Flyers GM Paul Holmgren says goaltending not at fault for sweep

The Flyers flunking out of the playoffs in a meek four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins helped bring to light more than a few flaws the team had.

While many seem to agree that the Flyers undoing came thanks to poor goaltending from Brian Boucher there’s one important figure who doesn’t exactly agree with that assessment.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren disagrees with those saying that goaltending is the root of the problems faced by the Flyers against the Bruins. NHL.com’s Mike Morreale gets the straight scoop from Holmgren that you’re probably going to snicker at.

“I don’t think we can fault our goaltending at any point in this series,” Holmgren said. “I know it looks bad when you’re taking guys out all the time. But goaltending, as I’ve said before, is a function of your team. Was (Bobrovsky) great (in Game 4), no, but he’s a young kid and under intense circumstances. But we didn’t lose the game because of our goalie. We lost the game because their team outplayed our team.”

No one is going to disagree with Holmgren on his last point. The Bruins certainly did outplay the Flyers, but the Bruins also outscored the Flyers 20-7 over the four games. Also keep in mind here that Flyers goalies made 17 appearances throughout 11 playoff games. With that kind of circus in goal, it’s tough for defensemen and forwards alike to find a comfort zone. Yes they’ve all got familiarity with Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky, but Michael Leighton getting appearances against Buffalo made the situation all the more baffling.

Coach Peter Laviolette has gambled and succeeded in the past with making sudden goalie changes. It worked last year when switching between Boucher and Leighton in getting the Flyers to the Stanley Cup final. It worked when he was the head man in Carolina leading the Hurricanes to the Cup in 2006 when he made the gutsy call to switch to Cam Ward over Martin Gerber, a move that resulted in Ward playing out of his mind on the way to winning the Conn Smythe Award.

These Flyers, however, were not at all like those teams as a host of other issues helped guarantee they wouldn’t move on. That said, the questionable goaltending from Brian Boucher is what the focus falls upon and putting up a goals against average of over 5.00 isn’t winning anyone anything ever. Trying to distract away from how bad the goaltending was is noble of Holmgren to make sure his guys don’t get trashed further, but the Flyers aren’t going to win anything next year unless Holmgren can figure out what to do at that position.

Isles sign Gaudreau’s kid brother, beat deadline for Bischoff

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Busy day for Isles GM Garth Snow.

First, in an interesting move, the Isles have signed Boston College’s Matt Gaudreau — the younger brother of Calgary star Johnny Gaudreauto an ATO with its AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

Gaudreau, 22, is a diminutive forward (not unlike his brother), listed at 5-foot-9, 145 pounds. He had a good offensive campaign for BC, leading the team in scoring with 35 points in 40 games.

In a second move, the Isles finally agreed to terms with University of Minnesota d-man Jake Bischoff on an entry-level deal.

Five years ago, the Isles selected Bischoff in the seventh round of the draft (out of USHL Omaha). The 22-year-old then proceeded to build an impressive resume with the Gophers, which includes a solid senior campaign that saw him rack up 32 points in 38 games. He also captured the Big Ten defensive player of the year award.

New York had until this summer to sign Bischoff, otherwise it would’ve lost his draft rights.

Like Gaudreau, Bischoff will report to Bridgeport to begin his pro career. There, the pair will join yesterday’s signing — Northeastern captain John Stevens (the son of Kings associate coach John Stevens), who inked a two-year ELC with the Isles.

 

Devils sign d-man Michael Kapla

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The New Jersey Devils have signed UMass-Lowell defenseman Michael Kapla to a two-year, entry-level contract.

Kapla, 22, had three goals and 27 assists in 41 games this season. He’ll report to the Devils and likely burn the first year of his ELC by making his NHL debut sometime very soon.

The Devils host the Winning Jets tonight. They’re in Brooklyn Friday to play the Islanders.

Kapla spent four years in college. Per the Devils’ press release, he “most recently captained the River Hawks to the 2017 Hockey East Championship. He also received Hockey East All-Tournament Team honors and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team.”

 

Report: Penn State sophomore Pedrie leaves school, signs with Rangers

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For the second straight day, the Rangers have landed an undrafted college free agent.

Vince Pedrie, a sophomore blueliner that just wrapped his sophomore campaign at Penn State, has reportedly agreed to terms with the Rangers on an entry-level deal, per the Collegian.

Citing a post from Pedrie’s Facebook account confirming the move, the Collegian reports the 23-year-old is the youngest Nittany Lion in program history to leave the team for the professional ranks.

It comes after Pedrie emerged as a “dominant offensive force” for the club last season, racking up 30 points in 39 games while helping Penn State qualify for its first NCAA championship appearance.

As mentioned above, this is the second intriguing prospect to join the Blueshirts in as many days. On Monday, University of Minnesota senior Vinni Lettieri agreed to join the team after an impressive four-year career with the Gophers.

Hjalmarsson says ‘Hawks are ‘too comfortable’ after rough trip through Florida

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When most people take trips to Florida, it’s to get away from the stress and struggle of everyday life. But it’s safe to say that this edition of the Chicago Blackhawks won’t want to remember their visit to the Sunshine State.

The ‘Hawks dropped an embarrassing 7-0 decision to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night before blowing a 4-1 lead in last night’s game against the Bolts (they eventually lost 5-4 in OT).

They still have a comfortable lead atop the Central Division (eight points up on the struggling Wild), but they aren’t satisfied with their play.

“It’s getting close to the end here and we’re getting a little bit too comfortable maybe,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said, per the Chicago Tribune. “As soon as you do that, you’re going to lose games … At the same time I’m glad that we were playing like this before the playoffs so we can make some adjustments.

“Eighty-two games is a long season. It’s a mental grind more than anything. As soon as you’re not there 100 percent, it’s going to show in the scoring.”

As Hjalmarsson said, six games is still enough time to figure things out for Chicago. They just won’t have the luxury of facing easy opponents when they do try to sort out their struggles.

They’ll play the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday before returning home to play Columbus and Boston. They’ll then head back on the road to close out the season in Denver, Anaheim and Los Angeles.