Ray Emery proves to be reliable once again

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Ray Emery proves to be reliable once again

These aren’t easy games for a goaltender to get comfortable between the pipes. Not when your team is throwing a season-high 46 shots at the other net.

Not when there are long gaps between seeing shots coming at you.

Not when there are 14 penalties and 12 power plays and it becomes a special teams battle.

And not when the goalie is making just his sixth start in 21 games.

Ray Emery handled all things well -- again -- with 29 saves during Thursday’s 4-1 win over Buffalo (see story), as the Flyers hit the quarter mark of the season (21 games).

Emery said all the special teams action caught and held his attention.

“When we’re shorthanded and watching the other guy [Ryan Miller] make some big saves when they’re starting in the other end, you know you’ve got to be sharp when it gets to your end,” he said.

“I thought we had a good start. Miller made some really good saves at the start, then they got a funny one. After that we kept at it and only got a couple in the second. We kept coming at them and had the win.”

Emery evened his record at 3-3.

“After a tough start, it’s nice to climb back to even,” Emery said. “It’s always like a fresh start when you get there. It’s encouraging as a team. We’re playing better. We’re getting the points we need to.”

Buffalo’s only goal was off a scrum when it was pretty difficult to find the puck among a pile of bodies in the crease, let alone stop the shot.

“[Emery] was solid again,” said Flyers coach Craig Berube. “He has done a really good job. He is a very good goalie and wins a lot of games. He goes in there and wins games.”

On the playoffs
The Flyers went into the game two points out of a playoff spot. They are back in the hunt and have been for over a week now.

“I never thought about it at all,” Berube said. “I am going to take it one day at a time. We’re going to come out tomorrow and practice and we’re going to work to get better.”

Was that because there was simply so much work to be done that being a playoff team was the last thing on the coach's mind?

“You have to keep working at it,” Berube replied. “If you want to become a really good team in this league, it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of preparation and it takes playing the same way every shift, going out there and playing the same way every shift. So, you have to stay on it.”

Loose pucks
Jakub Voracek played just 14:03 and had just five shifts and less than four minutes ice time in the third period. Berube said Voracek wasn’t hurt. He said he wanted to get Adam Hall out there for his defense and having another centerman on draws. Hall is the Flyers' best faceoff guy (63 percent), though he only took three draws in the game. … The Flyers had a season-high 46 shots, giving them back-to-back games of 40 or more shots for the first time since Nov. 27 and Dec. 1, 2010, when they had 41 shots at New Jersey and 41 shots at home against Boston, respectively. ... Zac Rinaldo had six hits in just 6:21 ice time. ... The Flyers scored a power-play goal for the fifth consecutive game. Alas, they also allowed a power-play goal for the fourth consecutive game.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.