Quick Hits: Venue Shift, Giroux, Prospects and More
QUICK HITS: APRIL 14, 2018
1) The Flyers will hold a noon practice on Saturday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. On Sunday, the Flyers will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 3 p.m. in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.
2) The Flyers have asked that all fans with tickets to Sunday's game at the Wells Fargo Center please double-check their ticket to make sure it is the correct one. The ticket should say "Road 1, Home Game 1", NOT Home Game 3 (which would provide admission to series Game 6). While most fans do not get confused between the home game vs. series game distinction, there are inevitably some who bring the wrong tickets. It has happened in the past.
3) The NHL will not hold a hearing or impose a fine on Claude Giroux for his hit on Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang. From this side, there was zero doubt of the play being far from worthy of any discussion of supplementary discipline. At absolute most, it could have been called an interference minor if the officials believed that the collision was avoidable.
4) Overall, the officiating in Game 2 was adequate. Wes McCauley did his usual strong job, and Tim Peel did his usual flighty job but they communicated well. My take on the other calls worth discussing:
* The Flyers got a gift on their first power play, which should not have been a penalty and which led to Shayne Gostisbehere's goal that opened the scoring. Zach Aston-Reese was penalized for boarding but the hit looked fine to me.
* The Travis Konecny roughing penalty was the right call and a very undisciplined play by Konecny. These types of penalties often seem to end up in power play goals, but the Flyers penalty killers and goalie Brian Elliott stepped up.
* The offsetting Andrew MacDonald and Patric Hörnqvist slashing penalties were correct. The calls were made after a retaliatory chop by MacDonald. Often, only the return shot is called. So the right decision was made here.
* The officials should have taken both Wayne Simmonds and an embellishing Evgeni Malkin off on a scrum from which only Simmonds got the gate. There was equal aggression.
* A correct common sense non-call was made to let Sidney Crosby's frustrated stick smash and after-the-buzzer discarding of his broken stick go at the end of the second period. Yes, the play was technically ongoing when he deliberately smashed his stick but the rule book is rarely called to the exact letter of the law. The frustration was understandable after he tucked a sure-fire goal through the crease instead of into the net. Not for a moment did I think the right decision would have been to call a penalty.
* Hörnqvist 100 percent deliberately launched himself at the end boards on the cross-check from MacDonald. He also protected himself with his gloves going in. Peel seemed to buy it, but McCauley recognized the embellishment. The refs talked it out to arrive at the right call.
5) Congratulations go out to Flyers 2017 second-round pick Isaac Ratcliffe, who scored his first pro goal in his AHL debut with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night. The towering left winger moved in front of the net and deflected home a Reese Willcox point shot for a 2-1 lead for the Phantoms. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers wanted a goalie interference call and the play was reviewed but the goal stood. The Phantoms won, 5-2.
6) Flyers goaltending prospect Carter Hart recorded a combined shutout (third Everett shutout of the playoffs) on Friday night as the Everett Silvertips skated to a 4-0 win to close out their second round playoff series with the Portland Winterhawks in five games. From Game 2 through Game 5, all Hart did was stop 138 of 142 shots (.971 SV%) and record a pair of shutouts. His best game wasn't even one of his shutouts: it was a 42-save performance in Game 4 in which the Silvertips were massively outshot and outchanced for two periods but took a 1-0 lead into the third period because of their goaltender. In Game 5, Hart briefly left the game due to illness and then returned, so it is technically a combined shutout with Dustin Wolf, who played 9:22. Hart made 30 saves, Wolf made 4.
7) Flyers center prospect Morgan Frost sealed the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds' 4-1 win over the Owen Sound Attack with an empty net goal on Friday night. Frost, who missed out on a pair of assist opportunities earlier due to a hit post and not quite touching the puck (but taking a defenseman with him) on a Soo goal, kept alive his streak of at least one point in every playoff game to date this spring. The Greyhounds now lead the second-round series, three games to two, after dropping Games 1 and 3. Game 6 is in Owen Sound on Sunday.