Flyers finish road schedule on losing note

Nate Thompson
      Just 11 wins out of 41 road games this season probably best explains why the Flyers will finish last in the Metropolitan Division.
      It’s the second-fewest away victories for the Flyers since back in 1972-73, when the NHL was playing fewer than the current 82-game slate.
      The Flyers finished the season with a road record of 11-25-5.
      Wednesday night’s road finale at Winnipeg, a 4-0 loss, typified the Flyers’ woes away from the Wells Fargo Center.
      Philadelphia surrendered a pair of power-play goals for a 2-0 deficit and simply couldn’t recover. Nothing new there. The Flyers take too many penalties in most games and that can be a losing proposition when your penalty kill is ranked near the bottom of the NHL.
      “I think it (penalty trouble) was the game tonight,’’ interim coach Mike Yeo said after the game. “I mean you’re playing on the road and we’ve had a tough schedule (third game in four nights). You could tell we didn’t have all of our jump here tonight. What you don’t want to be doing is chasing. Some were needless penalties. . .too many men on the ice, we jumped (on a line change) early. Need more discipline there.’’
      The Flyers held their own at even-strength in the first period but were done in by the Jets’ power play.
      The visitors needed only 10 seconds of penalty kill time to surrender the first goal of the game.
      Pierre-Luc Dubuis did the honors at 5:23 of the opening frame. His shot trickled through the skates of goaltender Felix Sandstrom. Kyle Connor picked up the primary assist.
      Winnipeg connected again on a two-man advantage at 7:33 of the second period. Nikolaj Ehlers squeezed a shot through Sandstrom while both Ronnie Attard and Ivan Provorov were in the penalty box.
      Blake Wheeler made it 3-0 off a rush at 15:15 of the second period.
      After beating Montreal and Pittsburgh at home, the Flyers went on the road and lost games at Chicago and Winnipeg. Was it just a matter of fatigue?
      “We scored just one goal (the last two games),’’ Yeo said. “It’s tough to win with the amount of penalties that were taken on the road and sometimes you can see that does happen – a little bit more reaching. So we have one more game left and we want to play it well.’’
      Nate Thompson is a mainstay on the penalty kill. At this point, it’s almost like a battle for survival.
      “It’s tough, once you get some flow, some momentum in the game and then you end up killing penalties,’’ he said. “It takes a lot of rhythm away from the bench. Some guys are playing more, some guys aren’t playing as much. It takes away from the flow of the game.’’
      The five-on-three might have been the back-breaker.
      “I thought we did a pretty good job, it’s a five-on-three,’’ Thompson said. “We kind of got caught out there. They have some good players who make some plays. I thought Felix stood tall but they made some plays and got one in the net.’’
      >Sandstrom keeps composure
      Although the Jets were buzzing around Sandstrom all night, he kept his composure. There was nothing he could do on the Jets’ second and third goals and the fourth was an empty-net score.
      “He’s a battler,’’ Yeo said. “Tonight, maybe the first goal he would like to have back. But he continued to battle right through the rest of the way. Just like any young player, just making sure you’re ready right from the start of the game. But he is a competitor, he doesn’t get rattled. He’s given up a couple goals the last couple games but he finds a way to keep competing. Gave us a chance to climb back into it.’’
      Sandstrom would like to finish strong and contend for backup to Carter Hart next season.
      “It’s a work in progress,’’ he acknowledged when asked about having to be extra sharp on penalty kill situations. “I’m just trying to keep getting better. It wasn’t my best game today but I’m trying to keep battling. It doesn’t get better if you get down on yourself so you just have to stay positive and keep going.’’
      >Short shots

The Flyers’ season finally comes to an end on Friday night when the Ottawa Senators visit the Wells Fargo Center. In that game, James van Riemsdyk has a chance to be the only Flyer to play in all 82 games this season. . .It marked the first time the Jets shut out the Flyers since they were the Atlanta Thrashers back in March, 2011. . .Winnipeg goalie Eric Comrie registered his first NHL shutout

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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.