With playoff hopes dire, should Flyers look to future?

Wade Allison

The standings say the Flyers remain mathematically alive for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Reality says those hopes have been placed on life support.

Prior to Monday night action – which had East Division fourth-place team Boston playing Buffalo – the Flyers trailed the Bruins by nine points with Philadelphia having only 11 games to play.

With a win over the Sabres, the Bruins could expand that margin to 11 points while still holding a game in hand.

So the Flyers know their situation is dire.

The question now is: Should the Flyers start evaluating their personnel for next season and maybe think about bringing up some kids for auditions?

In a sense, they’ve already done both.

Coach Alain Vigneault has been juggling some personnel over the past few weeks, not to mention the trades of Michael Raffl and Erik Gustafsson.

At the same time, Vigneault issued somewhat of a stern warning to some of his established players that they are bring watched to see how they perform when the incentive of playoffs has been all but eliminated.

“What I want us to do is be pros and do our jobs,’’ Vigneault said during a media Zoom call after practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. “Coaches are going to get the team prepared for the opposition. And players have to get themselves prepared to execute.

“You know we’re going to find out a lot about our guys in these last games, as far as them being true professionals.’’

The Flyers have already started the process of getting some new faces into the lineup.

Wade Allison, brought up from the Phantoms, has made perhaps the biggest impression, scoring his first NHL goal on Saturday in a 6-3 loss to Washington.

Tanner Laczynski, another Phantoms mainstay, has played in a handful of games before suffering an injury in Pittsburgh last week.

Plus, Cam York has been brought onto the taxi squad after the Phantoms went on pause due to COVID protocols. There’s thought the 20-year-old defenseman could see NHL action before the season ends.

“I’ve talked to (general manager) Chuck (Fletcher) about this on a couple occasions,’’ Vigneault said. “There’s probably a couple young guys that we’re going to want to take a look at here moving forward.

“So we’re going to use this time wisely.’’

Another possibility is the recently signed Jackson Cates, the 23-year-old center who completed his career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“He’s a hard worker, a 200-foot player,’’ Vigneault said. “We’re going to look at our games moving forward. There is a good possibility he’s going to get into some games.’’

Sean Couturier doesn’t sound like he’s ready to throw in the towel just yet.

“I think we want to get off to good starts, we want to compete hard,’’ Couturier said. “We want to be hard to play against. It’s been a little easy to play against us.

“You see the character of guys in tougher moments. It’s not easy right now, we’ll see how guys respond. In these times, you can evaluate the character of guys.’’

The Rangers are still in legitimate contention so the Flyers can play spoilers.

>Myers looks to regain confidence

It’s been a tough month or so for defenseman Phil Myers, who’s been shuttled in and out of the lineup due to spotty play.

Several players who have struggled mentioned the lack of practice time as a reason for the inability to turn things around.

“It’s definitely been tough, I’m trying to stay positive,’’ he said. “I’ve been working hard in practice.’’

After finishing with a plus-17 last season, Myers has dropped to minus-12 this campaign.

“Confidence isn’t what it used to be at the end of last year,’’ he said. “Just keep playing hard and the rest will take of itself.’’

>Hart injury considered “not serious’’

Although goaltender Carter Hart (lower-body injury) did not participate in Tuesday’s practice, Vigneault said nothing negative should be taken from that particular situation.

“I know he’s doing his rehab,’’ Vigneault said. “I don’t think this is very serious.’’

It’s not known if Hart will be ready for a two-game set against the Rangers starting in New York on Thursday.

Hart “tweaked’’ something in last Thursday’s game against the Penguins.

>Patrick cleared to play

Nolan Patrick, who was struck by an errant puck off the stick of Phil Myers during the Pittsburgh game and has been sidelined ever since, took part in Tuesday’s practice and has been cleared to play.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s good to go,’’ Vigneault said. “They (medical staff) were precautionary on the weekend. “From what I understand, he’s good to go next game (at New York).’’

Patrick, who missed all of last season due to a chronic migraine headache condition, said it was a difficult moment.

“It was scary, it hit me right in the ear,’’ Patrick said. “I didn’t have any headaches issues the last couple days.”

>Flyers praise Marleau’s record

The hockey world saw a major record surpassed on Monday night when Patrick Marleau broke Gordie Howe’s once thought to be unbreakable record of 1,767 NHL games played.

Quite an achievement, according to both Couturier and Myers.

“Yeah, it’s quite impressive,’’ Couturier said. “I never thought that record would even be close to being beaten. It’s an honor to have played against him.’’

Added Myers: “An incredible accomplishment. He started playing the year (1997) I was born. Pretty incredible he’s still playing right now. I’m happy I got the opportunity to play against him.’’

About Wayne Fish 1418 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.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*