Flyers suffer head-scratching loss in must-win situation for wild-card race – NBCSports.com

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Flyers suffer head-scratching loss in must-win situation for wild-card race – NBCSports.com

BOX SCORE

This is a game the Flyers probably can’t and won’t recover from.

Facing a team they had to catch in the standings, the Flyers fell to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, Tuesday night.

Goaltender Carey Price stopped 32 shots to beat the Flyers on Fan Appreciation Night. 

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• Typical first period at the Wells Fargo Center for the Flyers as the Canadiens dictated the pace of play. The one noticeable problem area for the Flyers was their inability to contain Montreal’s speed from the outside. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, blew completely around Shayne Gostisbehere before getting a shot up close on Carter Hart.

• Just because you get a body on Brendan Gallagher, don’t think you have him contained. That was Oskar Lindblom’s issue as the Flyers’ winger sent Gallagher to the ice, in what could have been an interference penalty, just inside the Flyers’ blue line. However, Gallagher never stops on any play. He left Lindblom behind and put home a rebound goal on Hart. There has to be a conscious effort to play physically against Gallagher, especially after he notched his first career hat trick against the Flyers last month.

• Despite Sean Couturier losing the faceoff, it appeared as if the Flyers had the Shea Weber shot defended pretty well. Watch Jakub Voracek race to the middle of the ice to guard against a possible shot from the point. Voracek appeared to be in position to block the shot, but perhaps had other ideas considering Weber can unload a 100-mph slapper. Preferably, I don’t like that shot getting on net.

Shea Weber fires the puck from the point. 2-0 Habs. pic.twitter.com/gbtOaBW2Fo

— David St-Louis (@RinksideView) March 20, 2019

• Couturier continued his blistering second half by snapping the Flyers’ 0-for-17 skid on the power play and pulling the Flyers within a goal. It was Couturier’s 30th goal of the season as he reached the 30-goal mark for the second straight season. He’s the first Flyer with back-to-back 30-goal seasons since Wayne Simmonds (2015-17). In my opinion, Couturier wins the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP.

COOTS DOESN’T QUIT!

He scores his 30th of the season to put the Flyers on the board | @skiJFBB pic.twitter.com/sbLr04Bs6k

— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 20, 2019

• Montreal came out the more determined team with more jump and more desperation in its game. Although the players won’t say it, I think they’ve been dealing with this “bug” that’s been going around the locker room — which would explain why Justin Bailey has been back and forth from Lehigh Valley. 

• Montreal also stifled the Flyers’ offense by not giving it very much time and space with the puck. Referees elected to swallow the whistle and allow both teams to play. They easily could have called some interference penalties in that second period.

• Unlike Claude Giroux on Sunday, defenseman Philippe Myers felt too sick to suit up in this game and was replaced by Andrew MacDonald, who has been in and out of the lineup over the past three weeks. There’s a belief that MacDonald could be a buyout recipient next season as he enters the final year of his contract, but unless the Flyers are desperate for the cap space, I don’t necessarily see a buyout as the best option. You need depth and MacDonald isn’t a bad option as a seventh defenseman.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Wayne Simmonds had gone goalless in his first eight games with the Predators.

Add on his final 16 games with the Flyers and Simmonds entered Tuesday night with just one goal over his last 24 games.

However, anyone would tell you the Predators acquired Simmonds from the Flyers at the Feb. 25 trade deadline for much more than goals. His impact goes beyond numbers. It’s hard to find a better locker-room guy — and that’s more than just a cliché; those type of players are valued, especially for contending teams eyeing advantages at the margins.

Jakub Voracek called Simmonds his best friend. Claude Giroux called him the “ultimate warrior” and “best teammate.” The Flyers’ captain was even at a loss for words when talking about Simmonds following the Feb. 23 Stadium Series win, their final game together.

That night, from the Eagles’ locker room in Lincoln Financial Field, Simmonds took the time to shake the hands of media members, who wanted to wish him well.

Classy and respected by everyone.

But Simmonds can still put the puck in the net, too. He did so for the first time with his new team when he lit the lamp in Nashville’s 3-0 victory Tuesday night over the Maple Leafs.

To see the joy on his face, it had to be a relief. 

The Predators have won three straight and are trying to catch the Jets for first place in the Central Division.

Soon, Simmonds will be playing postseason hockey.

Don’t be surprised to see him right in the middle of things.

FIRED UP#Preds | #TORvsNSH pic.twitter.com/sfJFzdTdRv

— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 20, 2019

Wayne Simmonds is the 180th player in #Preds franchise history to score a goal. #Waynetrain pic.twitter.com/mEBYmkiiPs

— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) March 20, 2019

First goal in Gold. 💪🏻@Simmonds17 | #Preds pic.twitter.com/j4AIrVjNI8

— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 20, 2019

This guy.#Preds | #TORvsNSH pic.twitter.com/uDxT2XOKDS

— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 20, 2019

Wayne Simmonds chirped Ryan Ellis while waiting to speak to the media.

Funny thing is that is was during a question about…Wayne Simmonds. #Preds pic.twitter.com/OUCsUrdwdr

— Justin Bradford (@justinbbradford) March 20, 2019

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — We’re down to the final 10 games of the regular season.

The Flyers can close to within four points of the final wild-card position and one point of the Canadiens with a regulation win on home ice Tuesday night.

Other important games vital to the Flyers’ playoff chances:

• Pittsburgh at Carolina, 7 p.m.

• Columbus at Calgary, 9 p.m.

Let’s take a look at tonight’s essentials:

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.

• Where: Wells Fargo Center

• Broadcast: NBCSP

• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The illness bug that plagued Claude Giroux has worked its way around the room and has now afflicted defenseman Philippe Myers, who did not participate in the morning skate and is a game-time decision.

• Goaltender Carter Hart will earn his second straight start after one of his finest performances of the season as he stopped 41 shots in the Flyers’ 2-1 victory Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Hart has two wins this season with 40 or more saves while allowing one goal or less. He’s the first rookie to do that in the same season since Columbus’ Steve Mason in 2008-09.

Hart is expected to go against his idol Carey Price, who has lost three of his last four starts, including the eight goals he allowed against the Ducks on March 8. Price has won just three of his last 10 starts on the road.

• James van Riemsdyk has scored 19 goals over his last 29 games and is second in the NHL since Jan. 10 behind only Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (20).

Sometimes it’s funny with guys who are goal scorers where it doesn’t look like there’s much to it. There’s lots of things you’re trying to time and it comes to chemistry. I’ve been getting into a good rhythm in the games. You want to expand your range as a player and that’s something I’ve worked really hard at. You look at where all the goals are scored, it’s no secret that goals are scored within 15 feet in front of the net. 

— van Riemsdyk

• The Canadiens were the third-place team in the Atlantic Division on the day they made the trade for Dale Weise and Christian Folin. Since then, Montreal is 6-10-1 and have fallen out of the playoff picture to ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

Folin is expected to play against the Flyers, while Weise, who has yet to score in nine games with the Canadiens, will be a healthy scratch.

• If you think the Flyers have a dismal power play, the Canadiens have been epically bad. Montreal is ranked last in the league at 11.9 percent. It would be the worst percentage on the man advantage since the 2013-14 Florida Panthers converted just 10 percent.

Former Flyer Jordan Weal is part of Montreal’s first power-play unit. Weal’s last power-play goal came on Feb. 18 as a member of the Arizona Coyotes.

Projected lineup

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Claude Giroux

Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl-Scott Laughton-Travis Konecny

Phil Varone-Corban Knight-Ryan Hartman

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim

Shayne Gostisbehere-Andrew MacDonald

Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas

Goalies

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

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