Philadelphia Flyers

Goalie nods: Sharks to start Niemi, looking to hire emergency backup


All the latest from the blue paint…

San Jose needs a No. 2

The San Jose Sharks are in a dilly of a pickle (insert Marc-Edouard Vlasic joke here) — they don’t have a backup for Antti Niemi tonight against Calgary.

The current No. 2, Troy Grosenick, was injured during today’s skate and the guy Grosenick replaced on the active roster, Alex Stalock, is out with an injury of his own. That’s left San Jose scrambling for an emergency ‘tender in time for the 10 p.m. ET puck drop… so if you’re in the Bay Area and ever had aspirations of dressing for a NHL game, well, it’s your move.

Oh yeah, Karri Ramo will get the start in goal for Calgary.


Jets at Sabres: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Jhonas Enroth

Caps at Isles: Braden Holtby vs. Jaroslav Halak

Flyers at Wings: Steve Mason vs. Jimmy Howard

Rangers at Bolts: Henrik Lundqvist for New York, Ben Bishop likely for Tampa Bay.

‘Canes at Panthers: Cam Ward vs. Roberto Luongo

Leafs at Pens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Kings at Wild: Jonathan Quick likely for L.A., Darcy Kuemper likely for Minnesota.

‘Hawks at Avs: Corey Crawford vs. Calvin Pickard

Quick healer? Raffl likely back for Flyers tonight


When Michael Raffl hurt his foot blocking a shot on Nov. 4, the Flyers said he’d be out 4-6 weeks.

Twenty-two days later, he’s back.

Well, Raffl appears to be back — on Wednesday, he skated on a line with Wayne Simmonds and Scott Laughton prior to Philly’s game in Detroit, looking like a guy that’s ready to play for the first time in eight contests.

More, from the Courier-Post:

In skates, the Austrian looks fine. Without his walking boot or hockey skate, his right foot is still in pain. Doctors told him he wouldn’t be risking further injury if he played as long as he can tolerate the pain.

“It’s actually nicer being in the skate or in the boot,” said Raffl, who had six goals and an assist in his first 12 games. “It’s actually fine in the skate.”

At the time of his injury, Raffl was tied for the team lead in goals (six) and had emerged as one of the Flyers’ best forwards. The 25-year-old Austrian had been promoted to the top line alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek; now, he’ll get a shot playing with Laughton — who’s been getting a steady increase in minutes from head coach Craig Berube — and Simmonds, the team’s current goalscoring leader (with eight).

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers face Red Wings on Rivalry Night


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Detroit Red Wings host the Philadelphia Flyers at the Madison Square Garden at 6:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Many of the trends indicate that the Philadelphia Flyers are moving downward (and could continue that path) while the Detroit Red Wings seem primed to keep climbing. It’s Philly’s job to deny that narrative on “Rivalry Night,” then.

The Red Wings have three of their last four, including a 4-3 decision against the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Meanwhile, the Flyers only have one win in their last six games and have only managed three standings points in that same span. Steve Mason’s 46-save shutout was impressive on Monday, yet it still resulted in a shootout defeat (and plenty of frustration).

There’s at least one obvious area that favors Philly: recent head-to-head matches. They beat the Red Wings 4-2 earlier this season and have won three of their last four meetings.

Health is still a factor for Detroit

Was a two-goal outburst by perpetually injured forward Stephen Weiss a sign of better things to come for the Red Wings or just a mere coincidence?

Whatever the case may be, Detroit isn’t quite 100 percent just yet. We’ll find out later today if Pavel Datsyuk is good to go, with surmising that Tomas Jurco would be bumped from the lineup if the star can play. It doesn’t sound like Brendan Smith will be ready to return, though.

Jimmy Howard’s likely to start. The Flyers could either reward Mason for his strong work on Monday or roll with Ray Emery, who won against Detroit in this season’s first matchup.


Again, the two teams’ schedules implies that one team could be headed up and the other will have to fight to avoid slippage.

Five of Detroit’s next six games are at home and that trend stretches through much of December; they only play three road games through Dec. 23. In other words, this a time in which the Red Wings hope to start stocking up standings points.

Survival is probably the goal for the Flyers, on the other hand. Including tonight’s game, six of their next seven contests are on the road. They only play five home games through Jan. 3.

Philly may also want to avoid a shootout tonight, as the Flyers have lost all three this season and eight in a row overall.


 It’s an interesting test for two historic franchises hoping to stay (or advance) in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Isles make some history; Are the Flyers headed for trouble?


It’s pretty tough to deny the notion that the New York Islanders are the hottest team in the NHL.

If you look at the score alone, their Monday performance wasn’t that impressive; they only managed to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 via a shootout.

Steve Mason deserves credit for grabbing Philly a point, however, as the Islanders poured shots on the beleaguered goalie. The Islanders generated a 46-21 shot advantage tonight, including a 31-14 edge through the second and third period. Mason stopped every shot he saw in regulation and overtime, but Frans Nielsen and John Tavares beat him in the shootout, dropping the Flyers to 0-3 in that department.

Islanders on fire

Beyond similar uniform designs, there haven’t been many valid comparisons between the modern Islanders and the dynastic ones, let alone instances in which the current version comes out on top. They set a mark that even the Bossy – Trottier – Smith hasn’t managed today, however:

Sure, the death of the tie matters here (six of the Islanders wins have come either in overtime or shootouts), but that’s still a fantastic mark.

One big reason is the rising play of Jaroslav Halak. After an up-and-down start to his first season on Long Island, the 29-year-old is currently on a seven-game winning streak. He’s shut out opponents three times in that span and has only allowed eight goals in seven games.

Trouble brewing for Philly?

At 8-9-3, the Flyers haven’t been fantastic, but they’ve avoided flopping like their loudest naysayers predicted. The next month-plus could be a really big test for this group, however.

They only have five home games from now until Jan. 3. It will be crucial to make the most of a four-game homestand in mid-December, as the Flyers otherwise approach the beginning of 2015 on the road. They have plenty of proving to prove with a 2-6-1 away record in 2014-15.

If you ask Mason, scoring a bit more would certainly help:

Time will tell if we’ll look back at tonight’s game as a match between two teams heading on very different paths.

Get your game notes: Pens at Bruins

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• PIT enters with the NHL’s top offense, scoring 3.53 goals/game – over a full goal/game more than the 20th-ranked Bruins (2.50).

• The Bruins have also scored just 9 goals in their past 6 games (1.50/gm) & are 1-for-12 on the PP in that stretch (3-3-0 record).

• No Bruin has scored more than 5 goals through the team’s first 22 games this season, while Pittsburgh is tied for the NHL lead with 6 such players (SJ also has 6 players with at least 6 goals).

• In fact, no other NHL team has a leading goal-scorer with as few goals as Boston this season (4 Bruins are tied with 5).

• Before this past weekend, PIT was the hottest team in the NHL, having won 10 of 11 games entering its weekend home-and-home against NYI. However, PIT was swept in those games (lost 5-4 SO at home and 4-1 at NYI), and are now tied with NYI atop the Metro Div.

• PIT has not lost consecutive regulation games this season, and it last lost 3 straight games from Mar. 23 to Mar. 27 of last season.

• The Penguins are still 10-2-1 in their last 13 games.

• PIT also leads the NHL in power play efficiency at 33.3%, but the Penguins are just 1-for-10 on the PP over their last 6 games.

• C Sidney Crosby leads PIT with 26 points, tied with DAL C Tyler Seguin for 2nd-most points in the NHL behind PHI RW Jakub Voracek (29). However, Crosby has not scored a point in the Penguins’ last two games.

• The last time Crosby went three or more games without scoring a point was from Oct. 31 2009 – Nov. 10, 2009, when he went five straight games without a point. That season, he scored a career-high 51 goals.

• BOS has won 8 of its past 11 games (8-3-0), but only one of those wins (2-0 last Tues. vs. STL) was against a team currently in the playoff picture in the East or West. The Bruins are coming off a 2-0 loss to MTL on Sat., a game in which they played without multiple top forwards and defensemen:

• Top C David Krejci (undisclosed) has missed 8 of the team’s 10 games this month. Krejci, Boston’s leading scorer last season with 69 points, has 3 goals and 7 assists in 11 games this season.

• Captain D Zdeno Chara (knee) tore his PCL at the end of last month and has missed the last 13 games. Chara has 2 goals and 1 assists in 9 games this season.

• LW Brad Marchand is on IR (undisclosed) and has missed the past 3 games for BOS. He is tied for the team lead in goals (5) and T-3rd on the team in points (11).

• D Adam McQuaid (broken thumb) was injured in last Tuesday’s win over STL and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks. McQuaid has 1 goal and 1 assist in 20 games this season.

• C Chris Kelly (undisclosed) was scratched before the game against MTL. Kelly had played in all 21 games to that point, with 2 goals and 8 points this season.


• PIT: LW Blake Comeau has 5 goals in 18 games this season. He had 5 all of last season for CBJ in 61 games.

• BOS: Entering tonight, the Bruins have sold out 226 consecutive games at TD Garden, including playoffs.


• PIT: C Sidney Crosby has 10G-25A in 25 career games vs. BOS, including 1G-2A in 3 games last season.

• PIT: G Marc-Andre Fleury is 11-6-3 with a 2.31 GAA, .922 SV%, and 2 SO in 21 career games vs. BOS.

• BOS: C Patrice Bergeron has 24 points in 31 career games vs. PIT, including 1G-2A in 3 GP last season.

• BOS: RW Reilly Smith has 2G-1A in 3 career games (all last season) vs. PIT.


• C Evgeni Malkin is T-2nd on the Penguins with 23 points this season and his 5 power-play goals are T-3rd in the NHL. The three-time Russian Olympian enters tonight on a 4-game point streak (2G-4A).

• RW Patric Hornqvist also has 23 points through 19 games. He leads PIT in goals (10), and he also enters tonight on a 4-game point streak (1G-4A).

• Last week, RW Pascal Dupuis was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung and will miss at least the next 6 months. Dupuis, 35, also had a blood clot issue last season. Dupuis had 6G-11A in 16 GP this season.

• D Olli Maatta was sidelined for just two weeks after missing time to remove a cancerous growth in his thyroid gland. In the 3 games since his return, Maatta has 1 assist (Fri. vs. NYI) and a +1 rating.

• G Marc-Andre Fleury allowed 4 goals on 35 shots in Friday’s 5-4 SO loss to NYI. Backup G Thomas Greiss started in PIT’s 4-1 loss to NYI the next day.

• Fleury has not lost consecutive games this season, and he carries an 11-3-1, 2.10 GAA, .926 SV%, 4 SO stat line into tonight’s game. His 4 SO are tied with NYR G Henrik Lundqvist for the NHL lead.


• C Patrice Bergeron has carried the load offensively for BOS in November with 10 points (4G-6A) in 10 games. The only two games in which he did not record a point both came against MTL – last Saturday and Nov. 13 in a 5-1 Bruins loss.

• D Dougie Hamilton leads all BOS defensemen with 11 points (4G-7A) this season, but he has gone 4 straight games without a point entering tonight.

• C Carl Soderberg and LW Loui Eriksson are other key offensive players struggling for the Bruins.

• Soderberg is tied for the team lead in goals (5) and is second on the team in points (14), but he has just 1 assist in his last 6 games.

• Eriksson has 11 points in 22 games this season, but just 2 assists in his last 7 games.

• G Tuukka Rask stopped 21 of 23 shots in the Bruins’ loss to MTL, but Rask has given up just 3 goals in his past 3 starts. In that stretch, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 2-1-0 with a 1.01 GAA, .967 SV% and 1 SO.

• Rask hasn’t lost 2 straight starts since his 2nd and 3rd games of the season (Oct. 9, Oct. 11) – a span of 13 games.

• Overall this season, Rask is 10-6-0 with a 2.36 GAA and a .915 SV%.