The Buzzer: Tkachuk nets first, second NHL goals; Voracek goes off in five-point night

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Three Stars

1. Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators: Tkachuk scored his first and second NHL goals and recorded his first NHL assist in a 7-4 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers. His second goal, as you will see below, was exactly what the Senators wanted when the took the son of Keith fourth overall this past June. Seriously, watch that second goal below. Incredible shot.

2. Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers: Voracek’s performance played spoiler to Tkachuk’s breakout night. The Flyers forward had two goals and three assists for a five-point outing. Philly needed that win after getting crushed 8-2 on Tuesday by the San Jose Sharks. Not a bad rebound effort in the second half of a back-to-back.

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals: Kuznetsov kept clicking along in Washington’s 5-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final rematch on NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry. Kuznetsov opened the scoring in the first period on the power play and then played set up man on three of the Capitals’ next four goals in the game, including two nifty passes to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Highlights of the night

While Tkachuk’s first NHL goal was about as anticlimactic as it gets, his second goal was nothing short of a beauty.

Kuznetsov and Ovechkin combined for this slick goal. the patience here is exquisite.

Factoids

Scores

Flyers 7, Senators 4

Capitals 5, Golden Knights 2

Coyotes 3, Ducks 2 (SO)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Mark McGwire thinks hockey players are ‘the best athletes on the earth’

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Retired baseball player Mark McGwire called hockey players “the best athletes on the earth.” (LA Kings Insider)

Guy Carbonneau, Marty Turco, Greg Adams, and Richard Matvichuk are among a group of Dallas Stars alumni that will take part in a charity game against the Israeli National Team. The contest will be held on Sept. 12 at the Dr Pepper Arena located in Frisco, Texas. (Dallas Morning News)

We already wrote about the top-10 players in each position as far as the ratings for EA Sports’ upcoming video game NHL 16 are concerned. From that we could determine who the game’s top rated players were, but there are a lot of players that have the same overall rating, so for example figuring out which player among those with a 94 rating was the highest wasn’t doable. Now it is though as the top-50 overall list is out. (EA Sports)

The 2015-16 Calder Trophy race might be more than just Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel. (Postmedia Network)

Patrice Bergeron is looking for the Boston Bruins to be more consistent this season and he thinks part of the solution is to avoid getting comfortable with a one-goal lead. (CSN New England)

Jakub Voracek will donate $1,000 for every point he records in 2015-16 to his new foundation, which seeks to help those with multiple sclerosis. (Puck Daddy)

Crosby, Toews, Weber, Price lead pack in NHL 16’s ratings

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After unveiling the top 10 goaltenders for the upcoming video game NHL 16, EA Sports has done the same for every other position.

As was the case last season, Sidney Crosby has the highest overall rating at 96, but there are some alterations after that. In 2015, Steven Stamkos ranked second overall with a 93 rating and he kept that rating for 2015-16, but he’s been leapfrogged by Jonathan Toews (94), Shea Weber (94), and Carey Price (94).

Pavel Datsyuk (93) and John Tavares (92) round out the top-five among centers. Both Detroit and Pittsburgh have two players in the top-10 with Henrik Zetterberg (92) and Evgeni Malkin (92) securing eighth and sixth place respectively.

As previously established, Weber leads the pack among defensemen and is followed by Duncan Keith (93), Drew Doughty (93), Ryan Suter (93), and Erik Karlsson (91). Nashville is the only team with two defensemen in the top-10 as Roman Josi (90) ranks ninth.

When it comes to right wingers, Corey Perry (92) got the top position, although he’s closely followed by Patrick Kane (92). Vladimir Tarasenko (91), Jakub Voracek (90), and Marian Hossa (90) make up the remainder of the top-five. Phil Kessel, who was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh over the summer, saw his rating slip from 90 in 2014-15 to 89 following a rough campaign with the Maple Leafs.

When it comes to left wingers, it won’t surprise many to learn that Alex Ovechkin secured the top rating at 93. He’s followed by Jamie Benn (92), Taylor Hall (90), Zach Parise (90), and Max Pacioretty (89). The Dallas Stars’ acquisition of Patrick Sharp means that they now have two players in the top-10 as Sharp took the final place on that list with his 89 rating.

NHL 16 will be out on Sept. 15 in North America and Sept. 17 in Europe. If you want to see each position’s top-10 list, you can view them here.

Neuvirth cites Voracek as his reason for joining Flyers

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Any Flyers fans that were happy to see goaltender Michal Neuvirth sign with their team this summer can apparently thank Jakub Voracek for that.

“I met Jake and we talked about things here and he said all good things about the Flyers,” Neuvirth told CSN Philly. “He wanted me to come here. I think it made him happy when I signed here. … He was the reason I signed here.”

Neuvirth, 27, inked a two-year, $3.25 million deal to serve as Steve Mason’s understudy. The hope is that he’ll prove to be more effective in that role than Ray Emery was last season.

Although this is the first time that Voracek and Neuvirth will play together in the NHL, the two have been working together on the Czech national team since they were teenagers.

For his part though, Voracek doesn’t want to take credit for recruiting Neuvirth.

“I think it’s hard to say I convinced him,” Voracek said. “I told him this was a great place to play with a great locker room [of guys]. A lot of potential. That’s all I said.”

Neuvirth has a 2.73 GAA and .912 save percentage in 168 career NHL games.

Philadelphia Flyers ’15-16 Outlook

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The Philadelphia Flyers have built a great foundation, but it remains to be seen if their supporting cast is ready to help propel them into the playoffs.

Although it hasn’t always been the case, at this point it seems reasonable to bet on Steve Mason providing the Flyers with a strong presence between the pipes. At the same time, the chemistry that Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have developed should result in the Flyers once again having one of the most effective top lines in the league. Even defensively, which tends to be seen as their weakest point, they have a solid anchor in Mark Streit.

A solid starting goaltender, great top line, and an effective offensive defenseman are a good start, but that in and of itself isn’t enough to make a serious contender, as the Flyers exemplified last season.

For example, a championship team typically has quite a bit of offensively depth, which Philadelphia didn’t possess in 2014-15. That problem could be largely addressed though if 24-year-old Brayden Schenn and 22-year-old Sean Couturier are able to make bigger contributions this season. There’s also a chance that newcomer Sam Gagner will prove to be an effective complimentary player or that Vincent Lecavalier or R.J. Umberger will bounce back.

Their defense is an even bigger question mark though. While it’s true that Philadelphia has a very promising group of defensive prospects, it’s entirely possible that none of them will be ready to make major contributions this season. That means that the Flyers might be relying in part on Michael Del Zotto, who has been inconsistent over the course of his career, to have a good season or that 32-year-old Yevgeni Medvedev will make a smooth transition from the KHL and at the very least prove to be a helpful stopgap measure.

There are certainly scenarios that can be painted in which this team bounces back and perhaps even enjoys a lengthy playoff run. However, with so many significant X-factors in play, Philadelphia will be interesting, but not necessarily successful in the short-term.