Flyers

Wayne Simmonds: 'It's not funny when you don't make the playoffs'

Wayne Simmonds: 'It's not funny when you don't make the playoffs'

Twenty minutes had passed since the Rangers eliminated the Flyers on a Sunday night in Madison Square Garden.

Wayne Simmonds, who had been particularly sullen and hidden from the media the entire week, was unavailable.

A volatile guy who wears his heart on his sleeve like no other on this club -- a reason he earned the team MVP this season -- was purposely avoiding the media.

"It's been kinda frustrating and I didn't want to say anything stupid," Simmonds said a few days later. "I'm pretty upset and I might say something I don't mean or I don't want to take back at a later date."

This week marks the third time in five seasons the Flyers have missed the playoffs. And under three different coaches -- Peter Laviolette, Craig Berube and now Dave Hakstol.

Which tells you it's not really about the coaches. It's the players.

The Flyers are still in the midst of a long-term rebuild that is going to stretch into next season and beyond. There are no shortcuts in general manager Ron Hextall's patient approach to rebuild the organizational depth chart and re-earn the title Stanley Cup contender.

"It's not funny when you don't make the playoffs," Simmonds said. "We had aspirations and goals going into this year to make the playoffs. We can't look any further than ourselves in who to blame here. It was in our hands."

Hakstol's club played much better down the stretch, finishing 7-3-2 over its final 12 games.

"We got hot too late," Simmonds said. "I think it’s obviously not a positive, but if we had played the way we did the last 10 games of the year, I think we would have got in.

"Now it's over, there isn't much we can do about, all we can do now is focus on the summer and getting ready for next year."

Two months -- October and February -- killed the entire season. Hakstol's club accumulated just nine points in both months.

By then, the 10-game winning streak and all the safety margin the Flyers had built in the standings had evaporated.

What if the Flyers had won 7 of 11 in February instead of losing 7 of 11? They finished this season seven points out of the wild card.

"It's a completely different story and we're sitting in a playoff spot," Simmonds said of that month. "Or we're a point out and battling. It's frustrating, but we're all in this together. It is what it is now. You can't look back now and say, 'what if?' Now it's too late.

"It was about consistency. One game we'd be unbelievable. The next game a little lower. Going into next year, we have to find our consistency level. Whether we have our legs or not certain game we got to make sure we have our brains. We like our group in here. We're capable of more."

The Flyers final road record was horrendous -- 14-22-5 versus 25-11-5 at home. The 14 victories were the fewest for a Flyers team since winning 10 in 2014-15.

How far have the Flyers fallen on the road? Well, they won a club record 25 road games in consecutive seasons under Laviolette between 2010-2012.

"If you look at our road record, whatever we were trying to do, didn't work, so pretty much we had no choice but to simplify our game," Simmonds said. "When it comes to the road games, we have to become a team that is mentally stronger.

"If we let one goal in or we're down by two, it isn't the end of the world, we can come back and win, that's not how you want to start off, if the other team scores first it is what it is."

Much has to change next season: more consistency in the power play, a major overhaul of the penalty kill, which has been poor for three years now, far more 5-on-5 scoring, and better goaltending.

Theirs is no short-term fix for the Flyers, no one thing that will put this team over the top right away.

And there will be changes.

Right now, Sam Morin and Robert Hagg should both be on the blue line next season, depending upon how Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers play in training camp.

Oskar Lindblom will come over from Sweden and play left wing. Anthony Stolarz in goal or as a backup? Maybe.

More prospects will be coming over the next two seasons. This is far from a finished product in Hextall's eyes.

"We know we have a lot of young guys coming in and we think that will be a good thing," Simmonds said.

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

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AP Images

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Petr Mrazek was the first Flyer on the ice for Wednesday's practice, spending considerable time with goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh.

"We talked about strategy a little bit, how to square up to the puck, how to help the D and the PK and how to manage things," Mrazek said. "I think we had a good conversation and I'm looking forward to working with him and try and help the team."

Mrazek was also the first guy off the ice, an early indication that he'll make his Flyers debut Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. Mrazek spent his first day in Philadelphia serving as Alex Lyon's backup and watched his new team from the bench, quickly noticing how the Flyers moved the puck from zone-to-zone.  

"Everyone was really fast in transition yesterday. We were trying to get the puck out of the zone as quick as we can," Mrazek said.

Mrazek believes he can help facilitate quick breakouts with the way he plays the puck and working the puck to his defensemen.

"I'm really confident in playing the puck and helping the defense," Mrazek said. "I like to be involved behind the net and put the puck on their sticks and get the puck out of the zone. Especially on the road, it's very important when teams chip the puck behind the net and try to make play out there."

Playing the puck efficiently will certainly help Mrazek rest easier, as was his first night in Philadelphia. Staying at a nearby hotel, Mrazek was able to get a good night's rest after barely getting any sleep the night he was traded to Philadelphia. 

"I was fine today," he said, "but yesterday when I woke up at four in the morning I asked myself, 'Is this really happening?'"

Flyers survive a scare with Travis Konecny

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USA Today Images

Flyers survive a scare with Travis Konecny

VOORHEES, N.J. — T.K. appears to be OK.

The Flyers have apparently survived a scare, even though Travis Konecny sat out Wednesday's workout. The Flyers' winger was given a maintenance day to recover from soreness from Tuesday's win over the Canadiens.

General manager Ron Hextall listed Konecny as probable after he took a slap shot off his left skate in the first period that severely hampered his mobility.

Konecny labored throughout the majority of the game, unable to sustain for prolonged periods with nine shifts under 30 seconds. The 20-year-old winger has been a primary contributor during the Flyers' second-half surge with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in his last 24 games since being moved up to the Flyers' top line.

Tuesday night was just the seventh time during that 24-game span Konecny failed to register a point. The Flyers will make a determination following Thursday's morning skate regarding his availability against the Blue Jackets.

"Either you can play or you can't this time of year," Dave Hakstol said. "Nobody would be surprised to know that around the league there's a lot of guys that play at a little bit less than 100 percent. This time of year, that's how it is. You have to be able to do your job at a high level. That's the line — you're on one side of it or the other, and we'll make that decision."

Taylor Leier, a healthy scratch the past seven games, skated in Konecny's spot on the Flyers' top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier.