Flyers hold players-only meeting after shutout

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Flyers hold players-only meeting after shutout

The Flyers’ team meeting lasted roughly 15 minutes.

One minute for each game the Flyers played this season.

“We want to stick together,” 16-year NHL veteran defenseman Hal Gill said. “We talked about some things. We know it’s a long season and there is plenty of time for us to turn things around, but it’s got to be now. It’s got to be the next game. We need to find a way to get points and to keep moving forward. Like I said, we can’t sit there and pout. No one out there really cares about it but we in the locker room we care, and we have to find a way to turn it around.”

Following the Flyers' 3-0 loss to the Devils on Thursday (see story), Coach Craig Berube said he did not get involved in the team meeting. It was players only. Berube generally does not go into the dressing room after games, a rule, anyway.

“We talked about a lot of stuff, not really anything I’m going to share with you guys, but we talked about a lot of things,” Wayne Simmonds said.

Is that speech kind of getting to be the same every day or is it something new?

“No, we know what we did wrong, and we’re trying to address what we’re doing wrong,” he replied.

Said Andrej Meszaros, “It was good that we talked. We got to straighten some things up and we talked about it. We have to move forward. We have a lot of games left to turn this thing around.”

The Flyers keep saying that, but at some point you run out of games left to turn it around. You saw how difficult it was for the Flyers to even get a sniff of a playoff spot last season and they began the night already six points out of one this year.

“It’s frustrating,” Gill said. “We’re working hard to generate offense. In this league, there are good teams who take advantage of a one-goal lead and lock it down. We did that to them last game and they turned the tables on us.”

So did the fans with their boos throughout the game.

“Yeah, it’s hard to right the ship,” Gill said. “When things aren’t going your way it’s tough. The crowd’s on you and you want to turn things around. It’s hard to keep positive when you keep up but that’s the only thing you can do."

They’ve been saying similar things for a while now.

“I think we’re playing decently defensively. It’s just on the other side, we’re not creating much,” Simmonds said.

Against New Jersey, they didn’t create anything.

Postgame loose pucks
The Flyers' penalty kill is now 12 for 12 over the last three games as they held New Jersey scoreless on three chances. … Claude Giroux led all Flyers with 23:36 of ice time and tied for the team high in hits with five along with Michael Raffl. Giroux was also 11 for 16 (69 percent) on faceoffs.

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Derek Stepan also scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots to help New York get past the first round for the fifth time in six years. The Rangers won three straight after falling behind 2-1 to beat Montreal for the ninth time in 16 postseason series.

The Rangers will face the winner of the Ottawa-Boston series, which the Senators lead 3-2.

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal and Carey Price finished with 20 saves. The Canadiens, winners of the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs last year, were bounced from the postseason by the Rangers for the second time in four years. In 2014, it was in the conference finals (see full recap).

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild.

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round.

Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.

Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago.

Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period (see full recap).

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

As the Flyers packed up for the offseason much earlier than they had hoped, the focus started shifting to the outlook for 2017-18.

There was some optimism provided by Valtteri Filppula.

It wasn't anything he said. Instead, it was what he did in 20 games.

Make that a full sample size and the Flyers are excited about the possibilities.

Filppula, a well-rounded, 33-year-old center, was acquired at the March 1 trade deadline in the Mark Streit deal. He added five goals and three assists in his 20 games.

"I felt like later in the year, we had more bullets in our gun," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week as the team held exit interviews and cleanout day. "(Jordan) Weal comes in and does a good job. Filppula comes in and really gives us stability. Really upgraded our top nine. So when you're talking 5-on-5 play, just to depend on five or six guys, all of a sudden you have nine guys you can count on."

The Flyers were 27th in the NHL with 128 goals at 5-on-5 -- a significant factor in their postseason absence.

But Filppula should bring more than simply a 5-on-5 boost.

The Flyers desperately needed depth at the center position to relieve some pressure from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Filppula, who came from the Lightning and played seven seasons with the Red Wings -- winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 -- is a sound matchup center and plays on the penalty kill, too.

"I think with Fil coming in this year, it really helped our depth," Giroux said. "He brings a lot to the team. He kills penalties, power plays, very good defensively and he's a smart player. When you bring a guy in like that, you kind of get excited a little bit."

From Filppula's first game on March 2 to the end of the regular season, the Flyers scored 56 goals, 12th most in the NHL over that span and 2.80 per game -- both improvements from their ranking of 21th on the full season and 2.59 per game.

"Now that we feel like we have nine guys that are legit top-nine forwards," Hextall said, "we've got good balance."

Couturier saw immediate benefits when the Flyers acquired Filppula. Couturier started playing with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn, which turned out to be the team's best line combination to finish the regular season.

"I think it just brought some depth to our lineup," Couturier said of Filppula acquisition. "I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well."

It provided head coach Dave Hakstol greater flexibility.

"The addition of Val Filppula to our group up front made our group of forwards better," Hakstol said. "Not just his presence, which I think he's an outstanding hockey player, a good hockey player and a real good veteran, but it just allowed some of the others to come together. I think there's real substance there."

The Flyers hope it shows with a full season of Filppula.

"I think when Filppula came in, the balance that seemed to come with him entering our lineup helped us both with and without the puck," Hakstol said. "Will that cohesion help us generate more offensively on an 82-game basis, not just a short-term basis? I think the answers to those things are yes."