Instant Replay: Blackhawks 7, Flyers 2

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Instant Replay: Blackhawks 7, Flyers 2

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO -- Ray Emery’s homecoming at United Center was more a disaster than a coming out party.

He gave up four goals on the first 10 shots and, well, that pretty much set the tone Wednesday night during a 7-2 humiliating Flyers’ loss to the Blackhawks.

Instead of making up some ground on Metropolitan Division foes, the Flyers return home having lost ground in the standings, earning just five of a possible 12 points during their six-game road trip which ended 2-3-1.

Not good enough.

The Flyers wanted to know how they measure up to the league’s best team and defending Stanley Cup champions.

What they found out is they don’t come close to stacking up to the Blackhawks.

The Flyers held a 1-0 lead going into the second period, when the Hawks scored twice in the opening 1:22 to grab the game by the throat.

They had 1:34 remaining on a carryover power play and made use of it with Duncan Keith’s blast from the left point to tie the game at 43 seconds.

On the ensuing shift, Andrew Shaw embarrassed Andrej Meszaros, going behind the Flyers' net to play with the puck, moving left to right, swinging around and ripping a wraparound shot inside the far post for a 2-1 lead.

Flyers coach Craig Berube called timeout because those two goals awakened the sleeping 'Hawks and their raucous crowd.

Before the period was over, however, ex-Flyer Kris Versteeg scored shorthanded, while the Hawks collected five goals in the stanza for a rout.

Mileage
The Flyers changed time zones five times during this 12-day, six-game trip. They flew 5,629 miles but if a fan drove to the games, he or she would have covered 6,801 miles.

Trending
This one isn’t good. Flyers goalies have given up at least four goals in regulation now for three straight games.

Welcome back
During a first-period timeout, the Blackhawks had a salute to Ray Emery, who was a vital part of their Stanley Cup-winning team last season. Fans gave him a standing ovation.

Big meltdown
Chicago scored five times on just 11 shots in the second period. Pretty good shooting percentage, eh?

Patrick Kane
The NHL’s second-leading scorer coming in (40 points) had some quality chances. Emery stopped him point-blank early in the game off a nice setup from Versteeg.

Patrick Sharp
The ex-Flyer, who never should have been traded (Matt Ellison), lost a goal to Jonathan Toews but scored in the final period.

The goalies
Emery yielded six goals on 18 shots before being relieved by Steve Mason 1:05 into the third period with the score 6-2. Four of the goals on Emery came on plays inside the Flyers’ zone. Only one came off the rush.

Special teams
Chicago came in with the 28th-worst penalty kill in the NHL. That’s something the Flyers needed to exploit on the power play. Well, Jakub Voracek did in the first period with a shot in the slot off Keith for a 1-0 lead. Sean Couturier had a steal on the Flyers' second power play that set up a Steve Downie breakaway, but goalie Antti Raanta made a pad stop. Brayden Schenn scored a power-play goal out of a scrum in the second period. Versteeg had a shortie for Chicago.

Big saves
Raanta had two shorthanded saves in the third period. One on Schenn and the other on Michael Raffl. Both on the same Chicago power play.

Power plays
Chicago was 2 for 7. The Flyers were 2 for 5.

Scoring
The Blackhawks have scored at least six goals in three straight games.

Stupid penalties
Luke Schenn’s elbow and Jay Rosehill’s roughing in the third gave Chicago a five-on-three power play that the 'Hawks converted on.

Look closer
Hard to believe, Harry, that the No. 1 team in the Western Conference has such a poor penalty kill. Which goes to show that the 'Hawks are simply outscoring everyone else. And they are. They had 122 goals coming into the game -- far outdistancing their nearest rival, Anaheim (106). Also, the Blackhawks' power-play units were fourth in the NHL with 25 power-play goals.

Five or more
This was the 14th game the 'Hawks scored at least five goals.

Fights
Draw between Wayne Simmonds and Sheldon Brookbank in the first period.

Scratches
Forward Tye McGinn (ill) along with defensemen Hal Gill and Erik Gustafsson, both of whom were healthy.

Loose pucks
The Flyers will return home after the game to host Danny Briere and the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. This is Briere’s first game back in South Philly since being bought out last summer. ... The Flyers are now 2-3-1 against the Central Division and a very poor 3-6-1 against the Western Conference.

End to End: Is it really a 2-player race atop the NHL draft?

End to End: Is it really a 2-player race atop the NHL draft?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
 
Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.
 
The topic: Is it really a two-player race atop the NHL draft?
 
Dougherty
Maybe it's because the Flyers have the No. 2 pick and we tend to put the top prospects under an unfair microscope in years that do not include bona fide picks atop the draft.
 
Maybe it is as simple as whoever the New Jersey Devils do not draft.
 
Maybe we're overthinking this. Maybe we're not.
 
These are the questions that Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and his staff are asking themselves in the weeks leading up to the June 23-24 NHL entry draft in Chicago.
 
It appears to be a two-player draft, or at least that is what we've talked ourselves into. All the chatter has been around Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier.
 
"I would say it's pretty accurate," Devils director of amateur scouting Paul Castron recently told the team's website. "They're both excellent players. … I think the media maybe has it that way, but I think there are other players that could come into play as well."
 
I am on the record saying the Flyers should get an immediate impact player at No. 2 in either Patrick or Hischier, unlike the last time they picked in this slot in 2007.
 
So, I believe the Flyers will be coming away from Chicago with either Patrick or Hischier, but I also don't believe it is as much of a slam dunk as we've made it out.
 
By many accounts, it is not a projected deep draft class. ESPN's Corey Pronman recently told TSN Radio 1040 he doesn't believe the two are "completely clear of the pack."
 
"The last time we had a draft like this — say 2012," Pronman said. "I think many scouts had Alex Galchenyuk, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly … it all depended on which teams were picking where. I think this is another one of those years.
 
"I do think Hischier and Patrick are the likely No. 1 and 2, but if somebody else snuck into there, I wouldn't really be surprised."
 
There also doesn't appear much separation between Patrick and Hischier themselves. Hischier has been trending up, while questions remain about Patrick's durability.
 
While both the Devils and Flyers have publicly downplayed injury concerns about Patrick, we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. If New Jersey decides to draft Hischier with No. 1, I could see a scenario in which the Flyers opt to go another route than Patrick.
 
In early May, Hextall said with "any young player who has had injuries, you do background checks." What if the Flyers find something in those background checks they don't like?
 
Therefore, I don't think we're overthinking it too much to take a look at other top prospects in this class, such as Windsor center Gabriel Vilardi, Portland center Cody Glass or Owen Sound center Nick Suzuki. Because I do think there is a legitimate possibility the No. 2 pick could be someone other than Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier.

Hall
The Flyers, in an overly advantageous position, should not get cute here. 

Depth at center is so vital to any organization. The Flyers have been lacking just that and it has shown the past three seasons.

With this draft, a high-end center is falling into their lap at the No. 2 pick. From all indications, Patrick and Hischier are at the head of the class.

Sure, the Flyers should do their homework, and they will. They'll be thorough in their scouting and preparation leading up to June 23.

To me, though, this is pretty simple. The Flyers' decision will essentially be made by the Devils' choice at No. 1 — and that's the odd convenience of the second overall selection.

Unless Hischier goes to New Jersey and alarms sound on Patrick's health, the Flyers need to make the obvious call and add one of these two centers.

Paone
Let's break this question down into simplest terms.

Could the Flyers take someone other than Patrick or Hischier at No. 2 come June 23 in Chicago? Of course, they could.

As Tom mentioned above, Vilardi, Glass and Suzuki are all up there at the head of this class with the projected top two, though seen by many as a slight level down from Patrick and Hischier.

A lot of times, decisions like these come down to team preference of a certain player. But don't expect Hextall to make that preference known until he steps to the podium to announce the Flyers' pick on draft night.

But could and should are two very different questions.

Should the Flyers take someone other than Patrick or Hischier at No. 2?

Nope.

Let's be honest, the Flyers fell backward into this No. 2 pick. And with that, they have the chance to select a potential stalwart forward with a strong knack for putting the puck in the net, which both Patrick and Hischier possess. And each should be able to show that off in the NHL sooner rather than later. Remember this: The Flyers' "Big 4" of Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux scored 90 of the Flyers' 212 goals last season. That accounts for 42.5 percent. Immediate scoring help is needed and both Patrick and Hischier should have the ability to bring that to the table.

Yes, the questions about Patrick's durability are legitimate. And yes, Hischier is trending even further upward.

But, to me, this goes back again to simplest terms.

The Flyers should pick whomever New Jersey doesn't out of Patrick and Hischier.

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NHL draft, on Saturday afternoon added some CHL hardware to their trophy case.

Patrick won the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award, beating out Hischier and Windsor's Gabriel Vilardi, while Hischier edged Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi and Guelph's Ryan Merkley for the CCM Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries forced Patrick to play just 33 games this season, but he still produced at a point-per-game pace for Brandon. He finished with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Mooseheads, his first season in the QMJHL after coming over from Switzerland.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. If the draft goes as projected, the Flyers will come away with either Patrick or Hischier, whoever the New Jersey Devils do not pick.

The 2017 NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.

Missing history
Flyers prospect Carter Hart had a chance to become the first goalie in CHL history to win the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice, but this year's award went elsewhere.

Owen Sound goalie Michael McNiven on Saturday afternoon took home the 2016-17 CHL Goaltender of the Year Award. McNiven was 41-9-4 for the Attack this season. He posted a 2.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with six shutouts.

McNiven led the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage, and his six shutouts were tied with Windsor's Michael DiPietro for the league lead. His 41 wins were tops in the OHL.

Hart, 18, posted a 32-11-6 record in 54 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17. His 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts were all ranked No. 1 in the WHL.

Despite missing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award this year, Hart previously did win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season. He was twice named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week and had a shutout streak of 193 minutes and 48 seconds during the regular season.

Hart was one of three second-round picks by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft.