Sputtering Avalanche look to add to Flyers’ troubles
When the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche meet in the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday night, it may be more interesting to see which players are not on the roster as the NHL’s trade deadline draws near.
Both teams enter the contest out of the playoff picture and are potential sellers ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline. As of Monday night, neither team had made a major trade but rumors swirled around both.
The Avalanche (17-40-3, 37 points) own the NHL’s worst record and have lost eight of their last 10 games. As a result, two of their best forwards, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene, have dealt with a barrage of trade rumors.
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Each had a different take on a potential change of address.
“I want to win,” said Duchene, 26, who has two years and $12 million remaining in his deal with the Avalanche. “Whatever it takes for that to happen, that’s what I want. It’s out of my control. It’s hard, but it’s harder when you’re away from the rink. On days off, your mind wanders. When I’m at the rink with the guys, it’s easy to get immersed in that.”
Landeskog, 24, has four years and more than $22 million left on his contract. He said he’s gone out of his way to avoid reading websites and watching sports news.
“Hopefully, these next couple days go by quick,” he said. “All we can do is focus on Philly and prepare for that game. It’s easier said than done, but I don’t read much or watch much. For me, it’s more outside noise as far as rumors go.”
Colorado is coming off Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, a game in which rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith made 34 saves for his first NHL victory. Calvin Pickard sat out that game with a stiff neck and Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Monday he had not yet decided on Tuesday night’s goaltender.
He also said he’s thankful this will be his team’s final game before Wednesday’s trade deadline.
“When you approach a deadline the last couple days, there’s a little bit of nervous energy and anxiety, that’s for certain,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with the rumors for quite some time and that’s all they are. I think the guys have done a good job handling the outside noise that has come our way.”
The Flyers (28-26-7, 63 points) have lost four of their last five and have fallen six points out of a playoff spot. They were outscored 8-3 in consecutive losses to division rivals Washington and Pittsburgh.
“I do believe we’ve played some good hockey games, but it’s having that one goal to give us the lead or to tie up the game, I think that’s what we’re missing,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said Monday. “You look at our results and you think that we’re a bad team and we’re not going in the right direction, but I strongly believe we are going in the right direction. We’ve got to keep pushing, keep playing as a team, and stick together. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Goaltender Steve Mason, who has watched Michal Neuvirth start the past seven games, will get the call for Philadelphia. Both goalies are in the final year of their contracts with the Flyers, as are defensemen Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz.
“It’s not a position we’re proud to be in, but that’s the reality right now,” Mason said. “We understand what type of play is needed in order to get back into the playoff picture.”
The Flyers will be without defenseman Brandon Manning, who was suspended two games by the NHL for interfering with Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel on Saturday night. Del Zotto is expected to take his place in the lineup.