Holmgren concerned about Flyers' struggles

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Holmgren concerned about Flyers' struggles

WASHINGTON -- Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was wearing an expression that implies his patience with this team is about to expire.

The compete level during Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Capitals just wasn’t there against a poorer opponent that was playing on back-to-back nights and coming off a road trip with a couple losses, too (see game recap).

“We started slow, for whatever reason,” Holmgren said. “I thought we got into the game and played pretty good after the first 8-10 minutes.

“Then, we made a couple of mistakes that cost us goals. I’m concerned because we’re falling behind here. We got to get going here.”

The Flyers are now 2-6-0 on the season and mired deep in the Eastern Conference standings.

He cited the club’s injury problems and depth as being problematic.

Holmgren could also lose forward Wayne Simmonds for a few games, too. Simmonds took an elbow to the face from John Erskine in the first period and did not return.

Even worse, Simmonds tumbled backwards, striking his head on the ice. Holmgren said he was examined for a concussion, but the doctors did not indicate that was the case. Holmgren said Simmonds had a “head injury,” and more won’t be known until Saturday.

Needless to say, Simmonds is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Carolina at Wells Fargo Center.

Erskine is almost certain to get tagged with at least a one- or two-game suspension from Brendan Shanahan on Saturday.

“If we lose Wayne for any stretch of time, that’s another big hole,” Holmgren said. “It’s hard to replace those kind of guys.”

Many of the Flyers did not get a good look at the hit.

“Two guys going opposite directions,” Mike Knuble said. “You couldn’t tell from the bench. I saw it with my own eyes, [not sure] whether it was shoulder or whatever.

“To have him get hurt and come out of the game, he’s a big presence on our team. A big factor in us winning game.”

Loose pucks
After Erskine’s hit on Simmonds, the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo pounded Matt Hendricks in a fight. Both were tossed from the game -- a bit extreme. … Officiating was awful in the first period. … After being outshot 10-2 at one point in the first period, the Flyers went into intermission tied in shots, 11-11, and finished outshooting the Caps, 31-26. … With Rinaldo and Simmonds out of the game in the first period, coach Peter Laviolette had to juggle lines since this affected both the top line and the fourth line. Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn both alternated for Simmonds on the first line. … Luke Schenn finished minus-2 on the night. … The Flyers had 35 shots that didn’t get through -- 23 were blocked and 12 missed the net. Of that, Braydon Coburn had seven shots that didn’t get to the net. … This was the Flyers’ first regulation loss in Washington since losing 5-3 on Jan. 17, 2010.

Flyers-Avalanche 5 things: Final showing before trade deadline

Flyers-Avalanche 5 things: Final showing before trade deadline

Flyers (28-26-7) vs. Avalanche (17-40-3)
7 p.m. on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

A day before the NHL trade deadline, the Flyers welcome the hapless Colorado Avalanche to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Here are five things to know for the matchup:

1. Final hurrah?
Prior to Saturday's outdoor game in Pittsburgh, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall admitted his team's final two contests before deadline day could have some impact on decisions.

The Flyers lost to the Penguins at Heinz Field, 4-2, and now host the NHL's worst club in the Avalanche. It could be the final game before the Flyers look a bit different the remaining 20 contests of the regular season.

The Flyers enter Tuesday six points behind the Maple Leafs for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. At 63 points, they also trail the Islanders (68), Panthers (66) and Lightning (64), with the Sabres (62) and Devils (62) breathing down their necks.

With three expiring contracts on defense and young blueliners at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, Hextall has pieces to sell and reasons to do it. Defensemen Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz are set to be unrestricted free agents this offseason. Goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth can also hit the UFA market come July 1, as can role forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde.

The Flyers are clearly not in a win-now mode with the way things have gone recently, so dealing parts, clearing space and acquiring draft picks would certainly help expedite the road to contention.

2. Avoid an Avalanche
This really is a game that would be inexcusable for the Flyers to lose.

They have one last chance to make an impression on their GM.

They're in serious need of a win to keep postseason hopes flickering.

And they're on home ice against a team that has won six games over the last 2½ months.

"Everybody is frustrated right now," Claude Giroux said Monday. "We can't be pointing fingers.
 
"Everybody needs to be a little bit better and give a little more and go one game at a time here. [Tuesday], we're back in front of our fans. We've got to get this win, we know that. We've just got to keep at it."

The Avalanche are in the NHL cellar with 37 points. The next closest team is the Coyotes at 51 points. Colorado is dead last in goals per game (2.02) and goals allowed per game (3.30), and has also been interested in the Flyers as a trade partner, a source told CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio.

3. Different defense
Del Zotto should get a chance to showcase himself Tuesday night.

That's because defenseman Brandon Manning will serve the first game of a two-game suspension handed down on Monday for his hit on Penguins forward Jake Guentzel during Saturday's loss.

Del Zotto, who will likely enter the lineup for Manning, has played just 32 games this season because of injury and healthy scratches. The 26-year-old also understands that trade rumors swirl this time of year.

"It happens every year," Del Zotto said last week. "It's not like it’s the first time. I've been traded before. It is what it is. It's a business.

"You realize that pretty early in your career. I understand where I'm at as far as my contract, being a UFA this summer."

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Giroux has two goals in his last 26 games. However, he has six goals in nine career games against the Avalanche, who are giving them up in bunches this season. You'd have to think this is a game in which the captain could break out a bit.

Avalanche: Matt Duchene has been the subject of trade rumors and leads Colorado in goals with 16. The 26-year-old center has also played well against the Flyers in his career, posting seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine matchups.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is expected to start for the first time since Feb. 9. He's played just twice since Jan. 31, allowing eight combined goals in two losses. Mason is 16-17-6 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

• Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard was scratched last Saturday because of a stiff neck. If he can't go, 27-year-old rookie Jeremy Smith will make his fourth career start.

• The Flyers have lost eight of their last 11 games.

• The Flyers have scored the NHL's fewest goals (68) since Dec. 5.

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund beat two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around goalie Jonathan Quick just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Granlund's 20th goal of the season gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his NHL-leading 33rd win and the Wild their 15th comeback victory. They answered all four goals in regulation by the Kings, from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.

Jason Zucker's spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before (see full recap).

Kucherov's hat trick carries Lightning past Sens
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.

A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.

The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games (see full recap).

Galchenyuk lifts Canadiens over Devils in OT
NEWARK, N.J. -- Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Monday night.

Max Pacioretty scored twice in the final 11:23 of regulation to tie the game and Alexander Radulov added a goal for the Canadiens, who won consecutive games for the first time since early January. Al Montoya had 34 saves for Montreal.

Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves.

Galchenyuk beat Schneider with a shot from between the circles less than a minute after Damon Severson was penalized for hooking (see full recap).