Could Flyers have trade partner in Avalanche or Kings?

Could Flyers have trade partner in Avalanche or Kings?

The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. next Wednesday.

As usual, the number of scouts at Flyers home games again reached double digits during a 4-l loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night (see game story).

Two clubs that have been in Philadelphia quite a bit this month are the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.

The Avs, who are dead last in the NHL, have been trying to move Gabriel Landeskog and/or Matt Duchene for quite a while. They would love to do a deal with the Flyers, according to an NHL source.

Colorado is looking for a top forward and defensive help. A number of NHL clubs realize the Flyers have a slew of young upcoming defensemen and not all of them are going to be able to play here, certainly at the same time.

The Kings are in search of a left wing who might be a nice fit with Anze Kopitar, but the Flyers don’t have a left wing they can part with and, frankly, would love to have a scoring winger themselves to pair with Claude Giroux.

Some of the 10 clubs here on Wednesday night are in need of a backup goalie for a playoff run. Perhaps even the Kings, if Jonathan Quick doesn’t return soon. L.A. waived Jeff Zatkoff on Wednesday.

Scouts say there is a market for Michal Neuvirth right now if the Flyers want to move him. He’s been playing a lot and he’s been very sharp and healthy, which is always a factor when talking about him.

Neuvirth made his fifth consecutive start in Wednesday’s game against the Capitals and is expected in net Saturday night at Heinz Field for the Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flyers need a goaltender under contract to expose in this summer’s expansion draft and both Neuvirth and Steve Mason can be unrestricted free agents.

Zatkoff could be that guy if the Flyers claimed him and moved one of their goalies now.

If you’re general manager Ron Hextall, the Flyers' numbers offer a compelling reason to be a seller: 3-6-1 since coming out of the All-Star break and 9-15-4 since the club’s 10-game win streak in mid-December.

Flyers-Canucks 5 things: Claude Giroux’s regression a cause for concern?

Flyers-Canucks 5 things: Claude Giroux’s regression a cause for concern?

Flyers (27-24-7) at Canucks (26-27-6)
10 p.m. on CSN/ and NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 9:30

The Flyers’ three-game trip through Western Canada ends tonight in Vancouver against the Canucks, as the orange and black will look to salvage one win on this disastrous road trip.

Vancouver enters the game on the backend of a back-to-back. The Canucks beat Calgary, 2-1, in overtime Saturday at Rogers Arena. The Flyers beat Vancouver, 5-4, in a shootout on Jan. 12.

Let’s take a closer look at game No. 59 for the orange and black.

1. Captain concern
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Since their 10-game winning streak, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 14, the Flyers’ season outlook has undergone a drastic shift toward a higher draft pick.

The Flyers are 8-14-4 in 26 games since the winning streak, and 2-5-1 in their last eight games. They’re 2-10-2 in their last 14 road games, and have lost their last eight games in Western Canada. They remain just two points out of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, but earning a playoff appearance appears to be just a wishful thought.

Not much is going well right now for the Flyers. Neither Michal Neuvirth or Steve Mason has taken grasp of the No. 1 job. Neuvirth has started six of the Flyers’ last seven games and seven of their last nine. Neuvirth will start again tonight.

They can’t score. They’re averaging 1.46 goals in their last 13 games, scoring 19 goals over that span and they’ve been shut out three times. Claude Giroux’s regression continues, as he has just two goals in his past 23 games. Giroux is on pace for 59 points, which would be the fewest he’s had in an 82-game season since 2009-10. (He finished the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season with 48 points in 48 games.)

“For whatever the reason, in the last month, he’s just gone in the wrong direction,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Giroux on Saturday. “That’s not just [the] individual. That’s a team item, and we’ve gotta push that in the right direction.”

As the captain has gone, the Flyers have, too.

2. Weal bad luck
Just as when it appears Jordan Weal had finally turned a corner in the NHL — albeit it in a very small sample size — an injury strikes. Weal will miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury. The Flyers said Saturday the forward will be reevaluated Monday.

Dale Weise draws back into the lineup against Vancouver, and will take Weal’s place on the Flyers’ second line alongside center Sean Couturier and right winger Jake Voracek. Weise checks back in after sitting the last two games and seven of the last 12 as a healthy scratch.

Weal impressed in two games and a period before suffering his injury Thursday in Edmonton. He’s averaged 11:50 of ice time, playing a career-high 15:31 Wednesday in Calgary, a game he had six shots on goal. Through three games, Weal has an 83.0 corsi for percentage, which is remarkably high but an extremely small sample. He was more confident along the boards and with the puck, hungrier than at any point last season with the Flyers.

It was only a matter of time before the 24-year-old was going to pick up his first career NHL point. Now, he’s sidelined at least one game. If it’s not a long-term injury, Weal’s play in the two-plus games should be enough to warrant inserting him back in when he’s healthy.

“He added something every game,” Hakstol said of Weal on Saturday. “Obviously, it was two games and a period, but he’s dynamic. He hadn’t been here [this season], but he had the puck quite a bit. He looked like a player that was confidently on the top of his game, and I didn’t think any of that was lost in the transition from Lehigh to our team.”

3. Mediocre matchup
The Canucks are not exactly a team oozing with confidence, either. With Saturday's OT win over the Flames, the Canucks are now 4-8-0 in their last 12 games. They are four points behind Calgary now for the West's second wild-card spot, and gave up a valuable point to the Flames on Saturday by blowing a 1-0 lead with six seconds left in regulation.

Vancouver sits in the bottom 10 in goals for (2.3, 28th), goals against (2.8, 20th), power play (14.9, 27th) and penalty kill (79.1, 24th). It's a team that doesn't score a ton of goals, but also doesn't give up many, either. It's the epitome of a below-average team from a talent perspective — sound familiar? — that can grind its way to competitiveness.

With how the Flyers have been playing over their last two months and how this current Canucks team competes, it's safe to say tonight's game will be one filled with little scoring, a much different tune than the first matchup.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: There is not a single Flyer worth watching right now. I suggest making one of those origami fortune teller games with a list of Flyers, play it and whoever you get, watch him.

Canucks: Vancouver’s leading scorer is no longer one of the Sedin twins. Instead, it’s 21-year-old Bo Horvat, who has 18 goals and 39 points in 58 games. Horvat, the ninth overall pick in 2013, made his first NHL All-Star Game this season. In the previous meeting with the Flyers, he picked up an assist.

5. This and that
• Lineup change: Andrew MacDonald will be a healthy scratch, along with Nick Schultz. Brandon Manning will move to the left side to the right side, and is expected to play with Ivan Provorov.

• The Flyers’ power play is five for its last 45 dating back 13 games.

• Friendly reminder: Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal drought is now at 31 games.

Flyers Weekly Observations: Another week filled with inconsistency

Flyers Weekly Observations: Another week filled with inconsistency

Another week of Flyers hockey is in the rear-view mirror.

And like so many weeks in this season, it was another marred with wild inconsistency on the Flyers’ end.

In the past week, the Flyers dropped a 2-0 decision to St. Louis on Monday, suffered a critical 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday, but then rebounded with a 2-1 overtime win over reigning Western Conference champion San Jose on Saturday afternoon to round out a five-game homestand.

Let’s take a look back at the week that was for the Flyers.

• Monday’s loss to the Blues and Thursday’s loss to the Islanders were both glaring examples of the Flyers’ maddening inability to put together 60-minute efforts on a consistent basis. But the difference this week was that the Flyers actually came out of the gate with some jump in those first periods. Starts have been a problem for this group for some time now, but the Flyers started off strong in both games, outshooting the Blues, 11-1, in the first period Monday and outshooting the Islanders, 16-8, during Thursday’s opening stanza. But still, both games were tied at the intermission and things fell apart for the Flyers in the second period of both contests.

A fluky deflection off a skate Monday and a defensive miscommunication that led to a goal Thursday were the culprits. So just as it seemed the Flyers figured out their problem with starting games, they were overwhelmed in the second period twice this week. They were outshot, 11-4, in the second period Monday and, 13-9, with not many quality chances in Thursday’s middle frame. It’s frustrating to players, coaches, fans and everyone else invested in the team because it’s clear the Flyers have the ability to take the game to opponents.

They’ve shown glimpses for periods at a time, but then come out the next period a totally different team. But then they were excellent all game long Saturday against the Sharks and earned the 2-1 OT win and the two points in the standings. That’s the way they Flyers are going to need to play much more consistently down the stretch if they’re going to leap ahead of the pack in the tight Eastern Conference and grab the last wild-card spot.

• Shayne Gostisbehere was solid on both Thursday and Saturday in his return from his benching. Dave Hakstol wanted to see "Ghost" improve in the defensive end, and he played well there this week. The Isles’ second goal Thursday wasn’t his fault, as Gostisbehere picked up his man, but Radko Gudas didn’t pick up Jason Chimera, who cut in and beat Steve Mason to tilt the game in New York’s favor.

The Flyers need Gostisbehere’s offensive skillset in the lineup. They’ve still scored just 15 goals in their last 11 games, so a dynamic talent such as Gostisbehere is key. He picked up an assist on Wayne Simmonds’ goal Thursday and fired four more shots on net Saturday. "Ghost" makes things happen, and with the way the Flyers’ offense has struggled, having his offensive talent in the lineup outweighs any defensive liabilities he may have right now.

• Simmonds’ winner on the breakaway Saturday against the Sharks was the first OT goal of his nine-year career. Considering how productive he’s been and all the roles he fills for the Flyers, it’s one of things that makes you stop for a couple seconds and think, ‘Wow, really?'” Simmonds scored 193 goals in his career before his first OT winner. That total was second most in the league behind only the 249 goals without an OT winner by Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz. 

• Michal Neuvirth continued to be sharp in net. He deserved a much better fate than he ended up with in Monday’s loss to St. Louis when he made 14 stops and was only beat by a deflection off Paul Stastny’s skate and a breakaway tally by Kenny Agostino. Neuvirth made 23 more stops in Saturday’s win over the Sharks and only gave up a goal to Patrick Marleau, who picked up a bouncing puck in front of the net.

Mason, on the other hand, didn’t have his best night Thursday against the Isles. Forget John Tavares’ goal, a snipe on the power play by one of the league’s most potent scorers. Chimera’s goal was a bouncing puck, but one Mason could have had. Casey Cizakas’ third-period goal, though, was an ugly one that Mason needed to have. It gave the Isles a 3-1 lead and basically sealed two critical points for New York.

The Flyers are going to need both Neuvirth and Mason at their best down the stretch if they’re to reach the postseason. But for right now, it certainly seems like it’s Neuvirth’s turn on the goalie carousel.

• In an effort to spark the offense, Hakstol changed up his lines for Saturday’s matinee against the Sharks. He moved Brayden Schenn from center, his natural position where he’s played for the last several weeks, back to the top-line wing alongside Simmonds and Claude Giroux. That’s where Schenn played the second half of last season when he went on a tear and finished with a career-high 26 goals. It’s a sensible move and a good fit for Schenn. Maybe it will get him going more consistently like it did last year and, in turn, help get Giroux going more consistently, too.

• Look out for the Islanders. They have the talent and they’re rejuvenated under interim head coach Doug Weight. If Tavares and crew keep this up, they’re going to be tough to knock off in the chase for that final wild-card spot.

Coming up this week: Wednesday at Calgary (9:30 p.m./TCN), Thursday at Edmonton (9 p.m./CSN), Sunday at Vancouver (10 p.m./CSN).