Saturday, March 10, 2018

Inside Access: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Winnipeg Jets


Philadelphia Flyers vs. Winnipeg Jets
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
March 10, 2018
Game Time – 1 p.m.

The Philadelphia Flyers (34-23-11, 79 points) entered the game in third place in the Eastern Conference's Metropolitan Division. The Winnipeg Jets (41-17-9, 91 points) were in second place in the Western Conference's Pacific Division.

The Flyers were on a five game winless streak, going 0-4-1 during that time. Winnipeg beat Philadelphia 3-2 in a shootout at home earlier this season (November 16, 2017).

The next generation of Flyers' fans were scheduled to be celebrated throughout the game during Kids Day.

On a personal note...It's always great to speak with a wide variety of people whenever I have the opportunity to work as a credentialed member of the media. Today, I had the unexpected pleasure of eating lunch with an intelligent and warm-hearted man who handles transportation for the Flyers (and for Philadelphia's three other major sports franchises). Al's positive outlook on life was inspirational. It was easy to see why he's been successful and is so well regarded, as many people stopped by our table to say hello to him during our conversation.

After lunch I went to the press level, where I spoke with Mark before the game started. A handful of years ago this NHL scout was gracious enough to speak with me and a few young freelancers who I asked to join us between periods. His father, Gordie, was with us that day as well.

Two similar character traits that Al and Mark shared were eye contact and discussion of family pride. Both men made eye contact with me throughout our conversations, affirming their honesty. The earnest nature in which they spoke about their family members was also evident.

Countless moments in life are subjective. Al and Mark have been and will, in my opinion, remain successful in their lives because of the manner in which they interact with nondescript people, like myself.

The last names of the men I spoke to today weren't used, but many people in the Wells Fargo Center know who both people are. Hockey fans around the world also know who Mark is and who his father was.

First Period

Petr Mrazek started in goal for Philadelphia. Connor Hellebuyck was in net for Winnipeg.

(Petr Mrazek)

No noteworthy action through the first half-plus of the period. With 8:57 remaining, the Flyers had outshot the Jets 8-4. By the end of the frame the shots were 11-9 in Philly's favor.

The Jets' Dustin Byfuglien was the only man who served time in the penalty box (tripping, called at 8:56) in this period. The Flyers were unable to score during that time.

Second Period

An early power play nearly turned disastrous for the Flyers, as the short-handed Jets broke up ice on a three-on-one. Mrazek held his ground and made a save on a close range shot.

Matt Read had one of the better scoring chances of the game when he swiped the puck at the Jets blue line and went in on a mini-breakaway, but couldn't put it past Hellebuyck.

There had been more motion through the first 4:22 of this period than there had been in the entire first period.

(Claude Giroux)

Working in the offensive zone after a Jets penalty was called, Giroux buried a wrist shot (his twenty-fourth of the season) to give the Flyers the lead at 5:40. Assists to Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

(The Hometown Hero segment during this period served as another reminder that freedom isn't free, as a local man was honored for his military service while the crowd cheered and U.S.A. chants followed.)

(Andrew MacDonald)

An odd goal was scored. Awhile after Andrew MacDonald (fifth) broke the goal line, on a shot that quickly bounced in-and-out on the side netting, Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek were credited with assists.

The goal actually occurred at 8:01, but wasn't credited until play had stopped with nearly nine minutes having elapsed. A review was conducted and the goal was credited. Kudos to the official's consideration and modern video technology.

Shots stood at 26-20, in the Flyers' favor, two-thirds of the way through the game, as a two-goal lead showed on the scoreboard.

Third Period

An early-period penalty to Radko Gudas (delay of the game) was killed off. That penalty kill, in particular, reinforced the fact that the team was reverting to its proactive demeanor, which had been spotty during the recent four-game losing streak played out. While the team hadn't panicked, it's play was sloppy at times.

Travis Konecny's penalty (8:26, tripping) resulted in Winnipeg's first goal at 8:58. A hard slap shot over Mrazek's shoulder, by Patrik Laine (fortieth), was set up by Blake Wheeler and Paul Stastny.

(Travis Konecny)

As the game wound down it was evident that the Flyers wanted to secure the victory. Hakstol's squad wasn't laying back. Winnipeg pulled its goalie with approximately a minute to go, but to no avail.

The Final: Flyers 2 – Jets 1.

Postgame Quotes

Responses to media questions after the game:

Philadelphia Flyers  Head Coach  Dave Hakstol

(Dave Hakstol - Postgame Presser)

Is your lack of power play production a little bit concerning in this point of the season?
The stats say 0 for 2. We actually got a big goal in this game with the extra attacker and the goalie pulled. So yeah you can stretch it one way or another whichever you like. We had some good things on the PP tonight. On the two opportunities, the full opportunities we did have obviously we didn’t get one. We got to give other teams PK’s a little bit of credit as well. They’ve done a good job. We have full confidence in our group in our PK and our power play.”

Did Travis Sanheim look any different to you today than when you last saw him two months ago?
He just looked like a guy who got his game back a little bit and that’s the benefit of being able to go down and play strong minutes down there in different situations. That’s all a credit to him. It’s all how you handle the assignment going back there. He dug in immediately from what I am told from day one and played extremely well right from the start down there. Like I said it just looks like a guy who absolutely has his game back. He is a good player for us tonight and he helped us win.”

Konecny’s his game kind of carries on the edge a little bit. It seems like he gets motivation out of that and so forth. When he steps out and commits a penalty like that is it just something that you have to remind him to keep things under control?
It’s all the situation. TK is a huge part of our team. That energy that he plays with he’s always got to be on the line. The tough part this time of year is navigating and not going over that line and tonight the penalty was obviously not good timing. That can’t happen and he knows that. Like I said he is a huge part of our team and unfortunately we didn’t get the kill on that one but this time of year little things make a difference. So I don’t want TK to change his game at all. There are a couple little adjustments he has to make in the third period nothing more.”

When you talk to him later and you tell him you don’t want him to change his game but at the same time he has to develop a recognition of the situation…
I won’t get into my conversation with him a whole lot. There are a lot of those conversations that go on with individual players. I guess you guys beat me into the room tonight. So that’s just how it is. I don’t want to get into it too much in terms of what I talked about. Obviously one of the things you guys are focused on the penalty he took. There are just little parts of the game this time of the year get ramped up and it’s not just him. It’s our entire team. There are things out of this game that we can take and hopefully build and get better from.”

As much as things came together in Boston you thought the team game improved. How much did you need that result to kind of get guys going a little bit too?
Well you got to get the result to just really hold that energy. You need to get that result. It’s deflating when you play hard. We played hard in Boston and there are some things we could have done better and like I said we tried to address those and clean them up. We came back today and we played really hard. When you get the result it is a lot easier to carry that energy and that positive energy as you go forward. It doesn’t mean there aren’t things out of this game that we have to clean up because there is. So we will do that. We will address that. We needed the two points. Just looking at the standings we needed it. It was a good win for us to get headed in the right direction not just having good efforts.”

Mrazek didn’t play Thursday. Friday was a full day off the ice. Do you think he looked like a more rested guy?
I don’t think he was wearing down. I didn’t see any of that in there or at practice. I didn’t see any fatigue really in his game but he was sharp tonight. He did his job and that’s what we need everyone on our roster to do is go out and do the job and he did that tonight.”

Finally Toronto helps you instead of hurts you.
Yeah that’s the first time I think I have seen that situation but before our guys went back they radioed that they thought it was in.”

Lehtera wasn’t playing nearly as well as he played today. What did you see in him that makes him a good option for fourth line?
He does so many good little things. I said it the other day. He just goes out and does his job every single day. His game is becoming more and more effective it seems like every game. I thought tonight he was an effective player. He has an ability. He is very detailed no matter the number of minutes he plays. No matter if it’s five on five or a little bit of PK, or full blown PK which he has been for us as of late. Guys like that in the dressing room and on the bench are invaluable. They go out onto the ice and do everything right and that helps build the confidence of your team.”

Even though the results haven’t been there yet for Oskar Lindblom as far as points. Are you seeing him continue to pay strong attention to other details? Even the scoring chances themselves.
Yeah absolutely, especially when you look back at Boston and you start thinking when is one going to go in for this young guy. Sometimes you start to see young guys start to squeeze it a little bit if they don’t score. You don’t see that in Oskar. He just continues to do things the right way and this time of year it’s about winning your puck battles. Making good smart plays with the puck. Being in spots where you are going to get good offensive opportunities and going to the hard areas and he does all of those things. So he is going to get one soon enough and until he does he continues to be good and strong player for us.”

Dave how pleased were you with the PK especially with a team like that?
It was good. It starts with a couple of the first face offs with G winning the draw. Not just winning the draw but getting the puck two hundred feet. That sets the momentum in your direction. We did a good job. They got one of the most lethal guys obviously in the league. We made one mistake and he got one shot off and that is the result. I thought overall collectively throughout the game the PK was outstanding.”

Philadelphia Flyers C Travis Konecny

The shift you had at the end of the second period, what was going through mind when you got decked and you got up and got [Patrik] Laine?
Yeah I was just frustrated because I think on the play my stick broke and then I got hit so I just reacted, I wasn’t necessarily targeting anybody specific, but he just happened to have the puck so I made a strong play on him.

Coach spoke to you for a while here, was he just reminding you?
That’s just between him and I, not gonna comment.

A lot of good things were done in the Boston game despite the disappointing outcome, did you feel you kind of built on that 60 minute effort into today?
Yeah for sure, I think we can take a lot of positives from today I think we played a really good game, other than when I took that penalty there and they had to go on the power play we didn’t give them very much. We played a pretty tight game tonight and played simple and it paid off for us so I think we just keep building off this.

Did Travis Sanheim look like a different player to you than what you saw last time he was here?
Well he definitely had some confidence and some swagger today, I’ve seen it out of Sanny before he’s played like that plenty of times, but he had some confidence today and he looked good.

You guys said you played tight, Petr was there to kind of support you guys in case anything went through, can you talk about how the goalie played today?
I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, he stood on his head for us tonight, he made a couple of incredible glove saves on some key players on the other side and a big part of why we’ve been in a lot of these games, our goaltending’s been keeping us around and he played well tonight.

You’ve had such a long stretch of success on that top line, is there such a thing as being too loose, getting into taking a couple of those penalties?
No, I don’t think I played perfect every night, just I don’t know he stepped on my stick it’s not like it’s too loose it’s just a fluke thing.

Philadelphia Flyers D Travis Sanheim

(Travis Sandheim)

How’d you feel?
I felt good.”

Tough scenario to come back into?
For sure, they are a good team too. Playing with Macker gave me a lot of confidence, we communicated pretty well and I felt good.”

How important was it to keep a positive attitude? You’ve got good numbers up there?
I think that’s the biggest thing when I went down, I wanted to continue to keep that confidence when I came up here. Like I said, I felt pretty good out there.”

When you’re with the Phantoms and even today, it looked like you were taking plays where you were breaking up plays in the neutral zone, defensive zone and turning it the other way turning defense into offense. Is that something you maybe wanted to tighten up and get back to?
Yeah, I think so. I think having a good gap and having a good stick and being aggressive when the right circumstances come. Tonight I broke up a few plays and then turned it and went the other way. I want to continue to keep that in my game.”

Travis, do you feel any different from the last time you were here? Confident?
Yeah, I think going down there gives me the confidence of playing a lot of minutes down there and coming back up. Just knowing that I can play at this level and not having to worry about it that early on.”

With how big the gap was from January to now, were there nerves, did it feel like your first game in LA again?
There were definitely some nerves. I was just excited to be back with this group, it felt so familiar. Spending half a year here with the guys, it didn’t take long to adjust.”

How much do you want to make this more than just an injury call up to prove that you belong here?
Obviously, when I went down I wanted to get that next opportunity. It’s unfortunate with the injuries, but I got a chance here to take advantage of the opportunity. I’m going to just keep going with it.”

Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman Andrew MacDonald

Andrew, after the last game ended in Boston when you’re in a tight situation in the third does that kind of reinforce the point today?

I mean, we’ve been in close games throughout the season, I think we can draw from those. We’ve played well in those situations at times through the year and we knew the importance of today’s game.  We recognized we were playing strong and just to continue with it we did a great job without a thought.

What point did you realize your shot went in?

I didn’t know, I was actually more mad because I missed it on the rebound after it came out of his glove, I thought I should have had that one and then I went to the bench and G mentioned that it was in and within seconds they blew the horn so its obviously a nice feeling to be able to chip in like that.

How big was this win today after the past few games?

It was pretty good, I thought that we’ve played well especially that Boston game.  But it’s a tough way to lose that late in the game like that but you certainly don’t want to let games pile up the wrong way against you especially at this time in the year the way our race is going so for us to be able to come in tonight and have a nice complete game, I thought it was really big.

I know Peter Mrazek might have won, but you have to be pretty impressed with the upper hand tonight.

Yeah he was awesome, did a great job with tracking the puck really well and they have a lot of weapons over there. It’s a big team, a lot of traffic, he fought through. Just an all around great performance by him.

Overall, does it feel like the penalty kills are starting to settle in?

Yeah,  the numbers don’t really indicate it but I think we’re aware of what we need to be doing, we addressed a lot of things throughout the year and I thought the last little bit we’ve done a nice job, we have given up a few goals here and there but I think it’s come a long way.

What did you think of Travis Sanheim coming back in?

I thought he was great, right from the first shift he was aggressive, he made some really nice stick plays in the neutral zone and broke up some plays. Sent their guys in on great transition plays, I think he made that nice stretch pass from behind our net right away and you could tell he was feeling comfortable and confident and I said earlier that’s a heck of a way to come back in. it’s not an easy situation that we lost the last five to be put into a situation like that but I think throughout the game he did a tremendous job and was really strong.

Did he look like a different player at all from what you saw in January?

I think he just seems confident. I think he had a lot of playing time in Lehigh and you could tell he felt good today making plays and stepping up with his stick, skating really well and it was great to see him, we’re going to need him

Philadelphia Flyers RW Claude Giroux

How badly was that win needed?
Yeah it was we had a tough stretch and we couldn’t find ways to win and it was a good test for us, Winnipeg are a pretty good team and I think we played a responsible game tonight.

You played pretty well against Boston too.  Obviously sour last minute, does that get into guys heads today when you’re in a tight game, tight situation last minute everything’s gotta be locked down a little bit more.
Yeah, but I think after Boston we got together, we talked about it, and we can’t let it phase us, we knew we played a good game in Boston, we put ourselves in a great position at the end to get at least one point and they got that lucky goal. We moved on and hopefully a game like this can get us going.

Is that something that could’ve manifested into guys heads and turned things even further south?
Could’ve, but I think we’ve done a good job this year when it doesn’t go our way we get our stuff together and we just play better.

What did you think of Travis Sanheim after stepping in first game here in almost two months?
Yeah he played a pretty good game, I think it’s his best game with us he’s moving the puck well, played a lot of good plays defensively and I was very impressed by his play tonight.

Goaltending, you guys are pretty tight in front of him, but he was there to clean up pretty much anything that got through, talk about his play tonight.
Yeah he played great it looked like he played with a lot of confidence tonight, anytime [Patrik] Laine had a shot from the side he made that save look pretty easy, but that wasn’t an easy save so he definitely kept us in the game.

How important is it to have a guy like Matt Read be able to come in and play on the PK and just pretty well defensively?
Yeah in Boston I thought he played a good game and tonight he played an even better game.   He’s just getting a little bit more comfortable now and that’s the kind of guy when he comes back in the lineup like that and plays well everybody’s happy for him, and he’s a good player.

Is that the kind of depth that’s gonna be huge down the stretch and then maybe in the playoffs?
Like I said he’s been playing good hockey, I think he’s got chemistry with his line mates there, they played a pretty solid game.

Petr came and played a lot of games pretty quick after the trade, do you think having a couple of days off maybe helped him kind of  reset himself a little bit, he looked like the guy right after the trade versus how he played in a few games before that?
Maybe, I’m not too sure that’s a good question.  But I think tonight he was very solid, we try to do the best we can in front of him, they have a lot of other players on the other side that can score goals so we try to do the most we could and if it wasn’t for my mistake in the PK he would’ve had a shutout so it happens, but he’s just a goalie that I really like to play in front of.

On your goal where you guys (inaudible) for the extra attacker? Did you see a hole there?
Yeah, I saw Fil going back door and I was looking to pass the whole way and lucky enough the fans were yelling at me to shoot so I just tried to find a hole and be able to get it in. 


Feel free to contact me if you feel that I can be of help to you, your family, or friends. 

I look forward to becoming friends on Facebook
Let's connect on LinkedIn and on Twitter @SeanyOB.