Sam Morin

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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Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

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Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

Samuel Morin is taking the long and winding road to the NHL, one that’s now more rugged and elongated than ever.

The Flyers confirmed Thursday that Morin tore the ACL in his right knee when his skate caught a rut on the ice in Charlotte while he was attempting to check an opponent. The injury took place in the first period of the Phantoms' epic five-overtime game against the Checkers two weeks ago.

General manager Ron Hextall told the Courier-Post's Dave Isaac that Morin is facing a nine-month recovery process and that the 6-7 defenseman is “probably out until February” as he recovers from surgery — which Morin will undergo sometime in the near future.

Morin’s 2018-19 season will now be spent rehabbing from injury and utilizing what’s left of the regular season working his way back with the Phantoms.   

The Flyers' 2013 first-round pick is also a restricted free agent after playing out the final year of his three-year entry-level contract. In the five years since he was drafted, Morin has suited up for just three NHL games. 

Expect the two sides to reach an agreement on a one- or- two-year extension rather easily since Morin doesn’t have much leverage in negotiations at this point. Since Morin signed his rookie deal at the age of 18, he also had a five-year (or 160-game) waiver exemption that has now expired.

In other words, the Flyers will no longer have the luxury of shuttling Morin back and forth from Lehigh Valley without exposing him to the rest of the league if they attempt to send him back to the minors.

The Flyers have no choice but to give Morin the necessary time to ensure he’s not only ready physically, but also that his game can be trusted at the NHL level.  

Hextall has preached patience in the deliberate development of the organization’s prospects.

Right now, Samuel Morin is the poster child for that process.

Flyers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss to extend skid to 6

Flyers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss to extend skid to 6

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- The book entitled “Finding Different Ways to Lose” is growing thicker by the game.

Josh Bailey scored on his own rebound just 32 seconds into overtime to give the Islanders the extra point and a 4-3 overtime win over the Flyers on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center (see observations). The Flyers appeared to have the play covered until defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere lost track of Bailey, who missed on his first attempt but converted on his second effort to hand the visitors a sixths straight defeat.

“Everyone goes through different struggles,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s a growing rule for everybody. Right now, Ghost is one of the elder statesmen on the back end there and sometimes that has a way of putting extra weight on your shoulders. I just think it’s a stretch that he’s going to get through. He’s doing a lot of really good things. He’s just got to get back to where he was before he was out a few games with that injury.”

In the eight games since returning from an injury where he was slammed hard into the boards in Toronto, Gostisbehere has struggled mightily in the defensive end. However, the Flyers’ problems over the course of their current six-game losing streak extend well beyond just one player. The penalty kill has completely fallen apart as the team has allowed seven power-play goals in the last three games. The units have also killed off just four of the last 11 power-play chances.

It’s a two-fold problem. The Flyers are creating self-inflicting wounds and the penalty kill isn’t outworking the opponents’ power play unit. Of course, it didn’t help when Sam Morin, who making his season debut, gave the Islanders a two-man advantage when he flipped the puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty.

“We’re right there. We kind of put ourselves in another bad position when we took a 5-on-3,” goaltender Brian Elliott said. “It’s still biting us in the butt a little bit. I thought we played a really good game. I think we’re right there. We just need to turn that corner.”

“Can’t pinpoint one thing. It’s just got be better,” Wayne Simmonds said. “Yeah, they’re going to score. You take a ton of penalties, teams are good enough in this league. Individual skill in this league is through the roof. Guys are going to make plays, especially when they’re up a man. Best form of penalty kill is not to be in the box at all.”

Hakstol even elected to switch up his shorthanded personnel in an effort to create a different look and hopefully provide some beneficial change. The Flyers even attempted to light a fuse be calling up Morin and Danick Martel from Lehigh Valley. Martel had six attempted shots (three on net) in just 12 minutes of action in his NHL debut.

“You’ve got to be ready every game,” Martel said. “I got my chance today and I had a really good game and I’m proud of it. I think my stick was a bit tight today, so that’s why I missed the net a couple of times.”

The Flyers did finally receive some secondary scoring to complement their top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Coming into this game, that group had accounted for 46 percent of the team’s goal production. Taylor Leier opened the scoring with his first goal of the season and Michael Raffl scored his first point in 43 games with a breakaway goal that gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

“It’s a little bit different role playing with T.K. (Travis Konecny) and Fil (Valtteri Filppula) out there,” Raffl said. “You get a little more offensive looks and a little more ice time out there. You’ve got to take advantage of that. I feel pretty good out there. I’m fit. I have nothing bothering me right now, so that helps for sure. I told myself, scoring or not, you’ve got to play confident. You can’t get down on yourself.”

After consecutive shutouts to start the losing streak, the Flyers have scored the first goal in each of their last four games with an inability to play with a lead: 2-0 at Winnipeg, 3-1 vs. Calgary 1-0 vs. Winnipeg and 2-1 at New York Islanders.

Four games, four leads and just two points to show for it. 

“It stinks to work real hard to earn that point, and then we gave it away too easily,” Hakstol said. “That’s the part that hurts a little bit. I’m looking for growth in all the areas. Really, tonight, I was looking for the true test of the character of our team, and our team answered and played a helluva character game.”

Friday, it’s Chapter 2 against this same Islanders team. The Flyers are hoping it doesn’t continue to read like the rest.