Flyers observations

Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3: Flyers stumble early again in season finale

Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3: Flyers stumble early again in season finale

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A tumultuous 2018-19 season ravaged by regression and firings came to an end Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers lost, 4-3, to the Hurricanes.

After throwing themselves into the playoff race with an 18-4-2 stretch from Jan. 14 to March 11, the Flyers (37-37-8) stumbled out of contention with a 3-10-0 finish.

The Flyers' 82 points are their fewest in a full season since 2006-07, when the team was dreadful and went 22-48-12 for 56 points.

The Hurricanes (46-29-7), led by former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour, are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2009.

• Oskar Lindblom, Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier scored for the Flyers.

Lindblom, a 22-year-old rookie, scored 17 goals in his first full season and took off after earning a larger portion of the pie under interim head coach Scott Gordon. He has 20-goal potential, impressive for a fifth-round pick.

Konecny matched his career high of 24 goals set last season but there's no denying he was inconsistent. When he's going, he's a game-breaker. When he's not, he blends in.

Important to remember: Konecny turned only 22 years old last month. How quickly the Flyers turn things around will rely heavily on the 2015 first-round pick's production.

Couturier finished with a career-high 33 goals after breaking out in 2017-18. Since the start of that season, he has 64 goals, the same number as Penguins star Sidney Crosby. Couturier is one of the few certainties for general manager Chuck Fletcher.

• The Flyers should be thankful for Carter Hart, who picked up the loss in his 30th start.

The 20-year-old breathed life into the season and provides optimism for the future. He went 16-13-1, lending much-needed stability to a situation that saw the Flyers play eight goalies, an NHL record for one season.

The injuries and netminders weren't the only problems, either.

The Flyers were far too shaky in front of the goalies. Is it personnel? Is it coaching?

The answer will be clearer in 2019-20.

• Mark Friedman, a 23-year-old defenseman, made his NHL debut in the loss. He played 12:33 and didn't look out of place.

He should be a solid call-up option next season (see story).

• The Flyers once again fell behind early and went into first intermission trailing 3-1.

They finished the season with a minus-31 goal differential in the first period, worst in the NHL.

The starts of games will have to be addressed in 2019-20.

• A look at the Flyers' unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents heading into the offseason:

Brian Elliott, G — UFA
Michal Neuvirth, G — UFA
Cam Talbot, G — UFA
Corban Knight, F — UFA
Phil Varone, F — UFA
Jori Lehtera, F — UFA
Scott Laughton, F — RFA
Travis Konecny, F — RFA
Ryan Hartman, F — RFA
Justin Bailey, F — RFA
Ivan Provorov, D — RFA
Travis Sanheim, D — RFA

• The Flyers handed out their annual team awards before the game (see story).

• Fletcher enters his first offseason as Flyers general manager. He'll have his work cut out for him. The Flyers fell well short of expectations and haven't made the postseason in consecutive years since 2010-12, when they last won a series.

Cleanout day is Sunday afternoon for the players.

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Blues 7, Flyers 3: When you think it can't get worse, it does in St. Louis

Blues 7, Flyers 3: When you think it can't get worse, it does in St. Louis

BOX SCORE

The Flyers' 2018-19 season can't end soon enough.

A year that consisted of front office members and coaches being let go is concluding with a thud.

In the season's penultimate game, the Flyers lost to the Blues, 7-3, Thursday night at Enterprise Center.

The Flyers (37-36-8) are 3-9-0 over their last 12 games, a stretch in which they've been outscored 49-27.

If the Flyers (82 points) fail to win Saturday's finale, they will finish with their fewest points in a full season since 2006-07, when they went 22-48-12 for 56 points.

Before the Blues (44-28-9) beat the Flyers, 3-0, on Jan. 7, St. Louis was 16-19-4 with 36 points, the same total as the orange and black. Since then, the Blues have gone 28-9-5 and Craig Berube has them in the playoffs.

• That is not the way Brian Elliott wanted to go out.

Starting against one of his former teams, Elliott was yanked 6:58 into Thursday's start, which very well could be his final outing in a Flyers sweater. Elliott, a pending unrestricted free agent, turns 34 years old next week and has battled core injuries throughout his two seasons with the Flyers.

The Flyers will move forward with Carter Hart as their franchise goalie but will have to make a decision on the youngster's backup for 2019-20.

• Once again, the Flyers were a step behind. They were chasing and watching the play. They're probably running on fumes but they've been carved up too easily down the stretch, a concern that needs to be addressed in the offseason.

It's not like the Flyers are severely lacking quickness or good skaters. Then again, their bottom six is far from ideal right now and depth continues to be an issue.

• A wild first period quickly unfolded and ended Elliott's night.

The Blues scored four goals (one shorthanded) on five shots against Elliott and then added one against Hart, who converted 27 saves in relief.

The Flyers scored three of their own (Oskar Lindblom, James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux), but the problem was they allowed the first three in the game's opening 5:33 before finally answering.

Over the past six games, the Flyers have been outscored 14-4 in the first period. On the season, they have a minus-29 goal differential in the opening stanza.

At this point, there's no excuse for it.

• None of the Flyers' defensemen had a good game. Ivan Provorov was actually even in the plus-minus department unlike many of his teammates but he wasn't great.

He couldn't break up a 2-on-1 for the Blues during the first period and then had a puck deflect off him and right to Brayden Schenn in the second period as St. Louis grabbed a 6-3 lead.

• Rookie defenseman Philippe Myers was a minus-3 in 9:44 ice time and has had a tough go over his last seven games. However, this is good exposure for Myers as the 22-year-old prepares for a full-time role in 2019-20.

One of the key storylines to next season will be the need for the team's young defensemen to play comfortably and consistently.

• The Flyers didn't have Nolan Patrick, who was out with an upper-body injury. He didn't look like himself as Tuesday's game went on in Dallas and reacted pretty slowly on a goal against that he and interim head coach Scott Gordon had words about on the bench (see story).

• The Flyers wrap up the 2018-19 season Saturday when they host the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP). Before puck drop, they'll hand out their annual team awards (see story).

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Stars 6, Flyers 2: Limping to the 2018-19 finish line

Stars 6, Flyers 2: Limping to the 2018-19 finish line

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A predictable result unfolded Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

The Flyers lost, 6-2, to the playoff-hungry Stars, who needed just one point to clinch a postseason berth.

The Stars (42-31-7) emphatically got two points, while the Flyers (37-35-8) continued to look like a team struggling to find motivation as it plays out the string.

After going 18-4-2 in their previous 24 games, the Flyers are 3-8-0 in the last 11 and have been outscored 42-25.

• The NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast showed Nolan Patrick looking rather animated on the bench as he talked to interim head coach Scott Gordon following the Stars' fourth goal.

The discussion didn't escalate by any means. It appeared Patrick and Gordon were trying to understand each other's points on the play. Tyler Pitlick swooped right into the slot to bury a pass as Patrick and Ivan Provorov were late in coverage.

Gordon has been great with the Flyers' younger players. At this point, there was clearly frustration from both sides as the Flyers went from digging out of a two-goal hole during the middle stanza to putting themselves right back in one by period's end.

• Patrick provided one of the lone positives for the Flyers. After going scoreless in his previous eight games, the 20-year-old center made an aggressive play to the net, which resulted in Oskar Lindblom putting home a rebound for the Flyers' first goal.

Next season will be about consistency for Patrick, Lindblom and Travis Konecny. Hopefully we can see more of that line over the final two games.

• Well, it was nice to see somewhat of a response from the Flyers in the second period. They showed the pride many wanted to see Sunday when the Flyers lost, 3-0, to the rebuilding Rangers in their first game since being eliminated from playoff contention.

The mini surge didn't last long, though. After the Flyers tied the game at 2-2, the Stars answered with two more goals before blowing things open in the third. Dallas looked like a team eager to clinch.

• Who knows what the Flyers will do with pending unrestricted free agent Cam Talbot in the offseason. They haven't given him many auditions. Making just his third start since being acquired in mid-February, Talbot was ambushed by the Stars and finished with 24 saves on 30 shots.

• Unsurprisingly, Dallas was ready out of the chute.

The Stars dissected the Flyers early by showing their skill on a pair of first-period goals.

Jason Dickinson and Tyler Seguin teamed up for a pretty goal just 1:34 into the action. Dallas jumped on a turnover as Dickinson dropped off a pass to Seguin, who patiently fed the puck back to Dickinson for the 1-0 lead.

Less than three minutes later, Esa Lindell beautifully redirected a pass through his legs and past Talbot top shelf for a power-play marker. The Stars went on six power plays and scored twice.

A Samuel Morin tripping penalty put Dallas on the man advantage for the Lindell goal, but those are high-end plays from the Stars that gave them a 2-0 lead at first intermission. It's OK to give credit to the opposition sometimes.

On the season, the Flyers have been outscored 86-59 in the first period. In their defense, though, they didn't play terribly in the opening stanza Tuesday and could have gotten a call or two (or more throughout the game).

• Speaking of Morin, he did a nice job to break up a potential odd-man rush for the Stars. The tripping penalty happens. Morin still looks a bit tentative at times, which is understandable with the 6-foot-7 defenseman just three games in after recovering from a torn ACL.

• Claude Giroux (assist), Sean Couturier (scoreless), Jakub Voracek (assist) and James van Riemsdyk (scoreless) were held to two points.

Alexander Radulov, the Stars' second-leading scorer, put up four points on two goals and two assists.

• The Flyers play their final road game of 2018-19 Thursday when they visit Brayden Schenn and the playoff-bound Blues (8 p.m./NBCSP+).

They come home Saturday for the regular-season finale against the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP).

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