Flyers ready for physical battle against Kings


Flyers ready for physical battle against Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- They were still talking about how well they played in Anaheim and came away with nothing Thursday when they deserved a point.

That's how this three-game, six-day West Coast romp began and now the Flyers are facing an L.A. Kings squad that is in worse shape, having won just three of its last 10 games.

“Like I told my players, yeah we played good enough, but in the end it wasn’t enough,” Craig Berube said after Friday's practice that was largely devoted to the power play in which puck passing and protection was atop the focus.

That's because the Ducks scored a late shorthanded goal that turned out to be decisive in Thursday's 5-3 win.

“We have to keep that in perspective against L.A. -- it’s about winning,” Berube said. “They are a physical, dangerous team that plays hard.”

On the same sheet of ice two hours earlier, Kings coach Darryl Sutter ran his four lines over and over in shooting drills. They’re having trouble scoring goals.

Sutter has been juggling his lines. On Friday, he had Mike Richards centering Justin Williams and Matt Fratin. Jeff Carter was on Anze Kopitar’s line with Tyler Toffoli.

Berube has no changes planned for the Kings, but said he was impressed enough with how Michael Raffl played between Zac Rinaldo and Adam Hall to keep the Austrian there. Berube wants more speed down the middle on the fourth line.

Saturday's rare afternoon match at Staples Center will be the first time Wayne Simmonds has played in the building since joining the Flyers.

Friday was also his first visit to his old practice facility.

“Everything still looks the same,” Simmonds said. “I talked to the trainers this morning. It’s nice to talk to guys I have not seen in a while. They kind of renovated the place. This place is amazing.”

Simmonds said he thought the loss to Anaheim was the “hardest” physical battle the Flyers put up this season.

“It was a physical game -- those are type of games I love to play,” he said. “Unfortunately, we came out of it with nothing. We got to draw from the negatives and take it on [Saturday]. The Kings are a big, physical team, kind of the same mold as Anaheim.

“Big bodies. I’ve been watching them lately. They haven’t scored any goals, but that can change on any given night and we’ve got to focus on ourselves.”

There were 46 hits in the Flyers-Ducks game. Yeah, it was physical.

“It’s going to happen where you have great games and don’t get points and the opposite is you play brutal and get a bounce or a break or the goalie stands on his head,” Scott Hartnell said.

“It’s frustrating. We had a lot of chances, a lot of zone time. We were physical -- one of our best games of the year and to come out it with nothing leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Tomorrow, you will have two hungry teams going at it and both desperately need a win.”

Kopitar has points in eight of his last 12 games. Carter has goals in four of his last nine games. Richards has five points in his last eight games.

Incredibly, goalie Jonathan Quick went into Thursday’s 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh with a 1.66 goals-against average and .934 save percentage over his previous 12 games.

Yet, Quick was yanked in the first period against the Penguins after giving up three goals on the first seven shots.

“They’re not doing well either and it’s a dangerous game,” Berube said. “We’ve got to be prepared to compete like we did [against Anaheim]. It comes down to clean hockey.”

By that, Berube means mistake-free -- not penalties. The Flyers had a couple of breakdowns -- a goal allowed with 35.1 seconds left in the first period and a shorthanded goal in the third period. That cost them the game. Those plays, he said, were not “clean.”

Especially, the shorthanded goal.

“From a faceoff in the offensive zone, it shouldn’t happen and it did,” Berube said. “If we had done that (played clean), we would have won the game. Has nothing to do with work ethic or competiveness. Just make it clean.”

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO)

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO)


A very tired Flyers squad came back with a vengeance against the well-rested Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night to win, 4-3, in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.
Claude Giroux got the shootout winner.

It was an ugly affair for 40 minutes, starting with goalie Michal Neuvirth, who allowed three goals on 17 shots before being lifted in the second period for the second time in two weeks. The Flyers trailed 3-0 going into the third period.
Whatever energy the Flyers had coming back from Montreal on Monday was saved for the third period when they got three power-play goals from Travis Konecny, Brayden Schenn and Mark Streit to make it 3-3.
The Sabres had not played a game in five days while the Flyers are in the midst of six games in nine days and it showed.
The rookie Konecny scored his first NHL goal in the third period, tipping home Ivan Provorov’s point drive during a power play.
Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas returned after serving a six-game suspension to begin the season.
New lines
In an effort to get Schenn going — scoreless in three games coming in — coach Dave Hakstol dropped him to the third line with Nick Cousins and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Matt Read, the club’s top goal scorer, moved into Schenn’s spot on the top line with Giroux and Wayne Simmonds.
Boyd Gordon played his 700th NHL game.
Notable goals
Konecny’s first NHL marker.
Goalie report
There was probably not much Neuvirth could do on the Sabres' first goal. Zemgus Girgensons shot from a hard angle in the corner to the net and the puck jumped, hitting Tyler Ennis for a 1-0 lead in the second period. That said, he wasn’t very good on the next two goals. Neuvirth has been pulled twice in just three starts.
Power play
The Flyers' power play awakened. Konecny's goal, plus Schenn's and Streit's. That marked a season high, too.
Penalty kill
Chris VandeVelde overskated the puck during a shorthanded two-on-one for what would have been a goal in the first period. Gordon lost a draw to Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Moulson jumped on it, went to the net with purpose for a quick backhander to make it 2-0 3:56 into the second period. Moulson had two power-play goals. The Flyers' PK units were poor.
Simmonds avoided a hearing and possible suspension for his cross check from behind to Montreal’s Andrei Markov on Monday night that jolted the Canadiens defenseman into the boards face-first. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety reviewed the hit and saw no cause for action.
Dale Weise (suspended), Scott Laughton (knee), Michael Del Zotto (knee), Michael Raffl (abdominal pull) and Nick Schultz (healthy). 
Up next
The Flyers will be off on Wednesday. They are in the midst of six games in nine days and will host Arizona on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Flyers recall Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley; Michael Raffl placed on IR

Flyers recall Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley; Michael Raffl placed on IR

Updated: 4:35 p.m.

The Flyers on Tuesday made an unexpected roster move, recalling forward Taylor Leier from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The 22-year-old will be available for Tuesday night's game against the visiting Buffalo Sabres (see game notes).

But why the call-up?

There were no reports of injuries following Monday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens. But the answer was revealed later Tuesday afternoon.

The team anounced it has placed Michael Raffl, who hasn't played in a week's time since leaving the 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago with an upper-body injury, on injured reserve. That frees up a roster spot and makes room for Leier.

Raffl, who's in the first-year of a three-year contract signed last season, has a goal in three games played this season.

A player on IR has to stay there for at least 14 days. But the Flyers could make the move retroactive to as far back as last Tuesday's game in Chicago. So the ball is in Hextall's court there as to how far back he wants to put Raffl and his $2.35 million cap hit on IR.

The Flyers are still going to need to free up cap space soon with the returns of Michael Del Zotto and Scott Laughton not far off in the future.

This will not be Leier's first stint with the Flyers. Along with Shayne Gostisbehere, he was called up last November and made his debut in a Nov. 14 win in Carolina. He played six games in the NHL before he was sent back down to Lehigh Valley for the rest of season. Leier did not record a point with the Flyers last season and averaged 7:43 of ice time a night.

In three games with the Phantoms this season, the 2012 fourth-round draft pick of the Flyers has three assists. Leier scored 20 goals for the Phantoms last season, including a team-high 10 power-play goals.

Leier will wear No. 58 for the Flyers. It remains to be seen if he will crack Tuesday's lineup.