Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Detroit and Boston lost in regulation earlier Saturday, opening the door for the Flyers to clinch a playoff spot with a win.
Thanks to sizzling right winger Wayne Simmonds, they did just that.
Simmonds scored two goals as the Flyers outlasted Pittsburgh's 'B' team, 3-1, at the electric Wells Fargo Center and earned the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
The Flyers will play the NHL's best team, the Washington Capitals, in a best-of-seven series that will start at the Verizon Center at a date to be announced. The Flyers won two of four games against the Capitals this season, splitting at home and on the road.
In a moving pregame tribute, Lauren Hart sang "God Bless America" in a duet with a video of Kate Smith and face-timed her rendition to ill Flyers chairman Ed Snider in California. Hart blew kisses to Snider when she was finished.
"It was her idea," said Shawn Tilger, the Flyers' chief operating officer of business operations. "It gave me chills."
Below, watch Lauren Hart face-timing Ed Snider...
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Penguins’ game against Philadelphia at 3:33 p.m. today at Wells Fargo Center is their 82nd — and last — of the regular season.
It also is the least significant.
The Penguins, after all, are locked into second place in the Metropolitan Division and have clinched home ice for Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But that doesn’t mean the game is without importance.
That’s because the Penguins not only can sweep a season series from the Flyers for just the second time in franchise history — they went 8-0 in 2006-07 — but can deal a major, if not mortal, blow to Philadelphia’s chances of qualifying for the playoffs. And doing that to an archrival, it seems, is serious incentive.
“When you have a chance to kick somebody out of the playoffs, or put a little sting in their tire, you want to do it,” right winger Patrick Hornqvist said. “The Flyers and Pittsburgh have a rivalry that’s grown from the first year, so it should be a fun game to play in.”
from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,
What's the polar opposite of a Gordie Howe hat trick? That's what Voracek had going in Thursday night's debilitating, 4-3 overtime loss to the NHL's worst team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He was part of blown coverage on the Leafs' first goal, leaving William Nylander alone with half a net to shoot at. Later, a flutter shot into traffic sprung Colin Greening for a breakaway and a 2-0, first-period lead.
Someone asked him whether he was feeling "a little unlucky" these days.
"I'm not gonna blame it on bounces," he said, but then he kind of did.
In just the first two periods, Voracek was minus-3. This, despite taking a team-high four shots in that span, spending 4:28 on the power play. All told, he had six shots on net, spent over five minutes on the power play, did not score, and was on the ice for all three Toronto goals in regulation.
I almost feel bad for writing this, because his heart and effort remain big. But at a juncture of the season when the difference in playoff life and death is the width of a skate edge, he's buckling on his blades big-time. And it's killing his team.
Watch the game hignlights below...
from the Philadelphia Flyers,
The Flyers will be without defenseman Andrew MacDonald when they start their season-ending, four-game-in-five-night stretch on Wednesday night in Detroit. General manager Ron Hextall announced Monday that MacDonald will miss Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
MacDonald left Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh just before the halfway point of the third period after he was checked into the boards by Pittsburgh’s Tom Kunhackl. He did not return.
With MacDonald out of the lineup, head coach Dave Hakstol will likely turn to Evgeny Medvedev, who has been a healthy scratch recently. The 33-year-old Medvedev has three goals and eight assists for 11 points, along with a plus-5 rating, in 44 games during his first season in North America.
Watch the hit below...
Will the NHL call him on it?
from Travis Yost of TSN,
You can start to see why Philadelphia’s racking up the points of late. It’s a combination of definitively improved play (their shot and scoring-chance differentials have both increased of late), and a drastic reduction in penalty kill goals against. Combine that with a little bit of shooting luck of late and you have the right ingredients for a team racking up points and pushing toward the postseason.
On the other hand, Detroit is pretty much in the same boat as their year-to-date numbers – the team is skating really well and really competitively at even strength, but at least recently, goaltending has submarined most of their efforts. And as for Boston, well, they’ve cooled off at the wrong time. Their goal rates are right near break-even, mostly by way of strong goaltending. As a team, they’re not really skating as strongly as they were in the first part of the year.
All this to say: I don’t know if any team is specifically more deserving than another, but there’s real truth to the following things: the Flyers are playing well enough to be worthy of an eight seed, the Red Wings might miss the cut despite actually playing reasonably well down the stretch, and the Bruins have no one to blame but themselves if they end up missing the cut. For a team with playoff-or-bust expectations, Boston just hasn’t been good enough to hold off the rest of the pack, and it’s put them in the very real position of missing the postseason in 2015-16.
more including two graphs to explain the point...
from Chuck Gormley of CSN Mid-Atlantic,
There were butt ends to midsections, gloved face washes and checks from behind. Capitals coach Barry Trotz often talks about being pulled into battle and in Wednesday night’s 2-1 shootout loss in South Philadelphia, the Caps had themselves a nice little street fight with the Flyers.
“As the game ramped up there was some cheap stuff going on,” Trotz said.
The cheapest among them, at least according to the Capitals, was Sean Couturier intentionally slamming into Caps goalie Braden Holtby 2:56 into overtime. Holtby, who’s had his share of crease collisions this season, reacted by wrestling Couturier to the ice....
Trotz went so far as to suggest that referees Francois St. Laurent and Tom Chmielewski simply didn’t want to deal with the reaction of an angry Philadelphia crowd if they gave the Capitals a second power play in overtime.
“In that situation I would probably say the referee wasn’t going to call that,” Trotz said. “He wants to get out of Philadelphia.”
Game highlights are below including some of the rough play from both sides...
The refs didn't see it but the cameras did.
from Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Sixteen games ago, the Flyers were drowning. A mediocre and inconsistent club, they had lost a game in Carolina that left them five points out of the playoffs. More significantly, they sat behind four other teams. They faced a six-game homestand. Jake Voracek said they needed to collect 10 of the 12 possible points.
That triggered something.
Not only did the Flyers collect those 10 points, but they also collected 24 of the next 32 points in play. Then, Wednesday night, they rallied for an improbable, 2-1 shootout victory over the visiting Capitals. They are in the final wild-card spot, with 89 points, two more than Detroit, and with a game in hand.
They had been swimming upstream for five weeks. They looked drained in their overtime win against the Jets on Monday; so, it follows, all of this anxiety and effort had to be wearing them down.
Or, maybe not.
"Yeah, it takes a lot of energy from you. It's every day, every night," Claude Giroux said on Wednesday afternoon. "Even if you're not playing, like last night, it's a lot of excitement and anxiety. That's why we play hockey, though. For the rush."
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Less than 48 hours after cameras appeared to capture him unconscious on the ice after his head bounced off the boards, Flyers captain Claude Giroux said he will be in the lineup against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night.
Giroux did not participate in the Flyers’ optional morning skate.
“I think there wasn’t even a question of me playing tonight or not,” Giroux said. “I feel fine. It wasn’t a fun incident, but I’m lucky that I felt pretty good. I was a little shaken up. But I think I gained the rest and I feel pretty good. I wanted to finish the game, but it was safe to make sure I got off there.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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