Missed chances plague Flyers in loss to Penguins


Missed chances plague Flyers in loss to Penguins


It was easily the worst 20 minutes of hockey the Flyers have played all season and yet they still had reason to believe after two periods against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That’s because goalie Steve Mason had already made 15 saves in the second period and instead of trailing 5-0, the Flyers were behind only 2-1.
“We talked the truth -- our second period was unacceptable,” Max Talbot said. “Chief [Craig Berube] told us exactly the truth. That Mason was standing on his head. We would not have been in that game. That was the spark for us.”
Despite a strong, more desperate third period in which the score remained the same until the final 2:32, the Flyers still lost 4-1 at Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay), dropping them to 1-7. Per Elias Sports Bureau, they became the first team since the 1964 Bruins to go eight games into a season without scoring at least three goals in a game.
For 35 of 40 minutes, the Flyers were being outplayed, outhustled, out-everythinged by Pittsburgh.
“We weren’t doing anything,” Wayne Simmonds said. “It was like we were looking for the amazing play and not getting pucks on net. We had that late goal and felt we had momentum.”
Never happened.
You can’t win if you can’t score and you can’t score if you can’t shoot, and through two periods all the Flyers had were 13 shots.
Simmonds had numerous chances. Brayden Schenn had a gift opportunity in the third on Marc-Andre Fleury, who matched Mason’s effort in goal.
“Obviously, I would like to have had that one back with an open net that could have changed the hockey game,” Schenn said.
“It was pretty much as bad a second period as you can possibly have. We had it, we got out-muscled, out-battled, outworked.
“The second period, obviously, wasn’t a good one for us, and good hockey teams like that will stick it to you and they did.”

Even Mason was unimpressed.

“We were not happy with our first two periods of play,” Mason said. “My opinion, and I think everyone else’s opinion, is terrible hockey. You are not going to win hockey games like that.
“I thought the guys came out with a lot more emotion in the third period and that’s the way we need to play. If we can start playing like that, then we will start being more successful than we are.”
Whereas the puck was in the Flyers' end much of the opening two periods, it was in the Pens' end in the final period. Still, the Flyers could not change their fate.
Yet, what was unnerving here is that the Flyers were so bloody flat against them early and couldn’t muster the energy needed to compete for an entire game against their most-hated Metropolitan Division rival.
“It’s surprising but very disappointing,” coach Craig Berube said. “Very surprising.”
And the Flyers shut down the Penguins' power play, too. That alone should have given them reason to believe they could win.
“When we wanted to play, we were right with them,” Berube said. “We had some good opportunities to score goals. We scored a power-play goal, which was huge at the end of the period.”

Travis Konecny getting rookie introduction to physicality of NHL game

Travis Konecny getting rookie introduction to physicality of NHL game

VOORHEES, N.J. – There are some things in the NHL that are expected to happen on the ice with rookie players.

They will be challenged. They will be tested. And they will be hit – clean or otherwise.

Four games into Travis Konecny’s career, teams are taking target practice on the Flyers’ smallest player. The London, Ont. forward is listed at 5-foot-10 but 5-9 or less is closer to the truth.

On Thursday night, Josh Manson’s elbow made contact with the back of Konecny’s head during the opening minutes of a 3-2 Flyers loss to Anaheim. Manson served a minor for elbowing.

Konency admitted on Friday afternoon that he placed himself in a bad situation by “ducking” to avoid Mason’s check on the boards.

“That was my fault,” Konecny said. “I tried to duck under the hit and make room for myself. He came through and put a check on me and I got underneath him.”

Konecny doesn’t feel teams are targeting him. At the same time, he doesn’t deny he is taking some hard licks out there. He has four assists, tied for the rookie lead in the NHL.

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “Part of being a young guy, too. Being in the league, I am trying to make space for myself and hit guys.

“Obviously, some guys who have been in the league 10 years, don’t like guys doing that. So I expect it. Doesn’t bother me.”

His linemate, Jakub Voracek, said all of this has to be expected.

“I don’t think he is the only one in the league who is getting this kind of treatment,” Voracek said. “He is a good player. He is small and shifty. They try to get under his skin. ... That’s the way it always works.

“You are a new guy, a young guy, especially if you have a good start like he did. You’re gonna get that treatment. He’s a big fellow and he can handle it. ... Sometimes you can be small, but if you can handle things, better to handle it when you are 5-11 than 6-4 and being a p---y.”

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol doesn’t feel Konecny is being targeted.

“I haven’t seen anything out of bounds,” he said.

With Radko Gudas serving a six-game suspension for a head shot during preseason, the Flyers don’t have a big, punishing player that opponents fear on the ice to balance things out on the scoresheet.

Would Gudas’ presence alleviate the questionable hits on Konecny?

“No, I haven’t seen any difference there,” Hakstol replied. “A night like last night, I mentioned after the game, that’s a big, heavy team we’re playing … you certainly miss a big, heavy body like Gudy on the back end that just naturally matches that physicality.”

Gap coverage
The Flyers didn’t show any lineup changes during Friday’s practice in preparation for Saturday’s game against Carolina.

One element they worked on and saw video was gap coverage between their forwards and defense. It burned them against the Ducks and even Chicago.

“That’s a fair assessment,” Hakstol said. “I don’t think we were very good in that area [against Anaheim] and had been extremely good in that area during the first, couple games of the year. It’s an area we have to do a little better job at.”

The challenge there is that Carolina has some speed and the Canes will attempt to exploit holes in the Flyers’ gap coverage, especially off transition.

Dale Weise faces possible suspension for hit on Ducks' Holzer

Dale Weise faces possible suspension for hit on Ducks' Holzer

VOORHEES, N.J. — The long arm of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will likely reach down once more to serve the Flyers a suspension.

Dale Weise is facing a suspension on Friday for a high shoulder to the head of Ducks defenseman Korbinian Holzer just prior to a Flyers power play in the second period of Thursday's 3-2 loss.

The phone hearing was expected Friday afternoon.

Weise didn’t get a penalty on the play and Holzer remained in the game, even assisting on Ryan Garbutt’s game-winning goal midway into the third period.

A tight-lipped Weise had a terse "no comment" on the play. Coach Dave Hakstol didn’t take sides, either.

“I don’t have a comment on it and I’m not going to comment this year on them,” Hakstol said. “I’m not surprised. 

“I didn’t expect there'd be something last night, put it that way. I looked at it this morning and now we’ll wait for the process to go ahead.”

On the other hand, Josh Manson’s elbow to the back of the head of rookie Travis Konecny in the opening minutes of the game did not draw a suspension. Manson served a minor for elbowing.

“I have not compared the two and won’t compare the two,” Hakstol said. “I will wait for the process to play out and go from there. That’s the choice I have to make as a coach.”

Konecny said he put himself in a bad situation on the Manson hit.

“That was my fault,” he said. “I tried to duck under the hit and make room for myself. He came through and put a check on me and I got underneath him.”

Any difference between that and the Weise hit?

“From my point of view, it looked like he hit his body,” Konecny said. “There was no intent to hit him in the head. I could say the same thing about the hit on me. He didn’t intend to hit me in the head. In my opinion, they are both good hits.”

Wayne Simmonds was upset that one hit was being investigated while the other wasn’t.

“It’s bull,” he said. “There is no difference. The guy has his head down. [Weise] hits him square through the body. I honestly think it’s a clean check. Obviously, whatever happens happens, but we can’t take those hits out of the game. 

“The guy who is getting hit has to be aware, keep his head up. But at the same time, I don’t think Weiser was going for head contact at all. He drove 100 percent through the body and just so happened their guy had his head down carrying the puck. You don’t want him to check? What do you want him to do?”

Through four games, the 5-foot-9 Konecny (he’s listed taller) is being targeted by teams. The fact that he has four assists — tied for first among rookies — has served notice around the NHL that he is a player to watch on the ice.

From the Flyers' perspective, you can see why they miss defenseman Radko Gudas. They have no big body bruiser out there to make other clubs think twice.

Gudas has served four games of a six-game suspension handed down at the end of preseason for a hit on Bruins rookie Austin Czarnik.