Michal Neuvirth

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Tuesday has not been kind to goalies

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There are three games on Tuesday, yet we’ve already seen two goalies benched for poor play.

If variety is important to you … hey, at least the two situations were different, albeit with some regrettable moments of pucks going into nets.

The most depressing probably came during Tuesday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues, which you can watch on NBCSN right now.

Now, you can justifiably hang a lot of the Oilers’ struggles on poor management from GM Peter Chiarelli, yet it’s also true that teams/coaches/general managers often see their reputations rise and fall with the play of their goalies. Cam Talbot has already been struggling in 2017-18 after playing outstanding hockey – and a ton of games – last season, but tonight serves as one of his shortest and most troubling efforts.

(And Talbot gets whatever is the opposite of bonus points for languishing while angst is nearing a fever pitch in Edmonton.)

Talbot made it through just 7:35 of ice time on Tuesday, allowing two goals on just three shots before Todd McLellan understandably pulled the plug. This Dmitrij Jaskin goal was a real soul-crusher for the reeling Oilers:

Credit Laurent Brossoit for playing very well in relief of Talbot, at least as of this writing. But this isn’t what the Oilers wanted to see. (Brossoit just allowed a goal, but he has been sturdy overall with a lot of time left in this game).

Negative night for Neuvirth

Compared to Talbot, Michal Neuvirth had a long night for the Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately, it was a long night in more ways than one, as Neuvirth struggled against the unexpectedly potent Vancouver Canucks.

Neuvirth got the hook after giving up four goals on 22 shots over 34:26 of game time. Some of that’s on the defense in front of him, as Philly can’t be happy to give up so many chances against a Vancouver team that still has something to prove.

So, this leaves one burning question: will any other goalies get benched tonight? As it is, two out of three is quite bad. Sorry Meatloaf.

Penguins, Rangers, Capitals headline PHT’s mighty Metro Division preview

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The Metropolitan Division hasn’t just produced the last two Stanley Cup winners (Pittsburgh Penguins) and last two Presidents’ Trophy winners (Washington Capitals).

It’s also a division that runs deep. The Columbus Blue Jackets took the league by storm in 2016-17, and while Sergei Bobrovsky might not be sensational again, many still believe they’re legit. The New York Rangers and New York Islanders still boast significant strengths, while the Carolina Hurricanes are dark horse candidates once more.

Even the New Jersey Devils keep adding promising talent.

Let’s preview what might once again be the best division in the NHL.

Also, check out these other previews: Atlantic Division, Central Division, PHT’s picks and predictions.

Carolina Hurricanes

Poll/looking to make the leap

Columbus Blue Jackets

Poll/looking to make the leap

New Jersey Devils

Poll/looking to make the leap

New York Islanders

Poll/looking to make the leap

New York Rangers

Poll/looking to make the leap

Philadelphia Flyers

Poll/looking to make the leap

Pittsburgh Penguins

Poll/looking to make the leap

Something noteworthy from today:

Washington Capitals

Poll/looking to make the leap

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

New Flyers goalie Elliott hoping to build on strong second half

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When Brian Elliott joined the Calgary Flames before the start of the 2016-17 season his new team was expecting him to help solidify a position that had been a major weakness the previous year.

Through the first half of the season, things did not go according to plan for him personally as he ended up struggling and even losing some playing time to backup Chad Johnson. But things started to turn around for him in the second half of the season as he finished with a .924 save percentage of the final three months.

He is hoping to build on that strong second half and carry it over to the start of the 2017-18 season when he joins another new team, the Philadelphia Flyers, that will be counting on him to help fix a position that was a major weakness the previous year.

“As a team, we came together, and I benefited from that,” said Elliott, via Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi. “I felt real good from the middle to the end of the season in Calgary, and I want to continue that feeling. You feel confident and feel that, no matter what, you can make that save. When you have that feeling and that confidence back there, then the guys can go and do their job.”

The Flyers signed Elliott to a one-year, $5.5 million contract this summer and will use him along with veteran goalie Michal Neuvirth in what will mostly likely be some sort of a platoon role. Neuvirth split time the past two seasons with Steve Mason. The duo was outstanding — and an incredible bargain — during the 2015-16 season but badly regressed this past season and played a major role in the team’s disappointing  year.

The Flyers are hoping that Elliott can help fix that.

General manager Ron Hextall has already said he does not consider this season to be a rebuilding year in Philadelphia and that he expects the team to compete, and if it is going to i it is going to need a big year from its two goalies playing behind what will be a mostly young defense.

Flyers goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz out indefinitely (knee surgery)

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A bumpy summer got a lot worse recently for Philadelphia Flyers goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz, as the team announced that he’s out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his left knee.

The 23-year-old already saw increased (albeit likely expected) resistance to his ascension up the goalie depth chart with the addition of veteran netminder Brian Elliott. Even when healthy, Stolarz would be positioned behind Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, and that’s without any other netminders leapfrogging him.

Now his growth gets stunted by this injury, although he still has time to get back in the mix when it matters the most. Both Elliott and Neuvirth are on two-year contracts, so it’s clear that the window is most likely to open after this coming season, anyway.

Stolarz put up solid numbers in the AHL, but the towering goalie’s limited NHL work was quite impressive; he went 2-1-1 while managing a splendid .928 save percentage in seven appearances with the Flyers in 2016-17. Such work inspired some (PHT included) to wonder if he might be worth a longer look with the big club.

That day might come, but it could be a while for the 45th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. Stolarz signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Flyers back in July.

This setback opens up a chance for Leland Irving, a goalie who hasn’t lived up to being the 26th pick of the 2006 draft.