Flyers

NHL playoff picture: Flyers lose significant ground as percentages sink

NHL playoff picture: Flyers lose significant ground as percentages sink

Devastating back-to-back losses to the Capitals and Maple Leafs have placed the Flyers in a desperate position over the final three weeks of the regular season. At this point, it would work to the Flyers' advantage if the Blue Jackets overtook the Hurricanes in the standings with two games remaining against Carolina.    

At the start of the week, the Flyers trailed the Blue Jackets by three points in the standings. Now the margin is seven back with 11 games remaining for both teams.

Wild-card standings

Carolina       38-25-7 — 83 points, 12 GR, 37 ROW
Columbus    40-28-3 — 83 points, 11 GR, 39 ROW
———
Montreal      37-27-7 — 81 points, 11 GR, 35 ROW
Flyers           34-29-8 — 76 points, 11 GR, 32 ROW

Friday's games

Flyers — L 7-6 at Toronto
CBJ — W 3-0 vs. Carolina

The Flyers blew a three-goal second-period lead to the Maple Leafs despite James van Riemsdyk's hat trick (see story). It was their first regulation loss scoring six or more goals since a 9-8 loss to Winnipeg on October 27, 2011.

In Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky made 46 saves for his 30th career shutout. It was the most saves in a shoutout in franchise history, topping the mark previously set by Steve Mason.

What are the odds?

Sports Club Stats now lists the Flyers' chances at 1.2 percent, down 6.4 percent following back-to-back regulation losses. It’s the smallest odds since they were 14 points back during the bye week.

The website Money Puck has the Flyers' odds slightly higher, at 1.59 percent.

What lies ahead?

With the Flyers playing in Pittsburgh Sunday, there will be plenty of scoreboard watching on Saturday with all three of the teams they’re chasing in action. 

The Blue Jackets travel to Boston in a rematch against a Bruins team they beat, 7-4, on Tuesday.

Carolina hosts a Sabres team that has been shut out in three straight games with a 2-9-2 mark over its last 13 games, while the Canadiens welcome the Blackhawks.

Strength of schedule

According to PlayoffStatus.com, the Flyers now have the seventh-toughest schedule down the stretch with nine of their 11 games against teams with better records.

• Blue Jackets — Eighth
• Hurricanes — 14th
• Canadiens — 15th

Columbus embarks on a four-game road trip starting Saturday, while Carolina opens a five-game homestand. The Canadiens have one of the easiest schedules to navigate with just one back-to-back remaining. 

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Sloppy play, surprising trends and Flyers take 2nd straight loss before running into Connor McDavid

Sloppy play, surprising trends and Flyers take 2nd straight loss before running into Connor McDavid

BOX SCORE

This time, the Flyers had the opposition take it to 'em.

Alain Vigneault's team never had the reins Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The defeat marked the first in regulation for the Flyers (2-1-1), who must shift their focus to salvaging a game on this Western Canada road trip.

The Flames (3-3-1) had their way, outshooting the Flyers, 38-22, and putting the pressure on Brian Elliott.

• The Flyers had difficulty getting the puck up ice, which gave them little chance to play Vigneault's preferred style. When you can't successfully transition the puck out of the defensive zone and through the neutral zone, there's no shot to play a possession-based game.

The issue wasn't effort. The Flyers just weren't sharp and the Flames were fast, dangerous and all over the puck.

• To make matters worse, the Flyers did not help Elliott, who was making his first start of the season. The first two goals allowed were self-inflicted products. The third was an empty-netter.

Elliott made some tough stops and finished with 35 saves. He gave the Flyers an honest chance on the road. They were problematic in front of him.

• The Flames scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the second period. Five seconds after a faceoff in the Flyers' end, Calgary made it 2-0 when Andrew Mangiapane's shot bounced off Travis Sanheim's stick and past Elliott.

• A bright spot among a not-so-bright performance from the Flyers was Matt Niskanen. He scored his first goal as a Flyer on a delayed penalty in the third period. But the 32-year-old has been even better defensively with his decisions, breaking up scoring chances and moving the puck. He has been as advertised and a major improvement on the blue line.

• Jakub Voracek opened the game on the third line with Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick after a third-period demotion in last Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Cannucks. Clearly Vigneault wanted to see smarter decisions — and maybe smarter effort — from Voracek, while James van Riemsdyk played on the first line following a solid performance against Vancouver.

With the Flyers trailing, 2-0, the lines were shuffled in the third period and Voracek saw time with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux but couldn't get much cooking.

Giroux (one assist), Voracek and van Riemsdyk have combined for one point during the first four games. The early drought is uncharted territory for Voracek and van Riemsdyk, who both had previously never gone scoreless through their opening four games of a season.

The good thing is the Flyers know the offense will come from those three and the team is still 2-1-1.

• The Flyers were outmatched in the opening five minutes, when the Flames were a step ahead in every phase and set the tone.

Michael Frolik beat Elliott just 1:35 into the action on an ugly sequence by the Flyers. After Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov misconnected on a pass up ice, Justin Braun failed to clear the puck and then inadvertently tripped Elliott as Frolik blasted his shot.

The Flyers were fortunate to be trailing by only one goal at first intermission. They could have done more than just weather the storm but went 0 for 3 on the power play and finished 0 for 4 overall. They were sluggish and then sloppy.

• The Flyers finish their three-game road trip with the second half of a back-to-back set when they take on Connor McDavid and the Oilers Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Edmonton is 5-1-0 and McDavid has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in six games.

The Flyers are then back at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday to play the Stars (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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

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

The Flyers will once again try to match a mark set by the team in 2011-12, when the club last went to the playoffs.

The last time the Flyers opened the regular season with at least a point in four straight games was 2011-12 (3-0-1). The 2019-20 Flyers (2-0-1) have a chance to do that Tuesday night when they visit the Flames (2-3-1).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers could not have asked for a better start from Travis Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract last month.

The 22-year-old winger has three goals and three assists in three games. His six points are the most by any Flyer through the first three games of a season since 2009-10, when defenseman Matt Carle also had six on one goal and five assists.

Going back to last season, the Flyers are 17-4-2 when Konecny scores a goal.

• Keep an eye on Chris Stewart, who is playing his first NHL regular-season game since March 29, 2018. In that game, he was playing for the Flames and scored a goal. Interestingly, he has his most career points against Calgary — 22 on 12 goals and 10 assists.

Also keep an eye on Jakub Voracek, who saw a demotion in the third period of last Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks. Let's see how he responds with his normal minutes and role.

Voracek and James van Riemsdyk are scoreless through the Flyers' first three games.

• The Flames were 26-10-5 at home last season, while putting up 50 wins and 107 points overall, most in the Western Conference.

Johnny Gaudreau is as good as they get, while Sean Monahan has killed the Flyers with 10 goals in 12 career games against the orange and black.

Projected lineup

Forwards

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

Defensemen

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

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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