Flyers lose back-to-back in Buffalo and Columbus

Flyers' Olle Lycksell
Philadelphia Flyers right wing Olle Lycksell (62) celebrates his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with right wing Garnet Hathaway (19) and center Ryan Poehling (25) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana)

Author Note: I was at Wrestlemania XL at Lincoln Financial Field. Sorry for the delay.

Today, the Philadelphia Flyers (36-31-11) have a 24.9% chance of earning an NHL Stanley Cup Playoff postseason berth.

They’ve slipped from third in the NHL Metropolitan Division to sixth. The New York Islanders have a two-point lead, and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals jumped ahead due to point percentage, forcing the Flyers out of the NHL Wildcard picture.

Philadelphia is on a seven-game losing streak and hasn’t defeated an NHL Metropolitan Division opponent in 2024. They’re coming back down to earth on the final road trip. In back-to-back games, the Flyers lost to the Buffalo Sabres (37-35-5) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (26-39-12).

Ivan Fedotov made his first NHL start against the Sabres. Buffalo only mustered 19 shots on goal, but a disjointed evening made it difficult for Fedotov to find a flow in a 4-2 loss. In all, Fedotov had a rough first start to his NHL career. He looked like a brand-new NHL goaltender.

Sam Ersson made the next start on the back-to-back against the Blue Jackets. In contrast, Ersson received a steady amount of shots on goal. His struggles continued in Columbus, posting an 81.8%SV and allowing six goals. John Tortorella put an elementary explanation to it:

Flyers' Noah Cates
Philadelphia Flyers left wing Noah Cates (27), left, celebrates his goal with defenseman Cam York (8) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres Friday, April 5, 2024, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

“We [the Philadelphia Flyers] have some chances. We just have not been able to execute. We’re having problem scoring goals, and goals are going in easy on us. Can’t worry about what just happened. We’ll try to learn from it. [I] thought we were a little bit sloppy, a little bit loose tonight in front of our goalie [Ersson], but we’re just going to get ready to play our next game.”

John Tortorella; 4/6/2024

How did Philadelphia work themselves out of a postseason position?

Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres

Noah Cates capitalized on relentless forechecking. It seemed like Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had the answer for everything, but Cates was undeniable. He snuck his wrist shot from the right faceoff circle past Luukkonen in the second period, tying the score 1-1. Cates took five shots, scored, hit Owen Power, forced two takeaways, and went 4/6 at the faceoff dot in 12:06.

Jamie Drysdale contained at the blue line with Nick Seeler effectively. Neither one on that defensive pairing earned a point, but Drysdale found the balance between being aggressive and alert. Drysdale took four shots on goal, made two hits, blocked two shots, forced a takeaway, and spent the most time on the ice (23:41).

Tortorella was adamant that the Flyers were playing the right way but weren’t executing on scoring chances. That was a more than fair assessment. Olle Lycksell and Ryan Poehling created a handful of high-danger scoring chances around the crease via tipped pucks, rebounds, or snapshots. Poehling hit the post, too.

“We generated over twenty chances. With no powerplay or not, we need to bury some of those chances.”

John Tortorella; 4/5/2024

Jack Quinn scored the game-winning goal with six seconds remaining in the second period. Travis Sanheim and Cam York didn’t aggressively test the Sabres’ transition into the offensive zone. Zach Benson accepted a long pass from Power, then centered to Quinn for the wrist shot on Fedotov.

York did notch an assist, but his work on defense undid his point production. His forechecking effort with a conglomerate of teammates helped contain the puck in the offensive zone for Cates to crack the scoreboard. Unfortunately, York was the screen Rasmus Dahlin used to blind Fedotov before Quinn scored the game-winner.

Sanheim took five hits from four forwards. Peyton Krebs got him twice, once in the second and the other in the third period. Quinn added another goal following his shot for the rebound around Sanheim. He seemed burnt out on Friday.

Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets

Joel Farabee had a rough outing in Buffalo. He left for the locker room twice after a hit from Bowen Byram and taking a high stick on a faceoff. His effort improved against the Blue Jackets. Farabee had three shots on goal, generated a high-danger scoring chance on a deflection, and forced a takeaway in 15:47 of on-ice time.

Drysdale remained about as steady as can be in a 6-2 burial. Columbus noticed Ersson couldn’t find a read on the puck throughout the night and ran their offense via defensemen. In 21:14, Drysdale finished with a -2 rating and four shots on goal.

Damon Severson scored the game-winner with 11:37 remaining in the second period. The high cycle was incredibly effective for the Blue Jackets, and Johnny Gaudreau put the puck on the tape for Severson to score the one-timer.

“There’s some guys that have found their way a little bit. Other guys are pressing. It’s a loss, an ugly one, but we can’t get discouraged. No one’s going to help us out of this.”

John Tortorella; 4/6/2024

Four total games remain. On Tuesday, Philadelphia visits the Montreal Canadiens for a final time. Then, they’ll close out the regular season with three matchups against divisional opponents.

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday at 7pm.

(AP Photo/Joe Maiorana)