Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 78: PHI 2, CAR 5 - All Your Faulk
Tragic Number: 0.
With a 5-2 loss in Raleigh to the upstart Carolina Hurricanes, the Philadelphia Flyers are officially eliminated from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
I tried my best to maintain faith. I even made a spreadsheet of the remaining schedules for the Flyers, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, and Canadiens for the season's final week. In order for the Flyers to make the playoffs (going into today), they would've had to win out, and two of the remaining teams would've had to lose out. The odds were improbably low, but I kept convincing myself that expecting 14-17 games to go exactly the way I planned wasn't completely insane.
And their hopes didn't even make it past game one.
The Philadelphia Flyers are in this position for a lot of reasons, but what can't be disputed is that they put themselves here. That's the players, the coaches, and management, both the ones who started the season and the ones who finished it. It started with Ron Hextall failing to secure the goaltending or acquire a desperately needed top four defenseman. Dave Hakstol continued it with his stubborn lineup choices, and as a result both were canned before the season's midpoint.
But it didn't stop there. Kris Knoblauch not only failed to improve the Flyers power play, but watched it regress. The second unit was better than last year, but that's like saying September 12, 2001 was better than the day before - it's not like there was a high bar to clear. To wrap it all up, Scott Gordon used the team's new-found superpower (competent goaltending) to overshadow the Flyers major playing driving issues, and today topped it all off with an asinine healthy scratch of Shayne Gostisbehere. Yes, I realize he hasn't been the Ghost of old for most of the season - but he can still make a breakout pass, unlike some defenseman (cough cough Robert Hagg).
Sure, the Flyers made some improvements as the season went on - the rise of Carter Hart, the promotion of Phil Myers, a vastly improved penalty kill, second half turn arounds from Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, and Nolan Patrick. But just like in today's game, where the Flyers were outshot 23-15 through 40 minutes only to outshoot the Canes 17-9 in the final frame, it was too little, too late.
There was a reason most models had the Flyers odds of reaching the playoffs from late January on below 5%, even when they were 3 points out with 13 games to play. Everything about the Flyers, from their Lightning-like record to their possession woes and everything in between, suggested regression to the mean. Granted, everything about their start - god awful save percentage, crazy unlucky power play, and slumping young talent suggested improvement to the mean. The Flyers did get back there, but just couldn't hang around long enough.
Change will be made this offseason. That much is clear. The Flyers have two open forward spots in their lineup as things stand, and could look to upgrade on defense as well. They also need to figure out who will share the crease with Carter Hart - though Cam Talbot, who was solid today and has a .911 SV% in three appearances as a Flyer, might be the answer.
But this season was unacceptable, and its results can not be repeated. The kids may be alright, but that doesn't mean they don't need some help. The way the Flyers roster is compromised, now is the time to win, both from an age and a cap perspective. It's up to Chuck Fletcher to make sure the right 20 guys take the ice in Prague next fall. But it's up to them, whoever them are, whether they're willing to do what it takes.
Claude Giroux's goal was his 235th as a Flyer, tying Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour for tenth on the all-time list.
Both G and Oskar Lindblom broke long goalless droughts of 10 and 8 games, respectively.
Saturday was also career game #100 for Lindy, who now has 30 points in what has been a solid rookie season for the young Swede.
As mentioned earlier, in no way should Shayne Gostisbehere have been healthy scratched today. But it has been nice getting a look at Sam Morin over the last two games, even if the wrong guy was in the press box.
The Flyers penalty kill, usually one of their strong points during the second half, went 0 for 2 against the Canes. It's the first game since January 31st at Boston the Flyers haven't killed a penalty in a game (not counting games where they didn't take one).
While Talbot (28 saves on 30 shots today) is definitely a candidate for a contract in the offseason, one player who will certainly receive one is pending RFA Ryan Hartman, who has reportedly begun preliminary contract talks.
Brian Elliott was named by Philadelphia Professional Hockey Writer's Association as a nominee for the 2019 Masterton Trophy. The award goes to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” It's actually the fifth time in his career Elliott's been nominated, though he's never won the award.
Edit: The monthly power rankings will be delayed until next Sunday to coincide with the conclusion of the regular season.
1st - D. Hamilton (CAR) - 1 G
2nd - P. Mrazek (CAR) - .938 SV% (30 Saves/32 Shots)
3rd - T. Teravainen (CAR) - 1 G, 1 A
PHI - 10/4 vs. CHI (0-0-0) in Prague, Czech Republic
CAR - 3/31 @ PIT (42-25-11)