Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers-Stars: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Stars: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (13-13-2), currently in the midst of a six-game road trip, will again try to get over the .500 mark when they take on the Dallas Stars (13-9-5) Saturday afternoon.

Puck drop's set for 2 p.m. at American Airlines Center (CSN).

Here’s a closer look at the matchup:

1. Lecavalier still sidelined
Back spasms will keep Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier out of the lineup for a third consecutive game (see story).

Lecavalier was going to try to skate Friday, but the Flyers’ practice was canceled because the power went out at the Dallas facility -- caused by the massive ice storm moving through North Texas.

“He was going to try [to practice],” head coach Craig Berube said. “He would have gone out there and we would have learned how he felt. He will not play.”

Despite missing six games already this season because of three separate injuries, Lecavalier remains tied with Matt Read for the team lead in goals with nine.

Brayden Schenn will continue to center the Flyers’ second line. He's skated in between Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds the last two games and says he is “comfortable playing the middle.”
 
2. Three of a kind
Some call them the checking line. Others refer to them as the third line. But the trio of Sean Couturier, Steve Downie and Read has been the Flyers’ best line over the past few weeks.

Couturier had his best offensive performance of the season in Wednesday’s 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The third-year Flyer potted two goals and assisted two more.

After a slow start offensively -- his defensive play has been stellar all season -- Couturier is beginning to find the scoresheet regularly. Of his 14 points, 10 have come in the last nine games.

Couturier’s outburst is due in large part to the guys on his wings. Since being put together as a line, Couturier, Downie and Read have combined for 12 goals, 17 assists and a plus-28 rating in 12 games.

“Things are clicking for us,” Read said after the Flyers’ win over Detroit (see story). “We’re just trying to outwork the other line. Just play smart and get pucks deep. Things went our way tonight. Sean made a couple of good plays out there and is looking more confident every game.”

3. Banged up Stars
The Stars will be without two key defensemen for the foreseeable future.

Stephane Robidas landed on injured reserve last week after he suffered a broken leg against the Chicago Blackhawks. The veteran is expected to miss the next four to six months.

Things got even more grim for the Dallas blueline when Trevor Daley went down with a high ankle sprain against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Daley was placed on IR Friday.

Although they lost Daley vs. Toronto, the Stars did receive a boost when Tyler Seguin returned to the lineup. Seguin, who missed two games with concussion-like symptoms, leads Dallas in goals with 12 and is second in scoring with 23 points.

Dallas could get another forward back Saturday. Ryan Garbutt practiced with the team Friday after missing Thursday’s game with a foot injury.

4. Lighting up Lehtonen
Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen will not be happy to see the Flyers on Saturday afternoon.

In 12 career games (11 starts) against the Orange and Black, Lehtonen is 0-10-2 with an .891 save percentage and 3.50 goals-against average.

To make matters worse for Lehtonen and the Stars, the Flyers have won six straight over Dallas -- their longest active win streak vs. any opponent.

5. This and that
• The last time these two clubs met, Claude Giroux had a goal and three assists to lead the Flyers to a 4-1 victory over the Stars on Dec. 21, 2011. Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell had two helpers apiece. Nicklas Grossmann -- then a member of the Stars -- played 19 minutes and was a minus-1.

• Hartnell, currently in his 13th NHL season, will play his 900th career game Saturday (see story).

• The Stars, who are 1-2-4 at home since Oct. 26, have played in 16 one-goal affairs this season and are 8-3-5 in those games.

• The Flyers, who went 3 for 3 on the man advantage against Detroit, have clicked on 30 percent of their power-play opportunities since Nov. 12 -- third best in the NHL during that span. They’ve also killed off 19 of their last 20 shorthanded situations.

• After going five games without a point, Stars rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin has three points in his past two games.

Andre Markov to return to Russia to play in KHL

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Andre Markov to return to Russia to play in KHL

You can mark off Andrei Markov as a potential training camp tryout. Markov said he talked to a few NHL organizations during the free agency period but has elected to move back to Russia to play in the KHL.  

“I couldn’t see myself playing with any other NHL teams,” Markov said Thursday afternoon during a conference call. 

Thursday, the Canadiens bid farewell to Markov, who spent the past 16 seasons in Montreal, the only NHL team the defenseman has ever played for.  

According to published reports, Markov, who turns 39 in December, had been seeking a two-year contract in the $6 million range, but was willing to settle for one year to stay in Montreal. However, the Canadiens elected to go considerably cheaper in signing former Flyers defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year deal for just $700,000.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has shot down previous reports the Flyers were the only team negotiating with Markov during free agency.  

“No. That’s not true. Don’t believe everything you hear,” Hextall said after returning from the NHL draft.  

However, Hextall also made it clear that he’s looking bring in a veteran defenseman on a camp tryout as a backup in case one of the younger defensive prospects may not be ready to start the season at the NHL level. Had Markov been willing to come in on a tryout basis, the Flyers would have been interested.

With Markov’s decision and the recent signings of Streit and Johnny Oduya committing to the Senators, the prospective free-agent pool of defensemen is beginning to thin out with Francois Beauchemin, Dennis Wideman and Cody Franson as veteran blueliners still looking for a job for next season.

NHL Notes: Bruins, Ryan Spooner avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

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NHL Notes: Bruins, Ryan Spooner avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and center Ryan Spooner avoided arbitration on the day of their hearing, agreeing to a one-year, $2,825,000 deal Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Spooner became a restricted free agent July 1 after finishing a two-year contract that was worth $950,000 per season.

Spooner said that he didn't want to go through the hearing because it's "not a pleasant thing" and he didn't think the Bruins wanted to participate, either. He's the 24th player to settle this summer without a hearing after filing for arbitration.

Spooner can be a restricted free agent again next summer.

"For me, I'm going to spin that into a positive and say that I'm going to take that as a challenge to have a good year and show that I can be the player that they want me to be," Spooner said during a conference call. "And then on the (other) side too, it kind of just shows that they need to see a little bit more out of me as a player. There's a lot of things that I can also bring to the table that I need to work on" (see full story).

Devils: Five forwards re-signed to deals
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils have re-signed Stefan Noesen and four other forwards who spent most of last season with New Jersey's top minor-league franchise in Albany, New York.

General manager Ray Shero announced the signings of Noesen, Blake Coleman, Blake Pietila, Kevin Rooney and Ben Thomson on Wednesday.

Noesen, who split the 2016-17 season between Anaheim, San Diego (AHL) and New Jersey, got a one-year, two-way contract worth $660,000 at the NHL level. The Plano, Texas native had six goals in 32 regular-season games with the Devils.

Pietila signed a two-year, two-way contract with an average annual salary of $667,500 at the NHL level. The 24-year-old had an assist in 10 games with New Jersey.

Coleman got a one-year, two-way contract worth $660,000 at the NHL level. He played in 23 regular-season games for the Devils and had a goal and an assist.

Thomson and Rooney each signed one-year, two-way contracts worth $650,000 at the NHL level. Rooney played in four regular-season games with the Devils, one more than Thomson.

Coyotes: MacLean, Allen hired as assistants
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes hired John MacLean and Scott Allen on Wednesday as assistant coaches on Rick Tocchet's staff.

MacLean played 18 NHL seasons with four teams before becoming an assistant coach in the New Jersey Devils organization for seven seasons. He was an assistant with the Carolina Hurricanes from 2011-14 and served as an analyst for the NHL Network from 2015-17.

A former minor league player, Allen served as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers from 2009-12 and has held numerous coaching jobs in the minors, most recently with the San Antonio Rampage.

The Coyotes also hired Mike Van Ryn as head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team's AHL affiliate.

Tocchet was hired earlier this month to replace Dave Tippett.

Sharks: Barr hired as assistant coach
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks have hired Dave Barr as an assistant coach on Peter DeBoer's staff.

Barr will serve as the team's "eye in the sky" this season. Barr had previously worked with DeBoer for four years in New Jersey and helped the Devils make the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.

Barr was associate coach in Florida last season and has also been an NHL assistant with Buffalo, Minnesota and Colorado.

Barr joins assistants Steve Spott and Rob Zettler, goaltending coach Johan Hedberg and video coach Dan Darrow on the staff.