Boston Marathon bombings

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Flyers Notes: Team reacts to Boston Marathon bombings

MONTREAL -- Like many people across the U.S. and Canada on Monday afternoon, the Flyers had their televisions tuned to the news, as they followed along with the latest on the Boston Marathon bombings.

But for Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, who is a native of Franklin, Mass., the events hit particularly close to home.

The Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak in Montreal, winning 7-3 (see story). But Laviolette was in a somber mood following the victory nonetheless.

“It’s terrible,” Laviolette said. “It really is. My family’s from there, my sister was there. It’s just devastating. You read the reports, and I’m sure it’s going to get worse and more gruesome as it unfolds. A real tragic event that happened today.”

Flyers scout Patrick Burke was in Boston as well, competing in the marathon on behalf of his You Can Play organization. He was unharmed, but made the events that occurred in Boston that much more chilling to the organization as a whole.

“When I woke up from my nap, I check Internet and check what’s going on,” Kurtis Foster said. “It was on TSN, CNN, so I took a look and see what’s happening. You do pay attention to it before the game, it was on the TV in the room and guys talking about it.

“It’s something’s awful and it’s something that you never want to see, but you’ve just got to put it in the back of your mind for the night and go to work.”

Ilya Bryzgalov, clearly affected by what he’d seen, declined to talk about the bombings, saying only he “can’t handle” circumstances like that which happened in Boston.

Voracek’s personal success
In a season full of disappointments, Jakub Voracek’s emergence has been one of very few silver linings.

Voracek, 23, scored his 18th goal of the season in Monday’s 7-3 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens, tying the career high he set last season.  

This time, though, he hit the mark in 36 fewer games.

That said, as much as he’s happy to have taken yet another step forward in his career, Voracek would trade his offensive success in a heartbeat for a better Flyers season.

“I would change all my points to be sitting in a playoff spot right now, there’s no doubt about it,” Voracek said. “It is what it is, I try to leave it all out on the ice like everybody else in this room, and try to get better as a player and a guy every day and get some experience.”

Hart-trick
Scott Hartnell registered his seventh career hat trick on Monday, his sixth as a Flyer. It was the first time he scored three goals in a game since Jan. 22, 2012, against the Boston Bruins.

And it was a big sigh of relief for the player who was the Flyers’ leading scorer last year, but for whom the goals haven’t come so easily this season. Hartnell has seven goals in 26 games this season.

“He got hurt, and obviously when you come back from an injury it’s not easy,” Claude Giroux said. “But he’s been great for us.”

Plenty of time
Luke Schenn played a whopping 33:15 Monday, thanks in great part to a stretch of time during which the Flyers had only four defensemen on their bench.

It’s the most time on ice by a Flyer since Braydon Coburn played 33:39 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 11, 2008, and the most a Flyer has played in a regulation game since Eric Desjardins played 33:14 vs. Montreal on Feb. 27, 2001.

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.