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Canes’ first win shines spotlight on Flyers’ woes

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The score was just 2-1, but the Carolina Hurricanes’ first win of 2013-14 really digs the knife into the Philadelphia Flyers, who are still searching for their first win of the season after three frustrating games.

Carolina dominated much of the play, out-shooting Philly 34-18 (including 17-5 in the first period and 7-3 in the final frame despite Carolina holding that 2-1 lead).

Different goaltending pictures

It marks Anton Khudobin’s debut as Carolina’s sneaky-good backup after serving that part for the Boston Bruins.

In times like these, it’s basically a reflex to blame the goalie in Philly; can they really do that after Steve Mason stopped 32 out of 34 shots, though?

One might have seen some symbolism in Nicklas Grossmann’s third-period cross-checking penalty, as the blueliner sent Patrick Dwyer sprawling dangerously into his own goalie.

Few bright spots for Philly

Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo collected matching -2 ratings on Sunday, so if you want a quick group to blame, that might be a start.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Flyers’ problems are broad enough that the more useful activity might be finding the strong points.

  • Star center Claude Giroux hasn’t scored a point yet. The same can be said of Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and others.
  • To hammer the point home, the Flyers have only scored three goals in three games.
  • Philly scored its first even-strength goal of 2013-14 today. Other than that, they’ve only scored on the man advantage, going 2-for-14 so far. Special teams isn’t that much of strength, however, as they’ve allowed more power-play goals (three on 17 penalty kills) than they’ve scored.
  • Their shot totals have dropped from 32 to 23 to 18.

So … yeah, basically everything is going poorly.

Axe to fall?

The inevitable question, then, is how long is the leash for head coach Peter Laviolette and GM Paul Holmgren?

Both front office members have received multiple votes of confidence, yet there’s no denying that the Flyers organization has a tendency to make bold, reactive moves instead of staying the course. (“Hey, we gave Ilya Bryzgalov two whole seasons!”)

Fair or not, it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s a knee-jerk reaction coming soon. While we wait, feel free to play “When will the Flyers win their first game?” game by looking at the next 10 contests in their schedule:

Tuesday: vs. Florida
Friday: vs. Phoenix
Saturday: at Detroit
Oct. 15: vs. Vancouver
Oct. 17: vs. Pittsburgh
Oct. 24: vs. NY Rangers
Oct. 26: at NY Islanders
Oct. 29: vs. Anaheim
Nov. 1: vs. Washington
Nov. 2: at New Jersey

As you can see, the Flyers have a week between home games against the Penguins and Rangers, so … they might want to start winning by then. Just throwing it out there.

Chara ‘more than likely’ to return from six-game absence tonight

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 7: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins skates towards the face-off circle during first period action against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on March 7, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara hasn’t been in the lineup since Nov. 22, but that all changes tonight when he returns for a key date against the Panthers at TD Garden.

B’s head coach Claude Julien called it “more than likely probable” (per NHL.com) that Chara will play for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury six games ago. It’s a huge addition for a Boston defense that has been without its veteran leader and fellow vet John-Michael Liles, who is currently sidelined with a concussion.

As a result of those two injuries, Julien has been rolling with a six-man defensive unit comprised of Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller.

Krug saw an upward spike in minutes as a result, and it helped him get his season on track offensively — he has seven points in his last eight games, this after going scoreless through the first nine contests of the year.

Carlo has been receiving big minutes as well. The rookie blueliner played over 24 minutes in back-to-back games against the Flyers and Lightning last week, then had 23:33 in Saturday’s win over Buffalo.

Chara had been averaging just under 23 minutes per prior to getting hurt, so it’s safe to assume Krug and Carlo will go back to more conventional TOI tonight.

Goalie nods: ‘He’s here, he’s able to play, he plays’ — Sens welcome Anderson back versus Pens

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates with Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators after the Senators scored against the Dallas Stars in the third period at American Airlines Center on November 24, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Craig Anderson, who left the Sens on Nov. 30 to be with his wife while she undergoes cancer treatment, returned to the club ahead of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.

And even though Anderson’s backup, Mike Condon, is coming off a 24-save shutout of Florida, there was apparently no question about which goalie would face the Pens.

“He’s here,” Sens head coach Guy Boucher said of Anderson, per the club’s Twitter account. “He’s able to play, he plays.”

Anderson has been terrific this season, posting a 12-5-1 record with a .930 save percentage and 2.20 GAA. He was especially dialed in over his last five starts prior to departing, stopping 143 of 153 shots (a .935 save percentage, which “ballooned” mostly due to his final game, a 5-4 loss to Buffalo).

Condon, who had a brief stint in Pittsburgh this season before getting dealt to Ottawa, has performed admirably as well. He’s posted a pair of shutouts and boasts an impressive .946 save percentage on the year. That effort, combined with Anderson’s rock-solid play, has made Andrew Hammond the odd man out in Ottawa (The Hamburglar was reassigned to AHL Binghamton today).

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for Pittsburgh. He’s riding a bit of a hot streak, having stopped 61 of his last 65 shots faced in consecutive victories.

Elsewhere…

— Good matchup in Boston, as Tuukka Rask and the B’s host Roberto Luongo and the Panthers. Rask currently sits third in the NHL with a .941 save percentage, while Luongo is 12th at .929.

Robin Lehner, who returned from a one-game absence to make 31 saves in a loss to Boston on Saturday, starts for the Sabres. The host Capitals will once again turn to their workhorse, Braden Holtby, who looks to snap a three-game losing streak.

— After Mike Smith made a career-high 58 saves in a shootout loss to the Jackets on Saturday, Louis Domingue gives him a breather as the two teams meet again tonight. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in for the Jackets, after Curtis McElhinney got the win over the weekend.

Canucks’ Dorsett to have neck surgery, reportedly done for season

Derek Dorsett, Kyle Brodziak
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The Vancouver Canucks will be without forward Derek Dorsett for a considerable while longer.

The Canucks announced today that Dorsett will undergo “cervical fusion surgery to repair disc degeneration in his neck.” The club expects him to “make a full recovery and return to play,” but no timeline could be provided at this point.

Dorsett’s surgery will be performed by Dr. Robert Watkins of the Marina Del Rey Hospital spine clinic in Los Angeles.

“The decision to perform surgery was made after a thorough review of our options, including non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation,” said GM Jim Benning in a release. “Derek, our Canucks medical team and Dr. [Robert] Watkins believe that surgery offers the best outcome both for his career and long-term health. Derek is an important member of our team and we are optimistic for a full recovery.”

Dorsett last played Nov. 17 against the Coyotes. He was forced to leave the game with what the Canucks called an upper-body injury.

The 29-year-old has one goal and three assists in 14 games this season. He still leads all Vancouver forwards with 35 hits and 33 PIM.

Dorsett is signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of $2.65 million.

Update:

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Dorsett will not be back this season. The hope now is for a return next season.

Coroner concludes Svatos died of drug overdose

DENVER - NOVEMBER 25:  Marek Svatos #40 of the Colorado Avalanche skates during the game against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center on November 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Former Avalanche forward Marek Svatos died early last month of a drug overdose, according to the coroner in Colorado.

The Denver Post is reporting that Svatos “had codeine, morphine and an anti-anxiety medication in his system when he died of combined drug intoxication.” The Douglas County coroner also concluded in its report that Svatos had a history of heroin abuse and depression.

“Drug paraphernalia was found at the scene,” the report said, per the Post.

Svatos was 34 when he died Nov. 5. He last played in the NHL for the Ottawa Senators in 2010-11, before finishing his career overseas.

As reported earlier by the Post, Svatos was living in the Denver area with his wife and two young sons.