Vigneault sends message loud and clear to young defenseman


After playing 11 forwards and seven defensemen Tuesday, the Flyers (13-7-3) will go back to the more traditional 12-and-six lineup when they host the Capitals (15-6-4) on Thursday.

The odd defenseman out is clearly being sent a message from his head coach.

Let's get into the essentials for the game:

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with The Warm Up at 6 p.m. ET and Flyers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. ET
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Live stream: and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Philippe Myers is sitting as a healthy scratch for the second time in the last eight games.

When the Flyers lost top-pair defenseman Matt Niskanen to retirement in the offseason, Myers naturally was an obvious candidate to take on more responsibility and possibly play alongside Ivan Provorov. The club has been "bullish" on his upside and the 6-foot-5, fluid-skating Myers was coming off a promising rookie season.

So far, the Flyers have not had success in replacing Niskanen. They've had a revolving door with Provorov's partner. Myers saw the latest opportunity as he started Tuesday's game alongside Provorov. The 24-year-old ended up playing his fewest minutes in a full game this season with an 11:52 ice time.

On Wednesday and Thursday, head coach Alain Vigneault was forthright about Myers' play not meeting the team's expectations, particularly in areas that the club has asked him to improve.

"At this time, Phil is fine. You're never at 100 percent, but he's good to go. He's just not consistent," Vigneault said. "He's getting opportunities to be first on puck, big body like himself. We've talked to him about it, we've shown him video. We expect him to be better than what he has shown so far.

"As much as we believe that Phil has potential — great skater, good size, etc. — there are some things in his game that we've been pointing out too often to him. One being first on the puck, his ability to take the hit to make a play. He needs to improve in that area, it's cost us in the last few games in some situations. Next time he comes in the lineup, he's got to find a way to play the right way and stay in the lineup."

For all of 2019-20, Provorov and Niskanen were a staple as the team's top defensive pair. In life without Niskanen during 2020-21, the Flyers have tried numerous looks with Provorov. Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Braun, Travis Sanheim and Myers have all had cracks on the top pair.

It sounds like the Flyers would love to see Myers answer the bell. If a Flyers defenseman doesn't answer the bell for Vigneault, the April 12 trade deadline could loom large for general manager Chuck Fletcher.

"We're looking for chemistry in the back end right now," Vigneault said. "Obviously we haven't found, in my estimation, the Nisky that was playing with Provy back there. We've tried different people, Phil being one of them. I'm hoping that at some point ... I like the way Ghost has been playing, I don't mind the way [Erik Gustafsson] has been playing the last few games, I just said I need Phil to be more consistent. But I do need somebody to step up and play in that role.

"Brauner and Travis seem to have some good chemistry right there. Whoever I play on that third pair, I can mix and match there. But I need to find somebody to assume that role. We've given Phil some looks and he hasn't taken advantage of it. He's still a very young player, he's got to push himself, he's got to demand more of himself. If he does that, then maybe we'll find the defenseman we need to play with Provy."

• Michael Raffl (swollen right hand) will miss a third straight game. Raffl skated Wednesday on his own to test out his right hand, which took a shot in last Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Penguins.

"His hand is not there yet," Vigneault said Thursday morning. "It could be day to day, it could be week to week. We'll have to just keep a close eye on that; it's still very sore."

• Brian Elliott is in net against the Capitals, who are 9-2-1 since Feb. 16.

More: Carter Hart and his confidant stay late, talk and push forward

Projected lineup



James van Riemsdyk-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee

Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny

Oskar Lindblom-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek

Andy Andreoff-Nolan Patrick-Nicolas Aube-Kubel


Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun

Robert Hagg-Erik Gustafsson


Brian Elliott

Carter Hart

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