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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.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay