Flyers

Flyers learn harsh reality that they're 'not there yet'

Flyers learn harsh reality that they're 'not there yet'

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You can get away with mistakes against teams like the Canadiens or the Senators.

Against the Penguins, you’ll get buried.

On Wednesday, the Flyers paid dearly as Pittsburgh scored three unanswered goals in the second period en route to a 5-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations). The Flyers’ four-game losing streak has dropped them from first to third place in the Metropolitan Division, and their playoff cushion in the wild card is now just six points.

“We’re playing good teams right now that are on top of the standings with a lot of experience, so sometimes it shows that we are not there yet,” forward Jakub Voracek said. “Obviously it was a big game today, but we’re still not there.”

This game played out very similarly to the Flyers’ 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Jan. 2 when the Penguins scored three goals in just over two minutes. When the Flyers weren’t killing first-period penalties, they dominated stretches of the second period. They even took the lead when Travis Konecny scored his 18th goal of the season, but inconsistency proved once again to be a killer (see highlights).

“We didn’t play a complete game 5-on-5,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “You’ve got to play a complete game throughout the 60 minutes, and we didn’t do that and that cost us.”

Conor Sheary scored two goals to lead Pittsburgh, including one in the final minute of the second period that gave Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead.

“I know on the fourth goal there, I take responsibility,” Konecny said. “I could have got the puck in deep, and then I didn’t get the puck out of the zone too. Two turnovers there and they capitalized, and it’s tough to get back in games against guys like this.”

The Flyers could have benefitted from a power-play goal, but that unit was a combined 0 for 5 even with Wayne Simmonds’ return to the lineup. The Flyers’ power play is now 1 for 19 over the last six games.

“The power play was s--- tonight and it’s frustrating,” Claude Giroux said. “We did a good job of drawing those penalties and gaining momentum, but it wasn’t good.”

“We gotta find ways to get the puck to the middle of the ice to alleviate the pressure,” Simmonds said. “Once we got it on the wall, they pressured. They did a good job not allowing us to get it off.”

Playing the Penguins also presented matchup problems for the Flyers. With the Sean Couturier line mostly battling Evgeni Malkin’s line, Hakstol attempted to contain Sidney Crosby’s line with the trio of Valtteri Filppula, Jordan Weal and Simmonds. While they didn’t play terribly, they were still collectively minus-8 and played much of the game at even strength on the defensive side of the ice.

“We made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of it,” Simmonds said. “I think as a whole, I don’t think we were too bad, but just those couple mistakes, they put them in the back of our net.” 

The Flyers are proving to be one of the NHL’s streakiest teams, both good and bad.

Now they must find a way to pump the brakes Thursday night in Boston.

What's next for Scott Gordon? Watching Stanley Cup Playoffs

What's next for Scott Gordon? Watching Stanley Cup Playoffs

Chuck Fletcher wanted to give Scott Gordon some time to think about his future.

The general manager said Gordon was understandably disappointed Monday morning when he was told he didn't earn the Flyers' full-time head coaching position.

What might Gordon be doing in the meantime?

Good chance he's checking in on the NHL playoffs.

Two weeks ago, Gordon was in limbo with the Flyers — a part of meetings moving forward and considered a strong candidate for the head coaching job, but with nothing guaranteed.

He was asked if such a dynamic was awkward at all.

"At the end of every year, it doesn't matter where you are or what your contract is, there's always a chance you're not going to be back," Gordon said. "I go into the summer or the end of the season, I obviously reflect on the past season, what I'd like to do different [or keep] the same."

In doing so, Gordon likes to study the postseason. A big advocate of dissecting game film, Gordon does the same with the Stanley Cup Final.

"I generally try to watch the playoffs as a fan and then in the finals, I'll watch it as a fan but then I will get those on a computer and break down, in August, some of the things … when the playoffs go through, just identify some things that I like that teams did," Gordon said. "Pay particular attention to the finals in August, as far as what I might consider doing differently, pull footage and present to my team maybe a different way of going about business."

Which team Gordon is working for in 2019-20 is unknown. He impressed Fletcher as the Flyers' interim head coach. The club was in the basement of the 31-team NHL standings more than halfway through the regular season. By March 11, the Flyers were within three points of a playoff spot following an 18-4-2 spree under Gordon.

Fletcher said he would likely touch base with Gordon again after Easter weekend. He will welcome him back to the organization with open arms. Fletcher said Gordon's previous job as head coach of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley was his if the 56-year-old wanted it.

However, Gordon said after the Flyers' regular-season finale that his time with the 2018-19 club changed his perspective on coaching in the NHL again, a much-needed spark following a not-so-memorable two-plus seasons as head coach of the Islanders from 2008-10.

"My experience in Long Island wasn't a great one," Gordon said April 6. "So much so that I didn't really think too much about coaching in the NHL. If it happened, great, but I wasn't losing any sleep over it. As I told the players after the game tonight, coming in here and dealing with the character of the players — not just as players but as people — reinvigorated that desire to coach in the NHL. With that being said, I'll do what job is asked of me and I won't think twice about it."

Gordon won't have any issues finding a job. He'll be watching the Stanley Cup Final, ready to coach.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Maple Leafs, Golden Knights can clinch on home ice

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Maple Leafs, Golden Knights can clinch on home ice

Four first-round playoff series remain alive.

Two of those four series could end Sunday.

Both the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights can advance to the second round if they win their respective Game 6s on home ice.

Below is the full schedule for Day 12 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs (TOR 3-2)
Game 6, Eastern Conference first round
3 p.m. ET | TV: NBC | Live stream here

San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights (VGK 3-2)
Game 6, Western Conference first round
7 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here