The Philadelphia Flyers finally admitted what the rest of the NHL already knew last week. For the second time in the last three years, they won’t be playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
No more pretending there is still a chance to catch the Ottawa Senators, who overtook the Bruins for the second wild card spot.
Sorry folks, it’s over.
The Flyers have not been mathematically eliminated yet, but make no mistake they will shortly and the final eight games of the regular season, starting tonight against former Flyer Kimmo Timonen and the Blackhawks at the Wells Fargo Center, are essentially as meaningful as preseason games.
The only difference between the games in September and the remaining ones in March and April is the latter will determine the team’s chances of possibly winning the draft lottery and having a shot at one of two potential superstars.
However, it didn’t have to end like this. The Flyers could still have been one of the teams alive in the playoff hunt - or even overtaken the wild card spot by this point.
Following a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in a Sunday afternoon matinee on Feb. 22, they were just four points back of the Bruins and one of the hottest teams in the league. With the win, the Flyers had gone 8-1-4 in their previous 13 games and went from being 13 points out of a playoff berth in the middle of January to back in the race with six weeks to go.
As we all now know, the hot streak didn’t last much longer. Two trends that had plagued the club all season reappeared and a demoralizing game in Boston spelled the end of the team’s postseason hopes.
The following are the three main reasons why the Flyers fell out of the playoff race.
1. Their failure to beat opponents that won’t make the playoffs
Since beating the Capitals, the Flyers have inexplicably gone 0-6-3 against teams that are either below them in the standings or who like them will also not be playing beyond the regular season. The Flyers could not capitalize on a favorable schedule down the stretch, losing to the likes of bottom-feeders such as the Sabres, Oilers, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs.
It’s difficult to fathom how they can compile such a stretch of games considering what was at stake.
2. Their inability to win on the road
Since beating the Capitals, the Flyers have gone 0-5-4 on the road, including 0-2-2 on their recent four-game trip against four Canadian teams that all but sealed their fate. They have managed only 14 goals in the nine games.
The struggles away from the Wells Fargo Center haven’t been a recent problem, either. They are just 9-20-10 on the road while compiling a respectable 20-9-6 mark at home. Only four teams have fewer wins on the road than the Flyers.
3. Their heartbreaking loss to the Bruins
Since beating the Capitals, no game has been bigger or determined their fate more than the 3-2 overtime loss in Boston on March 7. The Flyers entered the game four points back of the Bruins and held a 2-1 lead late in the first period.
However, they allowed a power-play goal with 14 seconds left in regulation and ended up losing in overtime. Rather than sitting two points out of a playoff spot, the Flyers found themselves five back.
From there, the season simply unraveled. The Flyers have gone 1-4-3 since the emotional loss and watched as their playoff hopes quickly dissolved.
It’s why they finally admitted what the rest of the NHL already knew. They will be spectators for the playoffs.