Flyers 'turn the corner' in win over Penguins


Flyers 'turn the corner' in win over Penguins


PITTSBURGH -- On Saturday, the Flyers proved they could actually score goals. On Tuesday, they showed their doubters that they could score and play solid defense.

And on Wednesday night at the CONSOL Energy Center, when the Flyers fought out a close 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins (see Instant Replay), they confirmed that those previous two games weren’t flukes.

Have they finally turned that metaphorical corner?

“Yeah,” Ray Emery said. “I think the last couple weeks, the boys scored more goals, had a great night in Ottawa [Tuesday], and a tough back-to-back against one of our rivals and a really good team in Pittsburgh. Getting a good road win, they’re all steps in the right direction.”

If ever there was a way to make a statement, holding the Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins to a single goal in their home arena was it. For the Flyers, it was a complete team, complete game performance; they were sharp on offense, clean on defense and very impressive in net.

The Flyers’ effort wasn’t a perfect one, however. They started out slowly, but pushed past it. They never backed down or got sloppy as the game progressed -- two issues that have plagued them for most of this young season.

“More than anything, I like the fact that we grinded the win out,” coach Craig Berube said. “We played the night before, and did a lot of little things right, getting the puck out, getting it in deep. It’s just another game, boys. Got a long way to go.”

The Flyers’ second line of Vinny Lecavalier, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn shined in Wednesday’s victory, with Schenn netting both of the Flyers’ goals and Simmonds’ hard work standing out the entire night.

Though Sidney Crosby did score the Pens’ lone goal, Sean Couturier, when matched up against him, did a thorough job at keeping him quiet. Couturier, as he earned his stripes doing in the 2012 playoffs, also did a good job of getting under Evgeni Malkin’s skin.

The Flyers are still under .500, at 7-10-1, and they’re still lingering around the NHL’s basement in power-play production and scoring as a whole. But after Wednesday, their third consecutive victory, they’re starting to really believe they can get their season back on track.

“We’re working on it right now, trying to put some wins together,” Schenn said. “We’re playing some sound defensive hockey, waiting for opportunities to score, and right now we’re scoring when they’re there. Got to keep on it, keep going and finish off the road trip strong in Winnipeg.”

If Schenn was all the Flyers needed, offensively, to eke out their victory, it was Emery who came to the rescue defensively. The Flyers’ netminder stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced, and as impressive as that number looks, it was even moreso -- the saves he did make were often very, very good ones.

Though some fans were clamoring for Steve Mason to get the start, Emery’s success didn’t come at all as a surprise to his coach.

“Ray’s been good all year,” Berube said. “Got a shutout in Jersey, played another good game at home against Jersey, we didn’t get him any support that night. Tonight, I thought he was great, especially early on in the game. He shut the door there and gave us an opportunity to win. He’s a winner. Always has been.”

The Flyers finish up their road trip Friday in Winnipeg. As pleased as they are to have won three games in a row for the first time all year -- and to finally reach .500 under Berube’s rule -- sweeping their road trip would prove they’re even closer to righting their proverbial ship.

At least, it would to those of us who watch. To the coach, there’s no such thing as a true turning point.

“I think it’s a work in progress all the time, I really do,” Berube said. “You can’t take a break. You’ve got to keep on ‘em. It’s my job to keep on ‘em. It’s my job to keep teaching. It’s my job to make sure they’re focused. It’s a constant job all the time.

“You got to keep working on it and keep practicing and keep talking about it.”

Dale Weise faces possible suspension for hit on Ducks' Holzer

Dale Weise faces possible suspension for hit on Ducks' Holzer

VOORHEES, N.J. – The long arm of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will likely reach down once more to serve the Flyers a suspension.

Dale Weise is facing a suspension on Friday for a high shoulder to the head of Ducks' defenseman Korbinian Holzer just prior to a Flyer power play in the second period of Thursday's 3-2 loss.

The phone hearing was expected Friday afternoon.

Weise didn’t get a penalty on the play and Holzer remained in the game, even assisting on Ryan Garbutt’s game-winning goal midway into the third period.

A tight-lipped Weise had a terse "no comment" on the play. Coach Dave Hakstol didn’t take sides, either.

“I don’t have a comment on it and I’m not going to comment this year on them,” Hakstol said. “I’m not surprised. 

“I didn’t expect there'd be something last night, put it that way. I looked at it this morning and now we’ll wait for the process to go ahead.”

On the other hand, Josh Manson’s elbow to the back of the head of rookie Travis Konecny in the opening minutes of the game did not draw a suspension. Manson served a minor for elbowing.

“I have not compared the two and won’t compare the two,” Hakstol said. “I will wait for the process to play out and go from there. That’s the choice I have to make as a coach.”

Konecny said he put himself in a bad situation on the Manson hit.

“That was my fault,” he said. “I tried to duck under the hit and make room for myself. He came through and put a check on me and I got underneath him.”

Any difference between that and the Weise hit?

“From my point of view, it looked like he hit his body,” Konecny said. “There was no intent to hit him in the head. I could say the same thing about the hit on me. He didn’t intend to hit me in the head. In my opinion, they are both good hits.”

Wayne Simmonds was upset that one hit was being investigated while the other wasn’t.

“It’s bull,” he said. “There is no difference. The guy has his head down. [Weise] hits him square through the body. I honestly think it’s a clean check. Obviously, whatever happens, happens, but we can’t take those hits out of the game. 

“The guy who is getting hit has to be aware, keep his head up. But at the same time, I don’t think Weiser was going for head contact at all. He drove 100 percent through the body and just so happened their guy had his head down carrying the puck. You don’t want him to check? What do you want him to do?”

Through four games, the 5-foot-9 – he’s listed taller – Konecny is being targeted by teams. The fact he has four assists – tied for first place among rookies – has served notice around the NHL that he is a player to watch on the ice.

From the Flyers' perspective, you can see why they miss defenseman Radko Gudas. They have no big body bruiser out there to make other clubs think twice.

Gudas has served four games from a six-game suspension handed down at the end of preseason for a hit to Bruins rookie Austin Czarnik.

Flyers' lackluster power play sets team back in home opener

Flyers' lackluster power play sets team back in home opener

Most times, a team gets five power plays in a game, it’s lights out.

The Flyers had five power plays in the second period of Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Anaheim and were being outshot!

By the time matters were settled, they had scored one, lonely power play goal in seven chances. That almost defies the odds for not being more successful. It’s also a contributing factor in the defeat.

Right now for Dave Hakstol’s club it remains either feast or famine on power play. 

The Flyers either get the puck into the zone cleanly with a setup, puck and player movement and shots or they flub entry passes, turn it over at the blue line, or whiff within the zone and it results in an easy clear.

There’s no real consistency to their power play, which is 3-for-17 through four games. A few more goals and they would have won in Phoenix (0-for-4) and against the Ducks.

“We kept turning the puck over in the neutral zone,” said Wayne Simmonds, who had the only power play marker the Flyers scored in this game.

Simmonds' goal was classic tic-tac-toe passing and movement. There simply wasn’t enough of that in this game, or in others so far, either.

Far too often, the Flyers made it too easy on Anaheim’s penalty kill units with inefficiency.

“Those guys that are out there, they did a hell of a job tonight,” Corey Perry said of the Ducks’ PK units. “They blocked shots, they cleared pucks, they did everything they were asked to do.

“When you’re killing penalties, that’s what you have to do. You have to sacrifice that body and [goalie John] Gibson came up with some big saves for us.”

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol didn’t see it the same way.

“I thought we had pretty good power plays, our first power play,” he said. “I thought we had a good power play during the second, scored a good goal. Had opportunities to stretch to 3-1. It’s disappointing we couldn’t.

“We had one poor power play at the end of the first, where we weren’t able to get set up at all. Our power play was okay, the bigger thing for me is the goal we gave up a few seconds after the last power play in the second period. Those are the type of goals that as a team we can’t give up.”

Hakstol was referring to Perry’s tying goal that made it 2-2 and gave the Ducks momentum carryover into the final period.

Matt Read doesn’t play on the power play but he sees some things from the bench.

“It’s about getting that bounce or making that one extra play or simple play of getting the puck to the net,” Read said. “They’re doing a good job out there and it’s going to come. It’s still early. 

"Hopefully, you watch video and see what you can do better every time. It would be nice to get an insurance goal there, but it didn’t happen. We got to play better the rest of the game.”

More Read
His goal in the second period on a splendid, end-to-end rush, gives him four goals on the season. He’s on pace for a mere 82.

Read has a three-goal scoring streak. This was his fourth career goal streak of three games or more. His career-high there is five games, going back to the fall of 2011 when he scored six goals between Nov. 13-21.

“He has always been a hard working guy,” Hakstol said. “He’s a guy that is doing things with a lot of confidence. For me, it started with Reader back in late August. 

“He was in here working early, getting ready, getting prepared and he has carried that through everything he has done so far this year.”

Loose pucks
Simmonds is also on a three-game goal scoring streak, which is the 12th such streak of his career. His career-high is five games from March 26-April 3, 2012, during which he scored six goals … Attendance was 19,982. That’s the Flyers’ largest home crowd since January 20, 2015 when they had the same attendance figure in a 3-2 overtime victory against Pittsburgh.