Tag Archives: Scott Hartnell

Flyers Survive Third Period Collapse

5 Jan

WELLS FARGO CENTER — No one seemed to know why, but the Flyers didn’t appear to like playing at Wells Fargo Center. Citizens Bank Park was no better. On the road, they were fine, but an 8-6-2 record at home, like the real home, was not what Peter Laviolette was looking for.

“Home record is not where it needs to be,” said Laviolette. “Road record is excellent. We’ve got to start taking care of these home games and making sure they go in the [win] column. We need some attitude here with how we play the game.”

Attitude, jump, deflation, redemption, it was all accounted for in the Flyers’ 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. As if a test at home wasn’t tough enough, Laviolette’s bunch found themselves down early when Zac Rinaldo turned the puck over and it led to a Jimmy Hayes goal on a tip-in.

Rinaldo wanted to make up for it, so he fought Andrew Shaw to restart his night. He followed with a solid effort in both the offensive and defensive zones. The Flyers regained their composure and tallied in the final minute when Jakub Voracek scored his first goal in nine games on the rebound of a Braydon Coburn point shot.

Shaw scored for Chicago in the second period, but then the Flyers went on a tear. They scored three goals in 4:20 to give themselves a comfy two-goal lead, the most dangerous kind. Scott Hartnell started the comeback with a game-tying one-timer from Claude Giroux.

“It’s always great to have a good shift after an opponent scores a goal to try and get the momentum back,” said Hartnell. “[Matt] Read made a nice play to Giroux. I was popping up in the slot. The puck kind of got deflected and was up in the air and I whacked it out of the air and was able to go five hole.”

Harry Zolnierczyk added his third of the year and James van Riemsdyk his 10th later in the second period.

In the third, the Flyers came unraveled before they could blink. Marc-Andre Bourdon took a shot off the left post and Chicago took the puck the other way where Brent Seabrook ripped a shot to get Chicago within one. Then, only 25 seconds later, Patrick Kane tied it with a point blank shot from the slot.

After a Kane high-sticking call, the Flyers had the opportunity to go ahead on the power play and they took it. Hartnell fed van Riemsdyk down low for the game-winning power play tally with 32.5 seconds left.

“I was yelling for G and he made the better play, I think,” said van Riemsdyk. “He gave it to Hartsy and Hartsy put it right on my tape. All I could do was slide it right into the net.”

Not only did the win improve their record at Wells Fargo Center, but the Flyers kept up in the standings. They remain four points behind the New York Rangers for the best record in the league.

“It’s something that has been emphasized over the last stretch of home games, whenever that was,” said Matt Carle. “We know we need to step it up and if we do the kind of work we do on the road, we’ll be pretty successful team. I think a game tonight will hopefully kickstart some confidence at home and just kind of bring that road mentality to this building.”

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Chicago’s Stanley Cup Still Haunts Flyers

5 Jan

VOORHEES, N.J. — Danny Briere still can’t bear to watch. When it comes on television, he closes his eyes, looks away or changes the channel.

On June 9, 2010, Patrick Kane found himself with the puck along the left wing of the Flyers’ zone in overtime of a 3-3 Game 6 where the Blackhawks were up 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final.

He deked and beat Kimmo Timonen outside. He stayed outside and just before crossing the goalline, he fired on net. The puck went through the legs of Michael Leighton and into the far side of the net, where it got stuck under the padding. No one but Kane knew where it was.

While the other 20,000 people in Wells Fargo Center were clueless, Kane threw off his gloves and skated toward Antti Niemi in celebration.

“I remember the next day waking up and there’s no meeting, there’s no media scrums, there’s no fans, there’s nobody waiting for you anywhere,” said Briere. “It was a very, very empty feeling. When I woke up, that’s when I started realizing what was going on. I don’t even remember after the game when I did.”

On Thursday, both teams will be on the ice in Philadelphia for the first time since that goal was scored. That said, few remain from that game for either team. Only seven active Flyers and nine Blackhawks are still with their respective teams since the 2010 Stanley Cup Final ended.

The Flyers played the Blackhawks last season, a 4-1 win at the United Center. But this is the first game in Philadelphia since Chicago won the Cup and don’t think for a second that the Flyers forgot.

“I’m sure it’ll cross everyone’s mind that was on our team that year,” said Scott Hartnell. “It was obviously a disappointing end to that season. It was a great run, everything like that. But coming up short always leaves bad memories in the back of your head. But there won’t be much motivation needed. We’ve got to get back to our winning ways. Our home record has been quite poor all season, and we’ve got to change that.”

The Flyers have lost two consecutive home games and need to right the ship at Wells Fargo Center. Between the HBO cameras and all the hoopla surrounding the Winter Classic, the Flyers are used to potential distractions. But this memory is one they firmly believe will help motivate them for a win.

“Anytime you think of Chicago, you’re going to think of them stealing the Stanley Cup from us,” said Claude Giroux. “Obviously it’s motivation for us to win every game. I remember last year, it was a big game for us. We won that game, but we’ve got to make sure we do the same thing here.”

The Flyers have been slipping in the standings. After the Winter Classic, they are now four points behind the New York Rangers and Western Conference-leading Blackhawks.

“We gotta get back on track here,” said Peter Laviolette. “We’re home for a couple games, back at the Wells Fargo building. We gotta take care of those games and pay attention to our home games.

“The home record is not where it needs to be. We have an opportunity [Thursday] and it’s a good hockey team, so we have to be ready to play.”

Only four teams in the league have fewer home wins than the Flyers who have eight. Ten of the Flyers’ 13 games in December came on the road, but this is a new year, a new month and the Flyers have seven home games in January. It’s time to turn the page on not only the calendar, but a new attitude at home.

“We look at it as we gave up two points to the Rangers the other night, a team we’re trailing,” said Braydon Coburn, “so it’s a game that we need.”

The two points up for grabs Thursday are very valuable for the Flyers who need them to keep from slipping too far. That will be the focus when the puck drops, but when the teams first see each other, there may still be one last bit of demon that needs to be exercised.

“I’ve never seen the puck go in,” said Briere, “and I don’t think I’m ready to see it yet.”

Flyers See Better Effort, Just Not Results

24 Dec

NEW YORK — Ilya Bryzgalov was upset. Understandably so. The Flyers lost the Winter Classic primer and now have three days to think about a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers where they could have had more goals and possibly should have given up fewer.

The first two of the Rangers’ four goals came on deflections, giving New York a lead despite being outplayed. It seemed like a stark contrast to the last time the Flyers visited Madison Square Garden, a 2-0 loss on Nov. 26. But don’t tell Ilya Bryzgalov that.

“It was a really similar game to last time,” said Bryzgalov. “It’s like déjà vu, just a little bit scoring different.

“I guess they want it more than we are. That’s why they win.”

His teammates don’t necessarily agree. The effort was there and if it weren’t for a bizarre deflection from Derek Stepan at nearly the side of Bryzgalov’s net, or a Ruslan Fedotenko deflection that even juked out the on-ice officials, the Flyers would have a tie game.

“I think it was a pretty good game,” said Andrej Meszaros, who finally got the Flyers on the board in the third period. “It was definitely better than the last time we played here. So that’s positive, but the result is not what we wanted. We lost. We just have to shake it off on a couple day’s rest and get ready for Tampa.”

The Flyers out-shot the Rangers 30-24. They had quite a few opportunities to take an early lead and just had no finish. Some of the Flyers recognized that through the frustration of losing the last game before Christmas.

“I don’t think they’re better than us,” said Jaromir Jagr. “They were just more effective than us. It happens. We have to learn from that.”

“I don’t think that we didn’t try tonight, or that we didn’t try to come in here and execute,” said Peter Laviolette. “I don’t think it was a lack of effort — it was a couple of tough breaks.”

That said, it is a tough pill to swallow. It sounds as though the Flyers were cognizant during the game that whatever the result, it would be a feeling that would last days. Even in the second period, when the game was decided, the Flyers felt like they were in a hole too deep.

“That first five minutes was not good hockey,” said Scott Hartnell. “Our line went out there. We were circling. They were in our zone for 45, 50 seconds. Next line goes out there and same thing.

“That first TV timeout, Lavy snapped on us and tried to give us a wake-up call, but by then it was 2-0. It’s not Flyers hockey. It really leaves a sour taste in our mouths heading into the holidays.”

Things Could Be Worse For Claude Giroux

14 Dec

WASHINGTON — As strange as it sounds, things could be worse for Claude Giroux. At least he skated off the ice on his own. Yes, it looked innocent enough when he collided with Wayne Simmonds’ right knee, so a concussion seems bad. But he was luckier than Scott Hartnell.

“I’ve been off on a stretcher two times to the hospital on that kinda stuff,” said Hartnell. “Obviously that stuff’s scary and one time got to go into the little timeout room. I think it was right around Christmas and I didn’t know what month it was right off the bat, so it is a little scary and you just have to take care of yourself.”

On Nov. 26, 2000, in Hartnell’s rookie season, he was knocked out in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes and taken off on a stretcher. He missed the next six games.

The next season, it happened again. Then St. Louis Blue Reed Low hit him in the third period, again causing need for the stretcher. That cost him the final two games of the season. It’s easy to blame the other player or say it was a freak accident, but Hartnell says there’s more to it than that.

“Don’t put yourself in vulnerable positions when you’re two feet away from the boards with your back turned,” he said. “Obviously if someone hits you, you’re gonna go head first into the boards. You wanna keep your head up at all times with things like that. A lot is on the players and obviously a lot is on the player doing the hitting as well. You don’t want to jeopardize someone’s health like that.”

Giroux’s injury, however, is more of a freak accident, but injuries to the head are not uncommon. Certainly no one is going out there with the intent to injure, but hits happen all the time and will always be a part of the game. It’s such commonplace that some players may have concussions and not even know it.

“I’m sure everybody in hockey has had some form of a minor concussion, but it’s just a matter of it being serious enough where the doctors have to take a look at you,” said Matt Carle. “I’ve been fortunate enough, knock on wood, to not have that.”

As it stands now, there are 20 players in the NHL who are feeling some sort of head-related injury according to an unofficial report. That seems high, but not everyone agrees with that assessment.

“You look at the league right now and I think concussions in the league this year are down from last year,” said Paul Holmgren. “Sidney [Crosby] is probably the best player in the league, it’s raised the awareness I guess. Things that have gone on the last few years have raised awareness. The protocol we use to treat these players has changed drastically over the years, so I think that’s a good thing. We’re looking after the players. They’re the most important aspect of it.”

Holmgren added that the awareness of concussions is up and that probably has something to do with the big-name players who have them like Pronger, Giroux, Mike Richards, Kris Letang and even Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe who is still feeling the effects of a hit by Marc-Andre Bourdon last week.

Some players, like former Flyers Keith Primeau and Eric Lindros, have continued to struggle with head injuries, others luck out and are able to extend their careers despite numerous hits to the head.

Hartnell had a third concussion in 2004, but obviously his career is doing just fine after scoring in his sixth consecutive game on Tuesday night.

“Since then I’ve been, knock on wood, healthy,” said Hartnell. “You just try to not put yourself in those positions where you’re gonna take a vulnerable hit reaching for the puck and there’s a guy coming right at you. He’s thinking he’s taking the body, you’re thinking about the puck and you’re obviously gonna get the worst of it.

“It took me a little while, a couple years to know what to do and a couple concussions make you learn real fast, otherwise you’re gonna be out of the game.”

Flyers Pour It On Without Claude Giroux

13 Dec

WASHINGTON — Who needs a Hart Trophy candidate and a future Hall of Famer? Apparently, not the Flyers. In the absence of Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger, the Flyers made it look easy against the Washington Capitals, pouring it on in a 5-1 win.

Whenever the Flyers have dealt with injury this season, and the current total for man games lost now stands at 73, other players have simply stood up and taken the onus. Despite all the injuries, the Flyers’ winning streak now stands at six, tying their high from last season.

“I thought [it was] one of our better team games,” said Peter Laviolette. “Start to finish, all lines, all defensemen, goaltender, we had everybody going. I was really happy with it.”

Scott Hartnell extended his goal-scoring streak to a career-high six games to kick off the scoring and the Flyers never looked back. Despite dealing with early pressure from Washington, the Flyers were able to rely on Ilya Bryzgalov who made 31 saves and got his 14th win of the season.

In the second period, the Flyers did their damage with three more goals, taking over the contest with offense by committee. They outshot the Capitals 12-10 in the second period, but chased starting goalie Tomas Vokoun.

“It’s incredibly disappointing,” said Washington defenseman Karl Alzner. “No one wants to do that, especially at home. You’d like to play a little bit better than this. It’s a tough one for us. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board a little bit and watch some video of the mistakes we made, because they’re pretty obvious to us. We’ve just got to go over them and remember them and be more aware next game.”

It appeared as though Jody Shelley had his first goal of the season when he deflected a shot by Marc-Andre Bourdon, but it was ruled that Capitals defenseman Mathieu Perreault tipped it behind the goalie. It was Bourdon’s first NHL goal, to no surprise of his coach who has liked what he’s seen.

“He’s been rock solid,” said Laviolette. “His head is up. He makes a good first pass. He’s been physical. He looks really comfortable out there. His opportunity of some minutes has grown to increased minutes to someone we now count on and rely on. It’s good for him.”

Wayne Simmonds continued his recent success with his fourth goal in his last five games on a deflection from an Andrej Meszaros shot. Max Talbot added his eighth of the year, but he can thank Braydon Coburn for helping him out. Alex Ovechkin entered the Flyers’ zone and Coburn smothered his effort, stripping him of the puck, tying him up along the boards and sending the Flyers on the offensive.

“He’s a talented player and you try to keep the best gap you can on him,” said Coburn. “He’s got a bag full of moves and I feel lucky.”

The third period saw each team add a goal, but the Flyers don’t really mind that. As much as they like the two points, they really proved that their depth is what is most impressive about this year’s team. Thirteen of the 18 skaters found the scoresheet in a win that proved the Flyers are deeper than just one player, even if it is the NHL’s leading scorer.

“It says a lot about this team,” said Jaromir Jagr. “I wasn’t very confident about today’s game when we lost the best player in the league. It’s not easy to play without him. We have to play the same way and the guys stepped up.

“I thought we played all-around. All four lines played good hockey and that’s what you need when you’re missing players like that.”

Couturier Relishing Opportunity To Step Up

12 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — When Sean Couturier made the Flyers’ roster, he was a cool customer. He didn’t show any signs of nervousness and quietly did whatever he had to in order to stick around. Now, with Claude Giroux out of the lineup, Couturier has a whole new opportunity and predictably he is just rolling with the punches.

For most of the third period on Saturday and in practice on Monday, Couturier took Giroux’s spot in between Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr.

“You know, we had to move somebody up,” said Peter Laviolette. “Claude wasn’t on the ice. We finished the game that way the other night, we had moved Sean up there. He generated two or three good quality scoring chances. We just had to get through practice today, and we’ll figure out the lines and the lineup tomorrow.

“But just based on the way he finished the game the other night, we thought he did a good job so we put him there in practice.”

By all accounts, it looks like Couturier will play the same role in Washington on Tuesday and that’s just fine with him.

“It’s pretty fun,” said the rookie. “Obviously you gotta be always ready when they’re out there. Some passes you don’t expect sometimes that those guys can make so I’ve always got to be ready if I play with them.

“Obviously it’s a big spot to be in but I’m just gonna be myself and do whatever I can to help the team.”

Giroux has 16 goals and 23 assists. He’s the leading scorer in the NHL. That obviously isn’t the expectation for 19-year-old Couturier, nor does he feel the pressure to fill his teammate’s skates.

“Not really,” said Couturier. “It’s an opportunity so I try to see it that way and just do what I can do to help the team.

“I try to play the same way, two-way forward. I still have to take care of my own end first. When we’re in the offensive zone we obviously can create more. With those two guys, they have a lot of talent so it’s easier to create stuff.”

His new linemates are guys he hasn’t skated with all season, not even in practice and not in preseason. They’ve watched each other from the bench, but the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s game was the first time they’re really gotten to know each other as players.

“I think all of his game is underrated,” said Jagr of his new center. “I can see he’s a great player. When he’s had a chance to play, he’s a very good player. He’s got a lot of scoring chances on penalty kills. Not many guys can do that.”

Couturier will try not to be awestruck by his new right winger, but he admitted that there is a certain shock factor to how Jagr operates.

“When you’re on the bench you say ‘wow,’ but when you’re out there but when you’re out there you’ve got to be ready for those ‘wow’ plays,” said Couturier. “I just got to be ready and prepare to get some nice passes.”

Giroux and Jagr didn’t take long to form the chemistry that has aided both players to No. 1 and No. 3 respectively on the team in scoring.

“Sometimes, it takes forever. Sometimes, it’s five minutes,” said Jagr. “I feel like there’s a lot of skill in this dressing room. I would play we play a similar style, all the players, especially on the first three lines. I think everybody can play with everybody on the first three lines.”

For most of the season, Couturier hasn’t been in that top nine. Now he’s not only in that mix. He’s front and center.

Flyers Complete Another Comeback Over Buffalo

7 Dec

If you’re having déjà vu, the Flyers have acted this script before. If fact, they did it on Friday. But they had a repeat performance on Wednesday, erasing a three-goal deficit to come back and win 5-4 in overtime over the Buffalo Sabres.

Although the Flyers seem to have a knack for this whole comeback thing, it looked so ugly early on that it wasn’t even a thought. The Flyers were outshot 9-3 in the early going, until former Flyer Ville Leino made it a 1-0 game.

Braydon Coburn had his pocket picked by Luke Adam. Adam backhanded to Zack Kassian who made the touch-pass to Leino who had a wide open net as Bryzgalov had already committed to Kassian. It was Leino’s third goal of the season, but fourth point in his last three games.

From there, it didn’t get any better for Bryzgalov who allowed two questionable goals. One was from Kassian who used Marc-Andre Bourdon as a screen. The other came on a Buffalo power play when he couldn’t hold the post against Thomas Vanek’s shot.

But instead of waiting for Peter Laviolette to make a first-intermission speech, Max Talbot scored on a buzzer beater to make it a two-goal game and start the comeback early.

The intra-conference rivalry heated up even more in the second period, when Marc-Andre Bourdon was called for boarding on a hit on Nathan Gerbe. For that he had to answer to Matt Ellis, and the Flyer won the fight.

Goalie Ryan Miller didn’t like that he had Flyers invading his crease. His own defenseman, Brayden McNabb, knocked his helmet off and Miller took a puck to the face as a result. With Miller rattled, the Flyers continued to strike.

The Flyers scored two goals in the second stanza to tie the game, both thanks to screens of the goalie. Jaromir Jagr untied it with an incredible toe drag to avoid Andrej Sekera and used the defenseman as a screen to beat Miller up high.

In the third period, the Flyers shut the door, playing more defensive hockey, but controlling the puck for the majority of the period. That is, until Drew Stafford scored from the slot to tie the game and force overtime. But the Sabres made a costly mistake in the extra session.

Marc-Andre Gragnani tried a cross-ice pass that was picked off by Claude Giroux who became the NHL’s scoring leader when he beat Miller five-hole on a breakaway.

The comeback script is one the Flyers have played out a couple times now and the third time in team history that they have accomplished that twice in a single season. They’ll have to hope it didn’t take too much out of them because even though they’re without Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins are waiting for them for a Thursday night game.