Andrew MacDonald

Flyers

Flyers’ Will O’Neill makes NHL debut 11 years after being drafted

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His first shift probably won’t be remembered years down the line, mainly because it lasted a whole four seconds. But Thursday night, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Will O’Neill finally made his NHL debut.

The 29-year-old O’Neill stepped onto the ice at Scottrade Center in St. Louis 4,198 days after his name was called in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. (Six rounds earlier they selected Bryan Little 12th overall.) When he hopped over the boards early in the first period of the Flyers’ 2-0 win, he was quickly back on the bench after a Dale Weise penalty ended his first shift after four seconds.

But he would hit the ice 11 more times and play 9:25 during the win as his mom, sister and best friend were in attendance.

“He did a good job. He did his part, he did his job,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said.

After O’Neill’s draft, it took him some time to finally reach professional hockey. He would spend two years in the United States Hockey League with the Omaha Lancers before becoming an integral part of the blue line with the NCAA’s Maine Black Bears. At the end of his senior season he made the jump to the American Hockey League’s St. John’s Ice Caps, one year after the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets.

Injuries to Radko Gudas, Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald forced Flyers general manager Ron Hextall to bring in reinforcements, and after 346 games in the AHL O’Neill, who was selected 210th out of 213 picks in 2006, finally got the call.

“It was pretty cool. It was the first one I’ve received like that,” he said on Wednesday. “I knew that someone was trying to call me, so I had a little bit of an idea. I was pretty cool for a few seconds there and then he told me. It’s exciting. It’s cool for me. I’m excited to be able to play the game.”

We see these stories every season, from Bracken Kearns to Pat Cannone — sometimes those long bus rides in the minors eventually do pay off with a chance in The Show. Who knows how long O’Neill’s stay in the NHL will be, but a goal was certainly reached Thursday night in St. Louis.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Flyers head into short trip with injury issues

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The Philadelphia Flyers are hurting, and not just in terms of their pride after being the first team to lose to the Arizona Coyotes this season.

They got a round of bad injury updates on Tuesday, as Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports: Nolan Patrick and Shayne Gostisbehere are unavailable for their upcoming road trip, while hulking young defenseman Samuel Morin is out for two weeks.

In some ways, that sounds a little worse than it might be, as the Flyers’ road trip only lasts two games (at Blackhawks on Wednesday, then visiting the Blues on Thursday). If those two can manage a return soon, it wouldn’t be that bad. Naturally, that remains to be seen.

The Morin update, via Carchidi, is a little odd and very “hockey.”

“Sam’s a tough guy, and he didn’t disclose 100 percent of his injury because he plays through things,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall said. “He has a little nick that’s going to keep him out a bit — not days, maybe a couple weeks.”

For a while, it was reasonable to spin some Flyers injuries (particularly that of Andrew MacDonald) as potential blessings in disguise, as they potentially opened the door for young players to get some reps. Sometimes things don’t pan out so well, as Morin was conceivably one of those youngsters who might have benefited from a chance that’s at least placed on hold.

On the bright side, the Flyers will enjoy a reasonably friendly home schedule starting this weekend. They’ll play three in a row and five of seven in Philly from Nov. 4-21.

If they’re lucky enough to get Gostisbehere and/or Patrick back during that stretch, the Flyers might be able to start to improve upon their murky start, as they currently stand at 6-5-1.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Report: No fine or suspension for hit that injured Flyers’ Gostisbehere

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It looks like nothing but an injury will come from the hit that Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov delivered on Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere during Saturday’s 4-2 Philly win.

There was no penalty on the play during the contest itself, and David Isaac of the Courier Post reports that the hit will not result in a fine or a suspension.

(Watch the check in question in the video above this post’s headline.)

The Flyers haven’t provided an additional update on Sunday after announcing that he wouldn’t return to last night’s game because of an upper-body injury. Gostisbehere joins Nolan Patrick as Flyers with upper-body issues, while fellow defenseman Andrew MacDonald is sidelined as well.

Such injury issues could open the door for Samuel Morin.

This is that much more unfortunate because things looked to be up in a big way for “Ghost Bear” (or is it “Ghostbear?”). His possession stats have been positive, and he’s already scored a whopping 13 points in just 11 regular-season games.

Gostisbehere has been an integral part of the Flyers’ well-oiled machine of a power play, collecting eight of his 13 points on the man advantage. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol wasn’t happy with the hit, as Isaac reported last night:

“It’s a tough hit. It’s one that’s got to be looked at,” Hakstol said. “It’s a hit in the numbers and it’s a tough hit for our player.”

Plenty of others believed that it should have at least drawn a penalty.

While Komarov explained to TSN’s Mark Masters that it was a “normal situation” as far as the question of “seeing the numbers” on Ghost goes, he did concede that a penalty might have been appropriate.

Back in Feb. 2016, Komarov received a three-game suspension for elbowing Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. He’s been on the other side of a questionable hit, too, missing multiple games in 2014 with a concussion.

This situation will not factor into his suspension history, whether Flyers fans believe that it should or not.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Gostisbehere suffers upper-body injury versus Maple Leafs

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The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, doing so without defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere for the entire third period.

The Flyers announced at the beginning of the final period that Gostisbehere would not return because of an upper-body injury, forcing an already young Philadelphia blue line down to five skaters for the duration. Still, they were able to hold off the Maple Leafs for a 4-2 victory, with 20-year-old Ivan Provorov leading the defensive group in ice time with 27:11 and Brian Elliott making 28 saves.

The injury to Gostisbehere occurred on a hard hit into the boards from Leo Komarov. There was no call on the play.

The Flyers already entered this game without Andrew MacDonald, who is expected to be out for at least four weeks after he was hurt blocking a shot versus Edmonton a week ago.

Philadelphia fell behind midway through the first period, but regrouped to score three straight goals to take the lead. The second goal was not without controversy, though, as the Maple Leafs appeared upset that there wasn’t an interference call against the Flyers in the neutral zone as the puck transitioned onto the stick of Jakub Voracek seconds before he scored on a slick move to the forehand.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

PHT Morning Skate: On David Booth escaping death last summer

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–The Flyers will be without Andrew MacDonald for a month. That might open the door for youngster Samuel Morin, who made the roster out of training camp. Morin’s NHL-ready, per the Flyers, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in. (Courier-Post)

–Team USA and Team Canada’s Women’s teams played the first game of the “The Time is Now Tour” in preparation for the 2018 Olympics. Team USA came out on top. (USA Hockey)

–The Score takes a look at three teams that made a big statement over the weekend. The Maple Leafs bandwagon has picked up a lot of steam since last season, but the Senators took care of them on Saturday night. (The Score)

–The Colorado Avalanche look better this year than they did all of last season, but they’ve been hit by injuries lately. Both Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher will miss an extended period of time. (Denver Post)

Riley Sheahan went 79 games without a goal last year, but the Penguins felt like a fresh start in a new city is exactly what he needed, so they went out and acquired him from Detroit over the weekend.  “It’s been a crazy last day, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’m leaving behind a great organization and some great teammates, but I’m definitely excited for the change of scenery and to get started with such an awesome organization.” (Pittsburgh Tribune)

–David Booth, who is a trained pilot, had a scary experience last summer. After getting an invite to Ducks training camp at the last minute, he decided to fly to Anaheim on his own. Booth had some tense moments in the air after his engine failed. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending. (Sportsnet)

–Youngster Anthony Beauvillier has faced some adversity already this season. After a couple of mediocre performances, Beauvillier was made a healthy scratch. Now, he’s out to prove he belongs in the lineup every night. “You can always find positive things out of that but you never want to sit for a game,” Beauvillier said. “It’s kind of hard. You’ve just got to keep working hard when it does happen. You just have to go out there and make sure it doesn’t happen again.” (thesportsdaily.com)

–The Edmonton Oilers swapped Jordan Eberle to the Isles for Ryan Strome. Unfortunately for them, the deal hasn’t worked out so far, but there’s still plenty of time for Strome to figure things out. (Oilersnation.com)

–The Golden Knights have had some tough luck when it comes to keeping goalies healthy. Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban are both out of the lineup right now. Don’t expect them to make a trade for a goalie because this season isn’t about wins and losses. It looks like Oscar Dansk will be their guy. (sinbin.vegas)

Niklas Kronwall, who played in his 800th game on Saturday night, has had plenty of issues with his left knee. In an attempt to get healthy, Kronwall admitted to trying stem cell therapy. “When you get to this point, you’re basically trying everything. That’s definitely something that’s out there and I think it’s becoming more and more, I don’t know if popular is the word.” (Detroit Free Press)

Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens are off to an awful start. As the losses continue to pile up, so does trade speculation. But Habs Eyes on the Prize believes that trading Pacioretty away would be a huge mistake. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

–Speaking of the Habs, Andrew Shaw was accused of using a homophobic slur in Anaheim on Friday night, but the NHL looked into the matter and decided he didn’t do what he was accused of doing. As you may remember, Shaw was suspended one game for using a homophobic slur a couple of years ago. (TSN.ca)