Flyers suffer first loss on trip, 2-1 in Colorado

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Flyers suffer first loss on trip, 2-1 in Colorado

BOX SCORE

DENVER -- They had the rushes they needed. They had plays that seemed to set the table for them.

What the Flyers didn’t have in the final five minutes of a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche was enough shots.

They had three shots to that point in the period, but would finish with seven more over the final frantic minutes of the game on goalie Semyon Varlamov, who stole points.

That’s the essence of why the Flyers couldn’t keep their western road trip record at a perfect 4-0, incurring their first loss in the five-game swing (see Instant Replay).

“Their defense had good gaps on us all night,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “We could have shot the puck more, but I tend to always think that.

“Putting the puck on net from anywhere is a good play if you got people who are supposed to go there. Things happen. If you pass up shots, you pass up goals.”

Sean Couturier was among several players driving hard those final minutes but not finishing with a shot on goal. Something always seemed to stall the rush up ice.

“I know what you’re talking about,” Berube said. “We had some rushes and we kind of pulled up or looking for late guys and it got deflected. Normally, our guys drive and put it on net. You don’t have to shoot it hard. Put it on net. Rebounds come out.”

The Flyers had 30 shots in the game, yet not enough early in the final period. Despite that, they still had quality chances throughout the game on Varlamov.

“We had a lot of chances,” Scott Hartnell said. “He was moving east-west and he was there to make the stops. Sometimes you run into a hot goalie and you can’t do nothing about.

“We fought hard, had lots of chances but the shifts we didn’t play well turned it over and the puck ended up in our net.”

Colorado made an early push in the third period and the Flyers made a late push back, but again, it wasn’t enough.

“We were screening, we had a couple of point-blank chances, people driving the net,” Hartnell said. “Most games, you do that you get bounces or you get rewarded for your hard work. Tonight we got stoned.”

Wayne Simmonds, who had the lone Flyer goal in the second period to make it a 2-1 game, also had a good chance in the final minute from distance.

“We had our chances, we played a good game but we didn’t capitalize on our chances,” Simmonds said. “Ultimately, that’s the game.

“Varlamov played really well. We could have done some better things as a team, but as a whole, we played pretty decent.

“It would have been nice to pick up any points in this game. We have to build on it going into Phoenix.”

Flyers goalie Steve Mason agreed.

“The effort was there,” Mason said. “We had a lot of chances to go ahead. The puck just wasn’t bouncing our way, but not for lack of effort. The guys worked hard to create chances.”

Flyers captain Claude Giroux said he felt winded out there with the thin Denver air by the third period but kept going. The atmosphere here is something the Flyers aren’t used to because they don’t come to Colorado enough.

“We had a lot of chances to tie it up. The effort was there, guys worked really hard and Mase had the saves to keep us in the game,” Giroux said. “Lot of chances with pucks on the goal line.”

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.