Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.”
from Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports,
Saturday’s game was marred by penalties and non-penalties in the third period. Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas delivered a forearm and hip to Doan’s head as Doan went to his knees and collided with the boards. Stone got his left leg tied up with Michael Raffl in the corner and had to be helped to the dressing room. Neither returned.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux also left the game after Coyotes center Martin Hanzal pushed him into the boards on a play where Giroux admitted he was off balance.
“When someone goes after your captain that’s usually what happens,” Hanzal said, referencing the earlier hit on Doan. “It’s our captain. We want to stick up for him.”
Giroux went through concussion protocol but Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he felt “pretty good” after the game. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said Doan was held out as a precaution but seems fine. Stone was still being evaluated but Tippett said it did not look good.
The Coyotes were angry about Gudas’ hit, especially after Hanzal got a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct.
“Someone should explain to me how one is a five-minute and one is not,” Tippett said. “The hit on Doan is a blatant attempt (to injure). After Shane’s on the wall… it’s the elbow and the hip and looking down at Shane’s head with a guy who has had a history of that.”
Stone’s game-winning goal came on a shot from the point that found an open net. Flyers goalie Steve Mason was so concerned with a battle between Coyotes left winger Max Domi and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning in the slot that he forgot to tend his goal.
The Flyers challenged the play for goaltender interference because Manning shoved Domi into Mason. Mason said his mask was twisted so he couldn’t see the play but officials ruled it a good goal.
Below, watch the Stone goal and game highlights...
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
"It was pretty fun to score that goal, and as I was waiting for my teammates, all I could see in the crowd was orange," Giroux said. "There were a lot of Flyers fans there and that made it pretty special."...
It was the Flyers' first win at the Pepsi Center since 2002, ending a seven-game losing streak (0-4-3) at the arena.
Nineteen seconds before Giroux's goal, defenseman Gudas scored on a point drive to tie the game at 2-2 with 5:43 left. Gudas has five goals in the last 10 games - after not scoring in the season's first 57 games....
"Not only do we get to steal a game from someone - it feels like it's always happening to us - but it's a huge win for us," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We had a lot of shots and we played good team hockey over the last two periods."
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
The Avalanche's 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center was damaging, but not necessarily a devastating blow to Colorado's playoff hopes....
Playing their second consecutive game without both of their top two scorers, the injured Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, the Avs took that one-goal lead when John Mitchell converted a setup pass from Andreas Martinsen to score at 6:13 of the third.
But the Flyers got goals from Radko Gudas at 14:17 and Claude Giroux only 29 seconds later to take control. Ryan White got credit for an empty-net goal with 4.8 seconds left when hauled down from behind.
Also on Thursday, Minnesota beat Calgary 6-2 at home, so the Avalanche fell three points behind the Wild in the chase for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. However, the Avs have a chance to get back within one when they face the Wild at home Saturday, and Colorado has both a game in hand and a 34-33 edge over Minnesota in the regulation and overtime win tiebreaker.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
The Flyers' last 10 games will determine the magnitude of Tuesday's hard-to-believe loss in Columbus.
If they overcome that 3-2 shootout defeat and earn a playoff berth, it will be mentioned as just another hurdle that the resilient team cleared.
If it costs them a playoff spot, it will be remembered as the most devastating loss of the season, a meltdown for the ages.
With its goalie pulled, Columbus scored two goals in the final 64 seconds of regulation and won in the dreaded shootout.
"You've just got to put it behind you and move forward," said goalie Steve Mason in a church-quiet locker room minutes after Tuesday's stunning turn of events.
The Flyers, badly outplayed for most of the night by the lowly Blue Jackets, wasted a career-high 51 saves from Mason, who came within 64 seconds of blanking his former team for the second straight time.
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
The Flyers' playoff chances look a lot more precarious than they did a few days ago - and not just because they were manhandled Saturday by Pittsburgh in a critical matchup....
Neuvirth, who is having a career season, will be sidelined for three weeks with a lower body injury, thought to be to his knee. The team does not disclose injuries.
Suddenly, the Flyers' difficult schedule got much more daunting and Steve Mason's workload just got a lot heavier.
"I'm going to do everything I can to give the team as much goaltending as they need," Mason said after an optional practice Sunday in Voorhees. "Obviously this is an extremely crucial point in the season for us - this road trip in particular - and myself, along with everybody, we have to be sharp."
The Flyers, who start a four-game road trip against the Islanders on Monday, are three points behind Detroit, the team they are chasing for the final wild-card spot. They have two games in hand on the Red Wings with 12 games remaining.
Eight of those games will be played on consecutive nights. Perhaps worse, they end the season with four games in five nights.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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