Philadelphia Flyers 2020-21 NHL season preview

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The 2020-21 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to preview all 31 teams. Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at how the offseason affected each team, the most interesting people in the organization, and the best- and worst-case scenarios. Today, we look at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Philadelphia Flyers 2019-20 Rewind

Record: 41-21-7 (89 pts.); second in Metropolitan Division; fourth in Eastern Conference

Leading scorer: Travis Konecny (24 goals, 61 points)

Year one with Alain Vigneault saw a big improvement on the ice. Despite playing 13 fewer games, the Flyers saw a seven point increase from 2018-19. That success saw them contenders for the Metro crown but they would ultimately fall a point short when the NHL season paused in March. At the time games were halted, Philadelphia was in the middle of a stretch that saw nine wins in 10 games. Their strong regular season put them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Round-Robin club, giving them three games before the First Round got under way.

After going 3-0-0 during Round Robin play, the Flyers earned the top seed in the East and dispatched the Canadiens in six games. Their season came to an end in the Second Round in a seven-game defeat to the Islanders. After falling behind 3-1 in the series, they needed two overtime wins to force a Game 7, but ultimately came up short.


Erik Gustafsson (signed as free agent), Derrick Pouliot (signed as free agent)


Matt Niskanen (retirement), Chris Stewart (retirement), Tyler Pitlick (signed with Arizona), Nate Thompson (signed with Winnipeg), Derek Grant (signed with Anaheim)
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3 Most Interesting Philadelphia Flyers

Carter Hart: In his first full season as a starter, the 22-year-old netminder posted a .920 even strength save percentage and helped the Flyers to 24 wins in his 40 appearances. He would shine in the postseason with a .940 ESSV% and now enters a contract year. The team will control his rights as a restricted free agent, but another strong showing will result in a nice pay bump. Hart’s play over two seasons has calmed nerves about the franchise’s crease curse. He’s proven to be a dependable No. 1 and a key piece in a team that is trending upward.

Shayne Gostisbehere: His puck-moving abilities and offensive touch had him pegged as a top-pairing defenseman when he joined the Flyers in 2015. But it’s a tough past two seasons for the blue liner, who has posted 14 goals and 49 points over his last 120 games after a 13-goal, 65-point campaign in 2017-18. Gostisbehere, who owns a $4.5M cap hit that expires in 2023, was a healthy scratch multiple times in 2019-20. There’s no reason for GM Chuck Fletcher to sell low on him. It’ll be up to Vigneault to find the right fit on their blue line and if a role increase — after two straight years of diminishing ice time — will help him regain his form.

[MORE: 2021 NHL schedule notes: Stats, oddities, fuel for nasty rivalries]

Nolan Patrick: The No. 2 overall pick from 2017 did not play at all last season due to a migraine disorder. According to Vigneault, Patrick has been skating in Philadelphia during the offseason and feeling better. There may be a further update once players enter camp and undergo physicals, but the team will take their time with the young center. If he’s able to return and doesn’t experience any set backs, he’ll be a big addition down the middle as Philadelphia competes in a difficult new-look East Division.

Best-Case Scenario

Since 2006, Vigneault coached teams have only missed the playoffs twice in 13 seasons. The new realignment and playoff format, where only the top four teams qualify, will make it a 56-game grind to play into late May. There is no fallback of the Wild Card and Boston’s addition to the division will only make it tougher. But there were a lot of positive signs in 2019-20: Hart’s ascension; Kevin Hayes‘ production in his first season; Travis Konecny’s consistency; Sean Couturier‘s Selke Trophy; and Ivan Provorov‘s bounce-back year. Getting out of the division will be a task, but there is no overwhelming favorite among the bunch. If the good from 2019-20 can carry over, the Flyers will be players in the East.

Worst-Case Scenario

Patrick remains out, Hart regresses, captain Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek see further dips in offensive production, Gustafsson flops on the blue line and the old Gostisbehere can’t be found. It’s already a difficult division with the Capitals, Penguins, Rangers, Islanders, and now Bruins vying for one of four playoff places. With 56 games to play, points will be at a premium and another long winning streak — like the ones they’ve strung together in each of the last four seasons — is something that can’t be relied on happening again.

Pointsbet – Philadelphia Flyers Stanley Cup odds

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

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    Sharks goalie James Reimer declines to wear Pride jersey

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    San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer won’t take part in pregame warmups Saturday night, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

    Reimer said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he “always strived to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.

    “In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in life,” Reimer said.

    Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, with Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov declining to in January. Reimer was not slated to start in Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is Pride night.

    Additionally, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness.

    “As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”

    The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed in Reimer’s actions.

    “Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” the organization said. “Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”

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    Panarin, Shesterkin lead Rangers to 6-0 rout of Penguins

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    NEW YORK (AP) Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves as the New York Rangers routed Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night for their second win over the Penguins in three days.

    Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the surging Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 home games and are 12-4-0 in their past 16 at Madison Square Garden.

    Shesterkin won his fifth straight and posted his second shutout this season. He nimbly denied Pittsburgh forward Mikael Granland with a sprawling save five minutes into the third period to preserve the shutout, the 10th of his career. His other one this season was a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

    “When you put in hard and honest work, miracles happen,” Shesterkin said through a translator. ”We played wonderfully today – scored many, many goals. Honestly, I hope the fans loved it. We’re playing for them.”

    The Penguins lost their third straight and trail the Rangers by 12 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, still in wild-card position, is trying to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight time.

    “Tonight was a humbling experience for all of us,” coach Mike Sullivan said. ”At this time of year, you have to have a short memory. We still have control of our destiny.”

    Patrick Kane and defenseman K’Andre Miller also had two assists apiece as New York improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers are five points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils, who lost at Florida on Saturday.

    “This was a big game for our goalie and our team,” Panarin said. “If you work at playing the right way, you have opportunities for goals.”

    Since Dec. 5, when they turned around their season with a 6-4 comeback win at home over St. Louis, the Rangers are 29-9-5.

    As he did on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Penguins 4-2, Zibanejad opened the scoring. He got his team-leading 36th goal at 5:10 of the first, beating Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Trouba and Miller assisted.

    Panarin made it 2-0 at 19:49 on the power play, whipping the puck past Jarry from the left circle off a pass from Adam Fox.

    Tarasenko increased the lead at 3:54 of the second with his fifth goal since joining the Rangers in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9. Tarasenko has points in 10 of his first 18 games with the Rangers.

    Kreider made it 4-0 at 6:43 with his 31st goal and third in two games against the Penguins. Kane and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Kreider’s 260th career goal, which moved the Rangers forward within two of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the franchise list.

    New York won Thursday when Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third and added an empty-netter.

    After Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry in net following Kreider’s goal, Trouba beat the replacement with a sharp-angle shot at 8:39 for his eighth to increase the margin to 5-0. Trouba has points in six of his last eight games.

    Panarin scored again at 16:38 of the second – his 22nd goal of the season – to make it 6-0, with assists to Kane and Filip Chytil.

    “We’re building chemistry, building every day and every game,” Kane said.

    Panarin has points in eight of his last 10 games and leads the Rangers with 77 points overall, while Kane has seven points in his last six games.

    “It’s nice to see that many great players on your team,” added Panarin, whose first two NHL seasons were played alongside Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks. “We’re happy tonight.”

    Zibanejad assisted on goals by Tarasenko and Trouba and has 25 points – including 14 goals – over his last 20 games.

    “It was just one of those nights when the puck goes in for us,” Zibanejad said. “And obviously Igor gives us a boost making all those saves.”

    NOTES: The Penguins were missing defenseman Jeff Petry after he was hit with an unpenalized elbow from Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Dalton Heinen and played defenseman Mark Friedman for the first time since Feb. 11. … The Rangers were without injured defenseman Ryan Lindgren for the 10th straight game.


    Penguins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

    Rangers: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

    AP NHL: and

    Coyotes sign Shane Doan’s son to entry-level contract

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    TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Doan is following his father’s footsteps into professional hockey.

    The Arizona Coyotes signed the 21-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2023-24 NHL season. He will report to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL and play his first game against the Calgary Wranglers.

    Doan’s father, Shane, played 21 seasons with the franchise, many of those as captain, and followed it from Winnipeg to the desert in 1996. Shane Doan now serves as Arizona’s chief hockey development officer.

    The Coyotes drafted Josh Doan in the second round of the 2021, but he opted to play for the hometown Arizona State Sun Devils.

    Josh Doan set school records for goals (12) and assists (25) as a freshman last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 39 games with Arizona State this season.

    The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder also played two seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

    Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman has shoulder surgery

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    CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman had surgery on his right shoulder.

    The team said the operation was performed in Los Angeles. Team physician Michael Terry said the 23-year-old Guttman is expected “to be out of hockey activities for approximately four months.”

    Guttman had been a pleasant surprise for rebuilding Chicago. He made his NHL debut last month and finished the season with four goals and two assists in 14 games.

    Guttman was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2017 draft. He agreed to a two-year contract with Chicago in August 2022 that had a $950,000 salary cap hit.