Flyers

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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Flyers roster cuts: Prospects Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie sent back to junior teams

Flyers roster cuts: Prospects Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie sent back to junior teams

The Flyers made a round of cuts Wednesday following their first two preseason games.

The team returned prospects Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie, Mason Millman and Egor Serdyuk to their junior clubs.

Zamula is a rising prospect that looks like a promising undrafted discovery by the Flyers. The 6-foot-3, 172-pound defenseman is a smooth skater with developing skills. The 19-year-old drew the praise of general manager Chuck Fletcher during rookie camp and was impressive in Monday night's preseason opener.

"I really like [Zamula]," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said after the game. "I have seen him in practice, I see that there's a young kid there that's got good mobility and can make good plays with the puck. Tonight, against an NHL opponent, I really liked his poise and his demeanor on the ice. 

"I thought stick-wise and mobility-wise, he did a lot of good things on the ice that as a coach, you're looking and you say, 'This guy's got a chance here.' There's no doubt in my mind that this young man's got a chance to play at some point."

He'll be a prospect to keep an eye on this season with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

Wylie, a 19-year-old defenseman, is a notable move given the Flyers have yet to sign him to an entry-level contract. During this summer's development camp, Wylie was unsure if he would return to the WHL's Everett Silvertips for his fourth and final junior season. There was a possibility the 2018 fifth-round pick could earn his ELC and join AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Instead, he'll head back to the Silvertips and shoot for his contract throughout the season.

The Flyers also released camp invites Maxim Golod, Ben McCartney, Sean Comrie and Mika Cyr from their amateur tryouts.

The team's roster is at 54 players.

Forwards

Andy Andreoff
Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman
Greg Carey
Sean Couturier
Kyle Criscuolo
Joel Farabee
Gerry Fitzgerald
Morgan Frost
Kurtis Gabriel
Claude Giroux
Kevin Hayes
David Kase
Travis Konecny
Pascal Laberge
Scott Laughton
Oskar Lindblom
Cal O'Reilly
Nolan Patrick
Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl
Isaac Ratcliffe
German Rubtsov
Chris Stewart
Matthew Strome
Maksim Sushko
Carsen Twarynski
James van Riemsdyk
Jakub Voracek
Mikhail Vorobyev

Defense

Chris Bigras
Justin Braun
T.J. Brennan
Josh Couturier
David Drake
Mark Friedman
Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg
Robert Michel
Samuel Morin
Philippe Myers
Matt Niskanen
Nate Prosser
Ivan Provorov
Travis Sanheim
Andy Welinski
Reece Willcox
Tyler Wotherspoon

Goalies

Jean-Francois Berube
Brian Elliott
Carter Hart
Alex Lyon
Felix Sandstrom
Kirill Ustimenko

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German Rubtsov continues roster push, Carter Hart sharp, more from Flyers' OT preseason loss

German Rubtsov continues roster push, Carter Hart sharp, more from Flyers' OT preseason loss

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The Flyers couldn't get one back against the Islanders.

Alain Vigneault's team dropped consecutive preseason games to New York after losing, 3-2, in overtime Tuesday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Flyers never trailed until the Islanders' OT winner.

They have five exhibition games remaining. Big names like Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen have yet to dress for the Flyers.

Let's get into some observations:

• German Rubtsov came into the action as one of the most notable roster hopefuls on Tuesday night's game roster. He has played a lot. He competed in rookie camp, scored two goals in the prospects game, performed well in Monday night's preseason opener and was back in the lineup Tuesday.

The Flyers are challenging him.

"That's one of the reasons he's playing tonight," Vigneault said after morning skate. "There are some decisions to be made and some of the things we're going to do is put some players in a tougher spot to see how they react to it."

Rubtsov once again did some positive things. During the second period, he stripped the puck in a battle along the boards and rung the post, nearly giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead. However, he lost 10 faceoffs.

But he really showed himself when he raced out of the chute with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He's healthy, strong and is looking more and more like an NHL center.

• Michael Raffl opened the game's scoring with a first period goal on a deflection. He and Scott Laughton were the only forwards in the lineup that played regularly for the Flyers last season.

Raffl will be a quietly reliable guy for the Flyers in 2019-20. Expect to see him on the fourth line and the penalty kill. The 30-year-old played a career-low 11:25 per game in 2018-19 and his minutes should be in that ballpark this season. Those lesser minutes are important, though, when they come on the PK and against the opposition's better lines to give the Flyers' top-six guys a blow.

• Carter Hart made his preseason debut and stopped all 14 shots he faced in 30 minutes.

He has been sharp in camp and the anticipation is there for his first full NHL season.

"For me, I'm here and I'm ready to play," Hart said last weekend. "I put in a lot of work this summer, on and off the ice. I added some muscle, added some durability and I feel really healthy in net, really strong."

Jean-Francois Berube allowed three goals in relief, including the OT winner, when he couldn't locate the puck after making the initial save.

• After a recent camp practice, Maksim Sushko spent a lot of time deflecting pucks at the net. He did about four or five rounds of redirecting shots.

The practice paid off as Sushko screened the goalie on a Chris Bigras goal in the third period. Sushko may have gotten a piece of it. Those role forwards understand that scoring chances will come from effort in limited minutes. Sushko is a 2017 fourth-round pick with speed and entering his first season with the Phantoms.

• Kurtis Gabriel got involved in the action. Flyers fans may recall the name. He's a big guy that likes to be physical and the former Devil is trying to get in the conversation for the Flyers' bottom six. Emotions boiled over between Gabriel and Ross Johnston during the second. In the third, captain Anders Lee laid a big hit on Gabriel, who was banged up and forced to leave momentarily.

Gabriel returned to the game for a short stint, but if anything lingers, it will obviously impact his roster chances with five exhibition games left.

• Bigras was signed on July 1 to a two-way deal. The 2012 second-round pick has 46 NHL games under his belt and enjoyed a career year in the AHL last season, scoring 22 points in 52 games. He had a nice game Tuesday night with two points and a plus-1 rating. The 24-year-old will be good for Lehigh Valley.

Nate Prosser, another defenseman, had an assist but was beat on the Islanders' second goal and was slow to react on New York's first goal. He played under general manager Chuck Fletcher from 2009 to 2018.

• Roster hopeful Andy Andreoff, who has shown a blend of toughness and skill in camp, was not very noticeable during his 15 minutes.

• The Flyers are off from practice Wednesday before welcoming the Bruins Thursday for the their third preseason game (7 p.m./NBCSP).

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