Jeff Carter

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren remains coy about goaltending options, trading Jeff Carter

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Whenever someone discusses the Philadelphia Flyers’ upcoming off-season, it seems like three factors are almost always interlocked: their much-critiqued goaltending, a potential Jeff Carter trade and the team’s salary cap headaches.

Even though the salary cap ceiling is expected to climb up to somewhere between $60.5-$63.5 million, the Flyers are already in a tight spot with a bit less than $59 million wrapped up in 18 players. They must deal with the unrestricted free agent status of quality winger Ville Leino and will be forced to make decisions regarding a few restricted free agents (such as Daniel Carcillo and Andreas Nodl) as well.

It’s tough to come up with an elegant set of answers for the Flyers’ questions. The hockey public wouldn’t be very tolerant toward the idea of Philly sticking with their current goalie duo of Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton, even if that would be a move that follows the team’s stubborn (and often successful) policy regarding netminders. This franchise often walks to the beat of their own drum when it comes to acquiring goalies, but considering the requests of high-ranking executives, it sounds like change will come in some way or form.

The aforementioned free agent questions already hinted that “someone will need to go,” but adding an expensive goalie such as Ilya Bryzgalov or Tomas Vokoun would require the team to move a significant chunk of salary. For that reason, gossipers churned out another round of Jeff Carter trade rumors. While that talk must be considered with a customary grain of salt, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility altogether.

Does that mean we’ve seen the last of Carter in a Flyers uniform?

Not necessarily. Holmgren indicated he’d like to keep the 26-year-old center/winger.

“We’ll see,”‘ he said. “I like our team. Is it realistic to say we’ll be able to keep everybody together? Probably not, but we’ll see. I like our core of players, for sure. I think the longer you can keep a good group together, the better your odds of winning. A lot of these guys have been together for a long time now, and if we can keep them together, I think it’s an advantage.”

Chuck Gormley makes an important point in that story: despite the fact that Carter signed a substantial 11-year, $58 million contract extension, that deal does not include no-movement clause. The 26-year-old sniper isn’t the most versatile player on the Flyers roster, but he is a proven goal scorer in the NHL. He scored 115 goals in his last three regular season campaigns overall, setting a career-high with 46 tallies in 2008-09. He might have some blemishes on his overall game, but it’s hard to find a young player capable of scoring 30-45 goals each season for just a $5.27 million annual cap hit. That line of reasoning means that he could have some serious trade value, but it also indicates that the Flyers might not want to pull the trigger on a deal.

If they did move Carter or another key asset to improve their goaltending, they would risk their staggering offensive depth to roll the dice with a hopeful upgrade in net. It might be more palatable to move young defenseman Matt Carle ($3.44 million cap hit for one more season) instead, although making such a trade wouldn’t bring nearly as much value in return and wouldn’t clear as much space.

The Flyers would clearly like to improve their situation in net, but they must determine that a new goalie will be worth the sacrifices they’ll need to make in other areas. Let’s face it, the goaltending position is an unstable one, especially when a goalie goes from one system to another.

We’ll make sure to keep you updated through an interesting off-season for Philly this summer, whether the Flyers organization follows conventional wisdom by going after a Bryzgalov/Vokoun type goalie or continues to do things “their way.”

Video: Predators even series with Sharks after franchise-record triple OT thriller

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The marathon is over. The Nashville Predators are back in the series.

The Predators have evened their best-of-seven second-round series with the San Jose Sharks at two-games apiece after Mike Fisher finally broke the deadlock with 8:48 remaining in the third overtime of an instant classic in these 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Fisher buried a rebound in front of the San Jose net to give the Predators a massive 4-3 win on home ice.

The goal capped off a frenetic (and lengthy) overtime session that was nothing but utter chaos at times in the opening extra frame. By the end, Fisher was almost too exhausted to describe the winner. Can you blame him?

Twice, the Sharks, who could’ve put the Predators on the brink of elimination with a win, thought they had scored the winner. Joel Ward couldn’t quite bury a wrap-around attempt before just about every player on the ice, it seemed, converged in the Nashville crease — some working to put the puck in the net, others working to keep the puck out.

The puck, somehow, never crossed the line, though some members of the Sharks raised their arms in celebration as if they had the decisive goal.

Later in the first OT period, the Sharks again thought they had won the game, only to have a lengthy and controversial review determine Joe Pavelski “…made incidental contact with Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Rinne from doing his job in the crease,” according to the league.

Adding to it all, the Predators were unsuccessful on two OT power plays. That opened the door for the Sharks, who were awarded power plays on two Shea Weber penalties in overtime but also couldn’t capitalize.

The Predators were less than five minutes away from losing this game in regulation, and going down 3-1 in the series, before James Neal tied it with 4:21 remaining.

‘We earned it,’ says Spezza after Stars regroup to even series with Blues

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) looks on as Dallas Stars forward Jason Spezza, second from right, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
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The Dallas Stars faced the possibility of going home facing elimination. That was the scenario Thursday, as the Stars battled the St. Louis Blues in Game 4.

The previous game didn’t go well at all for the Stars. They were thumped 6-1, as things turned nasty between the two teams, and, most importantly, they fell behind in the series. There were serious questions surrounding their goalie duo that includes Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. And Tyler Seguin was ruled out for Game 4.

Yes, things weren’t working in favor of the Stars.

But after a poor start in the opening period Thursday, the Stars fought back with Cody Eakin playing the unlikely overtime hero in a crucial Game 4 win. And Lehtonen was able to settle in after allowing that Vladimir Tarasenko goal in the opening period, stopping 24 of 26 shots.

“You really do have to stay level,” Jason Spezza told the Dallas Morning News.

“It’s the best two-of-three now, it’s momentum swings. We survived some breakaways, and the last two periods we played right and we earned it.”

Video: Game 4 overtime between Sharks and Predators has been utter chaos

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Overtime between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks in Game 4 has been, simply put, crazy.

Take, for instance, this goal-mouth scramble around the Predators crease in which Joel Ward couldn’t convert on the wrap-around and the sequence turned into a full-on scrum as players for both teams fought desperately to either score or somehow keep the puck out of the net. Somehow, the puck stays out.

The Predators need a win to even the series. The Sharks can put the Predators on the brink of elimination with a win.

Oh, and the controversial video review as the Sharks thought they had the winner, as Joe Pavelski swept the puck into the net after a collision with Pekka Rinne.

Here’s an explanation from the NHL Situation Room:

At 7:34 of overtime in the Sharks/Predators game, the Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of a Coach’s Challenge to review the “Interference on the Goalkeeper” decision that resulted in a “no goal” call.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed that San Jose’s Joe Pavelski made incidental contact with Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Rinne from doing his job in the crease.

Therefore the original call stands – no goal San Jose Sharks.

Cody Eakin plays unlikely hero as Stars even series with Blues thanks to OT win

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Needing a win to even the series with the St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars didn’t get off to the greatest start Thursday.

On a rather embarrassing play in the first period of a crucial Game 4, the Stars were caught on the television feed clearly with six skaters on the ice, but still surrendered a breakaway goal on a stretch pass to a wide open Vladimir Tarasenko — 1-0 Blues. Again, not a great start for the Stars.

Sometimes in hockey, it’s apparently not always about how you start but how you finish. The Stars gained strength during the second period on goals from Radek Faksa and Patrick Sharp just 1:09 apart. Early in overtime, Cody Eakin scored his first goal of these playoffs to give the Stars a 3-2 win.

This series is now tied heading back to Dallas for Game 5. For the Blues, it’s a missed opportunity to put the high-flying Stars on the brink of elimination.

Eakin snapped a 17-game scoring drought that stretched into late-March of the regular season by going top shelf, short side of Blues goalie Brian Elliott just 2:58 into the extra period.

Jamie Benn and Patrick Sharp each had two-point nights for Dallas, assisting on the game winning goal.