The goal of this newsletter, which debuts today, is to inform, educate, analyze and occasionally pass along a good laugh about the local hockey club. Speaking of learning, the Flyers head into Wednesday’s game at St. Louis having lost eight in a row to teams that won the Stanley Cup the previous year. Yikes. With factoids like this, it’s important to note that it is not the goal of this newsletter to spur liquor sales in the area.
We’re going to do this twice a week for the rest of the Flyers season: Tuesdays and Thursdays.
— Ed Barkowitz (EBarkowitz@inquirer.com)
Boy, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was fuming. As if watching his team blow a three-goal lead and lose to the Flyers wasn’t bad enough, while he was setting up to do a postgame TV hit for a Boston TV station, a headset cord briefly got wrapped around his face. Hard not to feel bad for the poor production guy.
It remains to be seen what this win will mean for the Flyers going forward. After the road trip from hell, they beat the Capitals, hung with the Lightning and stunned the Bruins. All three of those teams are legit Cup contenders, and the Flyers certainly got Boston’s attention.
“They compete hard. They don’t give up,” said Brad Marchand, who added another chapter to this colorful rivalry with an unforgettable flub. “They’ve been pretty resilient, especially at home this year. They just kept coming, kept pressuring us. They were jumping four or five guys on every play.”
The comeback from three goals down midway through the second period was impressive, but Marchand’s misplay in the shootout was the headline. The Bruins needed a goal after Travis Konecny had scored. Marchand, a first-class agitator and one of the best players in the league, skated to center ice to take the puck with the game in the balance.
And then he missed it. Not the shot. He missed the puck. Brushed it a few inches, where it lay harmlessly at center ice while the Flyers celebrated a 6-5 win that might be their biggest victory of the season.
“I know that rule,” he told reporters afterward. “If you touch it on a penalty shot, that’s your shot. It’s unfortunate definitely to lose on a play like that. … I was trying to get going and I just missed it. I’m not going to overthink it.”
Before Monday’s contest, Marchand and Jake Voracek engaged in some gamesmanship when Voracek tried to fire the puck into the Boston net at the end of warmups. Marchand stayed out on the ice specifically to prevent it. After the mishap, his teammates predictably supported their star player.
“He’s a world-class player,” David Krejci said. “It happens. It happens to the best. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while. No one is blaming him. He’s just one of those five shooters who didn’t score. It doesn’t matter how.”
Carter Hart stopped four legitimate Bruins chances and got credit for the win after Marchand’s mistake.
“It’s pretty funny that it happened to him and it has happened now twice to me in the short amount of shootouts I’ve been in,” Hart explained. “Him and [Toronto’s John] Tavares last year. When [Marchand] skated by, we were kind of confused. We weren’t sure if we won or not, but then the ref confirmed it. I mean, you could see the puck move.”
Entering the week, FanDuel had the Flyers at 28-1 to win the Stanley Cup, 15-1 to win the East and 18-1 to win the Metropolitan Division. Stay away from that division prop. The Flyers are 13 points back of the Capitals and would have to jump four teams. That ain’t happening.
Boston and Washington are favored at 8.5-1, followed by Colorado, St. Louis and Tampa Bay at 9.5-1. After Wednesday’s game at St. Loo, the Flyers will have played four of the five top favorites within eight days. Whew.
Wednesday: Flyers at St. Louis, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Thursday: Montreal at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Saturday: Los Angeles at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Tuesday, Jan. 21: Pittsburgh at Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Saturday, Jan. 25: All-Star Game, at St. Louis, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Friday, Jan. 31: Flyers at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Monday, Feb. 24: Trade deadline, 3 p.m.
Impossible not to do a hard stop when there’s a mention of the ’82 Flyers when Pelle Lindbergh was a rookie — even if it’s an unfortunate mention.
Rangers defenseman and Washington Township native Tony DeAngelo rolled up five points against the Devils last week and became the first Blueshirt defenseman to record a regular-season hat trick since the immortal Reijo Ruotsalainen had three goals against the Flyers on March 17, 1982. It was the fourth game of Lindbergh’s career.
“Rexy [Ruotsalainen] picked St. Patrick’s Day to score his first NHL hat trick,” Inquirer sports writer Al Morganti wrote. “When the game was over, the sad fact was that Pat Quinn, the large leprechaun who coaches the Flyers, was wearing a green tie and a frown while, down the hall, Ruotsalainen, who hails from Oulu, Finland, was hamming it up for photographers in one of the green Irish hats that had been tossed onto the ice to honor his hat trick.”
DeAngelo is in his second season with the Rangers, his third organization since being drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round in 2014. He already has set career highs for points (36) and goals (11) and seems to have found a home on Broadway. At 24, he could be a problem for the next decade for the Flyers, who next play the Rangers on Feb. 28.
“I never had a hat trick,” DeAngelo told New York’s Newsday, “even in juniors.”
@HouseMoney729 asked Sam Carchidi on Twitter on Monday if there was any news on Nolan Patrick.
There is not, but there might be on Tuesday morning. Patrick, who continues to be sidelined with migraines, has not played this season. His absence has left a gaping hole in the lineup, and been a key reason for the merry-go-round at 4C. Connor Bunnaman, who had a goal Monday night, is the latest to audition.
Perhaps Fletcher will have an update on Tuesday. But the next piece of good news on Patrick will be the first. When dealing with head issues, caution is key.