Jake Voracek

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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The difficulty of the Flyers gaining ground in the playoff hunt

The difficulty of the Flyers gaining ground in the playoff hunt

The Flyers moved up another rung on the ladder Tuesday night.

By passing the Buffalo Sabres and beating them on home ice, the Flyers sidestepped another obstacle between themselves and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the final wild card position in the East.

It took six weeks to climb over six teams to where they are now, which is half the battle of digging out of an early season crater.

However, the Flyers are still stuck. 

The Flyers came out of their bye week in late January and proceeded to rip off four straight wins, reducing their playoff deficit in half from 14 points to just seven in a span of six days. It looked way too easy

However, over the past three-and-a-half weeks, the Flyers have just been spinning their wheels.

Still, seven points back of where they need to be entering Thursday’s game in Columbus, the frustrating part is the Flyers have played very respectably with a 7-4-1 mark over their last 12 games.

“It’s our fault that we put ourselves in that situation,” said Jake Voracek. “We cut it in half, but you got to understand that we lost to Pittsburgh at home and we lost to Montreal, which were two games we needed to win. We are still lucky that we’re at the same seven points.”

Voracek usually has a prediction of what the target point total it will take to get in. But he’s backing off that number this season only to say the Flyers need to win at least 13 of their final 19 regular season games.

And that still may not be enough. 

Last season, it took 97 points. For the Flyers to get to that same point total, they need to take 30 out of a possible 38 points. And some games are more important than others. Like their final meeting of the season against the Blue Jackets — a potential four-point swing in the standings.

Columbus has taken six points in the season series while the Flyers have mustered just one. Against the Metro Division, the Flyers own a divisional-worst 6-9-1 mark.

“We need to be better in our division,” Sean Couturier said. “We’ve lost three times already to Columbus. Those are points that we can’t get back. It’s almost our playoffs right now.” 

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Flyers 5, Oilers 4 (OT): Another comeback punctuates 7th straight win for NHL's hottest team

Flyers 5, Oilers 4 (OT): Another comeback punctuates 7th straight win for NHL's hottest team

BOX SCORE

The NHL's hottest team is having some fun working overtime.

The Flyers rallied again for a second straight game to pick up an OT victory, this time a 5-4 decision over the Oilers on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Nolan Patrick delivered the game-winner for the Flyers (23-23-6), who have won seven straight games, the longest active winning streak in the NHL. 

The Flyers have won eight of their last nine and entered the day nine points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot.

The Oilers (23-24-4), on the other hand, have lost 13 of their last 18.

• Four of the Flyers' goals were off the power play, a major positive for a team that came in with the league's 29th-ranked unit. The Flyers need their man advantage if they're serious about making a push for the playoffs.

Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds all cashed in. The tallies by Konecny and Simmonds were particularly huge. Konecny's goal was 27 seconds after the Flyers fell behind, 4-2, on a shorthanded goal in the third period, while Simmonds' marker was the equalizer with 8:58 left in regulation.

Here's a look at all four:

The Flyers' power play now has six goals over the last two games. Prior to this stretch, the man advantage went 2 for 25 over the previous nine contests.

• Connor McDavid is a can't-miss attraction when the Oilers make their one and only trip to the Wells Fargo Center each season. He's the fastest player in the NHL and showed why when he hit another gear to hand the Flyers a 2-1 deficit during the first period.

Fourth-liner Phil Varone tried to keep up (God bless him) but simply didn't have a chance, along with Radko Gudas.

The Flyers couldn't exactly hold the 22-year-old superstar in check as McDavid finished with a goal, an assist and a plus-2 mark.

• Giroux (goal, two assists), Jakub Voracek (three assists) and Couturier (goal, assist) all had multi-point games. Couturier has been over a point-per-game player (40 points in last 39 games) since Oct. 30.

• The Oilers, having not played since Jan. 22 because of the All-Star break and bye week, looked fresh and spry, coming at Carter Hart from all angles.

The 20-year-old, who has won six straight starts, was not the main culprit for any of the four goals allowed. The first and fourth came off breakaways (one shorthanded), the second was off McDavid's nasty play, while the third was the Flyers giving Adam Larrson a wide-open shooting lane from the circle.

Hart was good and made some really tough saves. He finished with a career-high 40.

• Shayne Gostisbehere returned after missing the past three games with a lower-body injury. He looked fine, rejoining the top power-play unit, notching an assist and playing 21:27. He also had a costly turnover on the Oilers' 4-2 shorthanded goal.

However, we shouldn't forget how important he is to this team's future (see story).

• The Flyers practice Sunday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Canucks Monday (7 p.m./NBCSP) for Game 2 of their five-game homestand.

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