Philadelphia Flyers

Instant Replay: Panthers 3, Flyers 1

slideshow-flyers-mark-streit-ap.jpg

Instant Replay: Panthers 3, Flyers 1

BOX SCORE

SUNRISE, Fla. -- All point streaks have to come to an end at some point.

And the Flyers' seven-game point streak (6-0-1) ended Monday night here in overcast but warm South Florida.

Craig Berube’s team lacked for energy and seemed to be second on the puck the entire night, expending too much time in its own end.

Florida looked, at times, on a perpetual power play as 39-year-old goalie Tim Thomas looked like he was going to get his first shutout of the season during a 3-1 victory at BB&T Center.

The Flyers came into Monday undefeated in their last five games in this arena, but they simply didn’t look very sharp with the puck, especially passing it.

They missed a ton of shots on Thomas through 40 minutes and squandered a critical five-on-three power play that would give way to two Panther goals. Thomas had 38 saves in the game.

Florida’s difference maker in this one was Sean Bergenheim. He scored Florida’s first two goals. His first goal saw him simply outwork the Flyers behind the net, grab a puck off Jay Rosehill, then get two chances off a wraparound rebound.

Bergenheim then had a nifty redirect in the paint during a Panthers' power play off a shot from Marcel Goc to make it 2-0.

Wayne Simmonds scored on a power play rebound at 7:06 to make it a one-goal game and that seemed to give the Flyers some juice. Though they carried the play the rest of the way, Erik Gudbranson sealed it late with an odd deflected goal.

Last time
So when did the Flyers last trail 2-0 in a game? That would be Nov. 7 at Wells Fargo Center when they lost 3-0 to New Jersey. The Devils made it 2-0 at 3:01 of the third period. That game saw the Flyers hold a team meeting after the game. A day later, club chairman Ed Snider said the effort was “pathetic.” Next game, the Flyers defeated Edmonton to begin their point streak.

Chances
Simmonds couldn’t lift a shot over a prone Thomas in the first period and shot it off the goalie's helmet. Minutes later, Gudbranson had a diving breakup of Matt Read’s semi-breakaway deep in Florida’s zone. Jakub Voracek flubbed his shot late in the second period on a partial open net. Sean Couturier, who had zero shots through two periods, put one off Thomas’ pad late in the third that could have caught the inside of the post but missed.

Long time, no score
Gudbranson had not scored a goal in 100 games. Bergenheim had not scored a goal since Game 6 of Florida's playoff series vs. the Devils in 2011-12. He had been injured this year, as well.

The goalies
Steve Mason had a nice save on Jonathan Huberdeau’s deflection in the crease during the first period. Thomas was very strong through two periods but benefited from eight blocked shots and a number of botched shots by the Flyers. Thomas had a nice glove save on Zac Rinaldo from the left circle in the third period.

Special teams
The Flyers had a great chance on their only power play of the opening period with Simmonds trying to convert a cross-crease pass from Claude Giroux for a tip-in attempt. Simmonds didn’t get the puck fully on his stick and the shot was wide. The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play in the game. Florida was 1 for 2.

Five-on-three
The Flyers failed to take advantage of such a situation early in the second period, although they had three shots during the two-man advantage. Thomas had good stops on Vinny Lecavalier and Kimmo Timonen. Giroux tried a stuffer but Thomas had the left post locked up with his pad. Overall, there were too many passes during that power play. Not scoring was critical, too, because the kill gave Florida momentum and the Panthers scored off the PK on Bergenheim’s first goal.

Fights
Perhaps the best bout of the season -- longest, too -- between Florida’s Krys Barch and Rosehill with six minutes left. Give the victory to Rosehill.

Scratches
Same as usual. Defensemen Hal Gill (eight games) and Andrej Meszaros (eight games), plus forward Michael Raffl (five games).

Loose pucks
The Flyers will practice Tuesday afternoon in Tampa Bay. The team will hold a media availability at noon for Lecavalier’s return. A large turnout of media is expected. … The Flyers will return home after the Bolts’ game in time for Thanksgiving, then welcome Winnipeg for Black Friday’s rare 11:30 a.m. matinee at Wells Fargo Center.

NHL Notes: Rangers ink Mika Zibanejad to 5-year extension

usa-mika-zibanejad-rangers.jpg
USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Rangers ink Mika Zibanejad to 5-year extension

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have signed center Mika Zibanejad to a $26.75 million, five-year deal.

Zibanejad will count $5.35 million against the salary cap through 2021-22 as the Rangers count on him to take on a bigger role following the trade of Derek Stepan. General manager Jeff Gorton announced the contract Tuesday morning, before the team and Zibanejad were set to go to arbitration.

The 24-year-old Swede had 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in 56 games last season, his first with New York. The Rangers acquired Zibanejad from the Ottawa Senators for Derick Brassard a year ago.

Zibanejad has 188 points in 337 NHL games with the Senators and Rangers since Ottawa drafted him sixth overall in 2011 (see full story).

Olympics: Team Canada names Burke GM for 2018 Games
Sean Burke will be the general manager and Willie Desjardins the head coach for Canada at the first Olympics without NHL players since 1994.

Hockey Canada named its management and coaching staffs for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics on Tuesday. St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Martin Brodeur will work under Burke on the management side, while Desjardins will be assisted by Dave King, Scott Walker and Craig Woodcroft.

Canada has been grooming Burke for this responsibility for some time as he served as assistant GM for the 2017 world championships, GM for the 2016 Spengler Cup and Deutschland Cup and director of player development for the 2016 worlds. Desjardins coached Canada's 2010 world junior team and assisted in 2009.

USA Hockey has not yet named its GM or coach (see full story).

Sabres: Goalie Lehner re-signed to 1-year deal
BUFFALO, N.Y.  -- The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a $4 million, one-year contract.

The team announced the deal Tuesday. Lehner was a restricted free agent.

The 26-year-old Swede showed he could stay healthy last season, setting career highs with 59 games played, 23 wins and two shutouts. He ranked third in the NHL with 1,758 saves and finished with a .920 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average.

Bothered by injuries and concussion problems, Lehner had never before played more than 36 games in his NHL career. The Sabres took a chance on Lehner when they traded a first-round pick to the Ottawa Senators for him at the 2015 draft.

Lehner will again be a restricted free agent next summer when this contract expires.

Devils: 3 restricted free agents re-signed
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Mirco Mueller, forward Joseph Blandisi and goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

Mueller got a two-year deal worth an average of $850,000 a season, Blandisi a two-year, two-way deal worth an average of $680,000 in the NHL, and Wedgewood a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 in the NHL. General manager Ray Shero announced the contracts Tuesday.

Re-signing Mueller for two years was the most significant move after New Jersey acquired the 22-year-old from San Jose before the Vegas expansion draft. The Swiss defender has just six points in 54 NHL games with the Sharks, but still is considered a good prospect after being a first-round pick in 2013.

Mueller will make $775,000 next season and $925,000 in 2018-19.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

philadelphia-rebels-carson-briere.jpg
John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.