Flyers

Flyers' playoff hopes are starting to depend on Brian Elliott

Flyers' playoff hopes are starting to depend on Brian Elliott

Right before taking the ice under the lights at Lincoln Financial Field for Friday night's practice, Brian Elliott found out he was starting the Stadium Series game.

Prior to that discussion with interim head coach Scott Gordon, it's possible Elliott wondered if he would ever play again for the Flyers.

The 33-year-old goalie was expected to back up 20-year-old fan favorite Carter Hart in the team's final game ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Elliott, a pending unrestricted free agent and unlikely to be re-signed in the offseason, was a candidate to be dealt with general manager Chuck Fletcher readying for 2019-20.

Suddenly, though, Elliott saw himself between the pipes with 69,620 fans looking on in the biggest game of the season against the Flyers' biggest rival.

And suddenly, he's one of the most vital sources to the Flyers' playoff chances in 2018-19, a season clinging to hope with 19 games remaining.

"I was just really happy to be out there, back in the element," Elliott said last Friday after practice at the Linc. "You kind of feel back at home and you kind of have a new zest for life."

It's evident in the results. Elliott was not moved at the deadline and he's been needed now with Hart out at least 10 days because of an ankle injury. The new zest for life has turned into back-to-back wins for Elliott. He converted 40 saves last Saturday in the 4-3 OT Stadium Series victory over the Penguins and followed it up with 34 stops in the Flyers' 5-2 decision Tuesday over the Sabres (see observations).

After missing 40 games because of a lower-body injury, Elliott is 2-0-0 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in his four outings back — two relief appearances and two starts.

"It can't be easy for a lot of those goalies, to be honest," James van Riemsdyk said. "It's been tough. Some of them dealing with injuries and different things like that, and different people coming in and out. 

"So he's a good pro and he works at it and he has a good mindset. I think it allows him to have consistent success and be ready to go when his number is called."

Nothing has been easy for the Flyers in net. They've played seven goalies and the decisions are only getting harder. Time will tell when the rookie Hart can return and how quickly he'll be up to snuff in playoff-like games following an injury. Meanwhile, Cam Talbot hasn't played since being acquired Feb. 16 but will have to soon.

The Flyers entered Wednesday seven points back of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. Their next fives games are against Metropolitan Division opponents — two against the first-place Islanders and one against the defending champion Capitals.

When Fletcher traded for Talbot, Elliott was getting healthy and Hart was the guy. The GM was asked about divvying up playing time among the goalies.

"It's hard to predict the future. I think you guys worry about that stuff a little bit more than I do," Fletcher said. "Since I've been here, it's been one thing after another. There have been times we've struggled to even get two healthy goaltenders in the net. We'll just take it day by day and play the guy that gives us the best chance to win and let things sort out."

Fletcher was spot-on. At this point, we've learned that nothing is predictable with the Flyers' goaltending situation.

Just ask Brian Elliott.

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Controversial, confusing hit by Joel Farabee on Mathieu Perreault crushes Flyers (and it could cost him)

Controversial, confusing hit by Joel Farabee on Mathieu Perreault crushes Flyers (and it could cost him)

BOX SCORE

The Flyers' lineup had a supremely uncharacteristic look Sunday at Bell MTS Place.

Joel Farabee then made an uncharacteristic play and the Flyers' road trip went completely haywire with a 7-3 loss to the Jets.

The Flyers (17-11-5) limped through an 0-3-0 swing away from home in which they were outscored 14-5. Prior to this stretch, the Flyers had lost three straight games in regulation only one other time — Oct. 15-19.

The Jets (20-11-2) pounced on the Flyers in a ripe opportunity.

• In his quick climb to the NHL, Farabee had been lauded for his smarts and the way he thinks the game at an advanced level.

On Sunday, though, the 19-year-old rookie made a dumb, ill-advised play and it crushed the Flyers. Really, it cost them any chance at a win and it could cost the rookie a game or two.

With the Flyers trailing, 2-1, almost midway through the second period, Farabee flattened Mathieu Perreault just as the Jets' forward was turning from sending a pass up the boards. Perreault left the game and did not return.

Farabee may have been frustrated as he was crosschecked in the back moments before the hit. Still, the Flyers had just trimmed the deficit to one and were already playing with a patchwork group of forwards.

Farabee was whistled for interference and given a game misconduct, putting Winnipeg on a five-minute power play. The Jets went on to score four goals in fewer than six minutes and the game was over (see highlights).

The NHL will look at the Farabee hit. Stay tuned.

• This was not a game the Flyers could afford mental mistakes or self-inflicted wounds.

The club rushed Carsen Twarynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to Winnipeg on Sunday because it's ravaged by injuries at the forward position.

The Flyers came in without Scott Laughton (groin), Tyler Pitlick (concussion), Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis), Travis Konecny (concussion), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

To the Flyers' credit, they played with great energy during the first period and were in the game midway through the action.

• Matt Niskanen, James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere scored goals for the Flyers.

Niskanen's marker was actually meaningful. When van Riemsdyk and Gostisbehere lit the lamp, the game was out of reach.

• Brian Elliott was pulled after the second period. Winnipeg bombarded the 34-year-old goalie after Farabee's hit.

Carter Hart made six saves on seven shots in the final stanza.

• The Flyers are off from practice Monday before hosting the Ducks Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers at Jets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Jets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers have lost three straight games in regulation only once this season.

They'll try to keep it that way Sunday as the Flyers (17-10-5) visit the Jets (19-11-2) after failing to pick up any points in back-to-back losses.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 5 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bell MTS Place
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The carousel at forward continued with Sunday's call-ups Carsen Twarynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

In Saturday night's 4-1 loss to the Wild, Scott Laughton (groin) and Tyler Pitlick (concussion) left the game and did not return.

On Sunday, the Flyers will be without forwards Laughton, Pitlick, Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis), Travis Konecny (concussion), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

With Sunday's roster transactions, the Flyers placed Konecny on injured reserve and Lindblom and defenseman Samuel Morin (ACL) on long-term injured reserve for salary cap relief.

Aube-Kubel, a 23-year-old winger who played nine games for the big club last season, will become the 10th rookie to play for the Flyers this season.

• With all the injuries, the Flyers are in desperate need of their big boys to carry the load.

The Flyers have gone to a different level when Kevin Hayes has produced in the points column. The team is 10-2-1 when he records a point and 7-8-4 when he goes scoreless.

Hayes went without a point over the Flyers' last two games — both regulation losses — and returns to Winnipeg for the first time since being traded by the Jets in June.

• The Jets are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Red Wings. Winnipeg hasn't dropped consecutive games since Oct. 13-17, when it lost three straight.

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup, according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Carsen Twarynski-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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