Quick Hits: October 25, 2021
1) Following an off-day on Sunday, the Flyers will hold practice at the FTC in Voorhees on Monday and then depart for their three-game Western Canada road trip. Hopefully there will be more clarity about the availability of Ryan Ellis for the start of the trip. Patrick Brown figures to make his Flyers debut at some point during the trip. The trip schedule is as follows:
* Wed @ Edmonton (10:00 p.m. ET)
* Thu @ Vancouver (10:00 p.m. ET)
* Sat @ Calgary (10:00 p.m. ET)
The Flyers will return home next Sunday. Their next home game is Nov. 2 against the Arizona Coyotes.
2) The Lehigh Valley Phantoms remain winless for the young 2021-22 season but managed to collect one point on Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 home overtime loss from a nationally televised (NHL Network) game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Sunday's game was far too much like most of the others that new head coach Ian Laperriere's team has played dating back to the preseason:
* Very little offensive cohesion: Sustained attacks are few and far between. The team isn't playing with pace, and plays itself into situations where it's too easy to take Phantoms players off the puck. The team struggles to get controlled entries. It also struggles to chip pucks behind the defense and either retrieve it or force turnovers. There's no forechecking consistency whatsoever.
The bottom line is this: Four games into the season, the Phantoms have four total goals. Not a single one yet has come at 5-on-5. One was a power play goal. Two, including a Max Willman rebound goal yesterday to force OT, were scored 6-on-5 with the Lehigh Valley goalie pulled for an extra attacker. Willman also scored a shorthanded (4-on-5) breakaway goal the previous day.
The Phantoms have run into some good goaltending, especially in the first two games of the season. But they also have not generated nearly enough A-grade chances, scrambles around the net or even shots in general. On Sunday, the Phantoms had four power play in the second period alone (0-for-6 for the game) and yet got outshot by a 13-8 margin (and that's even with a late flurry by Lehigh Valley in the final few minutes). Things got better in the third period on Sunday but that's relative after being outshot and outchanced in five straight periods over two days.
* Inability to win 50-50 battles or key faceoffs: When the pucks are along the walls, few of the Phantoms players have dug them loose or emerged with control. Likewise, too many faceoffs are being lost cleanly. This is especially true on the power play. Lose the draw. Fail to keep in the clearly attempt. Go back 200 feet and start over. Rinse, wash, repeat. The Phantoms have started the season at 1-for-22 on the power play.
* Overreliance on the goalies: The play of Felix Sandström and Samuel Ersson has been the biggest positive takeaway from the Phantoms' first four games. The goalies have kept the scores close and given the team a chance to win despite all of the aforementioned problems. But there are bound to be defensive breakdowns or screens that produce chances no goalie can stop unless the shooter makes a mistake. There are also bound to be some unfavorable bounces on plays that wind up in the net. That describes most of the opposition goals to date.
* Injury woes: No Ryan Fitzgerald (who will be out until early 2022). No Linus Sandin (surgery for fractured orbital bone). No Wade Allison (high ankle sprain, although he'd probably be in the NHL with the Flyers if healthy). No Tanner Laczynski (hip surgery, lost for the season, might have been in NHL if healthy). No Zayde Wisdom (shoulder surgery in August, out until December, might go to the OHL when cleared). No Mason Millman (kneecap, out several months). A team can't use injuries as an excuse, but that's a whole lot of depleted depth.
3) First-level seats for the upcoming Flyers Alumni Hall of Fame Game at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 15 are $35 to $45. Participating players include Rick Tocchet, Mark Howe, Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Simon Gagne, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Scottie Upshall (in his first Flyers Alumni game), Riley Cote and many others. Other names will be officially made public later this week.
In celebration of Tocchet and Paul Holmgren (an assistant coach under Mike Keenan later turned head coach) event will be the largest-scale reunion of players assembled from the "Keenan's Kids" era that reached two Stanley Cup Finals and a Wales Conference Final in the span of five seasons.
Additionally, there will be two Broad Street Bullies era players, both in their 70s, who will suit up one more time for the game. A slew of the other Bullies era notables will attend in off-ice capacities. There will also be a few Keenan era and more recent era Alumni who won't play but will be involved in form or another. Several more who cannot attend plan to record video congratulatory messages to Tocchet and Holmgren.
The VIP ticket packages are, admittedly, a high-cost option. However, they carry special perks; the biggest one being a private Happy Hour reception along with all of the attending Alumni including 14 Flyers Hall of Fame members. The reception includes a full bar and upscale food options. VIP holders also receive a limited edition Flyers Hall of Fame puck autographed by Tocchet and Holmgren. "Tocc" and "Homer" are, of course, the lead guests of honor at the reception.
Keep in mind that 100 percent of the proceeds go to Flyers Charities and the Flyers Alumni Association's charity programs (Every Child Deserves a Bike, 12 Days of Christmas Giving, etc.)
4) Today in Flyers History: On Oct. 25, 1984, Tim Kerr racked up four goals (including a semi-natural hat trick on the second, third and fourth tallies in a 2:27 span) in a 7-2 rout of the St. Louis Blues. For a video retrospective on that game, click here
5) Oct. 25 Flyers Alumni birthday: Josef Beranek (1969).