The Philadelphia Flyers, coming off arguably their best week of hockey since their 10 game winning streak, were finally put out of their misery Sunday night, losing to the rival New York Rangers 4-3. With the loss, the Flyers were officially eliminated from playoff contention after game 79 of their season. It was a valiant effort on the part of the orange and black. Unfortunately, there were too many peaks and valleys and not enough consistency and sense of urgency to lift them into the postseason for the second year in a row. That being said, the Flyers showed marked improvement over the last seven days despite losing Sunday night.
There were so many positives this week. After being miserable for the better part of March, the Flyers power play showed great improvement going 4-14 for the week. This improvement coincides with the improved play of power play quarterback Shayne Gostisbehere.
Claude Giroux may be captain and Wayne Simmonds may be the heart of the Flyers, but as Gostisbehere goes, so goes the Flyers. He is the engine that starts the offense. Although he failed to find the back of the net for the first time in over a week, Jordan Weal picked up a helper and has six points in his last five games. The signing of Gostisbehere’s college teammate Mike Vecchione was a shrewd move by General Manager Ron Hextall. Vecchione is exactly what the Flyers need..bringing speed, creativity and offensive ability.
It’s not so much, bad, as it was scary to watch. Flyers Goalie Michal Neuvirth collapsed with the Flyers leading 1-0 on Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils. You could hear a pin drop in the Wells Fargo Center as Neuvirth was being attended to by medical staff. Neuvirth was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by rookie Anthony Stolarz. Neuvirth did give the crowd and his teammates a wave as he was being taken off the ice. After spending a night in the hospital, he was released.
The Flyers are now officially out of the playoffs. They become the first team to have a 10 game win streak and miss the playoffs in the same season. The defensive inconsistencies and lack of urgency in January and February was ultimately their undoing. Self inflicted wounds cost them.
The Flyers have to be disappointed after making the playoffs last season. Although most experts believed the Flyers were a fringe playoff team with the strength of the Eastern Conference, they have to wonder what could have been. This is a team that should have been better than last years team with the additions of rookies Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecney. Unfortunately, the offense dried up too often and the defense had too many breakdowns. But the hardest part is that they appeared to lack the sense of urgency to play like they wanted to win. Instead they played not to lose..and that cost them. Unfortunately, the hole that they had dug for themselves was just too deep. And it was a hole they could not get out of.
Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports