Roman Lyubimov


Neuvirth expected to make first start in almost two months


After gaining just four points out of a possible 16 in their last eight games — and suddenly in danger of falling out of a wild-card spot — the Philadelphia Flyers are making changes ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Tampa Bay.

The changes start in goal, where Michal Neuvirth is expected to make his first start since getting injured in a game against Minnesota on Nov. 12.

Neuvirth has a decent record, 4-2-0, but a lowly save percentage of .859. He’ll give Steve Mason a rest, after Mason allowed four goals on 27 shots in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Rangers.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Mason, per CSN Philly. “It’s pretty simple.”

Head coach Dave Hakstol also shook up his top three forward lines ahead of Saturday’s afternoon affair.


Top-line center Claude Giroux had a new right winger, Matt Read, with Michael Raffl still on the left side; right winger Jake Voracek dropped to the second line, which had a new center, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny on the left. The third line had Brayden Schenn centering Wayne Simmonds, with Nick Cousins and Dale Weise alternating at left wing.

Only the fourth line – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare cenetring Chris VandeVelde and Boyd Gordon – was the same as the last game. Gordon, however, could be replaced by Roman Lyubimov.

It’s a big game for both teams tomorrow. The Flyers are only three points ahead of the Lightning, who’ve had their own issues lately.

The Bolts have dropped two straight and are coming off a 6-1 loss to Nashville on Thursday evening.

The Flyers also play Sunday in Columbus.


Flyers send Laughton, Lyubimov down to AHL


Philly made a pair of roster moves ahead of Friday’s game in Toronto, sending forwards Roman Lyubimov and Scott Laughton down to AHL Lehigh Valley.

Laughton, the club’s first-round pick in 2012, hasn’t played this year due to injury. He’s already spent a bit of time in the American League on a conditioning stint with the Phantoms, scoring two points in two games.

Lyubimov, 24, made his NHL debut earlier this year and has been a steady presence in the lineup, scoring one goal while averaging 9:14 TOI in 11 games.

At first glance, it’s unclear why Philly made these transactions today:

The Flyers are pressed against the cap ceiling, so it’s possible these moves could be financially driven. Boyd Gordon is currently on long-term injured reserve, a move that happened after the club activated defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

Flyers lose Raffl to upper-body injury


The reported abdominal pull Michael Raffl suffered in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Chicago will keep him out of the Flyers lineup for the next while.

On Wednesday, GM Ron Hextall said Raffl will miss the next 10-14 days with the ailment.

Raffl, 28, had one goal through the first three games of the season, and opened the year on the club’s top line next to Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. The Austrian winger has been a good goalscorer for the Flyers over the last two campaigns, netting 13 goals last year and a career-best 21 during the ’14-15 campaign.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s timing. Brayden Schenn is set to return from his suspension, and could plug the lineup hole left by Raffl’s injury.

It’s also possible Nick Cousins could be back in tomorrow when the Flyers host the Ducks.

Cousins was dropped from the Blackhawks game so the club could give KHL free agent signing Roman Lyubimov his NHL debut, and the Russian received just over 10 minutes of ice time.

As for Raffl, the 10-14 day recovery window means he’ll likely miss five games — Anaheim, Carolina, Montreal, Buffalo, Arizona — but could be back in time for a big tilt on Saturday, Oct. 29, when the Flyers take on their bitter rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.


KHL signee Lyubimov to make Flyers debut


Welcome to the big stage, Roman Lyubimov.

Lyubimov, the 24-year-old Russian signed out of the KHL this summer, will make both his Flyers and NHL debut tonight when Philly takes on the Blackhawks in Chicago.

“He’s a big guy, he skates well,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall upon signing Lyubimov in June, per CSN Philly. “He plays a solid, two-way game. Kind of an up-and-downer.

“We’ve had our eye on him for a couple years, but he kind of really popped at the World Championships this past year.”

Lyubimov, 24, hardly stood out in the KHL — just 34 points in 185 games over six seasons — but, as Hextall mentioned, burst onto the scene at the Worlds. He had eight points in 10 games, helping Russia capture bronze, and his size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) caught the eye of several scouts in attendance.

Lyubimov will draw in for Nick Cousins this evening, who was one of the club’s most productive forwards through the first two games of the year, with two points in just over 13 minutes of action per night.

The Russian will skate on a line with Boyd Gordon and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

NHL on NBCSN: ‘Hawks looking for veterans to ‘pick up the slack’ in matchup with Flyers


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers at 8:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

It took the Chicago Blackhawks three games, but they finally came up with their first win of the season on Saturday night.

One of the big stories surrounding the ‘Hawks early in the season is their struggles on the penalty kill. Of the 11 goals they’ve conceded in 2016-17, seven have come while the opposition was on the man-advantage.

Because of salary cap constraints, the Blackhawks have been forced to insert some young forwards into their lineup.

Ryan Hartman (before getting hurt), Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza and Tyler Motte have had some ups and downs, but they aren’t necessarily the problem, according to star winger Patrick Kane.

“I think they’ve been great for us, to be honest with you,” Kane said, per CSN Chicago. “I think it’s more on us veteran guys to pick up the slack and make sure we’re playing better.”

Veteran agitator Jordin Tootoo is battling an illness and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to suit up in this one. If he can’t go, expect Chicago to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Corey Crawford, who got the night off against Nashville on Saturday, should be back between the pipes tonight. He’ll be looking to collect his first win of the season.

The Flyers will be concluding their three-game road trip that’s been pretty successful so far. They opened the season with a big 4-2 win at LA and they followed that up with an OT loss to the Coyotes on Saturday night.

Heading back to Philadelphia with a 2-0-1 record would be an awesome start for them.

According to CSN Philly, the Flyers might be tweaking their lines heading into tonight’s contest.

“We’re going to consider different things,” head coach Dave Hakstol said, per CSN Philly. “Nothing is set in stone yet, but we’re looking at a couple different things.”

During Monday’s practice, Matt Read moved up to the third line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Dale Weise, while Nick Cousins was demoted to the fourth line with Boyd Gordon and Chris VandeVelde. But Cousins might come out of the lineup altogether, as KHL veteran Roman Lyubimov rotated onto the fourth line as well.

Like Chicago, the Flyers have a couple of rookies on their roster too. Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov were solid in their first week as NHLers.

Konecny, 19, has three assists in his first two games, while Provorov, also 19, picked up an assist. The Russian defenseman is also averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per game.

They’ll also be looking to get more offensive contributions from Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere. They each have one assist in their first two games.