Flyers keeping a brave face as final curtain begins to fall

Former Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas.

VOORHEES – It’s not over ‘til the weight-challenged lady sings, but it sounds like she’s warming up backstage.

While the Flyers are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, the grim reality is they’re not.

In fact, with a possible Montreal win on Tuesday night and a Flyers regulation-time loss against Toronto on Wednesday night, it’s “good night Irene.’’

The Flyers, who woke up Tuesday morning eight points out with six games to play, have already spent the past few days explaining why they’re going to come up short of the postseason, the top reason being they were 16 points out in early January.

That’s just too great a margin to overcome. In fact, it’s been done only once in more than 100 National Hockey League seasons.

While putting together a streak of 18-4-2 was admirable, it just took too much out of this group.

It’s shown in the past seven games (played over an 11-day stretch) with just two wins on the books.

“We had a pretty deep hole,’’ defenseman Radko Gudas said after Tuesday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “Some changes happened, we started going back up but at crunch time of the season, they (opponents) controlled and we just couldn’t connect on some games we needed to win.

“It’s unfortunate we have to chase it now. We were 18-4-2 and we thought really highly of ourselves. I think everyone was pushing and buying in, doing the right things. We knew we had a small chance of getting in. We got close but the back-to-back losses last weekend. . .the confidence and the energy was a little lower.’’

Defenseman Robert Hagg said the Flyers have to keep playing hard, even if they are eliminated.

“I thought we played well since January and maybe that (accounts) for the lack of energy now,’’ he admitted. “Because we burned everything.

“Hopefully we can find some spark in these last six games. We’re not out of it yet but it looks pretty far off. It’s our job to go out there and play our best hockey. It doesn’t matter if you’re hurt or you’re 50 percent, you still have to do the job for the team.’’

Shayne Gostisbehere maintained that there shouldn’t be any let-up, even if the Flyers are eliminated.

“Even if you’re out, you’ve still got to play, you play in the NHL, it’s a dream to play everyday,’’ he said. “You can’t take it for granted. You never know.

“It’s definitely a different feeling when you’re four points down and now you’re eight. It’s tough. You’re going to have a bitter taste in your mouth. We could have won a lot of those games, it (the losses) was a little bit more self-inflicted.’’

>Talbot, Morin may see action

Patience, patience, patience might be the best way to describe the mindset of both goaltender Cam Talbot and defenseman Sam Morin.

Talbot, who came to the Flyers in a trade with Edmonton (for Anthony Stolarz back in mid-February has made a total of one start (a win over New Jersey on March 1) and one relief appearance for a grand total of 93 minutes, 27 seconds of action.

At the time of the trade, Talbot thought he might fit into a backup role behind rookie Carter Hart, who was in the midst of an eight-game winning streak.

But it took Talbot nearly a week to get his work visa cleared through U.S. customs and that’s when Brian Elliott went 5-1-1 in his first seven starts since a three-month injury absence.

When might Talbot see more action? Not Wednesday. Coach Scott Gordon said Hart will start against the Leafs.

But Gordon did say Talbot will get some ice time in this last handful of games.

“It (sitting) is not exactly what I had envisioned when I got here,’’ he said. “But when the other two guys have been playing as well as they have, you kind of just have to sit back and wait for your chance.’’

Talbot said he’s hoping to get into one of the weekend back-to-back games, either against the Rangers on Saturday or at Carolina on Sunday.

Gordon said in terms of games, Talbot will get “at least two, maybe three.’’

The coach added: “He’s a great in-the-room character guy. No attitude. I talked to him about the circumstances of coming here. The delay, he couldn’t practice for a week. Had he been here, he might have played the two games and maybe the outdoor game. I told him, ‘it’s nobody’s fault.’ When the time comes we will get him in.’’

Meanwhile, Morin also has been practicing patience since he was cleared to play after last year’s ACL surgery but has yet to get into a game.

It would be nice if he could get into a few games before the season is over so that he can end the year on a high note.

He’s played in only three Flyers games over the past two seasons and, because he’s turning 24 in July, realizes his time to make a move is now.

“It’s a mind battle in my head,’’ he said. “I have to accept it’s a process. I know I can’t be out there and do too much.

“This summer is going to be the biggest summer of my career. This is my chance. I’m getting older and older. I’ve had a lot of bad luck. . .it’s pretty important for me to get some games in.’’

Gordon wants to see Morin in action at the NHL level.

“He’s going to get in soon,’’ Gordon said. “I’m just trying to figure out the optimal time to do it. But once he gets in, as long as he physically holds up, he’ll play.

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About Wayne Fish 2451 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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