Flyers

Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3: Flyers stumble early again in season finale

Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3: Flyers stumble early again in season finale

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A tumultuous 2018-19 season ravaged by regression and firings came to an end Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers lost, 4-3, to the Hurricanes.

After throwing themselves into the playoff race with an 18-4-2 stretch from Jan. 14 to March 11, the Flyers (37-37-8) stumbled out of contention with a 3-10-0 finish.

The Flyers' 82 points are their fewest in a full season since 2006-07, when the team was dreadful and went 22-48-12 for 56 points.

The Hurricanes (46-29-7), led by former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour, are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2009.

• Oskar Lindblom, Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier scored for the Flyers.

Lindblom, a 22-year-old rookie, scored 17 goals in his first full season and took off after earning a larger portion of the pie under interim head coach Scott Gordon. He has 20-goal potential, impressive for a fifth-round pick.

Konecny matched his career high of 24 goals set last season but there's no denying he was inconsistent. When he's going, he's a game-breaker. When he's not, he blends in.

Important to remember: Konecny turned only 22 years old last month. How quickly the Flyers turn things around will rely heavily on the 2015 first-round pick's production.

Couturier finished with a career-high 33 goals after breaking out in 2017-18. Since the start of that season, he has 64 goals, the same number as Penguins star Sidney Crosby. Couturier is one of the few certainties for general manager Chuck Fletcher.

• The Flyers should be thankful for Carter Hart, who picked up the loss in his 30th start.

The 20-year-old breathed life into the season and provides optimism for the future. He went 16-13-1, lending much-needed stability to a situation that saw the Flyers play eight goalies, an NHL record for one season.

The injuries and netminders weren't the only problems, either.

The Flyers were far too shaky in front of the goalies. Is it personnel? Is it coaching?

The answer will be clearer in 2019-20.

• Mark Friedman, a 23-year-old defenseman, made his NHL debut in the loss. He played 12:33 and didn't look out of place.

He should be a solid call-up option next season (see story).

• The Flyers once again fell behind early and went into first intermission trailing 3-1.

They finished the season with a minus-31 goal differential in the first period, worst in the NHL.

The starts of games will have to be addressed in 2019-20.

• A look at the Flyers' unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents heading into the offseason:

Brian Elliott, G — UFA
Michal Neuvirth, G — UFA
Cam Talbot, G — UFA
Corban Knight, F — UFA
Phil Varone, F — UFA
Jori Lehtera, F — UFA
Scott Laughton, F — RFA
Travis Konecny, F — RFA
Ryan Hartman, F — RFA
Justin Bailey, F — RFA
Ivan Provorov, D — RFA
Travis Sanheim, D — RFA

• The Flyers handed out their annual team awards before the game (see story).

• Fletcher enters his first offseason as Flyers general manager. He'll have his work cut out for him. The Flyers fell well short of expectations and haven't made the postseason in consecutive years since 2010-12, when they last won a series.

Cleanout day is Sunday afternoon for the players.

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Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

On Saturday, we broke down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. Today, we look at the reasons for concern.

Alain Vigneault has 11 playoff berths on his résumé. He knows the requisites for a postseason club and the Flyers have failed to look like one in a key aspect.

"As a team that considers themselves a playoff team, you need to have a good road record," Vigneault said last month.

The Flyers do not through 25 road games. As stingy as they have been at home, they've been the polar opposite away from home. On the road, the Flyers are 10-13-2, have a minus-30 goal differential and are allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.80.

The figures above are a major concern and the Flyers must stem the tide over their final 16 road games. Vigneault's team still has two trips to Washington, D.C., two to Tampa Bay, Florida, two to Madison Square Garden and one more to Pittsburgh. Those matchups with the Capitals, Lightning, Rangers and Penguins will be stiff tests.

Speaking of the schedule, the Flyers are battling in the NHL's deepest division and have 14 games remaining against Metro teams. The Flyers are in sixth place of the Metropolitan Division (three points out of third place) but would be in first place of the Pacific Division.

The Flyers will be challenged the rest of the way and so, too, will their depth at forward. The Flyers are a middle-of-the-pack scoring club (15th in the NHL with 3.06 goals per game) and without Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

Is the team's youth in the bottom six enough for the playoffs and a competitive shot? Or will (and can) general manager Chuck Fletcher add at the Feb. 24 trade deadline?

Big questions and we'll have answers soon.

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2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

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Travis Konecny stormed into the NHL All-Star break already with a new career high in assists. The Flyers' winger has 26 helpers and is projected to finish with 44, a sign of significant growth in a breakout 2019-20 season for the 22-year-old.

On Saturday night in the 2020 All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Konecny put his facilitating on display during the 3-on-3 action featuring the world's best players. He finished with three assists in the Metropolitan Division's 9-5 semifinal loss to the Atlantic Division.

"I had a lot of fun," Konecny said Saturday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "It was pretty funny, I was watching my parents in the stands and my mom didn't understand why we weren't playing like a real game.

"It's my first game and it's her first time seeing it. I don't know if she was expecting me to be blocking shots and forechecking, stuff like that. I had a lot of fun with it.

"It was a really cool experience, getting to play with some players, too, that I usually won't get the chance to play with was fun."

Konecny playing in his first All-Star Game at 22 years old should be exciting for the Flyers. Claude Giroux was 23 years old for his first All-Star Game back in 2011. The future looks bright for Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract back in mid-September.

With 17 goals and 43 points through 47 games, Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting career highs across the board.

A breakout, indeed.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's first All-Star Game:

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