Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Same old song as playoff hopes are all but dead

Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Same old song as playoff hopes are all but dead

Hurricanes (30-27-12) at Flyers (32-30-8)
7:30 p.m. on CSN/CSNPhilly.com and NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 7

The Flyers return home Sunday night to host the Carolina Hurricanes after a lifeless 6-2 loss to the lowly Devils last Thursday night in New Jersey that all but ended the Flyers' playoff hopes.

Let's take a closer look game No. 71 for the orange and black.

1. Same old song
Inconsistency has plagued the Flyers all season long. One night, they look like a playoff team and the next, they turn in a listless effort like they did Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday night's 4-0 blanking of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the Flyers' most complete game this season. It was a 60-minutes effort with very few mistakes. They shut down the NHL's highest-scoring team and did so while also generating offense themselves.

Then comes Thursday's game against the Devils in New Jersey, where the Flyers played like they were the team coming in on a 10-game losing streak. They weren't. Nothing went right in N.J. Steve Mason left with cramps. They were blown out by the Eastern Conference's worst team in an embarrassing defeat. If the dagger had already punctured the skin of the Flyers' playoff hopes, the Devils only dug deeper to send the orange and black back to reality.

"The consistency is something we need to address," Mason said Saturday. "We can't go from having one of our best games of the year against Pittsburgh and then come around the next night against Jersey with that kind of outcome and overall team game.
 
"It's something that we continually seem to be talking about. That's what makes good teams and separates them. Consistency on any given night, what kind of effort they have."

Mason is expected to be in net for the Flyers on Sunday. It would be Mason's eighth start in nine games since the Flyers signed Michal Neuvirth to a two-year contract extension.

2. Playing for draft position
Thursday's 6-2 loss in New Jersey unofficially ended the Flyers' playoff chances. They are not officially eliminated from postseason contention but the odds are astronomically high.

The Flyers have a 0.3 percent chance at making the playoffs, according to SportsClubStats.com. With 72 points, the Flyers would have to win all 12 games in order to reach last season's point total, which was enough to earn the East's second wild-card spot last season. Entering Sunday, they're seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final spot this year.

Ten of 12 wins would get the Flyers to 92 points, which will not be enough to get in. The magic number to have a realistic shot at the postseason is 11 wins and even then it is still improbable because of tiebreakers. At this point, it'd be better to play for draft position.

At 72 points, the Flyers would be lined up for the ninth pick if the season ended Sunday. Carolina, also with 72 points, could move two points ahead of the Flyers with a win. Big picture, the Flyers are a mediocre team still in a rebuild. With long-term lenses, a higher draft pick this summer would help the cause more than being stuck in the middle of the pack.

However we slice it, this season has been a step back for the Flyers, but it is not the time to panic because they still have kids on the way and it was never about this season anyway.

3. Coming in hot
The Hurricanes come into Sunday's matchup picking up points in their last six games, with a 4-0-2 record and eight of their last 10 games, as they open up a four-game road trip in Philadelphia.

On Saturday night, the 'Canes did away with the Nashville Predators with a 4-2 win thanks to two goals from Jeff Skinner, his fifth multi-goal and sixth multi-point game of the season. Like the Flyers, the Hurricanes are seven points out of a playoff spot. Eddie Lack won his second straight game in net for Carolina against Nashville for his first two-game winning streak as a member of the Hurricanes. Cam Ward is expected to get the starting nod on Sunday night.

This is Carolina's fourth of five meetings with the Flyers. The two teams meet in the season finale on April 9 in Philadelphia. The Hurricanes lost the first two games -- 6-3 in Philadelphia on Oct. 22 and 4-3 in Carolina on Oct. 30 but dominated the orange and black, 5-1, in their last meeting on Jan. 31.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let's roll with Brayden Schenn, who tallied his 21st goal of the season Thursday. Schenn has four points in his last three games and enters on a five-game point streak at home. In his last five games at Wells Fargo Center, Schenn has two goals and four assists.

Hurricanes: Elias Lindholm's shorthanded empty-net goal on Saturday night extended his point streak to six games. Lindholm's 29 assists have surpassed his career-high in his fourth season. He had two assists in the Hurricanes' 5-1 win over the Flyers on Jan. 31 but was held scoreless in two other games against the orange and black.

5. This and that
• Claude Giroux extended his point streak to seven games (two goals, four assists) with an assist Thursday. He has a goal and two assists in three games against Carolina this season.

• The Hurricanes are 6-4-3 on the latter half of a back-to-back this season.

• Brandon Manning is expected to return to the lineup Sunday after missing three games with a right shoulder injury. Nick Schultz is expected to sit if Manning can return.

• Skinner's two goals on Saturday moved him ahead of Sami Kapanen on Carolina's career points list since the team moved from Hartford to Raleigh, North Carolina. Skinner now has 315 career points.

Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier know Flyers by now, ready for anything at NHL draft

Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier know Flyers by now, ready for anything at NHL draft

CHICAGO — Nico Hischier was nervous, swaying a bit as he spoke to the media, admitting he had some jitters as this NHL draft approaches on Friday.

About 60 feet away, Nolan Patrick leaned on a stick and said not only was he not nervous, he also really couldn't care less whether he's picked first overall Friday by New Jersey or second by the Flyers because his goal is just to get into the NHL.

"Doesn't matter to me," Patrick said Thursday. "A lot of guys will tell you what you want to hear. That they don't care, but deep down, they do.

"I don't care. It's not going to change my chances in the NHL if I go No. 1 or 4. I'm gonna take it. Where I go is not gonna help me any more. At the end of the day, I've got to work hard."

That said, Hischier is poised to become the highest-drafted Swiss player ever and if he went first overall …

"I would make history and that would make me proud," Hischier beamed. "Really happy, for sure."

Both players participated in Thursday's ball-hockey clinic in a parking lot just across the street from United Center where one of them will go to the Devils and one to the Flyers on Friday night.

"Yeah, I little bit nervous," Hischier admitted. "It's not up to me. I just have to enjoy it."

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall took both players out to dinner separately in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month at the NHL Scouting Combine to try and get a peek behind their personalities (see story).

"We talked about Philadelphia, talked about the club, the goals, what's important for them," Hischier said. "It was good dinner and went well."

Patrick, who is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, said he was impressed with the steakhouse and said what he liked best about the meal was getting into arguments with fellow Manitoban, Hextall, who is from Brandon.

"He's a really nice guy," Patrick said. "It was a fancy steakhouse. I'll take those dinners any day. He knows what he is doing in Philly. If I were lucky enough to go there, I'd be happy.

"I know all about him. He's a Brandon Wheat King. Us Manitobans always going at each other. We got into a few arguments about some of his guys. Manitoba is the best place in the world."

Right now, for a couple hundred hockey players, Chicago is the best place in the world because this is the NHL draft and what happens Friday and Saturday will impact their lives forever.

Which is why Hischier brought his older brother, Luca, here. He plays for Bern in Switzerland where Hischier also was before transferring to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to play for Halifax this past season.

"My idol is my brother," Nico said. "He is playing pro in Bern. We have a good relationship. I'm happy he is here because I can ask him everything, on and off the ice."

Both players have some Flyers familiarity.

Hischier skated with Mark Streit last summer but hasn't talked to him since.

"Last summer, I skated with Streit, [Roman] Josi, [Shea] Weber and those guys," Hischier said. "It was fun."

Patrick played with Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov two years ago in Brandon.

"Talked to Provy two weeks ago," Patrick said. "I was talking to Brayden Schenn the last couple days. Provy works out 10 hours a day."

A few weeks from now, one of these guys will be at the Flyers' developmental camp working out in Skate Zone.

"It's not up to me," Hischier said. "I don't focus on expectations, I don't focus on teams. Everything can happen.

"I'm going to be open for everything and happy, for sure. If it's No. 2 or 3, I'm gonna be happy anyway."

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

For the second straight year, the Flyers are beginning the season out West.

The NHL on Thursday released its 2017-18 schedule and as reported Wednesday, the Flyers open the season in San Jose on Oct. 4 as part of a four-game road trip that includes games in Los Angeles, Anaheim and concludes in Nashville on Oct. 10.

They'll return home on Oct. 14 for their home opener against the Washington Capitals that kickstarts a five-game homestand (see story). The Flyers will host the Islanders on Black Friday.

Flyers fans will have to wait a while for their first taste of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Flyers will face the Golden Knights for the first time on Feb. 11 in Vegas.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and the Golden Knights come to Philadelphia on March 12

The Flyers will end the season at home against the New York Rangers.

You can see the Flyers' full schedule here (and buy tickets here).