Saturday, December 27, 2014

Comebacks aside, Flyers need better starts; Preds, Weber next

On one hand, the Flyers have shown amazing resiliency as they have won eight games _ seven since Dec. 4 _ with comebacks that have erased third-period deficits.

Comebacks aside, Flyers need better starts; Preds, Weber next

On one hand, the Flyers have shown amazing resiliency as they have won eight games _ seven since Dec. 4 _ with comebacks that have erased third-period deficits.

On the other hand….

They are living too much on the edge and need to play better early in games so that the late heroics aren’t needed.

“Sooner or later, you’re not going to win every game in the third,” said Brayden Schenn after the Flyers escaped with a dramatic 4-3 win in Buffalo on Tuesday, using Vinny Lecavalier’s goal with 14.8 seconds left to end a two-game losing streak. “We’re getting lucky lately and able to score some goals in the third and get some breaks and bounces.”

On Thursday, the Flyers (24-19-4) host Nashville (20-21-7) and Shea Weber, the standout defenseman they had hoped would replace Chris Pronger. The Flyers signed Weber, then a restricted free agent, to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet in the summer of 2012, but Nashville retained his rights by matching the offer

This will be the first time Weber (11 goals, 30 points, minus-15) has faced the Flyers since they tried to sign him. The teams didn’t meet in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, and Weber had an eye injury and didn’t play in the Flyers’ 3-2 shootout win in Nashville earlier this season.

In Tuesday’s win, Lecavalier scored his goal on a one-timer from the left circle after a poised set up by Matt Read.

Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth tried, unsuccessfully, to get to his feet after making a sprawling save prior to Lecavalier’s drive.

The Flyers desperately need Lecavalier to regain his early-season form. Tuesday’s goal ended a 13-game drought, his longest stretch since his rookie season in 1998-99.

Lecavlaier has struggled to find his rhythm after missing nine games because of a non-displaced fracture in his lower back. He said his back feels fine, but that it has taken him a while to get his legs back in shape since returning Dec. 21.

“I was out four weeks, and I didn’t do much because it was my back,” he said. “I couldn’t skate. I don’t want to use it as an excuse, but I think the last three or four games, I’m really starting to move better out there. This game is so tight, that any little inch you can get makes a huge difference. I felt I had that the last three or four games.”

Scott Hartnell and his line carried the load Tuesday. Hartnell had three points (goal, two assists), Wayne Simmonds had two assists, and Schenn had his fifth goal in the last nine games.

Hartnell has overcome a slow start, collecting 14 points in his last 14 games.

It was vintage Hartnell on Tuesday. He fell down three or four times _ “an epic HartnellDown,”  Claude Giroux called one of them _ but he also was in the middle of a comeback that saw the Flyers score three goals in the last 6 minutes, 32 seconds.

“We showed a lot of character, especially late,” said Hartnell, who left the ice and received medical attention after blocking a first-period shot with his ankle. “You could feel we were building momentum in that third period.”

Now they need to start building some EARLY momentum. The Flyers have allowed the first goal in six of the last seven games _ and they haven’t played with as much urgency until their third-period wake-up call.

Breakaways. Nashville acquired goalie Devan Dubnyk (3.36 GAA) and sent forward Matt Hendricks (two goals) to Edmonton on Wednesday. Dubnyk was part of the Oilers' goalie tandem with Ilya Bryzgalov.......Lecavalier reached the 10-goal mark Tuesday, giving the Flyers seven double-figure goal scorers. Entering Wednesday, Winnipeg was the only other NHL team that had that many….Lecavalier injured his back but managed to score the game-winner in the 3-2 shootout victory in Nashville on Nov. 30...Entering Wednesday, Weber topped all NHL defensemen in goals.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

 

 

 

Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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