PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 07:  Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of his teammates look on from the bench in the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 7, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Flyers had a pretty lousy day in Boston


The Philadelphia Flyers must be a maddening team to cheer for.

They can score goals with the best teams in the NHL. They also give up goals with the worst teams in the NHL.

A month ago they were in the middle of a 10-game winning streak that was launching them up the Eastern Conference standings and seemed to solidify their hold on a playoff spot.

After their ugly 6-3 loss in Boston on Saturday, they have followed up that winning streak by losing 10 of the next 13. Depending on what happens on Saturday night, they could be just one point up on a Hurricanes team that still has two games in hand on them for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

An 82-game season is always going to be full of peaks and valleys, but the 2016-17 Flyers seem to be taking that to the extreme.

Saturday’s game was particularly ugly for the Flyers. Not just because it was yet another loss, but because the entire day was simply a total nightmare.

A quick rundown of what all went wrong.

  • They gave up six goals to a Bruins team that had scored more than five goals in a game just once all season. That was in the season opener … 45 games ago. They had scored more than four goals just four times entering Saturday.
  • They were outshot 39-24 for the game, including a ridiculous 13-5 deficit in the third period when you have expected a team down by two goals to be able to push the pace a little.
  • They allowed Brad Marchand to record five points, including a shorthanded goal where he never actually shot the puck.
  • When they were on the verge of getting back into the game in the second period,  just seconds after Brayden Schenn scored to pull them to within one goal, Jakub Voracek was given a five-minute major for boarding Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller, knocking him out of the game. The Bruins scored on the ensuing power play and never looked back.

The day got off to an ominous start when it was revealed that defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was going to be a healthy scratch for the second time this season.

It would not be unfair to suggest that Gostisbehere has struggled a bit lately, or that his play has not quite matched what he did for the Flyers in his breakthrough rookie season. But it is still a curious move to take him out of the lineup given what the rest of the team’s blue line looks like. All of the Flyers defensemen are struggling at the moment. Taking out the one guy that at least has the potential to be a game-breaking player seems to be … well … not the best way to get your team out of a slump. That move on its own is not why the Flyers were blown out. Nobody else really showed up for them, either. But it did seem to at least set the stage for what would go on to be a rough day.

They get a chance to bounce back on Sunday afternoon against a Washington Capitals team that has won eight games in a row by a combined score of 35-11. That includes their most recent wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks by a combined score of 11-2.

In other words: It is not going to get any easier.

Early thoughts – and praise – for Capitals landing Kevin Shattenkirk

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Jaws dropped around the hockey world when news broke that the Washington Capitals landed Kevin Shattenkirk in a blockbuster trade. Heads were then scratched as people tried to make sense of the “conditions” of a conditional second-rounder involved in the move.

With a little time for the smoke to clear and with the assets revealed, here are some scattered thoughts.

PHT will likely cover more of the fallout on Tuesday and beyond, though, so stay tuned.

Brian MacLellan deserves consideration as a top GM

Judging an executive can be really tricky; while a GM of the Year award is easy to justify, it’s also easy to mock. Even the best managers inherit a roster (aside from MacLellan’s predecessor George McPhee, who will build one in Vegas), so you have to credit some successes to the guy who came before.

And, yes, McPhee helped put together a core that includes Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom.

Even so, MacLellan evokes Stan Bowman in masterfully adding tremendous electrons to a fantastic nucleus.

He added Matt Niskanen (and, admittedly, flubbed it with Brooks Orpik) to beef up a defense to help the shrewd hiring of Barry Trotz as head coach. Trotz seems like he’s ending what was a busy procession of shaky bench bosses.

MacLellan really nailed it the next summer, trading for T.J. Oshie and signing Justin Williams to a bargain deal. A year later, the Capitals added a fantastic third-line center option in Lars Eller via a smart trade.

And now this. It’s not clear where Kevin Shattenkirk will fit in the Capitals’ lineup, but either way, he boosts an already formidable group.


Let’s lightning round some other thoughts.

  • Scottie Upshall joked about all the one-timers Shattenkirk is primed to set up for Alex Ovechkin … but he has a point.
  • It’s difficult to imagine the Capitals re-signing Shattenkirk, putting continued emphasis on the talk of Washington being in the last season of a “two-year window” to make their greatest push for a Stanley Cup. At the same time, there aren’t a lot of problem contracts beyond Orpik’s in Washington, so the plus side is that MacLellan can also show how he might be Bowman-like in making the right calls in who to bring back. Make no mistake about it, getting Shattenkirk is about now, not later.
  • Oh yeah the Capitals also got a nice sneaky bonus in landing Pheonix Copley, who better have the nickname “typo.”

All things considered, it’s no surprise that the Capitals are excited.

There’s at least a chance Shattenkirk might be able to suit up for Washington as soon as Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, but either way, this sure looks like a slam dunk.

Wild just wouldn’t stay down, edge Kings in OT


Don’t blame Ben Bishop if, deep down, he was glad that he didn’t make his Los Angeles Kings debut on Monday.

After seeing the kind of speed, drive and all-around electric play displayed by the Minnesota Wild, you can understand a goalie shuddering at the often wide-open action. Despite falling behind four times against the Kings, the Wild ultimately edged Los Angeles 5-4 in an overtime thriller.

Mikael Granlund‘s 20th goal of the season ended it in OT, and quickly. And it was beautiful:

…. Unless you’re Jonathan Quick and the Kings, that is.

Granlund is absolutely on fire right now.

Ryan White made a great first impression for the Wild, scoring a goal and an assist (while displaying great flow). Martin Hanzal wasn’t able to score, though he did make his presence felt with five hits. And, again, Bishop might have secretly been relieved to put his Kings debut on hold.

Marian Gaborik turned back the clock a bit to his Wild prime, scoring a goal and an assist. He generally made quite a bit happen for Los Angeles.

It was a tough one for Anze Kopitar, meanwhile, who was unable to generate offense and suffered a -3. He wasn’t able to stop Granlund in OT, though who could?

The Wild still must worry as mumps sidelined at least Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, but for now, they’re battling on. Just ask the Kings how resilient this group really is.

Sell this: Kucherov, Lightning put trades behind them, blast Senators

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The Tampa Bay Lightning might be in sell mode, but that doesn’t mean their players are quitting on this season.

After shipping Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle out of town, they could have rolled over against a hungry Ottawa Senators team. Instead, they blew them out, winning 5-1 on Monday.

Nikita Kucherov was the biggest standout, collecting a natural hat trick, which you can watch above. (He also generated an assist.)

Jonathan Drouin had a big night in his own right, assisting on all three of Kucherov’s goals. Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson generated two assists apiece, as well.

And, yes, Andrei Vasilevskiy inspired at least a few “Ben who?” jokes by making 39 out of 40 saves, including this beauty:

As you can see, Ottawa actually had a 1-0 lead at that point, so it could have been a different game if the agile goalie did do the splits there.

The Lightning are still five points out of the final wild card spot, trailing Boyle’s new team in the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators, meanwhile, find themselves slipping a bit out of the race to win the Atlantic Division, especially considering Montreal’s comeback win against New Jersey.

Tampa Bay may may not be done making moves and recognizing painful truth that the odds are against them rallying to a playoff spot. That said, nights like these make you wonder if a run is at least possible.

Canadiens’ big guns trigger comeback OT win against Devils

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 27:  Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates the game winning power play goal by Alex Galchenyuk #27 at 2:54 of overtrime against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 27, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  The Canadiens defeated the Devils 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were looking a little grim there for the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

The New Jersey Devils had, at one point, a 2-0 lead. At least in some corners there were murmurs about a bad start for Claude Julien. Then their big guns swung the game.

The comeback started with Alex Radulov, though the drama was just beginning:

Travis Zajac made it 3-1 for the Devils on the power play, only for Radulov to assist on two Max Pacioretty goals to send the game to overtime.

From there, Alex Galchenyuk scored the overtime-winner for Montreal on the man advantage. Radulov got yet another secondary assist – he ended up with four points tonight – while Shea Weber nabbed the primary helpers on the last two tallies.

Long story short, the Canadiens biggest names came through, allowing Julien to maybe utther a sigh of relief.