Flyers take minds off woes, attend Eagles game

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Flyers take minds off woes, attend Eagles game

So what does a 1-7 hockey team do when looking to break out of the doldrums from a poor start and have a little fun?

They all show up at Lincoln Financial Field to watch a now 3-4 football team.

That’s what the Flyers did Sunday as a group -- they watched the Cowboys beat the Eagles in South Philly.

Even coach Craig Berube was there.

“I went down just for a bit with those guys,” Berube said. “They had a workout [at Wells Fargo Center] as a team, and we just got some food after, but I didn’t go to the game.

“Anytime they can get together as a team and do things, it’s good. This team’s got good chemistry with each other. They’ve just got to do it on the ice.”

Captain Claude Giroux liked the idea of going to a game as a team.

“Get the mind off [things], get the boys together and watch the Eagles play,” Giroux said. “Obviously, it wasn’t the result we were hoping for, but it’s good to be around and a chance to meet fans.”

Virtually the entire Flyers team was at the game. And while fans’ discontent and vitriol may be all over the Internet, players said they didn’t get any of that from fans at the Linc.

No one was berating them.

“Our fans are frustrated and disappointed,” Giroux said. “Let’s be honest. We’re disappointed in ourselves too with this start. We have to go game-by-game and get a win Thursday against the Rangers and move on.”

Braydon Coburn said fans treated the Flyers very well and had positive thoughts to share.

“I enjoyed being there,” Coburn said. “When you are out in Philadelphia, people are always so nice. Everybody was, honestly. Everyone knows we had a tough start. They had kind words, told us to get it going and it’s a long season.

“I like watching those guys. Those guys are athletes. They are really athletic. That’s one of the things I really enjoy watching in person -- seeing the kind of athletes they are, the big guys who can run, then guys like DeSean Jackson in a snap from zero to 10. It’s really cool to see.”

Loose pucks
Kimmo Timonen (undisclosed injury) returned to practice and is fit to play against the Rangers, Berube said. ... Vinny Lecavalier (suspected groin/abdomen) and Scott Hartnell (suspected rib cage) practiced on their own. Though Lecavalier said Sunday he felt he might play on Thursday, Berube said his sense is that neither player is ready and he wants to be sure both are 100 percent healthy before putting them back in the lineup. ... Lecavalier did not participate in any of the speed skating drills that the team went through Monday. This week is all about skating and up-tempo, and Lecavalier might not be in game shape by Thursday. ... Hal Gill did extra laps. Punishment? “He’s dedicated,” Berube said. “He wanted to do extra.” So he wasn’t laps behind? “That’s not nice,” Berube laughed.

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.