John Boruk

Jakub Voracek can't wrap head around how bad Flyers played

Jakub Voracek can't wrap head around how bad Flyers played

VOORHEES, N.J. — After elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, pride is all the Flyers had left to play for.

Right now, pride hasn’t been much of a motivator. 

“I think even if you don’t try, I don’t think it could be that bad,“ Jakub Voracek said Friday. “It was probably the worst period I was a part of in 11 years.”

That was Voracek’s assessment following Thursday’s game in St. Louis as the Flyers were in complete disarray, allowing five goals in the first 9:41 of the game (see observations). It was the quickest five goals in the 52-year history of the Blues’ franchise.

Which makes you wonder how much effort the Flyers exerted in the first period of another dreadful loss — their sixth in the last seven games. In that span, the Flyers have also been outscored 15-5 in the first period.

“I was trying to wrap my head around it, but I couldn’t,” Voracek said. “There was nothing there yesterday — skill wise, playing wise, skating wise, battle wise. It was really disappointing. You guys ask me what we need to do. I don’t f---ing know.”

For starters, the Flyers could finish out their season with some semblance of structure. Right now, they’re playing as if they’ve scrapped their game plan just minutes after warmups, where the intensity of performing at a playoff pitch for two-plus months has finally taken its toll. 

“I think that loss in Toronto (7-6 on March 15) took the wind out of our sails,” interim head coach Scott Gordon said. “The way it happened, the timing of when it happened. From an energy standpoint, I think there’s a little bit of a drain from what we had gone through the two prior months. Now we’re in a situation where we haven’t had anything to play for a few games now.”

And it has clearly showed.

A regulation loss against an inspired Hurricanes team Saturday would put the Flyers at the .500 mark with a record of 37-37-8 while finishing with just 82 points. It would be their worst mark since 2006-07, when they finished with a dismal 56 points, and their second-worst single-season record in the past 25 years, excluding shortened 48-game seasons.   

“It sucks. Obviously when you get eliminated, it sucks,” Voracek said. “There’s a lot more to play for after you’re eliminated — your pride, a lot of guys have contracts.”

The Flyers have one more opportunity Saturday to put their disappointment aside or risk being booed out of their own building when they face the resurgent Hurricanes, a team that secured its first postseason berth since 2009 with a 3-1 win over the Devils Thursday.

With a win over the Flyers, Carolina can also avoid a potential first-round playoff matchup with the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We just want to finish strong,” Sean Couturier said. “I think we owe it to the fans. It’s been tough [for them] this year. We need to show some pride and put on a good show for the fans.”

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

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

Thankfully, it’s the end of the road.

The Flyers (37-35-8) will wrap up their road schedule against the St. Louis Blues (43-28-9), who have been reenergized by an interim head coach and a rookie goaltender.

Let's take a look at Thursday night's essentials:

• When: 8 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Enterprise Center
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• With Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to Dallas, the Flyers are limping to the finish line with a 1-5-0 record in their last six games. They will fail to win 40 games for the third time in the past five years.

• With Carter Hart scheduled to start the season finale Saturday, Brian Elliott will make his final start of the season, and quite possibly, the last appearance of his Flyers career.

• After tonight, Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov will have played in all 41 road games in each of the past three seasons.

• Elliott spent five seasons in St. Louis leading the NHL in save percentage twice during that span: a .940 clip in 2011-12 and a .930 percentage in 2015-16. He is 5-1-0 in his career against his former team.

• Flyers center Corban Knight was placed on waivers on Wednesday and cleared. He’ll likely remain with the Flyers before possibly rejoining the Phantoms.

• Three of the previous four meetings against the Blues have resulted in a shutout. The Flyers dropped a 3-0 setback to St. Louis on Jan. 7. In their last visit to Enterprise Center, Michal Neuvirth turned aside 33 shots in a 2-0 victory.

• Former Flyers head coach Craig Berube has guided St. Louis to a 36-19-6 mark since taking over the head coaching duties for Mike Yeo on Nov. 19 on an interim basis.

Certainly, Berube deserves serious consideration for the Jack Adams award as coach of the year. The Blues were as many as 10 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference as late as Nov. 29. They’re now one point back of the Central Division lead with two games remaining.

• Much of the Blues' success can be tied to rookie netminder Jordan Binnington, who earned his first NHL win against the Flyers earlier this season. Since then, Binnington has gone 21-5-1, which has included a nine-game winning streak.

• Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko is on a two-game goal streak and has now topped the 30-goal mark for the fifth straight season. During that stretch, only Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares have scored more goals than Tarasenko.

• Former Flyer forward Brayden Schenn has just 15 goals in 70 games played this season. It would be his lowest goal total in a non-shortened season since putting up 12 goals as a rookie in Philadelphia during the 2011-12 season.

• Nolan Patrick will not play tonight because of an upper-body injury.

Projected lineup

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Corban Knight-Ryan Hartman
Michael Raffl-Phil Varone

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas
Samuel Morin

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Cam Talbot

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Is it important for Claude Giroux to finish his career with Flyers?

Is it important for Claude Giroux to finish his career with Flyers?

Claude Giroux has made it known he wants to plays into his 40s.

He could even become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.

However, does the longest-tenured captain next to Bobby Clarke see himself as a lifelong Flyer?

Recently, Giroux sat down with NBC’s Jeremy Roenick for a 1-on-1 interview that explored a number of topics, including some of those grade-school challenges you might ask a sibling on a long car ride. 

For example, Roenick pondered, “Would you be unable to chew with your mouth closed for the rest of your life or be unable to breathe through your nose?”

However, J.R. also explored Giroux’s long-term outlook and where his career might lead.

Roenick: “Ten years from now, where do you want Claude Giroux’s life to be? How do you want people to remember you when you’re done with this game and you’re … where’s Claude Giroux in 10 years?”

Giroux: “In 10 years? Uh, hopefully playing my last year.”

Roenick: “Good.”

Giroux: “You know, I understand it’s not easy, not a lot of players get a chance to play when they’re 40. But if you put the time in I think you can do it and after that, I don’t know. We’ll see … we’ll see where it takes me. I know I’ve been in Philly for a long time now, so … I can see staying there, but you know it’s … I've got other things to focus on.”

Other things to focus on? 

Giroux didn’t elaborate on that last point. We know he’ll become a father for the first time in August, and as players enter the latter stages of their careers, family life certainly takes priority. However, you would also think for Giroux, who began his career in 2008, and hasn’t advanced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012, that the desire to bring Philadelphia its first Stanley Cup championship since 1975 would be a way to cement his Flyers legacy.

Interestingly, Roenick followed up with a question that Giroux could have answered accordingly.

Roenick: "And how important is it for you to stay in Philly and finish off what you started there?"

Giroux: “Well, you know, I got lucky enough to have a chance to play in the NHL with Philly and it’s an intense, I mean, it’s an intense city. They love their sports. You play bad, they’re gonna let you know. You play good, they’ll let you know. You’re not gonna go home one night and think I wonder how they feel. You know how they feel, so it’s good.”

Huh? A very noncommittal answer to which, once again, Giroux could have reaffirmed his desire to bring the city a championship. 

How does the intensity of playing in a passionate sports town figure into that equation?

Perhaps, Giroux is looking beyond the 2021-22 season, the final year of his current eight-year contract, when he’ll be 34, having played 14 seasons in orange and black. At that time, he will have earned the right to test free agency if that’s what he elects to do.  

Then again, if Chuck Fletcher doesn’t make significant upgrades over the summer, Giroux might be the final piece to some other team’s championship puzzle.

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