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Marc-Andre Fleury saves the day vs. Flyers (Video)

Marc-Andre Fleury had himself quite the afternoon as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Philadelphia Flyers.

While making 26 saves during a 1-0 shutout, Fleury denied the Flyers time and time again Saturday afternoon, preventing numerous high-grade opportunities.

Just ask Scott Laughton, who found himself on a shorthanded breakaway late in the second period. His backhand attempt was stopped.

Just ask Claude Giroux, who stormed in a minute later and tried to wait out Fleury only to get robbed.

Ask Giroux again, who had the the game-tying goal on his stick with 38 seconds left in the third period, but was once again frustrated by the Golden Knights netminder.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Golden Knights, who finished their five-game road trip (2-3-0) on Saturday.

The win was also an historic one for Fleury. As per the NHL, with his 406th victory he moved to within one of tying Glenn Hall for 10th on the League’s all-time wins list among goaltenders. It was also his 49th career shutout, tying him for 29th all-time.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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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, Sharks meet on NBCSN

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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

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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

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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

It’s Philadelphia Flyers day at PHT

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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.

2017-18
42–26–14, 98 pts. (3rd in the Metropolitan Division, 6th in the Eastern Conference)
Playoffs: Lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins, first round

IN
James van Riemsdyk
Christian Folin

OUT
Valtteri Filppula
Colin McDonald
Brandon Manning
Petr Mrazek
Matt Read

RE-SIGNED
Samuel Morin
Alex Lyon
Robert Hagg

It was a bumpy ride as the Flyers returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a year off in 2017. The end of November saw the team holding an 8-10-7 record as they were in the middle of a 10-game losing streak. “Fire Hakstol” chants rang throughout Wells Fargo Center, but general manager Ron Hextall was preaching patience and stuck by his head coach. That losing streak was then followed by seven wins in eight games and strong months in January and February that helped put them into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The season ended in disappointment after a first-round exit at the hands of their rivals in Pittsburgh, but there were a lot of bright spots that were encouraging signs moving forward.

[Breakthrough: Travis Konecny | Under Pressure: JvR | 3 Questions]

Nolan Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, had a strong rookie season with 13 goals and 30 points. Travis Konecny potted 24 goals and Scott Laughton and Jordan Weal saw extended ice time. That coupled with a 100-point season from Claude Giroux, an 85-point campaign from Jake Voracek, a 31-goal year from Sean Couturier and more steps forward for young blue liners Shayne Gostisbehere (65 points) and Ivan Provorov (17 goals, 24:09 TOI) set a nice foundation for 2018-19.

The addition of James van Riemsdyk could mean bye-bye to Wayne Simmonds. Or an extension. Who knows? Ask Hextall. But JvR’s addition gives the offense a boost and will aid their power play (JvR scored 11 PPGs in 2017-18).

Petr Mrazek is gone, so it’s Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, who are both UFAs next summer, in goal again, with Carter Hart looming as the ‘tender of the future.

The Flyers have cap space to add a piece, if needed, and a highly-rated prospect pool. In a tough Metropolitan Division, they’ll need to get more from their youth and continue relying on their veterans in order to navigate an 82-game slate and find themselves as one of the lucky 16 teams playing in mid-April.

Prospect Pool

Joel Farabee, LW, 18, Boston University (NCAA) — 2018 first-round pick

Known for his two-way play, Farabee enters his freshman year with the Terriers coming off a productive season with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He scored 33 goals and recorded 76 points with the U-18s and posted 40 points in 26 games during their season in the USHL. While serving as captain for the Americans at the U-18 Worlds, he scored four goals eight points in seven games. So you can see why the Flyers were happy to get him 14th overall in June.

“He disguises whether it’s a shot or a pass,” Hextall said after development camp in July. “He’s got really quick hands. A lot of guys will come down, the goalie knows where they’re going to shoot, so you see goalies make a save and go, ‘That was quick.’ It really wasn’t because they read the puck off the stick blade. The puck is really hard to react to. Joel hides things. If he’s going to shoot the puck, he’ll turn his hands real quick, bang and let it go. Or he’ll open up for a shot and he’ll pass the puck. A lot of top guys in the league, you wonder why they score or how that pass went through … they’re showing hands to the defenseman, to the goalie. Joel is one of those guys.”

Carter Hart, G, 19, Everett Silvertips (WHL) — 2016 second-round pick

The 2017-18 WHL Player and Goalie of the Year was also the first player in CHL history to win the junior hockey goaltender of the year twice. He had a remarkable season with 41 wins, a 1.60 goals against average, seven shutouts and a .947 save percentage with the Silvertips. In the middle of that, he backstopped Canada to gold at the World Junior Championship with a 1.81 GAA and .930 SV% in six games. He’ll have a shot to get some time in the NHL, but he’ll likely be in AHL Lehigh Valley to get some seasoning as the Flyers figure out their goaltending situation for the future.

Morgan Frost, C, 19, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) — 2017 first-round pick

Also getting a shot to stick with the big club is Frost, who put up 112-points last season. He’s doubled his goal output in junior in each of the last two seasons and his point total has jumped from 27 to 62 to 112 since 2015-16. He has playmaking ability and is a possibility to fill the third line center role. But Hextall has made it sounds like Frost is a little lower on the depth chart at the moment and like Hart, could see himself furthering his development in the AHL this season.

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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.

After bounce-back year, Flyers need to keep Giroux at wing

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After a down year in 2016-17, Claude Giroux had a renaissance of sorts this past season when the Flyers moved him from center to wing, a decision that resulted in putting together what was arguably the best single season performance his career. He led the league with 68 assists, was second in the scoring race behind only Connor McDavid, become just the sixth player in the past seven seasons to top the 100-point mark.

He was a legitimate MVP contender (he finished fourth in the voting; he was second on my ballot) for a Flyers team that made a return to the playoffs.

With Giroux seemingly back to being an elite scorer, a strong nucleus of young players led by Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Nolan Patrick, and (perhaps most importantly) goaltender Carter Hart, as well as the return of top-line goal-scorer James van Riemsdyk in free agency, the Flyers look like a team that could be a major player in the Eastern Conference in the coming seasons.

Earlier this month NBC Philadelphia’s John Boruk made the argument (read it here) that moving Giroux back to center could be the Flyers’ best move in an effort to balance the lineup, and that it is something the team’s brass might even be considering. Whether or not the Flyers have actually considered it or are considering it, let’s just entertain the possibility because …. well … it’s July 23 and there’s no better time like the present to discuss hypothetical line combinations for the upcoming season.

It is a compelling argument that is centered around Giroux’s return to center giving the team a depth-chart down the middle of Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Patrick, while also giving Travis Konecny what would most likely be a guaranteed spot as a top-six winger.

Decent points.

Here is the counterpoint.

By moving Giroux back to center the Flyers would be breaking up what was by far the best element of their 2017-18 team, which was the duo of Giroux and Couturier on the top line. After years of being a shutdown center that excelled defensively with decent-but-not-great offense, Couturier finally got an opportunity to play top-line minutes alongside a world-class winger and saw his offensive production skyrocket, shattering all of his previous career bests across the board. He was a monster and the duo was as dominant as any other forward pairing in the league.

It was the first time Giroux and Couturier saw extended time on a line together and the results were everything the Flyers could have hoped for. When the two were on the ice together during 5-on-5 play the Flyers controlled more than 55 percent of the shot attempts and outscored teams by an incredible 70-40 margin. Splitting that up would seem to be counterproductive to making your team better because, well, if you had a top-line that dominates possession and outscores the opponents by 30 goals over the course of a season you are probably going to win a lot of hockey games as a result.

Not only would the Flyers be breaking up what was one of the best duos in the league, it would put Couturier back into a spot where he may not be able to excel as much offensively. It is probably not a coincidence that Couturier’s offense surged from a 35-40 point level to the 76-point level he was at this past season with a little increased ice time and top-line wingers next to him. And it’s not like he was riding a wave of unsustainable percentages. His shooting percentage was similar to his career averages, and while the shooting percentage of his linemates surged, that was probably the result of him setting up Claude Giroux on a regular basis instead of a revolving door of second-and third-line wingers.

The other thing keeping Giroux on the wing accomplishes: It gives the Flyers an opportunity to give Patrick an increased role and turn him loose a little bit.

The No. 2 overall pick in 2017, Patrick began to get an increased role in the second half of his rookie campaign and gradually saw his production start to take off.

Over the last 30 games of the regular season he scored at what would have been a 50-point pace over 82 games (a very impressive pace a 19-year-old rookie). Even though the final scoring line did not show it, he was also one of the Flyers’ most consistent and dangerous players in their first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His performance as a young, emerging talent was very similar to the way a young Giroux began to show his potential in the 2009 playoffs while serving as an understudy on a Flyers team that had established veterans like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

With Giroux, Coutuerier, Patrick, van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, and either Konecny, Wayne Simmonds the Flyers would have one of the league’s best top-six forward groupings in the league, while still having Scott Laughton and either Simmonds or Konecny to form the foundation of what could still be a strong third-line. That seems to be more worthwhile to the Flyers than spreading the wealth down the middle and reducing the roles for Couturier and Patrick, both of whom could be impact players in first-and second-line roles.

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