Instant Replay: Wild 2, Flyers 0

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Instant Replay: Wild 2, Flyers 0

BOX SCORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- On a day that went from nice and balmy, by Minnysnowda standards, to a raging snow storm, things were pretty dull inside Xcel Energy Center.

Both the Flyers and Wild didn’t seem to have their “A” game. Or “B” game for that matter.

There were long stretches in which not much happened.

For instance, the Flyers had 10 shots through 40 minutes but none of them were really quality in nature that would have required goalie Josh Harding to make a difficult save.

The game meandered along until ... the Wild scored twice in less than a minute early in the third period to put it away, 2-0.

This was the second of a six-game, 12-day road trip for the Flyers.

Mikko Koivu’s incredible behind-the-back blind pass into the slot to Jason Pominville at 3:52 broke a scoreless tie.

Both Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen looked badly out of place on the goal.

Then Ray Emery gave a juicy rebound off Jared Spurgeon’s shot and Charlie Coyle was right there to make it 2-0. Boring game over.

Up next
The Flyers chartered out after the game directly to Detroit for their game on Wednesday night.

Injuries
Vinny Lecavalier missed the game with back spasms (see story). He is day to day. General manager Paul Holmgren said he was “hopeful” Lecavalier plays Wednesday in Detroit.

Nothing
Eight minutes into the game, there was just a combined five shots with the Flyers having just one. The arena was deadly quiet.

Big hit
Wild center Coyle delivered it on Andrej Meszaros early, hurdling him awkwardly into the side boards. Meszaros had his right shoulder worked on at the bench but returned.

Score first
This was the first time in eight games the Wild scored first.

World Juniors
Flyers prospects Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier were both named to Team Canada’s World Junior camp roster.

Saves
Emery had a couple of quality saves through two periods, including denying Erik Haulu from point blank range in the slot in the first period. He also had a couple saves on Zach Parise, including stopping him on a two-on-one rush in the second period.

Penalties
The Flyers got hit with yet another delay of game penalty. This one by Claude Giroux in the second period. In eight games since Nov. 19, the Flyers have been hit with delay of game penalties six times.

Special teams
Through two periods, there were just two power plays -- both by the Wild. And no shots. Nothing happened. The Flyers and Wild both were 0 for 2 on the power play.

Blown chance
Behind 2-0 near the midway mark of the third period, the Flyers got their first power play of the night and faced a must-score situation. Harding made a terrific stop on Jakub Voracek. It was their best shot on the power play.

Playoff spot
With the Rangers and Devils both losing, the Flyers could have tied the Rangers in points with 28. The Rangers have the third playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Fights
Jay Rosehill earned a slight decision over Mike Rupp in their second-period fight (see video).

Scratches
Defensemen Hal Gill and Erik Gustafsson were healthy scratches.

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

VOORHEES, N.J. — At the junior level, scoring was second nature to Nicolas Aube-Kubel, like riding a bike after you figure out the balance aspect.

Goals came in bunches and points piled up — that was his game and it came effortlessly at times, especially over his final two seasons with the QMJHL's Val-d'Or Foreurs, posting back-to-back campaigns of 38 markers and 80-plus assists.

"Usually in junior, scoring was always coming naturally to me, having points and goals," he said last week at Flyers development camp.

On the AHL ice last season, it was a whole new ballgame. For Aube-Kubel, Year 1 of pro hockey was a feeling-out process from start to finish. His prolific scoring didn't carry over much at all, as the speedy 5-foot-11 winger finished with nine goals and nine assists in 71 regular-season games for Lehigh Valley.

"Guys are better with the puck," he said of the AHL. "I've always been strong on the ice and skating-wise, too, but translating to the AHL, guys are faster, guys are quicker with the puck and less turnovers."

This was part of toeing the waters in a new surrounding. Not many prospects jump from the junior ranks to the AHL without missing a beat. Aube-Kubel, who turned 21 in May, wanted to fulfill his role and duties first before worrying about scoring. He finished the season as a plus-10, tied for fourth best on the team and tops among Phantoms with 70 or more games played.

"I've always been an offensive player," Aube-Kubel said. "From being my first year in the pros, I was trying more to focus on details and what the coach was telling me. I'm excited for next year and I'll try to step up my game, for sure, and try to do what I was doing in junior."

Following his fourth development camp, Aube-Kubel finds himself heading into an interesting second season with Lehigh Valley. A lot has changed since he was taken by the Flyers in the second round of the 2014 draft. With time, the organization has significantly built up its prospect pool and added depth at forward. 

Aube-Kubel is just fine with that.

"Since I've been drafted, there was depth," he said. "Any way I'm going to play in the NHL, I'm going to make my own spot. No one is going to give it to you. If there are more drafted players, it doesn't change anything."

He's also enjoyed working with the Phantoms' staff, led by head coach Scott Gordon. More development off the ice and a greater workload during games should help moving forward.

"I liked it. They treat you like a pro," he said. "Everyone does their own thing. If you cheat or if you're not serious about it, it's you to pay off. If you're not serious, it's going to be you that gets penalized."

If Aube-Kubel needs any comfort in the quiet start to his pro career, he can look back at his first season of junior play. He tallied just 10 goals and 27 points in 64 regular-season games. Then he jumped to 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 65 games in 2013-14 before scoring at will over his third and fourth seasons with Val-d'Or.

Maybe easing his way in is just part of his hockey DNA.

If so, keep an eye on Aube-Kubel next season.

"This year, I was maybe more focusing on having a role and trying to do what the coach was asking of me," Aube-Kubel said. "Now that it's all set, I'm going to focus on offensive play. I don't want to put pressure on myself, but last year wasn't my best offensive year. It was also my first year. I think I was trying to learn a lot of it and we'll see what happens next year."