Flyers

'Going through the motions' when Flyers can't afford it

'Going through the motions' when Flyers can't afford it

Carter Hart is a positive, happy-go-lucky kind of kid. His youthful exuberance is why so many people like him. The 20-year-old will block out negativity like a brick wall.

Props to the youngster for not expressing even an inkling of lost hope after the Flyers stomached arguably their most disheartening defeat of 2018-19.

On home ice Tuesday night, the Flyers lost to the Canadiens, 3-1, a team they're trying to leapfrog in their pursuit of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot (see observations). With 10 games remaining, the Flyers trailed Montreal by three points and the final playoff berth by six. They needed this game and didn't get it, leaving a climb that feels insurmountable (see standings).

"Have they said that we're automatically out, have they said that?" Hart asked rather rhetorically following the game. "Then exactly, we still have nine games here and mathematically, we're not out of it, so there's still a chance. That's what the mindset has to be in this locker room."

Claude Giroux is not 20 years old. He is 31 and has seen more playoff pushes than anybody on the Flyers' roster. As much as he could try to spin the situation differently, he's too accustomed to desperation time.

"We can't afford losing a game the rest of the season," Giroux said. "We're aware of that."

The Flyers probably can't afford a bad period at this point.

On Fan Appreciation Night at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers didn't set the tone, playing a so-so opening stanza. They fell behind, 1-0, and had trouble generating chances with eight shots on net, not many of great quality, according to IcyData.

"I feel we didn't have a lot of urgency, we were going through the motions," Giroux said of the first period. "We didn't play bad, but we didn't play good."

Was that surprising given the implications of the game?

"Yeah," Giroux said.

It's understandable to have a not-bad, not-good period, but not when the Flyers have provided themselves so little room for error. For the Flyers — who made such a frenzied charge from Jan. 14 to March 11, going 18-4-2 with a plus-22 goal differential — their biggest hurdle isn't getting help from others, but instead having to be perfect down the stretch. They're now 1-3-0 in their last four games.

The Canadiens, who were 2-5-0 and outscored 24-12 in their previous seven games, held a 2-0 lead at second intermission Tuesday. Their goalie Carey Price came in with a 19-2-2 record and 2.13 goals-against average when leading after the second period.

Another hole in a season comprised of too many.

"I think our guys were ready to play," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said.

"Obviously we would've liked to get a few more screens, but I also think [the Canadiens] worked pretty hard at preventing us from getting near … whether we need a little more fight or not, I wouldn't be able to tell you until I saw the tape. 

"I know that I did look at the chances after the first and second period — we're in the area but we can't get to where we want to go."

The same can be said for the Flyers in the standings.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Connor McDavid gives Flyers a nightmare finish to 0-2-1 road trip

Connor McDavid gives Flyers a nightmare finish to 0-2-1 road trip

BOX SCORE

Connor McDavid and company laced up the burners and blew past the Flyers on Wednesday night at Rogers Place.

The Flyers lost to the Oilers, 6-3, to finish their three-game road trip 0-2-1.

McDavid put on a five-point show to send the Flyers back home 2-2-1 overall. Alain Vigneault's team will look to find good vibes at home after traveling to Boston, New York, Lausanne, Switzerland, Prague, Czech Republic, Philadelphia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta and Edmonton, Alberta, over a span of 24 days (including the final three preseason games).

The Flyers actually had 52 shots to Edmonton's 22. You would have never guessed it.

The Oilers are 6-1-0 and scoring ... a lot.

• If you blinked, you missed McDavid and the Oilers flipping the game upside down. Trailing, 2-1, to start the middle stanza, the Flyers were actually all over Edmonton, putting six of the period's first seven shots on goal. The Flyers had a number of chances to score an early equalizer — maybe the game takes a different turn if they do.

Alas, they did not and McDavid then decided to pounce. The 22-year-old superstar went off for a goal and two assists in fewer than four minutes. Just like that, the Flyers were in a 5-1 hole.

McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and James Neal entered with a combined 16 goals in their team's six games — more goals than six NHL teams had in the same number of games or more.

The trio did further damage against the Flyers as McDavid finished with a goal and four assists, Draisaitl two goals and an assist, and Neal an assist.

• Carter Hart had a homecoming to forget. The 21-year-old from right outside of Edmonton (Sherwood Park) allowed four goals on 14 shots. The first two were more than stoppable, the third was McDavid being the best player in the world and the fourth was a power play tally.

Hart was not good and yanked in the second period. Prior to the outing, he had stopped 75 of 80 shots faced in his first three games.

• The first 10 minutes of a game are imperative to any road team in the NHL. The Flyers fell behind early in all three games of the Western Canada swing.

Against the Canucks, they trailed 5:01 into the game. Against the Flames, 1:35 into game. And against the Oilers, 1:13 into game.

The Flyers were one of the NHL's worst first-period teams in 2018-19 with a minus-31 goal differential during the opening stanza. Through five games this season, the Flyers have been outscored 5-2 in the first period. Vigneault needs more early offense to kick his system into gear.

• After going scoreless in the Flyers' first four games, his longest drought to start a season, Jakub Voracek got on the board with a first-period power play goal. He added another man advantage goal and an assist when the game was out of reach late in the third.

The 30-year-old is a player who fuels on confidence as one goal or play can lead to points in bunches. Voracek had 12 multi-point games last season and the Flyers were 9-2-1 in those contests.

They need him to bring this mojo home.

Also, remember when it was a 1-1 game at this point?

• Travis Konecny went scoreless for the first time this season. James van Riemsdyk has 15 shots on net over the past two games but no points to show for it.

• The Flyers are back at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday to play the Stars (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). A loud start in front of the home fans would do wonders for their confidence.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

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

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

At this point, Alain Vigneault's group is probably itching to come home.

First, though, the Flyers (2-1-1) have a matchup Wednesday night with Connor McDavid and the Oilers (5-1-0).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9:30 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Rogers Place
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers are wrapping up a rather brutal stretch of travel.

Including the final three preseason games, the Flyers have been in Boston, New York, Lausanne, Switzerland, Prague, Czech Republic, Philadelphia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta and Edmonton, Alberta, over a span of 24 days.

The team returns to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, but following a Nov. 1 matchup in New Jersey, the Flyers will have played eight neutral site/road games compared to four true home games.

Not an easy stretch, especially for a team that has been prone to slow starts in recent years past.

• The Flyers have lost the first two contests of this three-game Western Canada swing. After putting up a total of eight goals in their first two games, they've produced just three over the previous two defeats — a 3-2 shootout decision to the Canucks and a 3-1 loss to the Flames.

It would be stunning if Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek don't get things going Wednesday night. The trio has a combined one point (a Giroux assist) through the Flyers' first four games. Last season, Voracek and Giroux had a combined 14 points in the team's first four games, while van Riemsdyk suffered an injury in Game 2.

If the Flyers can come home 3-1-1 with those three not yet producing at a high clip, they'll absolutely take it.

• Carter Hart, who is from right outside of Edmonton (Sherwood Park), will start at Rogers Place for the first time as an NHLer.

The 21-year-old has worked with Oilers goaltending coach Dustin Schwartz since he was 13 years old.

• A few notes on Oilers forwards McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and James Neal:


Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Kevin Hayes-James van Riemsdyk
Michael Raffl-Scott Laughton-Jakub Voracek
Carsen Twarynski-Connor Bunnaman-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

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

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers