Philadelphia Flyers

Instant Replay: Rangers 4, Flyers 1

uspresswire-flyers-zac-rinaldo.jpg

Instant Replay: Rangers 4, Flyers 1

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- It looked like the planets were all in alignment for the Flyers early against the Rangers.

They scored on their first shot against Henrik Lundqvist and had a lead at Madison Square Garden with Ray Emery playing well.

All signs pointed to the Flyers breaking their MSG curse -- having not won in the building in three seasons -- but the Rangers, who owned large portions of ice all night long scored four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 rout of the Flyers in Game 1 of the playoffs.

Two third-period power-play goals 47 seconds apart sank the Flyers.

You can't score goals if you don't get shots on net and that was a critical problem for Craig Berube's club.

The Flyers had no forecheck, which meant they had no puck possession and in turn, no shots.

The Flyers' top line finished with two shots on net, both belonging to Scott Hartnell. Neither Claude Giroux or Jakub Voracek recorded a shot.

They were beaten badly to every puck they played deep, too, while the Rangers seemed to have numbers on the Flyers in the corner the entire second period in which the Flyers were badly outplayed.

Emery held the Flyers in the game as long as he could.

Penalties
Jason Akeson's double-minor for high sticking at 7:35 in the third period resulted in two Rangers goals. The Flyers had three bad penalties in the period that cost them the game.

No shots
The Flyers went more than seven minutes into the first period without recording a single shot. It was 4-0 in shots when the Flyers opened the scoring.

First shot
Andrew MacDonald's left-point drive that touched nothing but net at 7:28 for a 1-0 lead was the game's first goal and MacDonald's first as a Flyer. Hartnell set it up with a crushing hit on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, forcing a turnover and Hartnell got it back to MacDonald on the blue line. McDonagh jabbed his stick in Giroux's back just as the puck was going past Lundqvist.

Breakdown goal
The Rangers tied it at 10:53 when Emery left a high rebound off Mats Zuccarello into the high slot where he snuck past Sean Couturier for a second chance and scored into the far side off a backhander. Play began with Braydon Coburn losing a puck battle behind the goal.

Good chance
Voracek had a nice wraparound attempt near the end of the first period, then had Dan Girardi pin him to the ice for several seconds without a whistle. The two briefly looked at each other as if they were going to drop the gloves then skated away.

Seven
Through the first 27 minutes of the game, the Flyers had just seven shots on goal. They were outplayed badly in the second, as New York had far too many quality chances between the dots.

Second period
Emery kept the Flyers in the game with a number of quality saves, several on Brian Boyle and Rick Nash, who had nine of the Rangers' 23 shots through two periods.

Special Teams
The Flyers were 0 for 1 on the power play, while the Rangers were 2 for 6.

Penalty kill
The Flyers' PK units had to kill off a four-minute high-sticking call on Akeson. Marty St. Louis' shot rebounded off Kimmo Timonen directly to Richards in the right circle for a goal that broke a 1-1 tie at 8:22. The Rangers got another from Derek Stepan right after to ice it.

Scratches
Goalie Steve Mason (whiplash/concussion); forwards Jay Rosehill, Tye McGinn, Steve Downie, Chris VandeVelde and defenseman Hal Gill and Erik Gustfasson were all healthy scratches. 

Loose pucks
Mason wasn't supposed to join the club until Friday, but showed up for the game. … Couturier had one-on-four shorthanded rush in the first period without a shot. … The Rangers outshot the Flyers, 14-6, in the first period. … Through two periods, Vinny Lecavalier and Timonen were also held without a shot.

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

usa-leon-draisaitl.jpg
USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have signed center Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

The extension runs through the 2024-25 season, similar to the eight-year, $100-million extension superstar captain Connor McDavid signed with the team in July.

With the signings, the Oilers are banking on McDavid and Draisaitl providing a potent one-two punch for the team as it looks to build on last season's return to the playoffs after a decade of futility.

Draisaitl, a 21-year-old German, had 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) last season, his third in the NHL.

He finished eighth among NHL scorers, and second on the Oilers behind McDavid.

He led the Oilers in scoring during the 2017 playoffs, posting 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 games.

Draisaitl was selected third overall by the Oilers at the 2015 draft (see full story).

Avalanche: Hobey Baker winner Butcher now free agent
College hockey's top player is an NHL free agent after former University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher allowed a deadline to pass without signing with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche selected Butcher in the fifth round of the 2013 draft and had until Tuesday to sign the Hobey Baker Award winner who led Denver to a national championship in April.

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Butcher already has had discussions with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and NHL-expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The person said Butcher has not yet narrowed his list, and is also talking with other teams.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

The Denver Post first reported the three specific teams expressing interest in Butcher (see full story).

Wild: Cullen comes home for 21st NHL season
The Minnesota Wild and center Matt Cullen have agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract, bringing him back to his home state for a 21st season in the NHL.

The Wild announced the deal, which includes $700,000 in potential performance bonuses, on Wednesday.

Cullen played the last two years with Pittsburgh, winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Penguins. He played three seasons for the Wild from 2010-13, his first return to Minnesota since launching his career at Moorhead High School and St. Cloud State.

Cullen, who will turn 41 on Nov. 2, had 13 goals and 18 assists in 72 games in 2016-17 for the Penguins, plus two goals and seven assists in 25 playoff games. He has played in 1,366 career regular season games, the sixth-most among active players (see full story).

ESPN analyst ranks Flyers' farm system No. 1 in NHL

ESPN analyst ranks Flyers' farm system No. 1 in NHL

Ron Hextall never told fans to "trust the process," but apparently any faith in the Flyers' GM has been vindicated.

At least that's the case if you believe ESPN NHL writer Corey Pronman's latest farm system rankings (it's an Insider story, so apologies in advance). Pronman has the Flyers' farm ranked as No. 1 in the NHL. 

"The Flyers don't have as much game-breaking talent as our No. 2 team (Coyotes) does at the top of their system," Pronman writes, "but 2017 No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick is right up there; after Patrick, the Flyers have the cupboards lined with talent at every position."

Pronman credits the Flyers with nailing his first-round picks (Patrick, Ivan Provorov), grabbing middle-round prospects that have blossomed (Shayne Gostisbehere, Oskar Lindblom) and specifically mentions Phil Myers, an undrafted defenseman that has become "one of the very best defense prospects in hockey."

For so long, the Flyers' organization was perpetually in "win-now mode," but the late Ed Snider hired Hextall away from the Kings and eventually made him GM, knowing that Hexy was taking a broader view of the organization. Instead of trading away young talent and draft picks for aging veterans, Hextall restocked a dreadful farm system to get the team where it is today.

"Not too long ago, the Flyers' farm system was a laughingstock, with C-grade college free agents making it into their top five," Pronman said. "Today, they are in the best position of any NHL team in terms of adding young premium players to their roster."