Flyers

Rangers 3, Flyers 0: Eliminated Flyers with uninspired performance vs. Rangers

Rangers 3, Flyers 0: Eliminated Flyers with uninspired performance vs. Rangers

BOX SCORE 

The Flyers were feeling the blues Sunday afternoon in front of their home fans a day after being eliminated from playoff contention.

In a completely uninspiring performance, the Flyers lost to the rebuilding Rangers, 3-0, at the Wells Fargo Center.

This New York team had lost 13 of its last 16 games (3-8-5) by a combined score of 55-37 and had just one road victory since Feb. 20.

Yet, it had its way with the Flyers (37-34-8), who are 3-7-0 over their last 10 games after going 18-4-2 in the previous 24.

If the Flyers (82 points) don't win their remaining three games, they'll finish with their fewest points in a season since 2014-15, when they had 84.

Meanwhile, the Rangers (31-34-13) snapped a six-game losing streak to the Flyers.

• Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon, who typically experiments with different combinations throughout a game, tried shuffling his lines to get something going.

Travis Konecny was on the top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, then moved to the second unit with Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick.

Even Giroux and Couturier couldn't rekindle their old chemistry, while James van Riemsdyk (goalless in his last five games) played mostly on the third line and was denied on a breakaway.

• Patrick, a streaky player so far in his first two seasons, has gone quiet again with zero points in his last eight games. Konecny, another young player prone to hot-cold spells, has one point over his last seven games.

• Carter Hart, who had to make 36 or more saves in each of his previous three starts, wasn't as busy Sunday but couldn't deliver enough timely stops.

He wasn't bad, though, either, finishing with 22 saves. The Flyers were a step behind most of the day.

Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev, 23 years old, finished with 29 saves.

• Following a non-performance-based healthy scratch Saturday to get Samuel Morin more game action, Shayne Gostisbehere was back in the lineup. He played 25-plus minutes but couldn't ignite the man advantage.

• During the second period, the Flyers were gifted back-to-back power plays by Brendan Smith, who committed a silly tripping penalty and was then called for interference because he touched the puck before fully exiting the box.

The man-advantage units didn't do anything with it. The Flyers had good zone time but couldn't generate a ton of quality looks.

Smith gave them two more opportunities in the third but the Flyers went quietly.

The power play has been way too up and down this season and we'll have to wait and see who is running the show if any changes come systematically in 2019-20.

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, a span of three games, the man advantage went 7 for 10. But from Oct. 13 to Jan. 2, it went 9 for 93 — mind-blowingly inconsistent.

• The Flyers did a lot of watching in the first period, not showing a ton of energy after being eliminated from the playoff race.

New York, looking like it cared more, broke down the Flyers twice to grab a 2-0 lead. If Hart didn't bail the Flyers out in the first five minutes, the deficit could have been much worse.

Too often have the Flyers started slowly through the opening 20 minutes and then there's never a great reason for why it happened.

The Flyers have been outscored 84-59 in the first period — that won't cut it.

• Peter Forsberg was in the house and Gritty paid the Hall of Famer a visit.

• The Flyers finish up the regular season next week with three games: Tuesday at the Stars (8:30 p.m./NBCSP), Thursday at the Blues (8 p.m./NBCSP+) and Saturday vs. the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP).

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Former Flyers assistant coach Rick Wilson's comment on Shayne Gostisbehere a key reminder for 2019-20

Former Flyers assistant coach Rick Wilson's comment on Shayne Gostisbehere a key reminder for 2019-20

Maybe Shayne Gostisbehere and Rick Wilson weren't best friends.

That's OK.

A player and coach don't have to be buddy-buddy with each other, but they do have to understand each other. That's how you get the best out of a player.

In 2018-19, Gostisbehere underwhelmed significantly. He didn't blame anyone but himself. But he did play for two head coaches and two different assistants that oversaw the Flyers' defensemen. So, systematically and stylistically, things can change.

Wilson, with 30 years of NHL coaching experience, came on board in December. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman caught up with Wilson for parts of his latest 31 Thoughts column, an always-excellent read for hockey folks.

The 68-year-old Wilson, who was not retained by the Flyers, offered some insight on the team's blueliners after working with them for the final four-plus months of the season.

Here was the section on Gostisbehere from Friedman's piece:

Wilson did not mention Shayne Gostisbehere, so I brought him up. He was careful.

'I would just say that I'm a little disappointed I couldn't help him bring more of his best on a consistent basis … he is very talented and it is in there.'

By the time the calendar flipped to 2019, the Flyers were allowing the NHL's third-most goals. In an attempt to clean up the team's issues, adjustments were made. Gostisbehere's ice time fluctuated at different points. The 26-year-old is an offensive-minded defenseman. His game is predicated on playing freely, taking calculated risks, moving the puck up ice and making things happen.

At his end-of-the-season press conference, Gostisbehere was asked if he felt he had the freedom to take chances on the ice throughout the year.

"With Rick coming in and different coaches and whatnot, they tweaked the style — not just me personally, but how he wants the defense to play," Gostisbehere said. "I wouldn't say they put handcuffs on me or anything, but they pulled the reins back quite a bit just in what they wanted us to do collectively as a D core."

None of this is to say Gostisbehere is some type of player incapable of being coached. None of it's to say his role isn't safe with the Flyers. He doesn't have a problem listening or taking instruction. His strengths, though, are sometimes criticized and put under a microscope for being viewed as not playing his position wisely or correctly.

"I just want to get better, get better as a player, I want to be a staple point as a defenseman in this league — one of the better ones, not one who's just looked at offensively," Gostisbehere said in April. "It's tough when you start a season and you see the net filling up and we're giving up seven goals every other game. Changes happen. It's tough, it was a tough season in general, but you've got to stick with it and remember what got you there."

All of this is further emphasis on how imperative coaching is to a player like Gostisbehere. Getting the best out of him is vital to the Flyers. When he's clicking, when he's dynamic, when he's elusive, the Flyers are substantially better. That was evident in 2017-18, when he experienced a career year with 65 points (13 goals, 52 assists), the fourth most among NHL defensemen.

"Ghost is obviously elite in some of those areas," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in April. "He can break a guy down 1-on-1 and he can also make a 100-foot stretch pass."

Alain Vigneault and Mike Yeo are Gostisbehere's new coaches. How quickly the two mesh with an important player will be one of the biggest storylines in 2019-20.

"He's always been a believer of getting the puck going north and getting the D up in the play," Fletcher said of Vigneault. "I think our D is ideally suited for Alain."

That should be music to Gostisbehere's ears.

h/t to CBS Philly's Tom Dougherty.

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The South Philly bar that's gone 'all in' on the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

The South Philly bar that's gone 'all in' on the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Jacks NYB has been rooting for the St. Louis Blues since an encounter with some of the players in January.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Marc Farzetta takes a deeper look at why these life-long Flyers fans are now pulling for the Blues in the video below.