Round Robin Game 3 Preview: Flyers-Lightning

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Friday was an interesting day around the NHL, as several teams proved that this 24-team tournament can bring all sorts of unpredictability. Outside of the Round Robin, it was safe to expect the unexpected.

Both fifth-seeded teams went home. So did a sixth-seeded team. Toronto was nearly upset by Columbus before an epic comeback forced a Game 5 on Sunday.

For the Flyers, the equation is simple ahead of the first round. They play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in a battle for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The winner of the game will play their first-round series against the 12-seed Montreal Canadiens. The loser gets the second seed and plays the winner of the series between Toronto and Columbus.

Game time is 8 p.m.

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Flyers Notes: Voracek, Stamkos Out for Saturday’s Round Robin Finale

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

There are a few ways you can look at the Flyers final Round Robin game on Saturday. You can view it as one final tune-up before the playoffs begin for the Flyers. Or you can view it as one of the biggest games the team has played in years.

It’s been a long time since the Flyers had a game of such meaning in the “playoffs.” This is not a game that will clinch a series and move the Flyers one step closer to the Stanley Cup. Win or lose, the Flyers will be playing again in a week and their playoff lives will finally be on the line. But there is a magnitude to this game that wasn’t there for many years, even in playoff series the Flyers have played recently.

For Saturday’s Round Robin finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a battle that will be for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, both teams will be missing a key part of their offense.

Jake Voracek will not be available for the Flyers. Steven Stamkos will be out for the Lightning.

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Hayes, Laughton Powering ‘Best Line’ for Flyers

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In the first two games since returning from the pause, the line of Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton has played well overall, but it felt like there was something missing. Defensively, they remained consistent. But offensively, it felt like there was more to come. Alain Vigneault sensed it.

Just over 24 hours before his team was to take the ice for their second Round Robin game, he stated that Hayes and Konecny had another level to reach in their game. Challenge accepted.

Hayes created a turnover on the Flyers first goal and set up the other two in a 3-1 win over the Capitals on Thursday. Konecny had a pair of assists, including one no-look pass to the slot for Laughton, who supplied two goals and an assist on Travis Sanheim’s second-period goal.

From start to finish, it was total dominance.

“They’re certainly, without a doubt, our best line at this moment,” Vigneault said. “I think offensively and defensively tonight, this was their best night. Good on the forecheck, which created some real good looks and we were able to capitalize. I like that line right now, and I’m confident that it’s going to continue for us.”

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5 Takeaways from Flyers-Capitals

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Perhaps the biggest question facing the Flyers coming into Toronto was how quickly they could find the chemistry and level of efficiency they were at when the pause started. This was a team that had won nine of 10 games heading into March 12 and was about to face a red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning team to really see where they stood with another of the best teams in the conference.

Time hasn’t changed much. The Flyers started Round Robin by facing the team that snapped their nine-game winning streak. This time, they won. Now they will end the Round Robin on Saturday with a winner-take-all game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team they were supposed to face on the day the NHL paused its season, to claim the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs.

That opportunity is there thanks to a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals that featured total dominance from the second line that had another level to reach and another suppressing defensive showing.

Here are 5 takeaways from the Flyers win over the Capitals.

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Laughton Stays Hot, Flyers Down Capitals

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

There hasn't been a more important player to the Flyers three games in the Toronto bubble than Scott Laughton.

Laughton scored the game-winner in overtime in the Flyers exhibition game against Pittsburgh. He had another goal on Sunday against Boston in the first Round Robin game. And in the second Round Robin game against the Capitals on Thursday, he was again part of a dominant line that fueled a victory.

Laughton scored twice in the Flyers 3-1 win over the Capitals, setting them up for a battle for the top seed on Saturday against Tampa Bay.

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Round Robin Game 2 Preview: Flyers-Capitals

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

If the Flyers wanted to find a way to move up from the fourth seed to the first seed, they were very likely going to need to sweep competition in the Round Robin. They got off to a good start with a 4-1 win over Boston on Sunday.

Heading into the second game of the three-game Round Robin on Thursday afternoon against the Washington Capitals, the Flyers are very much in control of their own destiny in many ways. Boston lost again on Wednesday to Tampa Bay, 3-2. If the Flyers can get a point against Washington, they will officially move up at least one seed and finish no lower than the third-seed in the playoffs. If they win in regulation, they can lock up a top-two seed and set up a game where the winner takes the top seed when they play again on Saturday.

But first, they have to handle the Capitals, who bring offensive firepower, solid defense and an experienced netminder to this tournament. 

Game time is 4 p.m.

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Flyers Notes: Start Time for Flyers-Capitals, Lindblom Prepares for Bubble

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

For several days, the official start time of the Flyers second Round Robin game remained to be determined. Ultimately, the path of the qualifying round games would determine when exactly the Flyers would play.

Toronto is scheduled to host three games on Thursday. Two are certainties to be played -- the Flyers-Capitals Round Robin game and Game 3 of the qualifying series between the Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets. Game 4 of the qualifying round series between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers will take place if the Rangers defeat the Hurricanes to stay alive in the series on Tuesday night.

With that in mind, the start times were revealed on Tuesday afternoon for all of Thursday’s games. The Flyers will face the Capitals on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. The potential Rangers-Hurricanes Game 4 will be scheduled for noon if necessary and Toronto and Columbus will face off at 8 p.m. that night.

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Flyers Will Be Without Raffl ‘For a Little Bit’

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers first win in the Round Robin was sure to spark some excitement in the area for the start of the playoffs. As great as the win was, it didn’t come without a cost.

Michael Raffl scored the first goal of the game in the second period and assisted on the second goal by Nate Thompson, but left the game early in the third after suffering an injury that left him unable to put any weight on his left leg.

In the hub cities, there are no specifics when it comes to injuries, but Alain Vigneault was able to offer even the slightest bit of an update on Raffl.

“I can’t get into specifics and I can’t get into lengths because of the NHL protocol, but I can say that he’s not going to be available for a little bit here,” Vigneault said on Monday.

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Hart Proves to Be ‘Backbone’ Flyers Need in Playoff Debut

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Flyers goalie Carter Hart has just 10 days left until he turns 22. For now, the 21-year-old netminder gets to live a dream, starting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

While this wasn’t the typical playoff experience with the Flyers opening up a Round Robin against the Bruins on Sunday, it was Hart’s first taste of playoff hockey. And just as he has for the majority of the season, he delivered another excellent performance.

From the drop of the puck, the Bruins were generating shots. Hart faced five in the first four minutes. He turned them all aside. He made the routine saves look easy. He kept rebounds to the outside. He calmly tracked the puck and covered in situations where it seemed dangerous.

By the second period, the Flyers had spotted Hart a lead and while the Bruins did get on the board late in the period, Hart had the support he needed to make another mark on Flyers franchise history.

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5 Takeaways from Flyers-Bruins

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers got their first chance to make a first impression on the postseason and boy, did they make a strong one. Opening Round Robin play against the top-seeded Boston Bruins, the Flyers delivered a 4-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.

There were players making their playoff debut, recent additions contributing, depth players stepping up in a big way and an overall defensive effort that completely shut down the powerful top line of the Bruins.

The win did come with a potential cost, but the Flyers depth has been a focal point to their season, and that could come into play again in the coming days.

Here are 5 takeaways from the Flyers win over the Bruins.

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