Bill Meltzer: Flyers Gameday: 10/14/14 vs. ANA



Still in search of their first win of the 2014-15 regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers (0-2-1) will take on the powerful Anaheim Ducks (2-1-0) at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. Game time is 7 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised locally on CSN Philadelphia.

This is the first of two meetings this season between the teams, and the lone clash at the Wells Fargo Center.

The clubs will rematch in Anaheim on Dec. 3.

After tonight’s game, the Flyers will have a few days of practice in Voorhees. Starting on Saturday night, Philadelphia embarks on a three-game road trip that will take them to Dallas, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Flyers Outlook

In their two games, the Flyers lost a low-scoring (2-1) game in Boston and a high-scoring (6-4) home match against the Devils. Philly showed resiliency in battling back from deficits in both games but ultimately walked away empty.

Saturday’s game against Montreal was the most disturbing. The Flyers looked dominant in building a 3-0 lead over the Canadiens and cruised into the third period with what should have been a comfortable lead. In the third period, the wheels fell off for the Flyers. The Habs attacked in waves en route to a 19-4 shot disparity and three unanswered goals to send the game to overtime.

After an unsuccessful overtime power play for the Flyers and four straight Philadephia shooters failed to score on Carey Price, Montreal’s P.A. Parenteau won the game. Ray Emery (35 saves on 38 shots in regulation and overtime, 3-for-4 in the shootout) deserved a better fate and ended up being the main reason why Philly even got one point from the game.

Assistant captain Wayne Simmonds has been the Flyers’ best player through the first three games. The power forward has racked up four goals — an even strength tally and power play goal apiece against both New Jersey and Montreal — and five points.

With Vincent Lecavalier out two weeks as a result of taking a puck off his left foot in the first period of Saturday’s game, 29-year-old first-year forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been moved up from the fourth line to center Lecavalier’s line with Brayden Schenn (one assist in three games) and Simmonds.

Yesterday, the Flyers officially upgraded injured defenseman Braydon Coburn (lower-body injury) to day-to-day status after the veteran was examined by a specialist. Nicklas Grossmann missed yesterday’s practice due to a stomach virus but is expected to be ready to play tonight.

Steve Mason is likely to get the start tonight in goal for the Flyers He was outstanding on opening night in Boston (31 saves on 33 shots) and ordinary in the home opener against New Jersey (20 saves on 25 shots). None of the first four goals he yielded in the Devils game were his fault — one was scored through a heavy screen, two were unstoppable deflections and one was scored by a wide-open Patrik Elias from point blank range. However, the game winning goal by ex-Flyer Dainius Zubrus was a stoppable shot. Ducks Outlook

Tonight is the fourth and final match of a four-game road trip to start the Anaheim Ducks’ 2014-15 regular season. After dropping a 6-4 decision on opening night in Pittsburgh, the Ducks have won their last two games.

On Saturday night in Detroit, the Ducks and Red Wings entered the third period tied at 1-1. After Gustav Nyquist put the Wings ahead early in the third period, Matt Beleskey re-tied the score a little more than one minute later. With time ticking down below 25 seconds remaining in regulation, 2013-14 Hart Trophy finalist Ryan Getzlaf scored his second goal of the game to give Anaheim a 3-2 win. Frederik Andersen (27 saves on 29 shots) earned the win in goal.

Last night, the Ducks paid a visit to Buffalo. Anaheim took a 2-0 lead into the third period on a power play goal by Corey Perry (third goal of the young season) and rookie William Karlsson’s first NHL goal. In the third period, Anaheim went to score three more times to savage the Sabres by a 5-1 final. Beleskey extended the lead to 3-0 before Karlsson notched his second goal of the game. Ryan Kesler completed the scoring by converting a penalty shot. Andersen, who saw just 12 shots for the game and stopped 11, got the victory.

Former Flyers farmhand Patrick Maroon, who has been skating on Getzlaf’s line and compiled three points in his first three games, sustained a leg injury in last night’s game. He is out of the lineup tonight. Dany Heatley (groin) is also unavailable for the Ducks.

With the Flyers having had an off-day on Sunday and an idle night on the schedule last night, Philadelphia is theoretically the fresher team. Tonight’s game is Anaheim’s third in four nights and the second half of back-to-back games.

Nevertheless, the Ducks are a dangerous team under any circumstances. They are one of the NHL’s most physical teams. The top line with Getzlaf and Perry is highly skilled and aggressive. The team added veteran Kesler in the off-season to provide a one-two punch with Getzlaf down the middle. The team also has a skilled supporting cast with the likes of Jakob Silfverberg (two assists), Karlsson, Beleskey (two goals) and others all capable of making timely plays.

The Anaheim blueline features grizzled veteran Francois Beauchemin but is primarily marked by its core of young and mobile puck movers such as Cam Fowler (one assist), Sami Vatanen (three assists) and Hampus Lindholm (one assist). The club also has former Minnesota defensive defenseman Clayton Stoner and Ben Lovejoy to reliably fill minutes.

The Flyers learned firsthand last season how tough the Ducks can be to beat. Philly actually played two of its better overall games of the 2013-14 regular season against Anaheim and came away with a pair of regulation losses to show for their toil.

On Oct. 29 of last season, the Flyers dominated the Ducks in the first period, building a 2-0 lead. The momentum reversed in the middle stanza but Philly managed to take a 2-1 lead to the second intermission. In the third period, Anaheim scored early to tie the game on a Kyle Palmieri goal and then won the game late in regulation on another tally by Palmieri.

On Jan 31, the teams met again in Anaheim. Philly played a generally solid game and stayed out of the penalty box. They stayed competitive throughout the night. Nevertheless, they still gave up five goals and lost the game, 5-3.

In the rematch in Anaheim, Lecavalier (power play goal), Matt Read and Michael Raffl scored for the Flyers in a losing cause. Mason stopped 23 of 27 shots. For Anaheim, Getzlaf had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, while Perry, Maroon, Daniel Winnik (shorthanded) and the now-retired Saku Koivu (empty net) also scored. Andersen stopped 27 of 30 shots. Projected Lineups (subject to change, will be updated as needed)


12 Michael Raffl – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek

10 Brayden Schenn – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 17 Wayne Simmonds

18 R.J. Umberger – 14 Sean Couturier – 24 Matt Read

36 Zac Rinaldo – 41 Blair Jones – 42 Jason Akeson

47 Andrew MacDonald – 55 Nick Schultz

8 Nicklas Grossmann – 32 Mark Streit

15 Michael Del Zotto – 22 Luke Schenn

35 Steve Mason

[29 Ray Emery]

Scratches: Vincent Lecavalier (left foot), Braydon Coburn (lower body, day-to-day).


67 Rickard Rakell – 15 Ryan Getzlaf – 10 Corey Perry

39 Matt Beleskey – 17 Ryan Kesler – 12 Devante Smith-Pelly

7 Andrew Cogliano – 38 William Karlsson – 33 Jakob Silfverberg

16 Emerson Etem – 44 Nate Thompson – 18 Tim Jackman

23 Francois Beauchemin – 47 Hampus Lindholm

4 Cam Fowler – 6 Ben Lovejoy

3 Clayton Stoner – 45 Sami Vatanen

31 Frederik Andersen

[36 John Gibson]

Scratches: Patrick Maroon (leg), Dany Heatley (groin), Bryan Allen (lower body), Mark Fistric (healthy).

************** SEARCHING FOR 60-MINUTE EFFORT (Repeated from Monday’s afternoon update)

Staying on-system and competing for 60 minutes was one of the main themes discussed by Flyers players and head coach Craig Berube after practice at the Skate Zone on Monday. The coach said his biggest disappointment from Saturday’s shootout loss to Montreal was his team’s loss of competitiveness and unacceptably soft play — subpar work on the walls, loose coverages, panicky decisions with the puck — in its own end of the ice in the third period.

Veteran defenseman Mark Streit talked extensively about the need for the club not to lose sight of the positive things they did in the first 40 minutes of Sunday’s game and segments of the Boston and New Jersey games. Wayne Simmonds said that attention to small details lapsed in the third period last game and had a snowball effect as Montreal kept the flyers pinned in their own end of the ice.

With Vincent Lecavalier out for two weeks with an injury to his left foot, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will get the first crack at centering his line. Bellemare downplayed the opportunity as a chance to show some of his offensive capabilities, and said that he has to keep his two-way game in focus the same as he would when playing on the fourth line.

Berube said that he wants Brayden Schenn to adjust to being a left winger, which is why he is not moving Schenn to play center in Lecavalier’s absence. The head coach added that he thinks the first line has looked better with Michael Raffl than it did with Schenn on left wing. Berube said the top line was “not playing fast enough” for his liking in the first and second games of the season.

Andrew MacDonald absorbed 28 minutes of ice time in Saturday’s game. While Berube said that it was just how the game played out, he admitted that this is too much ice time. The coach said he’d like to be able to spread around the ice time but he has to go game by game right now.

In Saturday’s game, the pairing of Luke Schenn (13:35 of ice time) and Michael Del Zotto (14:43) were pretty much taken out of the mix by Berube as the third period progressed. They got trapped on the ice for two minutes and seven seconds until Tomas Plekanec scored Montreal’s second goal. Thereafter, they only took one more shift in the game; a 55-second shift. Del Zotto did see some use in overtime. MacDonald and Nick Schultz (23:37 TOI) absorbed their minutes.

Schultz has been a bright spot in the last two games, showing both mobility and generally reliable play in his own end of the ice. That was a far cry from the preseason, where Schultz struggled mightily.

Asked what Schultz was doing now that he wasn’t doing before, Berube had a succinct answer.

“Less,” he said. “With him, less is more.”

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn (lower-body injury) has officially been upgraded to day-to-day status after meeting with a specialist today. He will not, however, be ready for tomorrow night. Nicklas Grossmann (stomach virus) did not practice today. Berube said he expects the defenseman to be available tomorrow night against Anaheim.

Berube said that, with Lecavalier out of the lineup for a couple weeks, there is a good chance the team will call up a forward from the Phantoms for the three-game road trip that follows tomorrow night’s game against Anaheim. Veteran Andrew Gordon or Chris VandeVelde might get the call as the extra body.

The Flyers had three goalies on the ice for a portion of practice. Ray Emery left the ice early, with Steve Mason and 19-year-old Jeff Hextall remaining on the ice. The team practiced shootouts at the end of practice, with Hextall defending in goal.

Afterwards, Berube joked, “They weren’t scoring on Hexy’s boy either.”

Turning serious, Berube said that the team would follow through with a pre-season plan of working more on shootouts in practice this season, although game conditions are different. Berube said the team has to try to improve in that area to pick up valuable points in the standings but they really need to win as many games as possible in regulation.

************** QUICK HITS: OCTOBER 14

* Former Flyers prospect Marcel Noebels, who was recently released by the organization after refusing an assignment to the ECHL’s Reading Royals, has returned home to Germany. Yesterday he signed a contract with DEL team Eisbären Berlin. The Polar Bears are the longtime team in Germany for Phantoms goaltender Rob Zepp and the club for whom Claude Giroux and former Flyers forward Danny Briere played during the 2012-13 lockout.

* Speaking of Briere, congratulations go out to him for scoring his 300th NHL regular season goal yesterday. The buzzer-beating tally, which came in the final second of the third period, was the game-winner for the Colorado Avalanche in a 2-1 road win over the Boston Bruins.

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