It’s been a foregone conclusion since the turn of the year but the Flyers made it official on Tuesday night when a loss at Minnesota officially eliminated them from the playoffs for a second straight season.
That’s the first time that’s happened since way back in the two seasons between 1992 through 1994.
The 4-1 loss to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center means the Flyers can only play for pride and that of a spoiler against teams headed for bigger and better things.
The Flyers finished their five-game road trip with a 1-4 record.
Philadelphia fell behind by a 4-0 score through two periods and only avoided a shutout due to a power-play goal by Morgan Frost in the third period.
Frost, who ended a 27-game goal drought dating back to late December, was asked what’s left for the Flyers to achieve in their final 15 games.
“We’ll probably focus on other things,’’ Frost said. “Try to get better, try to build good habits, finish the season strong and build some confidence going into next year.’’
Interim head coach Mike Yeo gave the impression he will be watching all his players to see how they react the rest of the way with the long-shot playoff dream over.
“I don’t think we played poorly in any of the (five) games except Colorado,’’ Yeo said. “We were 1-4 on this trip. Can’t be happy about that. Our mindset has to be that we keep getting better – it’s easy to get down, get negative. We have to find a way to keep pushing.’’
Minnesota, now 12-0-1 against the Metro Division, struck for a pair of goals in the first period.
Matt Dumba connected for the first goal when he charged in from the point and put a shot past Martin Jones at 14:29.
Then Kirill Kaprizov scored on a power play at 16:23, giving him 83 points for the season. He now has 83 points, just two off the Minnesota single-season record.
In the second period, the Wild broke through early. Jordan Greenway rushed the net and was in position to punch in a rebound at 1:35. Kevin Fiala scored to make it 4-0 before Frost broke the shutout bid of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Flyers played a good first 10 minutes or so in opening period but then came the Dumba goal and the Flyers seemed to sag after that. To their credit, the Flyers tried to come back in the third but it was the old too little, too late.
“We probably got a little deflated after they scored,’’ Frost said. “We just have to find a way when they score, push back and get back to what we had at the start of the game.’’
Added Yeo: “I thought the first 15 minutes were as good on the road as we’ve looked in a while. We were dictating, we were playing fast, playing aggressive. Then they scored the goal and it seemed like that took a lot out of us. It took a long time for us to have a push back. I’ve seen that with this group, that they don’t quit.’’
>Strong debut for Cates
Rookie forward Noah Cates, just signed to a new two-year contract, made his NHL debut in this game and wore No. 49.
Frost was impressed with the University of Minnesota-Duluth product’s first game.
“I thought he looked really good,’’ Frost said. “I thought he did a lot of good things. He’s a really smart player. For his first game I thought he did pretty well.’’
Cates had a couple good scoring chances and got robbed by Fleury on one of them. All in all, it was a fairly successful start. Making it extra special, a whole bunch of family members and friends were on hand for the special occasion.
“A lot of kids were here to support me which made it special,’’ he said. “I was that kid back in the day. I think I needed to get my first shift out of the way. I was just trying to get acclimated to the systems and what-not. Just trying to build trust.’’
>Attard signs contract
The Flyers signed defenseman Ronnie Attard, the club’s third-round pick (72nd overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, to a two-year entry-level contract that will begin this season (2021-22), according to general manager Chuck Fletcher.
“We’re very happy to have Ronnie sign with us after a great career with the (University of Western Michigan) Broncos,” said Fletcher. “He is a big, mobile defenseman who has steadily improved his game each season. We are excited to have him join our group and look forward to his continued development at the pro level.”
Attard, 23, turns professional after three seasons at Western Michigan where he recorded 27 goals and 45 assists for 72 points in 94 games. This past season as a junior, he averaged nearly a point per-game pace with 13 goals/36 points in 39 games.
Goaltender Carter Hart was scratched from this game due to what Yeo called a “nagging injury.’’ Felix Sandstrom was called up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms under emergency conditions and backed up Jones. Sandstrom wore No. 32.
>Seeler wins fight
In the first period, Nick Seeler got into a slugfest with Minnesota’s Nicolas Deslauriers, who outweighs the Flyer defenseman by 20 pounds. However, Seeler got the best of the proceedings, bloodying the Wild player’s face and sending him to the locker room for repairs.
The Flyers return to action on Saturday when they return to the Wells Fargo Center to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs.