Ivan Provorov

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Free falling: Flyers lose sixth straight as growing pains emerge

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The Philadelphia Flyers feel they are right there, which is an interesting statement from a team that’s lost six straight and eight of their past 10.

Ah, the lies we tell ourselves in times of trouble.

The Flyers did fair better on Wednesday night in a 4-3 shootout loss against the New York Islanders, which prompted goaltender Brian Elliott to make the declaration that his team just needs to turn the corner.

It’s tough to turn when you’re falling backwards, however.

Indeed, finding positives when few appear to be in sight in a skid like the Flyers are in is a tough ask in the City of Brotherly Love. Flyers fans have had to come to terms with a few things this season.

It must pain fans to see Brayden Schenn lighting the lamp over and over again in St. Louis. Schenn was traded to the Blues in the offseason. The return looked half decent for a team looking to rebuild with a youth movement.

The Blues gave up two first-round picks for Schenn along with Jori Lehtera. And while it remains to be seen what the Flyers gain from the trade in future drafts, Lehtera has been an utter disappointment, one magnified many times more by Schenn’s incredible start.

Lehtera was a healthy scratch for Wednesday’s game, the second time in his past four games he’s watched rather than played. He’s sitting on two assists this season in 14 games. Schenn, by comparison, 10 goals and 30 points, including 19 in his past eight games.

It hasn’t been all Lehtera’s fault. Oh, no.

The Flyers penalty kill has been atrocious. They rank 28th in the league at 75 percent and have allowed seven goals in their past 13 kills over the past three games.

Andrew MacDonald can’t return soon enough, especially after one of their better penalty killers tried to behead a man last week.

Scoring could be better as well.

Claude Giroux has gone six games without a goal, this after scoring nine times in his first 16 games. Jordan Weal has just one goal in his past 18 games and was bumped to the fourth line on Wednesday. And ever since he 17 times in 64 games two years ago, Shayne Gostisbehere has only eight goals in his past 95 games and none in his past 13.

Ivan Provorov has been a godsend for the Flyers on defence (and Travis Sanheim is starting to blossom), but Gostisbehere’s offensive prowess from the backend would be a welcomed addition again.

But the real reason for the Flyers struggles this season might just be something they can’t control: youth.

The Flyers iced 11 players under 25 years of age on Wednesday night. Their top defenseman, Provorov, is 20 years old. Their second line centre, Nolan Patrick, is 19.

These are the growing pains of a team getting younger, and it could get worse yet before it gets better.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: T.J. Oshie has special bond with young cancer patient

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–We know that Connor McDavid is really good at hockey, but like the rest of us there are certain things he just can’t do. He’s not a morning person, he can’t cook, and dealing with spiders isn’t a strength of his. (ESPN.com)

–The Rangers had a lot of scouts on hand to watch Monday’s game between Ottawa and Montreal. Could they be after Canadiens forwards Alex Galchenyuk and/or Andrew Shaw? (NY Post)

–The Toronto Maple Leafs got off to a hot start, but they’ve now dropped four of their last five games. Head coach Mike Babcock isn’t going to tolerate this slide going much further, so he decided to make huge changes at practice. Patrick Marleau was moved to center, Tyler Bozak found himself on the fourth line and a few depth players are coming out of the lineup. (pensionplanpuppets.com)

–TSN’s Travis Yost looks at established players that have seen the ice time drop over the last few seasons. There’s some interesting names on the list. Are these players starting to decline? (TSN.ca)

–NBCSN’s coverage of the hockey season continues on Wednesday night, as the Flyers battle the Blackhawks. NHL.com look at five reasons you shouldn’t miss this game. The fact that Patrick Kane and Ivan Provorov are in this game certainly doesn’t hurt. (NHL.com)

–In yesterday’s morning skate, we had a list of the top 15 scariest masks of all-time. Today, the Sporting News tells the tales of some of the most frightening masks the ice has ever seen. (Sporting News)

–Here’s a really touching story about the impact Capitals forward T.J. Oshie has had on a young cancer patient named Addy Flint. “Her getting to see T.J. and watch the Caps practice is really inspirational for her,” Addy’s mom, Stacey said. “She mentioned how it kind of allows her to look forward to something. She’s been determined to be healthy today as well as it kind of gives her something fun to remember when there are kind of the rough times.” (Washington Post)

–The Tampa Bay Lightning have several quality defensemen on their roster. Because Mikhail Sergachev is sticking around, there’s one less spot for Slater Koekkoek and Andrej Sustr. Despite their depth on the blue line, now isn’t the time to get rid of those two guys, according to rawcharge.com.

–You’ve probably heard a thing or two about Vegas’ depth between the pipes being tested. With Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk on the shelf, The Score looks at five goalies that could help the Golden Knights right now. Guys like Andrew Hammond and Michael Hutchinson could probably be had for a relatively low cost. (The Score)

–The Arizona Coyotes haven’t had much to celebrate this season, but rookie Clayton Keller has been one of the positives on the team. The youngster has been able to create offense on a bad team, which doesn’t surprise people in the organization. “A real creative mind, a creative person, a lot of structure and detail with his life,” Coyotes GM John Chayka said of Keller. “Good personality, easy to get along with, easy to talk to, but also very intense and passionate and driven about anything hockey related. He’s a hockey genius, no doubt about it.” (Sports Illustrated)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Fantasy adds and drops: Who’s your Dadonov?

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Every Monday, PHT will offer up some advice for all you fantasy hockey general managers out there. We’ll take a look at what’s available on the waiver wire in most leagues and who you should cut ties with sooner than later.

Only players available in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues will make the cut for the adds and only those owned in more than 50 percent of leagues will make the drops list.

Here’s this week’s lists:

Adds:

Adrian Kempe-C/LW-Los Angeles Kings (owned in 42 percent of leagues)

Kempe has been one of the pleasant surprises of this young season. The 21-year-old has six goals and nine points in 11 games this season and he should continue to produce as long as he continues playing in an offensive role. He’s been very good. The fact that he’s listed at two different positions is just a bonus.

Josh Bailey-LW/RW-New York Islanders (owned in 25 percent of leagues)

Bailey has been skating on a line with Anders Lee and John Tavares, who’s been unstoppable over the last few games. Bailey has picked up at least one point in seven of New York’s 11 games this season, and he’s currently riding a six-game point streak.

Evgenii Dadonov-RW-Florida Panthers (owned in 33 percent of leagues)

Dadonov has quietly put up five goals and six assists in 10 games. The Russian winger has accumulated five multi-point games this season (three of them have come in his last four contests). He’s played really well on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.

[Fantasy Podcast: Rotoworld on Vegas’ hot start]

Brock Boeser-RW-Vancouver Canucks (owned in 23 perfect of leagues)

Before we get into his fantasy outlook, we have to mention that he’s currently listed as day-to-day with a foot injury. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss. It’s hard to ignore what Boeser’s done so far this season. He’s racked up two goals and nine points in eight games with Vancouver. Even though his production will likely drop off at a certain point, he looks like the real deal. Consider adding him soon.

Brandon Montour-D-Anaheim Ducks (owned in 46 percent of leagues)

Finding good fantasy defensemen on the waiver wire isn’t easy, so you’ve got to pounce when one becomes available. Montour has four goals, three assists, a plus-4 rating and four penalty minutes for the Ducks this season. With Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm back, Montour’s role will likely drop off a little bit. He’s still worth owning though.

Ivan Provorov-D-Philadelphia Flyers (owned in 49 percent of leagues)

The Flyers defenseman just barely made the cut for this list. Let’s start by saying that he needs to be owned in pretty much every dynasty league. He still provides value in standard leagues, as he’s on pace to score 15 goals and 37 points this season. Provorov is averaging almost 24 minutes of ice time per game.

[More Fantasy: Check out RotoWorld’s PP Report column]

Drops:

Jacob Trouba-D-Winnipeg Jets (owned in 66 percent of leagues)

After putting up eight goals and 33 points last year, Trouba is off to a slow start in 2017-18. He’s playing big minutes (averaging 22:14 of ice time), but he has three assists and a minus-5 rating in 10 games. Trouba’s been a disappointment, but he should only be cut in standard leagues where a suitable replacement (like Provorov) is available on the wire.

Semyon Varlamov-G-Colorado Avalanche (owned in 56 percent of leagues)

Varlamov won his first three games of the season, but the dream is over. He’s dropped three of his last four games and he’s given up at least three goals in three of those four contests (he allowed seven goals to Vegas in his last start).

Patrick Hornqvist-RW-Pittsburgh Penguins (owned in 71 percent of leagues) 

Hornqvist has put up a respectable three goals in 10 games this season, but there are better options available on most waiver wires. Sure, he might heat up but his injury history also needs to be considered. In five of the last six seasons, he’s missed at least six games. He isn’t one of those players that absolutely has to be cut though.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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.

Nolan Patrick raves about Flyers’ future – maybe even in short term

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Flyers bet their future on Nolan Patrick.

But for the present, Philadelphia is a team unsure of its identity: Does it believe it can get one more playoff push out of stalwarts Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds or is time for Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Jordan Weal to carry the franchise?

The Flyers are counting on a blend of young and old to return to the postseason after a one-year absence. The Flyers, long held up as one of the league’s showcase franchises, haven’t won a postseason round since 2012 and missed the playoffs three times over that span. The Flyers, who last reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, missed the playoffs only once from 1995-2012.

Enter Patrick.

The 19-year-old fell to Philly when the New Jersey Devils passed on him with the top pick in the draft. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was happy to swoop up the center, even though Patrick played through a hernia last year in the WHL and needed surgery in the summer. Patrick said he was healthy on the first day of training camp and seems ready to settle in as the second line center behind Giroux.

At the scouting combine in early June, Patrick said he actually had a sports hernia on both sides and one was “misdiagnosed.” He had surgery June 13.

“I just only want to make the NHL and establish myself,” Patrick said. “I’m just going to try to play my game and contribute as much as I can. I think the Flyers have a really good team, and if you look at their (defensive) core coming up, they’ve got some unbelievable prospects, so I think in a couple years they’re going to be a really good team, or even this year coming up. I think they’ve got all the tools to do that.”

Giroux was once Philadelphia’s star center of the future after he helped Philly’s run to the 2010 finals and was once dubbed by his former coach “the best in the world.”

The 29-year-old Giroux’s numbers in key categories have sagged so much (86 points in 2013-14 to 73 to 67 to 58) that the Flyers may play him on the wing this season to jumpstart his career. Third-year coach Dave Hakstol will try about anything to help the Flyers’ captain regain his All-Star form and had Couturier center Giroux and Voracek in the preseason.

“We’re in camp and we want to look at all the good options we might have,” Hakstol said. “I think it’s a challenge for any player to be versatile. G’s been our No. 1 centerman and he still is. He’s such a good player that I think he can play any position on the ice. There’s no question for a player like him, he can play anywhere on the ice.”

Last year, the Flyers had a 10-game winning streak in a 39-33-10 season that left them stuck in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. General manager Ron Hextall made few moves in the offseason and none that seem likely to send the Flyers on a major uptick in the East. Their biggest move was in the draft lottery when they somehow jumped 11 spots to nab Patrick.

Here are other things to watch with the Flyers this season:

GHOST BUSTER

Shayne Gostisbehere emerged as one of the top rookie defenseman two seasons ago and was named Philadelphia’s athlete of the year. He found out during the season he won the award on the day he was a healthy scratch. Gostisbehere slumped last season except for when Philadelphia was on the power play. Gostisbehere’s ability to bounce back – Hakstol scratched him to help him refocus on defense – could play a key role in Philadelphia’s season.

THAT DROUGHT

The Stanley Cup drought is one of the longest in the league: The Flyers haven’t had a championship since back-to-back Cups in 1974 and 1975. Philadelphia lost in the finals in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997 and 2010.

WHO’S NO. 1

Look no further than Philadelphia’s usual unsettled goaltending to understand why the franchise has gone 41 years without a championship. The Flyers did little to address the situation after it let Steve Mason walk. They signed former Calgary goalie Brian Elliott to a $5.5 million, two-year deal and expect him to share time with Michal Neuvirth.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey