PHILADELPHIA – OK, so a big letdown was to be expected.
That’s letdown, not “lay down.’’
At least that’s what the Flyers’ performance against the New York Rangers looked like on Sunday, one day after the Philadelphia boys were eliminated from playoff contention due to a 5-2 loss in Carolina.
The Flyers came out on this particular afternoon and didn’t look like they were interested, at least not in the first period when they hung rookie goaltender Carter Hart out to dry.
New York scored twice and that’s all the offense it needed for a 3-0 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
The loss leaves the Flyers with just 19 home wins for the season.
If you throw out the 2006-07 disaster season, the Flyers could finish the season next Saturday vs. Carolina with the fewest home wins in a non-labor shortened season since 1993-94 (also 19).
Disappointment was clear on the expressions of many players. The Flyers’ locker room was quieter than a roomful of church goers and librarians.
“You’ve got to show up though,’’ Scott Laughton pointed out. “Play a little harder than that. We have to stick together in here and play for each other. We need to come out hard and fight to the end.’’
According to the scoresheet, the Flyers had “only’’ 10 giveaways, but there was a lot more poor decision-making than that.
“Obviously, it (elimination) stings a bit,’’ Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We didn’t have our best. I think some of us, including myself, were sitting back a bit. Waiting for the play instead of going for it. . .making plays ourselves and it cost us.’’
New York, which also has nothing to play for, had a bunch of good scoring chances in that first period and connected for goals from Pavel Buchnevich at 16:25 and Ryan Strome at 19:57 (2.6 seconds left in period).
But those two scoring chances were just a fraction of what Hart had to face in the first period. He was forced to make a stop on a Brett Howden breakaway and another diving save on Buchnevich at the right post.
Meanwhile the Flyers’ offense was rather lethargic as well.
They made 23-year-old goaltender Alexandar Georgiev look like an All-Star, failing to create much in the way of traffic in front of him.
“Being eliminated sucks,’’ Hart said. “At the same time, we still have to play for our pride, and what (team logo) is on the front of our jersey. We need to finish off strong so we can carry it into next season.
“I know it’s bad we’re not getting into the playoffs but at the same time we have to play for everyone in this locker room.’’
Robert Hagg confirmed that it isn’t easy to get up for a game that doesn’t mean anything.
“We were playing for the playoffs and now it’s impossible to do,’’ he said. “Of course it’s bad. We have to play for the team and that didn’t happen today. It was too much a one-man show out there today. For me, who’s not a point-producing guy, it’s frustrating.’’
Added Jake Voracek: “Today I think we were missing a step.’’
In the third period, the Rangers put the game out of reach when they scored at the 6:39 mark. A shot by Brady Skjei deflected past Hart.
Claude Giroux, head bowed, summed up what a lot of Flyers must be thinking.
“We’re a frustrating team right now,’’ he said. “I thought our guys were ready to go at the start. But we had a few mistakes and they ended up in our net.’’
According to coach Scott Gordon, having no more meaningful games to play can affect a team’s performance.
“I think everybody’s frustrated that the season is ending on Saturday,’’ he said. “We have to find a way to generate energy in the last three games. If we get into a situation where we try to play as individuals and not use guys who are 10 feet, five feet away – instead, try to beat someone one on one, you’re going to run into difficulties.
“If you start getting into individual play, you’re not going to be successful.’’
Sam Morin, who played in the Carolina game, was held out of this one. Gordon didn’t want him playing back-to-back games after having been on IR the past nine months until last Wednesday’s game against Toronto. . .The Flyers held out on the road for a two-game trip, which starts Tuesday night in Dallas and finishes Thursday in St. Louis. . .The Flyers were shut out for the seventh time this season.