Flyers Fall to Devils, Officially Out of Playoffs
The Flyers took the ice on the road for the third of four straight meetings with the Devils on Thursday night, needing a win and a lot else to go their way to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Flyers they lost by a score of 5-3 and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. This continues the bad streak of not making it to consecutive playoffs since 2009 and 2010. Captain Claude Giroux showed some emotion on the sideline that I think emulated how all Flyers fans feel at this time, by slamming his fist into the side glass with frustration.
For the 9th straight game, the Flyers gave up the first goal of the game and trailed 1-0. The first Devils goal was scored by Yegor Sharangovic on the power play, and then minutes later Sharagovic did it again on the power play. The Devils power play coming into this mini-series with the Flyers had been awful, one of the worst in the league, but playing against the Flyers has rejuvenated the Devils power play as they scored 4 goals in 2 games on the extra man unit. Alex Lyon got the start for the Flyers after it was announced that Carter Hart would be sidelined the rest of the year with an MCL sprain, and Lyon was not great, only making 14 saves on the night.
The second period started off strong for the Flyers as Scott Laughton took a bad entry dump from the Devils down the ice and converted on the breakaway to pull the Flyers to within 1. However, halfway through the second, the Devils restored the 2 goal lead off of a goal from Jesper Boquist. This goal came off of a Flyers neutral zone turnover, which is a very familiar sight from this season. The Flyers were able to cut the lead back to 1 a couple of minutes later when Justin Braun found Couturier for a wide-open tap in back door to make the game 3-2.
Mackenzie Blackwood got the start for the Devils in goal and was very effective, making 21 saves against the Flyers. Blackwood did a good job stifling early third-period chances to keep the Flyers from tying the game. Zacha and Bratt had other plans for the Flyers as well, scoring two goals late in the third to make the game 5-2 for the Devils, and virtually out of reach for the Flyers. Travis Konecny got a goal with a minute and a half left in the game to make the final score 5-3 in favor of New Jersey.
The Flyers started the season 11-4-3 and since then have gone 11-13-4 down a crucial stretch of games for their season. Even though the East was considered a difficult division, there is no excuse for a team who had this high of expectations coming into the season to be this poor all year. I agree with the decision to let Hart rest and get healthy since this season is all but over. The Flyers finish their four-game series with New Jersey on Sunday for their next game on the calendar.