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.
New Sabres GM Jason Botterill has been on the job for less than a month, but with the draft around the corner, he’s got to start filling some holes in his front office.
Botterill, who came over from Pittsburgh, is allowed to bring former Pens colleagues of his over to Buffalo, but only if they’re given promotions by the Sabres (no lateral moves).
According to a report by Chuck Gormley, one person who could move from Pittsburgh to Buffalo is Randy Sexton, who currently serves as the Penguins’ directer of amateur scouting.
Sexton would bring plenty of experience to the Sabres’ front office, as he’s been a general manager with both the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers.
Having someone with that kind of experience could be beneficial for a rookie GM like Botterill, so the move would make a lot of sense from that point of view.
—Botterill has “no problem” with Lehner as No. 1
—Botterill to use Pens’ NHL-AHL relationship as model for Sabres
–Prior to last night’s game between Ottawa and Pittsburgh, the Senators held a moment of silence for those affected by the attacks in Manchester. A very touching moment. (The Score)
–Speaking of that game, the Senators managed to win it 2-1 thanks to some incredible goaltending from Craig Anderson. You can check out the highlights from the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.
–Sportsnet’s Andrew Berkshire takes a deeper look at P.K. Subban‘s contribution to Nashville’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. Despite dealing with a herniated disc, Subban has really been a key part of the Predators’ success both offensively and defensively. (Sportsnet)
–Many hockey fans thought Pekka Rinne‘s better days were behind him after he struggled during the regular season, but his playoff numbers have been incredible. From the start of his career, Rinne has always been underrated, so being underestimated is nothing new to him. (Yahoo)
–The Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs made a couple of trades last offseason. First, the Leafs got Frederik Andersen from the Ducks. Then, it was Toronto that shipped Jonathan Bernier to Anaheim. Could the two clubs make another huge deal this summer? The Leafs need a right-handed defenseman, and with the expansion draft coming up, the Ducks may have some blue liners to move. (The Hockey News)
–Former NHLer Manny Maholtra held a part time role with the Canucks last season, and he’s hoping for a larger one next year. “We’ve started discussions and it’s something I would definitely like to do. Obviously, a lot has to do with how (Travis) Green feels and how he wants to build his staff.” (Vancouver Province)
–We know that Brendan Smith wants to re-sign with the New York Rangers, but what will it take to get him under contract? According to the New York Post, Smith will likely fetch a four or five-year deal worth north of $4 million. (New York Post)
If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.
The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.
Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?
Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.
” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.
That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.
Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?
The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.
The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.
The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.
Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.
With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.
Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.
You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.