Flyers

Time for Flyers to face reality, start playing Samuel Morin and Cam Talbot

Time for Flyers to face reality, start playing Samuel Morin and Cam Talbot

VOORHEES, N.J. — It’s time for Scott Gordon and the Flyers to cash that reality check.

There will be no Stanley Cup Playoffs in Philadelphia this season. After Tuesday night’s loss to Montreal, those who calculate the odds now put the Flyers’ chances at less than one percent.

If the Blue Jackets stay on their current pace of 94 points, the Flyers would need to earn 17 of a possible 18 points in their final nine games to overtake Columbus in the standings.

Still, it’s not enough for Gordon to think about next season, considering the coach himself may not be here next season either.

“We’re in the same shoes that we’re in yesterday,” Gordon said Wednesday. “Nothing’s changed as far as the ladder we have to climb here. We’re six points behind going into it and we’re still six points behind. Is it possible that Columbus can go on a three-game losing streak and we go on a three-game winning streak? I think that’s very possible. So, until that element changes, it will be status quo.”

Of course, it’s not just the Blue Jackets the Flyers have to catch, but also the Canadiens, who increased the margin over the Flyers to five points.

Even if the Flyers fail to gain or even lose any ground in the standings, they won’t “officially” be eliminated until the first week of April.

In other words, don’t expect to see Samuel Morin suit up in Chicago or possibly anytime soon, and for those who are forecasting what this team could look like come next season, there’s a degree of frustration attached to that.

“Honestly, I’d love to play all of these games if it was me,” Morin said. “We’ll see what happens but, obviously, if we’re still in the playoff position I don’t think I’m going to get in. It’s just the way it is right now for me. I just can’t really do anything about it, right?” 

Morin is playing out the first year of a three-year extension he signed last summer and is one of five defensemen under contract for next season. However, since Morin is no longer waiver exempt, he can’t be shuffled between the Phantoms and Flyers without passing through waivers. With just three NHL games under his belt, the 6-foot-7 defenseman needs all the experience he can get moving forward.

“I’ve been doing this since training camp to be honest with you,” Morin said. “I know a lot of guys could not do this and keep a good mindset. It’s pretty hard watching all of hockey and not playing.”

Same can be said for pending free-agent goaltender Cam Talbot, who the Flyers acquired in a trade for Anthony Stolarz on Feb. 16. Talbot appears to be the perfect complement to Carter Hart heading into next season, but he has no indication that’s the case. 

There have been no preliminary discussions regarding a new contract even as he’s moved his family into Dale Weise’s South Jersey home on a temporary basis until he knows what the future holds.

Visa issues held up some prime opportunities for Talbot in late February, which in turn, has limited him to just 93 minutes of action since the trade. Eventually, the Flyers need to make a determination regarding a solid, competent backup to Hart.

However, I don’t think Talbot would have waived his no-trade clause if he could have foreseen the current situation.

And the longer it drags out, the more frustrations will amplify for those who are already looking ahead to 2019-20.

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Flyers sign prospect Linus Hogberg to entry-level contract

Flyers sign prospect Linus Hogberg to entry-level contract

One down, a few more to go?

The Flyers on Saturday signed prospect Linus Hogberg to an entry-level contract. The rights to Hogberg would have expired Monday if the Flyers didn't ink the 2016 fifth-round pick.

During 2019-20, Hogberg, a 21-year-old Swedish defenseman, had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) through 50 games with the Vaxjo Lakers playing against men in the SHL. The 6-foot-1, 176-pounder is regarded as a strong skater and intelligent passer.

Hogberg will start the 2020-21 season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms are gaining on the blue line with prospects Egor Zamula and Wyatte Wylie turning pro, as well.

(Joe Siville/Philadelphia Flyers)

Lehigh Valley could be gaining more with Wyatt Kalynuk and David Bernhardt, who remain unsigned. Bernhardt, another Swedish defenseman, needs to be signed by Monday or his rights will expire. It's uncertain if the Flyers will ink the 2016 seventh-round pick.

It appears Kalynuk has decided to forgo his senior season at Wisconsin as he plans to turn pro in 2020-21.

Kalynuk is an offensive-minded defenseman who has developed a ton with the Badgers. His rights were set to expire next summer. Now that he is leaving Wisconsin, it would be surprising if he's not signed soon by the Flyers.

"Philly has had lots of people here and been very instrumental in his growth as a player," Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato said. "I think when they drafted him, they recognized out of the gate that this guy could be a big part of their organization moving forward. They’ve been hands on, they’ve been here a lot, they’ve done it respectfully in a way that they’ve helped him a ton in preparing to get ready for the next step.”

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2020 NHL playoffs: Without fans, will Stanley Cup Playoff games lose authenticity?

2020 NHL playoffs: Without fans, will Stanley Cup Playoff games lose authenticity?

Hockey has been on the mind all week and even the simple discussion of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs has excited fans for the return of their favorite sport — even if things are going to look different this time around. 

While the majority of new rules and procedures were laid out Tuesday thanks to commissioner Gary Bettman, there is still a lot of unknown territory. This format has never been done before, but having a plan in place is the first step to turning concepts into something tangible. 

One of the biggest changes won’t be the additional eight teams, the hub city locations or the fact the NHL has the potential to run into the late summer months, but rather the element — or lack thereof — of fan attendance. 

The safety of fans and players is without a doubt the biggest priority and as we adapt to the “new norm” for the foreseeable future, this is just one of the many things that will have to be endured. 

On the surface, it stinks. Surprisingly enough, you’re allowed to feel this way while also being excited for the hopeful return of the league and games. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are some of the most thrilling weeks in all of sports and a large portion of that is due to the atmosphere created by the fans rallying behind their favorite teams.

So without them in attendance, will games lose their authenticity and lower the overall level of interest? 

Absolutely not. 

Fans have been craving the moment they would have live sports to look forward to and even if that means they can’t physically be in the stands, it doesn’t take away the level of devotion they have.

Of course it will be different — there’s no denying that, but someone rightfully needs to be awarded the Stanley Cup for 2019-20. There are a handful of options to help fill the void, such as playing fan reaction videos on the arena vision screens during thrilling moments of a game. Hearing the “crowd” through the screen would certainly add a level of normalcy, though it wouldn’t fully replicate the atmosphere. 

There are new moments that fans could look forward to in regard to this as well — the sights and sounds that are often coated within cheers or boos. A crisp stop on skates, receiving a puck, solid check along the boards, chirps from one team to another and the celebrations following a goal. 

Also, if things are too quiet, there is a chance to get a look into life on the bench with the players. Hearing teammates interact with one another is always enjoyable when they are mic’d up for games, so imagine having that for a full 60 minutes? It’d be new for everyone, but what a fun concept it would be. 

This is a prime opportunity to view things glass half full, rather than finding negative aspects to this plan. There are still many moving parts before playoffs become a reality once again, but if things are truly done in a safe manner — I say make the most of the situation at hand and drop that puck. 

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