Getty Images

WATCH LIVE: Flyers, Sharks meet on NBCSN

Leave a comment

NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch that game online by clicking here

The San Jose Sharks started their current five-game road trip with a solid 3-2 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday. On Monday, they followed that up with a flat performance during a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. They don’t have much time to regroup as they face the Philadelphia Flyers a little more than 36 hours later.

In this particular matchup, the Sharks have dominated and won 18 of their last 23 meetings with the Flyers dating back to 2002.

Joe Thornton (knee) and James van Riemsdyk (lower body) will both miss out.

What could help get the Sharks going is waking up their power play, which is a shocking 0-for-10 so far. They did have nine chances Monday in Brookyln, but failed to capitalize on four opportunities.

Brian Elliott has started every game for the Flyers this season as Michal Neuvirth heals up and they allow Calvin Pickard to settle in after being claimed on waivers from Toronto last week. Philadelphia plays the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, which would be a good opportunity to give their No. 1 in Elliott a rest.

What: San Jose Sharks at Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
When: Tuesday, October 9th, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Sharks-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Sharks
Timo MeierJoe PavelskiMelker Karlsson
Tomas HertlLogan CoutureKevin Labanc
Evander KaneAntti SuomelaJoonas Donskoi
Barclay Goodrow – Rourke Chartier – Marcus Sorensen

Marc-Edouard VlasicErik Karlsson
Joakim RyanBrent Burns
Brenden DillonJustin Braun

Starting goalie: TBA

[WATCH LIVE – 7:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Flyers
Claude GirouxSean CouturierJakub Voracek
Oskar LindblomNolan PatrickTravis Konecny
Jordan WealMikhail VorobyovWayne Simmonds
Scott LaughtonJori LehteraMichael Raffl

Ivan ProvorovShayne Gostisbehere
Robert HaggAndrew MacDonald
Travis SanheimRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Brian Elliott

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

————

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.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers visit Golden Knights on NBCSN

Getty Images

The NBCSN Thursday night doubleheader continues with the Vegas Golden Knights hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at 10 p.m. ET. You can watch that game online by clicking here

It’s been nearly four months since the Golden Knights had to watch the Washington Capitals celebrate a Stanley Cup championship at T-Mobile Arena. They’re back tonight to follow up an historic first year in the NHL. 

Owner Bill Foley’s original plan of “playoffs in three, Cup in six” was blown out of the water with the Golden Knights’ success last season. Over the summer, GM George McPhee bolstered his lineup by adding Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty and extending Marc-Andre Fleury, Shea Theodore and William Karlsson. There’s no reason to believe that, even with some regression areas, Vegas can’t be contenders again.

The Flyers, meanwhile, are looking to build off of last season, which feature career years for a number of players like Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier. Goaltending, as usual, is an issue early on, and an area that could really hold them back from taking a big next step. One of Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth (currently injured), Carter Hart, Alex Lyon or Anthony Stolarz need to grab hold of what should be a season-long competition for the top job.

What: Philadelphia Flyers at Vegas Golden Knights
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Thursday, October 4th, 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch Flyers-Golden Knights stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Flyers
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
Oskar LindblomNolan Patrick – Jakub Voracek
James van RiemsdykMikhail VorobyovWayne Simmonds
Scott LaughtonJori LehteraMichael Raffl

Ivan ProvorovShayne Gostisbehere
Robert HaggAndrew MacDonald
Travis SanheimRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Brian Elliott

Golden Knights
Jonathan Marchessault – William Karlsson – Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – Erik Haula
Oscar Lindberg – Ryan Carpener – Tomas Nosek
William Carrier – Pierre-Eduouard Bellemare – Ryan Reaves

Brayden McNabbColin Miller
Shea Theodore – Derek Engelland
Jon MerrillNick Holden

Starting goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury

Wilson’s hearing Wednesday; how many games will he sit?

Getty Images
33 Comments

When the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Sunday that Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was offered an in-person hearing for his hit to the head of Oskar Sundqvist it became almost a given that he is going to be suspended for the fourth time in the past calendar year.

The only two things that remained uncertain were when the hearing would take place, and how many games he will have to sit.

We now know the first part of that as the DoPS announced on Monday afternoon that Wilson’s disciplinary hearing will take place on Wednesday morning in New York City. That is the same day that the Capitals will raise their Stanley Cup banner.

It is then that we will find out how many games he will miss. The guess here is that it will be significant.

[Related: Tom Wilson ejected for another high hit]

For one, the NHL doesn’t typically schedule an in-person hearing for an incident that it does not deem to be suspension-worthy. Assuming that it is a suspension-worthy play, that is when Wilson’s recent track record will come into play.

That is going to hurt him.

The NHL tends to be significantly harsher on repeat offenders, especially when the incidents come within close proximity to one another. That is all especially true for Wilson.

Consider the infractions, the punishments, and the timeline between them over the past year:

  • His first suspension came last year in the preseason when he was suspended two preseason games for interference on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas. While Wilson had carried a reputation for being a physical player that played right on the edge, he had, to that point in his career, only been fined by the NHL so he only missed two preseason games. A very minor and meaningless slap on the wrist.
  • But in his first game back from that two-game suspension, he boarded St. Louis’ Samuel Blias, which resulted in the punishment instantly being cranked up to a four-game regular season ban.
  • After going through the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs without another play that reached the level of supplemental discipline, he was given a three-game postseason ban (probably comparable to a six-game regular season suspension) for a hit to the head of Zach Aston-Reese, knocking him out of the playoffs.
  • Now, just 15 games (12 playoffs and three preseason games) later, he is facing another suspension.

All of this means that in the past 106 games that Wilson has played dating back to the start of the 2017-18 preseason, he has done four suspension worthy things.

That is, on average, one incident nearly every 25 games played.

Typically, the NHL has dealt with such things harshly when a player continues to show up in front of them without seemingly getting the message.

In the pre-DoPS days the NHL finally hammered Matt Cooke with what turned out to be a 17-game ban (10 regular season games plus the first-round of the playoffs that year, which turned out to be a seven-game series) when he continued to lay waste to opponents heads without showing any interest in changing the way he played.

Raffi Torres is perhaps the most glaring example during the DoPS era (starting with the 2011-12 season) when he went through a vicious two-year stretch between 2011-12 and the 2013-14 preseason when he was fined once, and suspended four different times, including banishments of an entire postseason series (six games), a 25-game (later reduced to 21) suspension, and ultimately 41-game suspension for a preseason incident after all of the aforementioned ones.

Radko Gudas and Zac Rinaldo also have had suspensions of eight-plus games after multiple infractions over a short period of time.

Wilson isn’t going to get the Raffi Torres treatment (Torres was an extreme case) but this also probably isn’t going to be a simple five-or six-game suspension, either. Five is probably going to be the minimum.

Given his recent track record, the close proximity of each suspension, and the fact this latest one caused an injury (just as the previous one did) he could be looking at double-digit games.

So with that said, what do you think the suspension is going to end up being? Cast your vote.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Flyers’ Sean Couturier out four weeks with another knee injury

Getty Images

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier is out four weeks after injuring his knee for the second time in five months.

General manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday that Couturier was injured Aug. 10 during an offseason exhibition game. Hextall expects Couturier to be a limited participant in training camp when the Flyers get on the ice Sept. 14 and for the 25-year-old to be full-go halfway in and play in some preseason games.

Dancing around specific details, Hextall would only say the injury was not in the exact same spot as when Couturier damaged the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the playoffs when he collided with teammate Radko Gudas in practice.

”It’s not a re-injury,” Hextall said on a conference call. ”He was 100 percent at the time, had more than enough time to heal after the season.”

Couturier was playing in the summer Boot Camp Tournament in Quebec City when the latest injury happened. Hextall called it a ”freak” accident, which similarly describes the knee-on-knee collision with Gudas in April.

”He was participating in a game, kind of an innocent play, and things happen,” Hextall said. ”It was just kind of a play in front of the net and it was a rebound and his leg just went the wrong way.”

 [2017-18 review | Breakthrough: Konecny | Under Pressure: JvR | 3 Questions]

Hextall said the team has no plans to forbid players from participating in summer leagues or tournaments.

”We want our guys to train hard and train the proper way, but you see guys on other teams getting hurt literally training,” Hextall said. ”They do train hard and there is some risk every day.”

The Edmonton Oilers recently announced that defenseman Andrej Sekera was out indefinitely after having surgery on an Achilles tendon torn during offseason training. Hextall said Couturier would not require surgery, as was the case with his previous knee injury.

Couturier is coming off a breakout season in which he was promoted to Philadelphia’s No. 1 center and set career highs with 31 goals, 45 assists and 76 points. He was third on the team in scoring and finished second in voting for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward.

His injury isn’t expected to alter the Flyers’ plans to keep captain Claude Giroux at left wing after he flourished there last season playing on a line with Couturier. Hextall also isn’t concerned about Couturier being more susceptible to knee injuries moving forward.

”This type of injury heals fairly quickly and fairly well,” Hextall said. ”I don’t anticipate this being an issue.”

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno .

Three questions facing Philadelphia Flyers

Getty
3 Comments

Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Philadelphia Flyers.

1. Is their goaltending good enough to take them on a long playoff run? 

Going into last season, not many people expected the Flyers to be a playoff team. Sure, they were one of the up and coming squads in the league, but expecting them to make the postseason seemed to be a bit of a stretch. But they made the playoffs. They eventually lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, but it was a positive season overall.

As always, the Flyers had issues with their goaltenders at times. The duo of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth suffered through injuries and inconsistency, so GM Ron Hextall went out and acquired Petr Mrazek from Detroit. The Mrazek acquisition didn’t work out, so he’s no longer with the team (he signed with Carolina in free agency).

The big question is whether or not the Flyers can get it done with a duo of Elliott and Neuvirth. Both goaltenders aren’t true number ones at the NHL level. They go through times where they look like they are, but they tend to come crashing back down to earth eventually. Both are veterans, so it’s unlikely that they’ll suddenly emerge as superstar netminders.

[2017-18 review | Breakthrough: Travis Konecny | Under Pressure: JvR]

The wild card is all of this is Carter Hart. The top prospect is turning pro this year, which means he has zero experience at this level. He’ll start the year in the AHL, but what happens if he dominates at a young age? It’s not likely, but the possibility can’t be ignored.

Ultimately, the Flyers will probably have to roll with Elliott and Neuvrith. That means that a long playoff run is unlikely. Making it out of the first round with that duo would be a bonus for this team.

2. What happens to Wayne Simmonds?

This is a contract year for Simmonds, who had 24 goals and 46 points in 75 games last season. Those are the lowest offensive totals he’s put up during a full season since 2010-11. It’s hard to blame him when you look at all the injuries he dealt with. At trade deadline time, there were rumblings that the Flyers were willing to unload the rugged winger.

Now that they’ve inked James van Riemsdyk to a massive five-year contract, there might not be anymore room for Simmonds. That’s where things get a little tricky for Philadelphia. If they’re in the middle of a playoff race, can they really afford to let go via trade? Probably not. On the flip side, are they good enough that they can keep him and then lose him for nothing in free agency? Again, probably not.

So they’ll have to make a huge decision at some point. There’s a chance that management isn’t interested in bringing him back on a long-term deal that a player of his caliber will command on the open market. That’s understandable, too. He’s almost 30, he plays a physical style and he’s had his share of injuries. Players like Simmonds rarely age well.

“I’ve played in this league a long time and I think you come to realize as a player if you’re not at your top, you’re probably not going to be getting probably what you usually should,” Simmonds said, per NBC Sports Philly. “I know that’s what maybe went down at the end, there’s not really much I can say about that. If I was 100 percent, then I think there might be some annoyance, but I wasn’t 100 percent and I understand the situation that we’re in, the position that we’re in, we were fighting for the playoffs.”

The Flyers also have a number of in-house options that could step into a top-six role, as well. With Simmonds on the shelf, youngster Nolan Patrick saw his ice time increase. The second overall pick’s ice time probably won’t be going down this season, either.

3. Can Sean Couturier replicate what he did last season? 

Coutier was one of the biggest surprises in the NHL last season. The 25-year-old had a career-high 31 goals and 76 points in 2017-18, which was 37 points more than his previous high. Those numbers came out of nowhere. Couturier was always regarded as a solid two-way player, but by putting him on a line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, the Flyers discovered that he had a lot more to give.

Unfortunately for Couturier, he suffered a torn MCL after he collided with teammate Radko Gudas during a practice in April. He ended up missing Game 4 of the first-round series against the Pens, but he eventually came back and even had a five-point night in the final game of the series.

Couturier was expected to be ready to go for training camp, but this story took an interesting twist on Wednesday as Hextall announced the forward will miss a month with a knee injury.

All things considered, that’s not so bad (it could have been a lot worse). The big question now is: how will back-to-back knee injuries affect him both physically and mentally? The Flyers need Couturier to be the player he was last year. Anything less will be a huge disappointment.

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.