Flyers-Sabres 10 observations: A lifeless, inexcusable effort in Buffalo

Flyers-Sabres 10 observations: A lifeless, inexcusable effort in Buffalo

The Flyers closed out two road games with two losses Tuesday night against the Sabres in Buffalo.

Dave Hakstol's club was competitive in losing, 2-1, in Columbus on Sunday.

But not this one.

The Flyers were lifeless and listless during their 4-1 spanking they earned on their own by the Sabres. They were no-shows. Despite a push in the third period, this was one of the Flyers' poorer road performances and efforts this season.
 
With apologies to Bill Lyon, here are 10 things I think I think from this less-than-thrilling affair in upstate New York.
 
1. The game was not even six minutes old when Nicolas Deslauriers egged Brandon Manning into a fight. It was rather one-sided, but Manning gets major props for taking on a better fighter than himself. Manning has had four bouts this season and never backs down.
 
2. The Flyers' power play got one late and is now 4 for its last 34, but what happened on that first PP? They had six shots — six! — against the 29th-worst penalty kill in the NHL and couldn't dent backup goalie Anders Nilsson. Brayden Schenn had three of those shots, and he scored on the second man advantage, but the game was over by then.

3. Speaking of shots, Shayne Gostisbehere, whose overall game is slumping, had a couple of decent shots in this game at both 5-on-5 and on the power play. Gostisbehere seems like a ghost of himself from a year ago, when he set a Flyers rookie defenseman record with 15 goals. He has just four this season — on course for eight — and hasn't scored in 19 games.
 
4. Nice play by Andrew MacDonald, who got turned inside-out by Evander Kane but still forced the speedy winger to the outside for a backhander on Steve Mason. Alas, as the game went on, MacDonald's defensive play got worse. He finished as a minus-2.

5. The Flyers have had mostly dominant second periods this season, but they more or less rolled over against the Sabres with a poor effort Tuesday. They simply didn't try very hard, which is inexcusable.
 
6. How do the Sabres get a power-play goal on just one shot? Believe it or not, Buffalo has the higher-ranked PP — seventh vs. ninth. The problem was, the Flyers couldn't get a clear and had a tired group of penalty killers stuck on the ice, while the Sabres moved the puck quickly at will.

7. Kane had several scoring chances in this game, but the Flyers' letting him score with 8.9 seconds left in the second period was inexcusable. That made it 3-0. Game, set, match. There is no excuse giving up a goal in the final minute of any period. Period.
 
8. Claude Giroux has not played very well of late and hasn't scored in eight games. He was snoozing on the ice in the slot when he allowed William Carrier an uncontested easy score. The captain was minus-3 in this game.
 
9. Mason failed to come up with any kind of momentum saves in this one. From a strategic standpoint, he should have been pulled after the second period, if for no other reason than a momentum shift. That said, the Flyers had a series of turnovers and lazy players that allowed that scoring chance at the very end of the period.
 
10. Don't look now, but the Flyers have lost seven consecutive road games. They last won on Dec. 14 in Colorado, which coincidentally was the final win of their 10-game win streak.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.