Subject: Robert Hagg to make NHL debut tonight against Carolina
With the Phantoms on the verge of clinching playoffs, he’s been called up
Well, at least when the Flyers miss the playoffs the prospects come up.
Defenseman Robert Hagg will be making his NHL debut tonight in the Flyers’ final game of the 2016-17 season, and although he might not be the flashiest of the plethora of defensive prospects that the Flyers have, he may be the most ready for the NHL. Throughout this season with the Phantoms, he has put up 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points.
Hagg was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NHL draft. Being drafted a round behind Samuel Morin, he has learned to thrive in the shadow of the other big names on the backline in the Flyers’ prospect pool. After being drafted, he played one more season with MODO Hockey in Sweden, where he put up 6 points in 77 games. He finished out the 2013-14 season playing with the Phantoms in Adirondack with 4 points in 10 games. For the past three years, he has been playing with the Phantoms on a full-time basis. In 200 total games with the Phantoms, he put up 50 points.
Hagg is someone that will have an immediate effect on the Flyers defensively. Many people believe him to be the most ready to take on the brunt of NHL-level play, and he now has a chance to show that tonight. Of course, as most will do, people will base their opinions of him on just one measly game, and although he doesn’t have the flash that Morin, Travis Sanheim, or Philippe Myers may have, look for him to possibly make the Flyers roster next year.
Oh, did I mention he will be wearing #48?
Subject: Flyers vs. Hurricanes recap: And so it ends
A back-and-forth third period ended in a shootout loss as the Flyers head to the offseason.
And so ends the Flyers’ 2016-17 season. A season that was ... a lot of things, you could say. Inconsistent, in how much this team’s overall talent level seemed like it would change weekto-week. Frustrating, with the seemingly countless number of games this team easily could have (should have?) won but didn’t due to bad luck, momentary collapses, and bad goaltending. Promising, with the emergence of a few exciting young players who could be a part of many successful Flyers teams for years to come. Worrisome, with the number of existing players at all levels of the team that weren’t quite playing at the high level we know that they can. Maddening, by way of some of the decisions made by the guys behind the bench and even in some cases in the front office. And record-setting, because no other team in NHL history has ever managed to miss the playoffs in a season where they won 10 games in a row.
Most of those adjectives weren’t positive ones. So if the completion of today’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes comes as nothing more than a relief to some, we’d understand, even though frustrating hockey is still better than no hockey in my opinion. And though nothing encapsulates this season quite like a high-action game that culminated in a close loss despite domination on the shot counter, these two teams did manage to pull together an entertaining ending to this hockey season.
With that said, through the first 80 percent or so of regulation time, this was a pretty uninteresting game, the kind that you’d expect two teams with literally nothing to play for to have. The Flyers seemed pretty out of sync with one another for most of the game, even in a contest that they largely got the better of. Carolina had a jump on them for much of the first period and opened up the scoring on a Brock McGinn tally about six minutes in, and it wasn’t until nearly the halfway mark of the game that Dale Weise — continuing what’s been a nice final month or so of the season for him — was able to tie things up on a nice shot from the slot.
Then, with 12 minutes left, things picked up quite a bit. McGinn would score his second of the contest to put the visitors briefly ahead. But not even four minutes later, the Flyers would not only have erased that deficit, they’d have the lead back. It was once again Dale Weise who was the first to light the lamp, on a shot that Eddie Lack probably should have more often than not. Then, barely a minute later, a mesmerizing spin move by Shayne Gostisbehere freed up Wayne Simmonds down low, where he’d slam the puck in to give the Flyers a lead ... one which they would then lose not even three minutes later after an Ivan Provorov tripping penalty gave Carolina a power play that would see Sebastian Aho bomb a one-timer past Anthony Stolarz.
3-on-3 overtime would then come and go, and after a couple of nice saves by Lack, a breakaway stop by Stolarz on Jordan Staal, and a couple of sequences by the Flyers that could charitably be described as “over-passing”, the teams would head to a shootout. And while the real winner of the shootout was undeniably Bryan Bickell, who scored a goal on Stolarz in what is his final game in the NHL after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this year, the ‘Canes would pick up the last goal of the season as McGinn would beat Stolarz one last time in the third round to close things down for the season.
As there often are, there were some individual standouts. Weise’s multi-goal effort in the game’s final season was a pleasant surprise. Nick Cousins, in his first game in a month, looked like he had some extra jump in his step.
But it was Robert Hagg, making his NHL debut, who may have been the most impressive skater on the ice tonight despite not ending up on the scoreboard. Not only was he extremely engaged physically (in a smart way!), but he was very active offensively and wasn’t afraid to jump up in the rush to try and create chances. He’d end the night with five shots on goal, and while you can obviously not draw that much from one game, this certainly lends credence to the Flyers’ claims that he’s just about NHL-ready, and it serves as a notice to fans that he will be making a serious bid to make this roster next year.
And with that, we now head to the offseason, where there are a whole lot of questions that have to be answered. Why did this roster, which seemed to be better on paper than the one that made the playoffs a year ago, fail to end up back there again? How do the Flyers prepare for expansion — and who do they lose? How do they handle their suddenly-unstable goalie situation? It seems inevitable that two or three of the team’s prospects will be with the Flyers to start the season, but which ones? Dave Hakstol is probably safe, but could any other changes be coming behind the bench? And is a big, potentially franchise-altering move coming, or is this core going to remain intact going into next year?
Those, plus so many others, are the questions we’ll be attempting to answer over the next five months. This is a crucial offseason if this team, this franchise, wants to show its fans that this process it began the day Ron Hextall took over as general manager hasn’t stalled. And we’ll be here, from the beginning of the offseason tomorrow to the day the 2017-18 regular season starts, to talk about it. We won’t see guys in orange and white jerseys on the ice again until some time in September, but there’s so much to talk about and figure out between now and then and we’re excited to see how it unfolds.
Thanks for reading, commenting, and being with us here at Broad Street Hockey this season. And, as always:
Subject: Flyers vs. Hurricanes: Preview, lineups, TV coverage, live streaming and discussion
The long road ends here for the Flyers and Hurricanes.
We’ll get some more entertainment today, however. Robert Hagg has been recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for this season finale, and he’ll make his NHL debut and try to leave a good impression lingering for the summer.
It will also be the final game in the career of Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell, who will retire after the year. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November and made the decision to retire just the other day. In all honesty, I can’t say I’d be too upset if he scored a goal against the Flyers here today. Hopefully the Wells Fargo Center crowd will give him a nice ovation tonight.
According to reports from the morning skate today, the Flyers will end the season with Nick Cousins, Mike Vecchione in the lineup, with Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov sitting out. It’s likely, then, that we’ve already seen the end of the Flyers career for each of those men.
There’s not much to react to on the ice tonight in terms of the result, other than the desire to enter the offseason with a victory. The Flyers are basically locked in to the 12th-worst record in the league for draft lottery odds purposes, and with a loss could only drop to 11th-worst should Los Angeles win their season finale today. Carolina is two points back of the Flyers but are guaranteed to finish lower in the standings due to tiebreakers. A loss will not do much for draft positioning.
There’s been no announcement on a starting goaltender today. It could be Steve Mason, but the widely-held assumption was that due to the back-to-back situation, yesterday was his last game as a Flyer. Perhaps it would be a fitting passing of the torch if Anthony Stolarz gets the nod in the season finale.
Tonight’s game is on CSN Philly and 97.5 The Fanatic locally. CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app have your live stream. NHL.tv has the stream outside of the area, and FS Carolinas has coverage in NC.
Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: Well, they went out on a high note. Mostly.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*And just like that, we are done with Flyers hockey for the year. They finished out the season with a nice little weekend of hockey, beating the Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon and then taking the 'Canes to a shootout Sunday night.
*Speaking of that win of the BJs, here's Charlie's penultimate 10 Things. [BSH]
*And our girl Kate was on hand to take some awesome pictures of the action on Saturday afternoon. [BSH]
*And Michael Del Zotto is probably out of here too. Gonna be a really different team next season, folks. [Inquirer]
*My new pal Carter is the second coolest hockey kid I've ever encountered, and here he is interviewing newest Flyer Mike Vecchione. [CarterHud]
*A local high school student got a chance to hang out in the Flyers' broadcast booth and that's pretty cool. [Good Night Good Hockey]
*When the news is slow the Flyers beats write about goaltending. [Inquirer]
*On the NHL really being jerks about this Olympics thing. [Philly.com]
*And finally, now that it's officially the offseason, we can have some fun. Like this, A Song of Ice and Flyers. [BSH]
Subject: The best photos from the last Flyers game of the season
April 9, 2017: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Carolina Hurricanes featured photo gallery
Stay tuned during the offseason for special featured galleries celebrating certain moments and players from the 2016-2017 season.
The Flyers are done. But we have playoffs.
The Flyers sent defenseman Robert Hagg and goaltender Anthony Stolarz back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Monday morning, roughly 14 hours after the NHL regular season concluded and the Flyers coaching staff sulked over beers about it.
Hagg and Stolarz still have regular season hockey to play, and they likely have a bunch of hockey to play after that as well. The AHL regular season will conclude next weekend, and as we’ve discussed in recent weeks, the playoff berth is not coming as easily as Lehigh Valley would like.
But with three games left and a magic number of just one point, the squad should be just fine. Here’s how things shape up on this, the last Monday of the AHL regular season. The top four make the playoffs.
It’s worth noting that the sixth place team in the Atlantic Division, the Springfield Thunderbirds, are a full 23 points behind fifth place.
But the top of this Atlantic Division is just not fair. The Phantoms would be a first place team in the North Division or Pacific Division, and they’d be one point behind first in the Central. They’d have long-since clinched a playoff spot if they were in any other division.
But, here we are. Three games left, 45 wins on the record, and still no playoff spot clinched. There were three chances for the team to clinch this past weekend, be it in their own games or via results in other games, and not once did things go Lehigh Valley’s way. So we wait.
The Phantoms are obviously hoping to finish in the spot they currently sit: second place in the Atlantic Division, where they will get home ice in the first round.
Wednesday will see a game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who could certainly rest players given that they have clinched the division title. The Phantoms then close the home schedule on Friday night in what will be a big game in terms of playoff seeding and a potential Round 1 preview against Providence. The season ends Saturday on the road against the lowly Binghamton Senators.
All they need is one point, or for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers — who currently sit in that fifth spot with 92 points on the year — to lose one potential point in their remaining two games on Friday and Saturday. That’s it.
It should happen, but we will hold our breath nervously until it does. The Phantoms have not made the postseason since 2008-09, their final season as the Philadelphia Phantoms at the Spectrum, when they were swept by Hershey.
Subject: Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3: 10 things we learned from the final game of the year
Robert Hagg’s successful debut gave fans something to cheer about as the 2016-17 season officially ended.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: Hagg’s debut undeniably impressive
Just as Samuel Morin was given a one-game NHL audition (or reward, depending on how you want to view it), Robert Hagg also received a chance to play for the Flyers once before the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. And just like his fellow 2013 draftee, Hagg’s debut can be fairly called a success. His underlying numbers were decent — 54.00% score-adjusted Corsi, 40.86% xG — but he certainly passed the eye test with flying colors. Two things were obviously apparent in his game: his physical strength and his willingness to join in the attack. Hagg had little problem in puck battles and in front of the net, despite being a 22-year old in his first NHL game. But we knew that — Hagg has been “physically ready” for the NHL for quite a while. The offensive instincts were more unexpected. On a number of occasions, Hagg intuitively joined the rush in transition plays and showcased a willingness to be active in the offensive zone as well. His nine shot attempts actually led the team on the night.
But it were the little maneuvers that impressed me the most. On one early shift, Hagg knocked Canes rookie Sebastian Aho to the ice as the forward tried to get to the front of the net, and just seconds later, a Carolina player passed the puck to exactly where Aho wanted to be. It was the type of borderline-illegal but undeniably effective play that you see out of veteran NHL defensemen, not rookies in their first games. And Hagg was making those types of heady plays all game long. He’s an interesting player to watch in person because all of his actions look so effortless, it’s easy to see how some coaches have mistaken it for a lack of effort. But that’s the wrong way to view Hagg’s style — he’s clearly a sharp hockey player who slows the game down with the puck on his stick. Hagg wasn’t perfect, of course; his zone exits lacked creativity at times, as he might be overcompensating for the issues that he dealt with in that area of his game last season. But he sure looked like a legitimate NHL defenseman on the whole.
#2: Truly felt like a preseason game
I always am amused when I hear pundits argue that a team “wasn’t giving it their all” in a key game. Disregarding for a second that these are professional athletes who are unlikely to collectively take a game off, there’s a huge difference between poor effort and poor execution, the latter being almost always the true reason for an underwhelming game. But if you ever do want to watch an NHL regular season game that legitimately had a lackadaisical feel on both sides, pop this Flyers-Hurricanes matchup on your television and give it a watch.
With both clubs long eliminated from playoff contention and just one game away from the offseason, it was clear from the start that intensity would be at a minimum. This was most obvious in the checking (or lack thereof) — there was just so much space available for both teams to make plays with the puck in the neutral and offensive zones. The fact that only one goal was scored in the first period was more a testament to players trying to make too many passes due to having extra time and space rather than anything that the defensemen were doing right. Things did get a bit more competitive in the late stages of the game, but for the most part, this meaningless Game 82 certainly felt like just that.
#3: Fourth line rebounded from early mistake
Carolina’s first goal of the game was a direct result of a Travis Konecny turnover on a breakout attempt — his blind redirect pass off the boards intended for Mike Vecchione missed its mark and quickly resulted in Brock McGinn’s goal. It was a nightmare start for the new-look fourth line of Konecny, Vecchione and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and one that even had some joking that the 20-year old rookie might be scratched for the 2017-18 opener as a result of his error. But while the trio would all finish with that minus on the night, it doesn’t accurately describe their overall play. The line consistently had the puck in the offensive zone, and actually was one of the team’s better lines from a territorial standpoint, with Konecny finishing at 62.17% in score-adjusted Corsi and both of his linemates comfortably above 50 percent.
Hakstol’s willingness to move Bellemare to the wing to accommodate Vecchione (a natural center) bodes well for next season. Bellemare’s speed and tenacious forechecking ability always made me suspect he’d be a better fit on the wing, a position that he played often in Europe prior to moving to the NHL. And while Travis Konecny obviously shouldn’t become a fourth line mainstay, it’s actually encouraging in a sense that he was placed there to close out the year, because it shows that Hakstol is willing to include scoring threats on a line that has been a black hole of offensive production over the past two years. Vecchione remains the question mark — just how good is he? — but a Bellemare-Vecchione-(winger with some scoring ability) fourth line sure seems like a dramatic improvement over this year’s main version. Let’s hope that truly is the plan for 2017-18.
#4: Basically everyone had a bad scoring season
Now that the 2016-17 season is over, we can take a quick look at how each player who was on the team last season performed this year from the most basic of scoring stats — points per game. Unsurprisingly, the numbers aren’t pretty.
Out of returning regulars, only four defensemen (Gudas, Streit, Manning and Del Zotto) saw greater than 0.050 increases in their point per game rates. The forwards, on the other hand, either stagnated or suffered sizable losses. It’s tough to find many wins in a chart where Chris VandeVelde is the only forward whose PPG rates improved from 2015-16 to 2016-17.
#5: Cousins had a solid game, but where does he fit?
In his first game since March 15th against Pittsburgh, Nick Cousins was one of the more effective Flyers forwards. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise — he was placed with Giroux and Voracek on the top line, and he was one of the few players (along with Robert Hagg and Mike Vecchione) who had legitimate motivation to deliver a high-effort game, considering the length of his lineup absence. In fact, only Giroux had a better score-adjusted Corsi or xG% than Cousins on the night.
Cousins clearly has positive elements to his game. He draws penalties at a high rate, and is a simple yet accurate passer, a skill which shows itself both in his zone exit metrics and his primary shot contribution totals in the offensive zone. But for Cousins, I’m not sure if any of that will matter. It seems obvious that Cousins’ days at center for this organization are over, with Valtteri Filppula and Mike Vecchione being added to the 2017-18 lineup to serve just that purpose. And on the undersized but skilled middle-six winger list, Jordan Weal surged past Cousins with his stellar close to the year. Even Dale Weise finished the season strong, making it unlikely Cousins is ahead of him on the depth chart either. It becomes harder and harder to see where Cousins fits on this team moving forward. I’m not sure he has the track record to be of serious interest to Vegas, but at this point, he’s looking like a 13th or 14th forward on this squad unless the forward corps undergoes a shake-up.
#6: Couturier-Simmonds used as top PK pair
It took until Game 82 for the duo of Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds to be used as the team’s top penalty killing forward pair. With Chris VandeVelde scratched for the first time all season, Ian Laperriere and Dave Hakstol were clearly more comfortable with the 14/17 tandem than a new Bellemare-Filppula duo to take the all-important first PK shift in the defensive zone against Carolina’s top unit. They weren’t perfect on the night — an extended shift in the third period saw the duo unable to get a clear and eventually resulted in an Aho goal — but their full-season track record speaks for itself. Even adjusting for usage, Couturier and Simmonds were two of the most effective shot and chance suppression PK forwards in the NHL.
With VandeVelde unlikely to be re-signed, changes are coming to the penalty kill personnel in 2017-18. To me, the obvious adjustment is to bump Couturier up the depth chart to the #1 slot. He’s been effective at 4v5 basically since Day 1 in the NHL, and using him third in average PK TOI per game seems a waste of his talents in that area. If the concern is giving him too much ice time, I doubt the second PP unit would miss much if he was removed. As for Simmonds, he is maybe the most important piece of that top power play, so I would understand keeping him on PK duo #2 in order to manage his minutes. But the idea of using that duo as the true top option is certainly tempting.
#7: Nick Schultz had a strong final game as a Flyer
There’s a very good chance that Nick Schultz just played his final NHL game. At age-34, Schultz essentially slid into a #7 defenseman role on a team with a very thin blueline corps, so the writing appears to be on the wall with regards to his effectiveness at this level. Truthfully, the advanced metrics never liked Schultz’s play very much, as even in his first season with the Flyers, his Corsi Relative at 5v5 was -2.67% and his xG Rel was -1.67%. Nevertheless, he was given a two-year extension and then watched his play-driving metrics drop from the realm of passable third pair NHL defenseman territory to Andrew MacDonald levels. Last year, his awful -5.03% Corsi Rel was redeemed a bit by a passable -0.06% xG Rel, but this year the xG dropped off to match his poor Corsi ratings. Watching him play, it’s obvious that while he remains sound positionally in the defensive zone, he brings almost nothing to the table offensively, which craters his overall value.
Still, Schultz had a perfectly solid game last night, a nice sendoff if he truly is moving into retirement. His score-adjusted Corsi was 55.67%, +4.68% relative to his teammates, and he showcased his typically smart defensive zone play on a number of occasions. It’s clear that Schultz is very popular in the Flyers’ locker room, and Claude Giroux even noted after the game that he felt Schultz would make for a great coach if he decides to go that route. At the same time, replacing Schultz in the lineup with a rookie is a pretty obvious upgrade for 2017-18. He was basically Andrew MacDonald with less puck moving ability but far less prone to glaring mistakes, and in terms of on-ice value, he won’t be missed.
#8: Stolarz another solid NHL game
Anthony Stolarz may have took the loss last night, but yet again, he looked like a perfectly competent NHL goaltender. Facing 35 shots, he made 32 saves despite dealing with uncharacteristically-passive defensive zone coverage in front of him. In seven appearances with the Flyers this season, Stolarz posted a 0.928 save percentage, by far the best of the three goalies that Philadelphia used in 2016-17. But it remains difficult to reconcile his consistently impressive performances in Philly with his just-decent 0.911 save percentage in 28 AHL games this year. Neither are especially large samples, so maybe the only takeaway is that there remains a great of uncertainty regarding Stolarz’s ultimate potential.
The Flyers are in a strange spot when it comes to Stolarz. He’s 23 years old, and hasn’t looked out of place at the NHL level, so he’s seemingly ripe for a backup role. But with Michal Neuvirth — who is not only injury-prone but also coming off a terrible season — the only other NHL goaltender under contract, it’s a definite risk to use Stolarz in a tandem that may require him to shoulder a heavy load. My guess, if I had to make one, is that the Flyers will sign a goalie in free agency and give Stolarz another year in the AHL, even though he very well might be NHL-ready now. It just feels like a safer route than to pin so much hope on a goalie who, while impressive, still comes with a number of question marks.
#9: Who is the real Dale Weise?
After posting a two-goal night in the season finale, Dale Weise concluded his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers on a definite high note. His 15 points in 64 games won’t turn any heads, but 10 points in his final 14 contests is a bit more eye-catching. The line of Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Weise was a revelation in the final stages of the season, and was the main reason why Weise’s raw point totals look anything close to acceptable.
But was this just a case of Weise hitching his ride to a hot teammate (Couturier) more than Weise doing anything special on his own? It’s fair to note that Weise did drive play well this year, finishing with a +2.5% CF%RelTM, so it can be argued that the points were going to come at some point. Still, Weise’s offensive zone presence was nonexistent for so long that I don’t think the low point totals can just be chalked up to bad luck. I don’t see this as a Lecavalier situation — Weise is clearly an NHL-caliber player, and wasn’t a liability this year simply due to the territorial advantage that he helped to create. But he still looks like a fourth liner to me, or at least a bottom-sixer. I’m fine with giving him a chance to carry over the success with Couturier and Schenn into early next season, but I believe his ultimate place with the Flyers will be as a useful cog on a fourth line.
#10: A brief look back
In the end, the Flyers finished the 2016-17 season with a 39-33-10 record, good for 88 points. Last year, they managed to win two more games and eight more total points, just enough to sneak into the playoffs. The Flyers definitely took a step back, but it wasn’t a massive one. Poor goaltending through the season’s first half and a scoring slump in early 2017 were the two things that truly buried this team. The goaltending issues couldn’t have been predicted, but the scoring problems were at least partially due to poor shot selection, an issue that was addressed in the late stages of the year, but by then it was too late to save the team.
There are a number of elements that the Flyers will need to evaluate in the offseason. Some really aren’t issues at all (the top power play unit) while others (the penalty kill, addressing the goalie position, scoring dropoffs from key forwards) are essential to the team rebounding in 2017-18. However, I do believe that the Flyers have the pieces and the cap space necessary to make a return trip to the postseason next year. It will just come down to whether the front office makes shrewd moves in the offseason, and whether the coaching staff is truly on board with an optimization of the lineup and their overall tactical strategies.
There’s still playoff hockey in the immediate area despite the Flyers’ early exit this spring.
The Flyers are not playoff bound, but there has been no trickle-effect down to the area’s other hockey teams.
As we discussed earlier today, the Phantoms are likely headed to the AHL postseason for the first time since 2009 barring something unforeseen happening in their final regular season games. The Reading Royals are playoff-bound, too, kicking off their ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs on Thursday at home against the Brampton Beast.
Here’s their full schedule, via the ECHL:
- Game 1 – Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading
- Game 2 – Saturday, April 15 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading
- Game 3 – Tuesday, April 18 at 7:15 p.m. at Brampton
- Game 4 – Thursday, April 20 at 7:15 p.m. ET at Brampton
- Game 5 – Saturday, April 22 at 8 p.m. ET at Brampton (If Necessary)
- Game 6 – Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading (If Necessary)
- Game 7 – Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading (If Necessary)
The team has gone through some late season drama despite their second-place finish in the North Division. Head coach and team legend Larry Courville — who has the number from his playing days hanging in the rafters and who brought a Kelly Cup to Reading as a coach — was fired with just three games left in the regular season due to a contract dispute with ownership.
But it sure seems like more than just your run-of-the-mill failure to come to terms in a negotiation. From the Reading Eagle:
Exactly how the Royals and their most recognizable figure reached this point is understood only by the parties involved. Or, as one person put it, there were three sides to the story: Courville's, Gulati's and the truth. How it was handled felt callous and the players weren't happy about it.
So, uh ... yeah. Assistant coach Kirk MacDonald is serving in an interim role. It feels like things are pretty awkward down there. Familiar names on the Reading club as we enter the playoffs include defensemen Reese Willcox, Nick Luukko, and Jesper Petterson, and forwards Tyrell Goulbourne and Steven Swavely. Tickets for home Royals playoff games at Reading’s Santander Arena are on sale starting at $12.50.
One other local club has championship dreams as well. The North American Hockey League’s Aston Rebels, who play out of IceWorks in (you guessed it!) Aston, will play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in Round 1 of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. Aston beat WB/S nine of 12 times during the regular season.
The NAHL is the second-highest level of junior hockey in the United States, a step behind the United States Hockey League. The Rebels have seven NCAA Division I commitments and, with a 46-11-2-1 record, were easily the best team in the NAHL during the 2016-17 season.
Here’s Aston’s Round 1 schedule:
- Game 1: Fri, April 14 at 7 pm at IceWorks in Aston (home)
- Game 2: Sat, April 15 at 7 pm at IceWorks in Aston (home)
- Game 3: Fri, April 21 at 7:30 pm at Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston, Pa. (away)
- Game 4: Sat, April 22 at 7:30 pm at Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston, Pa. (away, if necessary)
- Game 5: Mon, April 24 at 7 pm at IceWorks in Aston (home, if necessary)
Tickets to home games are $7 and seating is general admission.
Subject: Sports talk radio in Philadelphia should just give up trying to talk about the Flyers
Hold my beer.
Do you agree with @MikeMiss975 that Flyers fans should not have shown up and rooted for the Flyers in their last game?— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) April 10, 2017
We don’t really spend a lot of time talking about the everyday bullshit that goes over the airwaves on sports talk radio in this town, but ... well, the season’s over and I’m bored and pissed off on a Monday. So let’s talk about Mike Missanelli.
I guess I’m glad the show took five minutes in between breakdowns of middle linebackers from South Central Louisiana State University to talk about the Flyers today, but what the fuck is this? Missanelli is basically saying that Flyers fans shouldn’t have gone to Sunday’s season finale against the Hurricanes? We should just stop showing up because the team has had a disappointing year? Or that if we do show up we should stop cheering for the team as some form of stupid protest?
I don’t know exactly what his argument is other than what’s expressed in this tweet because I refuse to listen to Mike Missanelli’s show. If I’m going to kill my brain cells voluntarily, I’ll do it by drinking bourbon or something else I actually enjoy. It’s pretty clear though that whatever the hell he’s arguing, it’s just inane bullshit that serves no purpose other than to fire people up. (Congrats, Mike, it worked!)
That’s pretty much all sports talk radio in Philadelphia is worth these days, but it’s even worse when it comes to the Flyers. I fully understand that that this will always be an Eagles town first — and as an obsessive Eagles fan myself, I don’t even mind — but we have next to nobody on the airwaves in this city that’s capable of having an intelligent conversation about hockey, the NHL, or the Flyers.
Off the top of my head, I can think of one guy at 97.5 with the ability to talk hockey, and it’s Jason Myrtetus -- who just so happens to host the pre-and-post-game shows for the Flyers. Yes, the flagship radio station for your Philadelphia Flyers has just one person who can talk about the team in a way that doesn’t make you want to bash your head into the ass end of the Gary Dornhoefer statue in the Sports Complex.
Speaking of that, do you think Missanelli could — without Google — tell you the importance of that goal scored by Dornhoefer that’s memorialized forever in the Sports Complex? Do you think he knows what year it happened? What decade? Do you think he knows who Gary Dornhoefer is? Can he spell Dornhoefer?
How many Flyers games do you think Missanelli watched this year? Do you think he knows anything about the 2016-17 team other than the major narratives? Anything about the sub-plots we’ve been following on this site since October? Why Flyers fans are annoyed with Dave Hakstol? Do you think he could tell you why the name “Chris VandeVelde” gives Flyers fans hives? Could he tell you why Wayne Simmonds is such a special hockey player without using the word “gritty”?
I’m not sure if he could answer these questions or not -- like I said, I’d rather get on an overbooked United Airlines flight than listen to 97.5 FM in Philadelphia between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. But I’m pretty comfortable guessing he can’t.
This is not the guy who gets to argue that you, the Flyers fan who’s watched 82 games of this crap, should stop watching or root against your team. If you come to that conclusion on your own, fine. I think there was at least a small part of all of us that were happy this season finally came to a close last night.
But what Missanelli proposed here is not really how being a fan works, of course; particularly not when you’re a fan of a team like the Flyers that has been to the conference finals more times in their history than they’ve missed the playoffs.
Results on the ice aside, you know that being a Flyers fan is more than just about the wins and losses. It’s about the people you sit around at games, the friends you meet up with to watch games with at the bar, the total strangers-turned-best-friends you’ve met on Twitter because you’re both obsessed with the Flyers. It’s about the way the Flyers bring your family together, in good times and bad. You know that all of these things only become stronger when the Flyers are having a down year.
You get all of that. Missanelli just needs to be loud on the radio for a few hours. He doesn’t get it.
97.5 The Fanatic has done nothing to earn your time aside from pay the team more than WIP did to broadcast games. Mike Missanelli has done nothing to earn the title of “the outright leader in Philadelphia sports talk” like his navel-gazing Twitter bio claims.
Anyway, we’ll be here with you all summer. We might not have the ability to broadcast Flyers games or reach every car in the Delaware Valley with a radio signal, but we sure as hell won’t insult your intelligence like Mike Missanelli did today.
Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Talking 'bout playoffs, baby!
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*And Kate's photos! Don't miss these. [BSH]
*In fact, one could argue that just about all of the Flyers highly-touted prospects are ready to come up. [Courier-Post]
*Despite the total lack of Flyers, the playoffs should be pretty fun. DGB previews the matchups in the Eastern Conference. [Vice Sports]
*But speaking of playoffs! Then Phantoms, you guys! We do have something to be excited about. [BSH]
*In fact, we have all kinds of playoff action in the Philly area this spring. [BSH]
*And finally, wanna have even more fun these playoffs? Join the BSH Radio Bracket Challenge! [NHL Bracket Challenge]
Subject: BSH Radio #106: The Flyers are golfing & we are picking bandwagons!
The gang gets together to close the book on this Flyers season by look forward to next year and deciding which teams are most deserving of our attention these playoffs.
A trainwreck of a season finally came to a close on Sunday, but BSH Radio is still here, breaking down the ice sport. After some collective yelling about the idea that the core has "let down" multiple coaches and the possibility of trading Claude Giroux, the gang turns their attention to the future. The successful debuts of Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg bring some much needed excitement to the show, but the optimism evaporates quickly as Bill, Steph, Kelly, and Charlie try to make sense of the team's forward situation moving into 2017-18. The show closes out with an NHL playoff preview, with each of the hosts revealing which bandwagon team they've picked for the next two months.
Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio and tell us which bandwagon you’re hopping on these playoffs.
Subject: 2017 NHL draft rankings: Nolan Patrick leads list from NHL Central Scouting
We’ll learn the Flyers draft position on Saturday.
The NHL’s Central Scouting department released its final rankings for the 2017 NHL Draft on Tuesday morning, and as expected, Brandon Wheat Kings center Nolan Patrick leads the way as the top ranked skater in North America.
Halifax Mooseheads center Nico Hischier ranks second among North American skaters, while Eden Prairie, Minn. high school center Casey Mittelstadt rounds out the top three. The top defenseman in North America is Cale Makar of the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Boston University goaltender Jake Oettinger is the top North American goalie ranked, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of HPK in Finland takes that honor among European goaltenders. Klim Kostin, a forward from Dynamo Moscow in the KHL, tops the list of European skaters.
We’re still unsure of where the Flyers will pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The 2017 NHL Draft Lottery is expected to take place on Saturday evening in Toronto.
Here are the full draft rankings, via NHL.com:
Subject: Allentown could play host to NCAA hockey tournament regionals, according to report
The national college hockey tournament could be coming to the home of the Phantoms.
The PPL Center in Allentown is probably the nicest mid-sized arena in the United States right now, and it’s obvious that owners would like the building filled as much as humanly possible.
To that end, there’s a report out of North Dakota today saying that the facility has put in a bid to host the regional round of the NCAA men’s hockey tournament. 2018 regional hosts have not been announced yet, so this could be for as soon as next year.
Here’s Brad Schlossman, who covers the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (definitely not Sioux) for the Grand Forks Herald:
One potential new NCAA regional destination: Allentown, Pa. Beautiful new 8,400-seat arena there. Word is they put in a bid.— Brad E. Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) April 11, 2017
Schlossman is as plugged in as anybody in college hockey circles, so there’s no reason to doubt his report here. And this is pretty exciting news.
The regional round of the 16-team NCAA men’s hockey tournament consists of the first two rounds. Four teams are placed into each of four regionals, the East, West, Northeast and Midwest. The winners of each regional head to the Frozen Four.
The NCAA has typically kept the regional host cities a pretty tight group. In the last 10 tournaments, only 17 cities have hosted the regionals in total -- with many, like Providence and Cincinnati, hosting multiple times.
Those cities are: Providence, Cincinnati, Worcester, Manchester, Albany, St. Paul, Fargo, South Bend, Bridgeport, Toledo, Manchester, Green Bay, St. Louis, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Colorado Springs, and Madison. Geographically, these are all pretty similar places: generally located in either the Upper Midwest, New England, or Upstate New York, with just a few exceptions.
No city in Pennsylvania has ever hosted the NCAA hockey regionals. Pittsburgh hosted the Frozen Four in 2013 and Philadelphia hosted in 2014, but other than that we’ve never had a chance to see much college postseason hockey in the state.
But with Penn State now a powerhouse in Big Ten hockey, Allentown could be a natural fit. The geography suits it well — it’s a new market that exposes college hockey to folks with a track record of supporting the game, but it’s also not too far away from college hockey’s East Coast heartland in New York State, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Allentown has supported the AHL’s Phantoms beyond anybody’s wildest expectations since the team moved into PPL Center for the 2014-15 season, and we have to imagine that people would turn out for three games over the course of two days to watch some national tournament college hockey.
Subject: Poll: Which team should Flyers fans root for in the 2017 NHL playoffs?
Pick a bandwagon.
The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off on Wednesday night, and of course, the Flyers are not one of the 16 teams that will be taking part.
So, what’s a Flyers fan to do? Vote in our poll below and we’ll share the results before the postseason kicks off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Share your reasoning for jumping on the bandwagon in the comments.
Subject: Dave Hakstol joins Ron Hextall, Team Canada as assistant coach at 2017 World Championships
Hextall picked him.
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol will join Team Canada as an assistant coach at the 2017 IIHF World Championships, it was announced Tuesday. Hakstol joins Flyer general manager Ron Hextall, who is serving as GM for the Canadian team at the Worlds.
Hakstol will serve under Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who will be the head coach of Team Canada. Joining Hakstol as assistants are former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant and longtime coach Dave King.
Hextall actually selected Hakstol to fill this role, so if you were hoping that Hakstol might be on the outs with the Flyers organization or that maybe he’d even be fired at some point this offseason, you should probably stop holding your breath.
It’s clear that the relationship there between the two is just fine, although it is a little ironic to give your head coach the assistant gig while another NHL head coach gets the head coaching gig.
Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: Yo, the 'yoffs!
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*The first round gets underway tonight and you've got FIVE (5) games to enjoy. Check your local listings and stuff.
*Know what you should do to kill some time before the games? Listen to this week's BSH Radio! We evaluate bandwagon potential. It's good times. [BSH]
*DGB also evaluates your bandwagon options, just not as well as we did. [Sportsnet]
*Let's take a sec and think about how having Valterri Filppula for a full year is going to change how this team deploys its forwards. [Pattison Ave]
*Is Anthony Stolarz ready to be a full-time NHL goaltender next season? [Sons of Penn]
*The draft rankings are out, let's see who the Flyers might end up taking. [BSH]
*It seems like most people agree that the playoff format is trash poop. But would anything really change if they changed it? [Pension Plan Puppets]
*Let's see what we might expect from the Canadian teams in the post season. [TSN]
*The NHL awards will be coming up soon; who you got? [Puck Daddy]
*And finally, five bold predictions that might actually come true in this year's playoffs. [USA Today]
Subject: Guess the season contest results
A season of frustration was accurately called by 23VMDFly, who wins this year’s contest
At long last the season is over. Before it began I had a contest of a bunch of questions on what will happen during the coarse of the season. With the season over, it’s time to review the answers and crown a champion.
- The first shorthanded goal was scored by Brandon Manning of all people on Oct. 30 vs. the Hurricanes. You didn’t get that? Don’t worry, no else did either.
- The first goal of any kind was scored by Boyd Gordon of all people, and that represented his season total as well. Correctly guessed by zero of 237 entries.
- Brayden Schenn had the first fighting major of the season, on October 27 vs. the Coyotes. Thirteen got this right.
- Schenn also had the first hat trick against Dallas on December 10, and it was the only one of the season. This was correctly guessed by 38 people.
- Taylor Leier got the first minor-league callup of the year. Twenty-two got it right.
- Wayne Simmonds led the team in goals, with 31. Slightly more than half, 134, got this right.
- Claude Giroux led the team in assists, with 44. Slightly more than three-quarters, 182, got this right.
- Simmonds also led in PIM with 122. Forty correct entries here.
- Giroux led the team in power play points with 31. Exactly two-thirds got this right.
- In a rare good decision by Hakstol, Ivan Provorov led the team in total TOI this season, with 1802 minutes logged. Sixty entries, slightly more than half, got this correct.
- Now we get to the not-so-fun answers. The Flyers finished 6th in the division, as foretold by Jeffigatame and Kong.
- They finished with 88 points, well below the average response of 97 points. McClintock and 23VMDFlyers got this exactly right.
- They scored 219 goals this year, slightly lower than the 229 average. Four people got this exact.
- As first reported at Broad Street Hockey, the Flyers failed to make the playoffs. Only 7 of the 237 entries had this unfortunate fate correct.
- They completed two trades, with Straka going to the Devils and Streit going to Tampa at the deadline. Most entries were within one of two.
- Giroux finished with 58 points, well off the 76 expected from the entries. No exact answers here.
- Simmonds, as discussed previously, finished with 31 goals, which matched the average answer.
- Perhaps the biggest disappointment this year was the goaltending, which finished the year with a sour .901 save percentage, well off the .914 average answer.
- Voracek finished with 41 assists, good for second on the team behind Giroux. This is a bit off from the 48 average response.
- The Washington Capitals again won the President’s trophy with 118 points. A bit more than a third (87 out of 237) got it right.
- 6704 non-shootout goals were scored this year, a slight increase over past seasons. Mad props to Duffman for getting this one exactly right.
- Connor McDavid won what could be the first of many Art Ross trophies this year with 100 points. This more or less matched the average response of 101.
- A total of 26 players scored 30 or more goals this year. This matched the average answer.
- The home team won 688 times this year, as correctly guessed by ArcticFoxPhan85 and reedace. Answers to this one were all over the place, and averaged out to 782.
- Radko Gudas scored just as many goals as games he was suspended. A classic case of six one way, half dozen the other. Five points for everyone!
- The Flyers were involved in 24 OT contests this year, which is more than the 20 goals Voracek scored this season.
- I’m too lazy to look up the highest number of saves in a game for the Flyers, but I can assure you it’s more than the one game that Morin got into late in the season.
- Andrew MacDonald played almost twice as many games (73) than Ghost had points (39). I don’t wanna talk about it.
- And finally, Carson Wentz couldn’t maintain his hot start and finished with just over half as many TDs (16) as Simmonds had goals (31).
And now the reason you’re probably here: to see who won! Well, here are the top ten:
- 23VMDFly- 166.65
- Filthadelfia- 164.99
- gagne73- 158.59
- @MGabes19- 155.51
- Konecny’s Ozone- 153.39
- 31RHCP- 148.56
- flyers2148- 147.89
- lancegoodman- 147.79
- Bryzantine Empire- 143.1467
- Kanil- 142.4533
Congrats again to 23VMDFly, who takes home the championship this year. Thanks to everyone who played!
Subject: Blue Jackets narrowly beat
Miss you, Bob.
We ran a poll on the site yesterday listing all of the playoff bandwagon options for Flyers fans in these 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and over 1,000 of you responded. Thanks for that! Very nice of you to do so.
We, of course, left the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins out of the poll because we are not godless. We filled those spots with “lol no”, “not a damn chance” and “absolutely the f*** not”, respectively.
So, who are we rooting for? Oddly enough, it’s a divisional team that came out ahead, with the Columbus Blue Jackets grabbing 15 percent of the vote. I guess we feel bad for all their misery over the years, or maybe we’re just rooting for them to beat Pittsburgh. Or maybe we really miss Sergei Bobrovsky and Scott Hartnell.
‘Absolutely the f*** not’ came in second, with 12 percent of the vote. The San Jose Sharks took the top spot among Western Conference teams with 10 percent of the overall vote, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Wild were close behind.
Subject: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs!
The Phantoms reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09.
After beating the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have made the Calder Cup Playoffs.
It was a long time coming; 2008-09 was the last time they made the playoffs. Since that season, an era of sub-0.500 play wreaked the the top farm team of the Philadelphia Flyers, with their best year being the 2011-12 season (they had a .513 winning percentage then).
This also marks the first time the Lehigh Valley will see playoff hockey in the Phantoms’ third season of playing in Allentown. Before then, they played five seasons in the Adirondacks (Glenn Falls, NY, to be exact). The last time they made the playoffs was also the last year they played in Philadelphia.
Basically, they’ve been very bad.
In a year without Flyers playoff hockey, this is a redeeming feeling. The future is coming, and it’s coming very quickly. The Scott Gordon-led team has already seen a 22-point improvement over last year, and that is at least partially due to players coming through the pipeline for the Flyers.
They currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, and unless any craziness happens between now and their final game on Saturday night, they will be playing the Providence Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
It’s absolutely thrilling to see this team reach the playoffs this year. While the Reading Royals have also clinched the playoffs, the Phantoms have always been the Flyers’ team. For the fans that have fond memories of watching the Philadelphia Phantoms win two Calder Cups in a span of eight years, this is your chance to see the Flyers of the future compete for another Calder Cup. They have a great chance as well; they have 11 players who are in double digits in goals, are led by a beautiful defense consisting of Samuel Morin, T.J. Brennan, Travis Sanheim, and Robert Hagg (to name a few), and have a fantastic goaltending duo of Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz (who unfortunately left the ice unable to put any weight on his left leg due to an injury suffered during the game tonight).
Playoffs start next week. Let’s see if the Valley can have a Calder Cup to their name. Go Phantoms.
Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Playoffs with no emotions are extra fun.
*Okay this season was a lot of things, most of them bad, but calling it a "collapse" is seriously ridiculous. [Inquirer]
*Heeeeey did you participate in our early-season predictions contest? Maybe you won! [BSH]
*Ron Hextall is being super cool and taking Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds with him to Team Canada. [TSN]
*If you missed any of the exit interview shade that was being thrown all over the place, Meltzer has everything for you. [Hockeybuzz]
*DGB previewed the East earlier this week and got to the West just in time for the first round to be kicked off. [Vice Sports]
*The Flyers have some names on the best-selling jersey list, which is pretty cool. [Puck Daddy]
*Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts focuses on all the coaching changes going on lately. [Sportsnet]