Mistake-filled loss to TB costs Flyers home ice

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Mistake-filled loss to TB costs Flyers home ice

BOX SCORE

TAMPA -- Two mistakes. They resulted in two goals. Both with Steve Downie involved.

That was pretty much the difference in the Flyers' 4-2 loss on Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum to the Lightning.

This was huge, too.

Coupled with the Rangers' 2-1 win over Buffalo, New York clinched second place in the Metro Division and home ice for the first round of the playoffs.

The best the Flyers can do is third place, but unless they turn it around, they could easily slip to the wild card and face ... Boston? It’s a possibility.

“There were two mistakes and they went into the net,” said Flyers coach Craig Berube. “There was one on the [Eric] Brewer goal ... Downie lost his 'D' coming in.”

Downie left Brewer all alone for an open shot that made it 3-1 and more or less iced the game.

“We go play Pittsburgh and try to win the game,” Berube said. “You can’t catch the Rangers, so we can’t catch them.”

In the first period, Downie tried a risky play in neutral ice, turned the puck over and the Bolts had a 1-0 lead they held till late in the second period when Wayne Simmonds tied it with his 15th power play goal and 27th overall (see Instant Replay).

“The first five minutes, we turned the puck over a couple times and they ended up getting a goal,” Berube said. “Other than that, I liked the way we played tonight. We didn’t finish good enough.”

The Lighting scored three goals in the final period.

Tampa Bay received some surreal goaltending from Anders Lindback, who earned just his seventh win -- three against the Flyers this season. Lindback had 34 saves -- 26 through two periods.

“It makes a big difference if we score earlier,” Berube said.

Lindback outplayed Ray Emery, but Emery didn’t lose this game on his own merit.

“I got to makes saves in the third,” Emery said, shouldering blame that was not his. “We wanted it and wanted home ice, and it’s a disappointing third period.”

Tampa, much like the Rangers, owns the Flyers on their home ice. The Flyers are now 1-6-1 here since 2010-11.

“We had tons of chances, that part of our game was there,” Simmonds said. “We got our chances. Seemed like he was pulling saves out of his butt there. A lot it didn’t look like he was really in position and their defenders were making saves off their shin pads and stuff like that.”

And now home ice is gone.

“That doesn’t help,” Simmonds said. “We played well for 40 [minutes] again and we were hit or miss in the third. We had some really good shifts and some bonehead plays that cost us the game. We got to keep building the next two games.

“We’re not playing the way we were in the middle of the year. Obviously, that has to change. Third periods are going to be huge come playoff time. It starts next game. I don’t think you can flip a switch.

“We got to try and turn this around the next two games in the third periods. I think we’ve been playing great for 40 minutes the last few game,s but for some reason we don’t play a complete 20. We’ll play 15, 10 or 17.”

Columbus remains tied with the Flyers in points with 91, but is still fourth because the Flyers have won one more game in regulation/overtime (38 vs. 37).

Simmonds insisted consistency has to improve before the playoffs start next week.

“It’s a mindset,” he said. “You can’t practice playing consistently for 60 minutes. You just got to have it in your mind. You got to have a short memory. Sometimes we make mistakes and kind of dwell on them. That can’t happen. You got to have a short memory in this game.”

It’s going to take a hell of a mindset for the Flyers to forget that they blew home ice. And perhaps more.

Pressure is on Flyers' fourth-liner Chris VandeVelde to fend off competition

Pressure is on Flyers' fourth-liner Chris VandeVelde to fend off competition

VOORHEES, N.J. — Even before Flyers training camp opened, Ron Hextall talked about a plenitude of internal competition for jobs.
 
It’s all over the ice, too.
 
Who starts in goal: Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth, who came on strong at the end of last season? 
 
Does Ivan Provorov win a spot on the roster? And if he does, who gets sent packing?
 
Between Scott Laughton and Nick Cousins, who gets the lion's share of ice time? 
 
Can Travis Konecny or Roman Lyubimov force a veteran forward off the team?
 
Then there’s free-agent signee Boyd Gordon, a PK specialist who was second only to Claude Giroux in the league last season on winning defensive zone draws. More competition.
 
Well, one of the key battles in training camp for both roster space and minutes concerns how veteran fourth-liner Chris VandeVelde handles the competition from Lyubimov — the 24-year-old Russian who plays a heavy game and can handle special teams — and others.
 
VandeVelde saw a bit of an offensive drop-off last season with 14 points. Though just a point fewer than the year before, the bigger dip was going from nine goals to two.
 
With no real goal-scoring additions in the offseason, Hextall is expecting bigger outputs from returning players.
 
In VandeVelde’s case, two goals is something Lyubimov could easily match or exceed.
 
“You have to go out there and give it your all,” VandeVelde said. “Hopefully, work hard and kinda make an impression. There’s a lot of guys fighting for a fair amount of spots. It’s going to be interesting.
 
“I think I’ve felt pressure every year. Obviously, you want to make an impression and get noticed out there. Reassure [them] I can still do the job and add a few things to my offensive game.”
 
And his self-evaluation?
 
“I think I was solid,” he replied. “As a fourth line, we were very good at times. Individually, I can add a little more and chip in a little more.”
 
VandeVelde is not scheduled to play in either of Monday’s split-squad games in New Jersey or Brooklyn.
 
At stake here isn’t just his job on the fourth line but the penalty kill, as well. VandeVelde’s 2:17 shorthanded ice time per game was second only to linemate Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (2:35) among the forwards.
 
The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Lyubimov has played on the penalty kill in the KHL, and Gordon is a PK specialist. What was VandeVelde’s edge is now something up for grabs, especially given both Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol have vowed there will be improvement on the PK, which ranked 14th last season after being among the bottom 10 much of the year.
 
Hakstol has said he intends to tweak the PK with some structural changes. That sounds like personnel changes and Gordon could be a guy on the fourth unit and will certainly be in the mix on the penalty kill.
 
How to make the kill better remains at large.
 
“We have to start a little more aggressively,” VandeVelde said. “Kinda like we finished last couple games there against Washington (in the playoffs). We kinda got burnt there 6-1 (in Game 3). We switched styles a little too late.”
 
The Flyers gave up five power play goals in Game 3 to the Caps.
 
VandeVelde admits his penalty kill experience gives him a bit of an edge going into camp.
 
“If I can bring that extra edge and solidify a role, that is huge,” he said.
 
VandeVelde returned to his home in Moorhead, Minn., over the summer to focus on his skating, hoping to get a more explosive start on the ice that he could utilize better during the penalty kill.
 
One thing seems certain: VandeVelde says there’s a greater comfort level for returning players as to what to expect from Hakstol. Also, whereas last year’s camp was one of implementing systems, this year’s camp is one of expanding on them.
 
“Everyone knows what to expect,” VandeVelde said. “So do all three coaches. They are going to tweak some things, whether it's penalty kill or power play or other systems. We’ll learn that. That is what preseason is for. All the players know what to expect and are ready to go.”
 
VandeVelde said he’s already been informed what the team expects from him this season. The competition could push him in that direction.
 
“I know what they want,” he said. “Obviously, I can do more offensively and want to chip in a little more as a fourth line and as an individual. Maybe just work on that.”

Flyers reveal split squad rosters for Monday's preseason opener

Flyers reveal split squad rosters for Monday's preseason opener

The Flyers on Monday night kick off their preseason schedule, with split squad games against the Islanders in Brooklyn and New Jersey Devils in New Jersey.

And Monday night offers the first chance for prospects Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov to impress the Flyers' brass in game competition, as their quest to make the orange and black continues. Both Konecny and Provorov will be with the Flyers' split squad in New Jersey.

Carter Hart and Mark Dekanich will be the goalies with Konecny and Provorov in New Jersey, while Anthony Stolarz and Martin Ouellette will goaltend in Brooklyn.

Travis Sanheim and Sam Morin will be with the split squad team in Brooklyn, along with veteran defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

The Flyers' game in Brooklyn can be streamed on their official website, while the game in New Jersey will be aired on the radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.

Here are the full lineups for Monday's split-squad contest, via the Flyers.