It has taken a few months, but Flyers center Nolan Patrick is starting to get his game in order.
Patrick missed last season because of a migraine disorder and has been in a battle this year to regain his form.
He has been playing much better lately, though it hadn’t shown in the stats before he deflected home just his second goal in the last 26 games Saturday, aiding the Flyers’ 2-1 win over the Rangers.
Coach Alain Vigneault said it has been challenging for players like Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, and Samuel Morin to get back in the swing after long layoffs.
“It’s hard for those guys. They’ve missed a lot of time,” Vigneault said after the Flyers ended a four-game losing streak. “They’re stepping in, pressure moments. Every time a player is on the ice right now, he can decide the outcome of the game. I like the way Nolan is trending. Hopefully for him and hopefully for our team, he keeps trending the right way.”
A resurgent Patrick is needed if the Flyers are going to sneak into the playoffs.
“Obviously missing the amount of time I did, it’s not easy, and I knew it was going to be a tough year coming back with the schedule we have,” Patrick said. “It’s obviously taking a little longer than I hoped to find my game. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer.”
Up next: Buffalo
The Flyers play their next two games in Buffalo, which would normally be welcome news because the Sabres have been historically (hysterically?) bad.
Then again, there are no guarantees for the Flyers these days. No gimmes. Not even a Buffalo team that has lost 17 straight (0-15-2), the longest streak since the shootout era started in 2005-06 and eliminated ties. It is also the longest skid in the NHL since Pittsburgh lost 18 in a row early in 2004.
The Winnipeg Jets hold the NHL record for most consecutive games without a win; they played 30 straight without a victory (0-23 with seven ties) from Oct. 19-Dec. 20, 1980.
The Flyers are 4-1 against the Sabres this season, including three straight shutouts before a 5-4 shootout win on March 9. The teams will meet Monday and Wednesday in Buffalo.
Ivan Prorovov had six shots, three blocks, and three hits Saturday in 26:06. … The Flyers’ 17 first-period shots were the most they have had in an opening period this season. … Travis Konecny was credited with five hits. ... The Flyers were 35-for-53 (66%) on faceoffs. Sean Couturier was 15-for-19 (78.9%) and Claude Giroux was 8-for-13 (61.5%).