Jonah Bronstein

Nolan Patrick opens up about injury history, mindset at NHL combine

Nolan Patrick opens up about injury history, mindset at NHL combine

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nolan Patrick took a timeout toward the end of his shift with reporters on Friday at the NHL Scouting Combine.

The top-ranked draft prospect was feeling the heat inside the NHL's Centennial Museum track and had to remove his jacket before answering the last few questions.

Patrick is not sweating his draft status after meeting with the Flyers and a dozen other teams this week and reaffirming his health heading into Saturday's fitness testing.  

"I'm not going to try to prove anything," Patrick said. "I'm just going to try and do the tests to the best of my abilities."

Along with Swiss skater Nico Hischier, the Winnipeg-born Patrick is one of two 18-year-old centers the Flyers are expected to select with the No. 2 pick in the June 23-24 draft. The New Jersey Devils hold the first pick and have not yet revealed their plans.

Patrick said he informed teams this week that he has recovered from a misdiagnosed double sports hernia injury that limited him during his last season of junior hockey. He had surgery on his right groin muscle last July, but a similar injury on his left side went undetected and did not heal until after the season.

After leading Brandon to the Western Hockey League championship in 2016, Patrick missed more than half of this past season, including all four WHL playoff games, with various injuries. He has been medically cleared for combine testing and expects to be able to participate in an NHL training camp in September.

"Obviously, it wasn't the ideal season for me," Patrick said. "I don't think any hockey player wants something like that, especially in your draft year."

But now that he is healthy, Patrick believes the injury helped his development.

"I don't think it was the worst thing for me," he said. "I think a little adversity for a young kid makes you stronger as a player. I didn't talk about it during the year in the media, that I was misdiagnosed. This is the first time I've really said anything about it."

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Patrick still produced 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games last season and won the Top Prospect Award as the best draft-eligible player in the Canadian Hockey League. Hischier, who played in Halifax, was also a finalist for the award.

The NHL teams try to get to know them better this week, while the consensus top two prospects in the draft have spent time getting to know each other.

"It's good to see that he's a really good guy," Patrick said of Hischier.

Patrick said he got no "vibes" from his meeting with the Devils on which player they were leaning toward with the No. 1 pick.

Does Patrick believe he should be the one?

"That's not up for to decide, so I guess I'll see what the NHL teams think," Patrick said. "Obviously, that would be a huge honor. … But I'd be honored to go anywhere."

Patrick is also unconcerned with the perception that the top prospects in this year's draft are not as good as the prizes from 2015 (Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel) or 2016 (Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine).

"At the end of the day, I'm just trying to make the NHL and contribute as much I can," Patrick said. "I'm not putting any added pressure on myself. … I try not to compare myself to those guys. I don't expect to come in and put 40 goals up, or score four goals in my first game. I don't think that happens very often."

Patrick's father, Steve, played 250 games for the Sabres, Rangers and Nordiques from 1980-86. His uncle, James, played 1,280 games with the Rangers, Whalers, Flames and Sabres from 1983-2006 and was an assistant coach for the Stars the past four seasons.

Patrick said his father and uncle have taught him that how he carries himself off the ice will be as important to his success and his skills on the ice.

"They have been huge for me since I was really young," he said.

Unfamiliar with Philadelphia, Patrick does have a friend on the Flyers.

"I've never been there, but one of my good buddies, Ivan Provorov, plays there," Patrick said. "I've talked to him a bit and he loves it."

Flyers explode for 6 even-strength goals in crucial win over Sabres

Flyers explode for 6 even-strength goals in crucial win over Sabres

BOX SCORE

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Power plays have propelled the Flyers to most of their victories this season. On Tuesday night, they flexed their even-strength muscle.

The Flyers scored all of their goals in 5-on-5 situations in a 6-3 victory over the Sabres (see Instant Replay). It was the third six-goal game of the season for the Flyers, and the first time they scored that many goals at even strength.

Entering Tuesday night, the Flyers had been outscored 127-91 in 5-on-5 situations and had scored 69 percent of their goals at even strength, the lowest rate in the NHL.

What did the Flyers do differently against the Sabres?

"I wouldn't be able to put my finger on it," captain Claude Giroux said. "I think we've been playing well 5-on-5. We're not changing anything. We're playing the same. We're just getting the results now. The pucks are going in and we are getting traffic and our goals are around the net."

"Tonight shows what we're capable of 5-on-5," said rookie Travis Konecny, who had a goal and an assist in the third period in his second game back after missing nine with knee and ankle injuries. "We moved the puck well and we just stuck to our game."

In dominating at even strength, the Flyers made up for a lackluster special teams performance. They went scoreless on three early power plays and are now 0 for 13 with the man advantage over the past three games. Meanwhile, the Sabres needed only 18 seconds of power-play time to score their first two goals.

But after successfully killing a penalty midway through the second period, the Flyers took control of the game, scoring four goals over the next 15 minutes (see feature highlight).

"We won a lot of battles and cycled the puck down low hard," said Sean Couturier, who tallied two assists. "We kind of beat guys down low and brought the puck to the net hard after so it's a little different and it paid off tonight."

Defensemen Radko Gudas and Michael Del Zotto were on the ice for five of the Flyers' six goals. Gudas had a goal and two assists for his first three-point night of the season and first multi-point game since Nov. 17. Del Zotto assisted on two goals for his first multi-point game of the season. Both had season-high plus-five ratings.

"These nights don't come for me very often," Gudas said. "If I can contribute for the team, it's very fun for me and it makes the game extra special."

Giroux scored for the first time in 13 games when he knocked in a rebound of Del Zotto's shot from the point late in the second period to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead.

"It's good to see him score, but I think he could have buried one the last couple of games," Gudas said. "The bounces just didn't go his way."

Matt Read, Jordan Weal and Chris VandeVelde also scored for the Flyers. Ten different players had points.

"It's a boost for the confidence," Couturier said. "Everyone contributing, we've got all four lines rolling and that's what we need the rest of the year if we want to make the playoffs."

The Flyers have now earned seven points over their last four games. With 70 points on the season, they remain three behind the Islanders for the final wild-card spot. They are one point behind Toronto, which they visit on Thursday.

"This week is definitely the biggest week of the year to date," Konecny said. "I'm sure there will be more of these as we go through the end of the season here. It's important and it's big that we're getting wins like that and we're starting to play our game."

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Sabres 3

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Sabres 3

BOX SCORE

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Flyers picked up two crucial points in the standings and earned a point for the fourth straight game with a 6-3 victory over the Sabres on Tuesday night.

Winning in regulation for just the fourth time in their last 18 road games, the Flyers got off to a flying start on this critical stretch of their road trip and kept pace in a close race for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

The Flyers took control of the game in the second period, netting three goals on eight shots. They scored six even-strength goals for the first time this season.

Captain Claude Giroux scored for the first time in 13 games. Radko Gudas had a goal and two assists, Jordan Weal and rookie Travis Konecny each had a goal and an assist. Matt Read and Chris VandeVelde also scored and Sean Couturier and Michael Del Zotto tallied two assists apiece.

Notable goals
Giroux broke his scoring drought with 1:58 remaining in the second period when he knocked in the rebound of Del Zotto's shot from the point. The Sabres challenged that Wayne Simmonds interfered with goaltender Robin Lehner on the play, but the goal was upheld on replay.

A fortunate bounce led to the Flyers' go-ahead goal. Jakub Voracek's shot from the point hit Weal's left skate and ricocheted into the net with 6:12 left in the second period. Officials determined Weal did not intentionally kick the puck, and Buffalo did not challenge the ruling.

Konecny assisted on VandeVelde's goal and scored his eighth of the season on consecutive shifts early in the third period.  

Gudas buried the Flyers' first shot of the second period. Read got his second goal in his last 39 games when he deflected Gudas' shot from the point 4:34 into the game.

Goalie report
With so much scoring, the Flyers didn't need too much from Steve Mason. He stopped 30 of 33 shots and allowed two power-play goals in his fourth straight start.

Power play
The Flyers continued their struggles to convert with the man advantage, going scoreless on three chances in the first 21 minutes. They are now 0 for 13 on the power play in the past three games. Buffalo entered the game ranked 29th in the NHL in penalty killing.

Penalty kill
The Sabres' power play was much sharper, needing only 18 seconds to generate a pair of tying goals. Evander Kane scored 15 seconds after Brayden Schenn went to the box for hooking in the first period. Jack Eichel scored off the faceoff following Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's interference penalty 7:11 into the second.

The Flyers successfully killed their next two penalties. The Sabres, who entered the night tied for the NHL lead in power-play success at 22.9 percent, have gone 5 for 10 on the power play against the Flyers this season.

Scratches
Defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy) and forwards Michael Raffl (left knee), Dale Weise (healthy) and Roman Lyubimov (healthy).

Up next
The Flyers continue their road trip Thursday in Toronto.