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Hurricanes 5, Flyers 2: Officially eliminated from playoff contention

Hurricanes 5, Flyers 2: Officially eliminated from playoff contention

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After firing their general manager and head coach, sitting in last place of the 31-team NHL standings more than halfway through the season and coming within three points of a playoff spot down the stretch, the Flyers were officially eliminated from postseason contention Saturday afternoon with a 5-2 loss to the Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

The Flyers (37-33-8) have missed the playoffs in four of the last seven seasons, which includes the 2012-13 shortened campaign. They haven't made the postseason in consecutive years since 2010-12, when they last won a series.

The Hurricanes (43-28-7) put the game out of reach with two empty-netters. Carolina still has plenty to play for as it's trying to secure one of the Eastern Conference's wild-card spots.

• Some frustrations came out for the Flyers with eight minutes left in the third period. Sean Couturier appeared to be tripped by goalie Petr Mrazek. He was then given a game misconduct shortly after when the Hurricanes extended their lead to 3-1 with a power-play marker.

"I didn't say anything," Couturier told reporters postgame. "I slammed my stick with frustration, just gave [the official] the stare down and next thing you know, I'm kicked out."

The realization of elimination was probably setting in for the Flyers. They scored to make it 3-2 but no Couturier or Shayne Gostisbehere in that spot is tough.

• In order to get Samuel Morin some game action over these final five games, Gostisbehere sat Saturday for a non-performance-based healthy scratch.

Morin played 14:46, had two blocked shots and two giveaways. He will not play Sunday but will see more audition time over the final three games of 2018-19.

• The Flyers' first of three power-play opportunities was quite interesting.

For one, there was no Gostisbehere running the point. He is so impactful when he's up top directing the attack and he also helps with entries because of his elusiveness.

Travis Sanheim worked on the first unit in his place and the man-advantage opportunity didn't go well. Carolina nearly scored shorthanded as Sebastian Aho blew past Sanheim for a shot that went wide.

Then, Phil Varone saw some power-play time on the second unit, which is rare for the 28-year-old fourth-liner.

Oskar Lindblom scored the Flyers' man-advantage goal in the third period.

• NBC Sports Philadelphia Flyers analyst Chris Therien hit the nail on the head during intermission live after the first period.

"The Flyers have got to wake up here in their own zone," Therien said.

The Flyers did very little to help Cam Talbot when the Hurricanes scored two goals in a 21-second span to take a 2-1 lead.

On Carolina's power-play goal to tie it, Justin Williams got in deep way too easily before the puck pinballed between Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Lindblom. Neither of the three could clear it and Teuvo Teravainen took advantage, punching it home past Talbot.

On the Hurricanes' go-ahead goal, Carolina was all over Talbot with nobody impeding bodies in front. Dougie Hamilton finished it off by flushing a rebound as Talbot was scrambling.

• Talbot, in just his second start since being acquired in mid-February, looked fine and made 27 saves. The third goal was a power-play blast that he didn't seem to see despite a relatively clear shooting lane for Justin Faulk.

• Claude Giroux scored his 21st goal off a 2-on-1 with Corban Knight, handing the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the opening stanza. It was his first goal in the past 11 games and his second in March, but Giroux is almost always effective, even if he isn't lighting the lamp.

Here are the captain's stats over the last two seasons: 183 points (55 goals, 128 assists) and a plus-40 mark in 160 games.

Only Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon have more points since the start of the 2017-18 season.

McDavid is 22 years old, Kucherov is 25 and MacKinnon is 23. Giroux is 31 ... impressive stuff from him to be in that category of guys.

• The Flyers are right back at it when they host the Rangers on Sunday (12:30 p.m./NBC).

The Flyers have been outscored 51-36 in the second game of back-to-back sets.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: Blues can advance to Cup Final with Game 6 win over Sharks

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: Blues can advance to Cup Final with Game 6 win over Sharks

Craig Berube and the Blues are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

They can earn that victory Tuesday night when they host the Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

Including the playoffs, the Blues are 49-24-8 under Berube, who took over Nov. 19 as interim head coach.

For some context on the Blues' run, St. Louis visited the Wells Fargo Center Jan. 7 with the same number of points as the Flyers. The Blues were 29th in the NHL at 16-19-4 and 36 points, while the Flyers were 30th at 15-20-6 and 36 points.

St. Louis has never won a Cup, but it's on the verge of being one step closer to a title.

Below is the schedule for Day 39 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (STL 3-2)
Game 6, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

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