Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

Flyers at Hurricanes
1 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet

The Flyers (31-29-17) will mercifully finish the road portion of their schedule when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes (28-38-11) at PNC Arena Saturday afternoon. 

Here’s what you need to know before puck drop:

1. Road kill
Take it away, Mark Streit.

“The road hasn’t been good this year and it’s a big part of why we’re out of the playoff race,” the veteran defenseman said Friday (see story). “[Saturday], we play a team that plays good at home. We just want to finish on a positive note. It’s a good test for us.”

The road has been an absolute nightmare for the Flyers all season. They’ve scored just 92 goals away from the Wells Fargo Center and have allowed 129 for a pitiful minus-37 differential.

The Flyers are among four teams that have failed to record more than 10 road wins in 2014-15. Their miserable road record (10-20-10) is a major reason why they were eliminated from postseason contention a week ago.

And if the Flyers fall to the Hurricanes, they will finish with their fewest wins away from Philadelphia in a non-shortened season since the 1991-92 campaign (10-26-4), according to STATS. Yikes.

2. Eye of the storm
If we were to use the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale, this Carolina club would probably peak as a Category 2 on a good day.

Simply put, the Hurricanes have no offense. They average just 2.25 goals per game. Only the New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres score less.

Perhaps the team’s biggest crutch is its play at even strength. The Hurricanes rank 27th in the NHL in 5-on-5 scoring (0.75).

Strangely, Carolina is solid on both the power play and penalty kill. They have the league’s 10th-best PP unit and are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for second in the NHL in PK effectiveness at 85.3 percent. 

The Hurricanes also have the Flyers’ number. They’ve taken two of the first three matchups between the two clubs this season and have won the last four meetings in Raleigh.

3. Injuries
The Flyers have a long list of players who will miss the final five games of the season.

Defensemen Andrew MacDonald (hand), Luke Schenn (abdomen) and Radko Gudas (knee) and forwards R.J. Umberger (hip/abdomen) and Wayne Simmonds (leg) are all out. 

For the Hurricanes, forward Riley Nash and defenseman Jack Hillen are sidelined with concussions. Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen will not play because of a sprained MCL. 

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: After scoring twice in the Flyers’ 4-1 win over the Penguins, forward Brayden Schenn is just one goal or assist away from setting a new career high in points. The 23-year-old tallied 20 markers last season, but hasn’t made the most of increase in ice time in 2014-15. He spent a large chunk of games skating on the team’s top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek but enters Saturday with just 16 goals in 77 games. With five games remaining, it’s not outrageous to think he can reach the 20-goal mark for a second straight season. Anything is possible. But the Flyers will certainly be looking for more from the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder moving forward. 

Hurricanes: Carolina hasn’t supplied many goals as of late, but that hasn’t stopped rookie winger Chris Terry from finding his way onto the scoresheet. The 25-year-old has potted two goals and assisted two more during his current four-game point streak. Terry is one of a handful of Hurricanes players who is playing for a job next season. He’s proved he can put up solid numbers in the AHL — 299 points in 375 games — but hasn’t yet shown the consistency needed to play every day in the NHL. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder has good offensive instincts, and could be a solid depth forward on a rebuilding Hurricanes team. He wears No. 25.

5. This and that
• The Flyers have lost six of their last seven matchups against the Hurricanes.

• Carolina has been outscored, 12-4, during its current three-game losing streak.

• Ray Emery is 5-0-0 with a 0.74 goals-against average and .977 save percentage and two shutouts in five career starts against the Hurricanes.

• Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has six goals and six assists in his last 11 games against the Flyers.

• Streit is four points away from becoming the first Flyers defenseman to record 50 points in a season since Chris Pronger accomplished that feat in 2009-10.

Flyers Weekly Observations: More flashes, more frustration

Flyers Weekly Observations: More flashes, more frustration

The Flyers' playoff hopes are all but buried alive, but we still have plenty to discuss after a busy week of hockey.

The Flyers took the ice four times and finished up with yet another inconsistent showing last week.

They pulled off a 4-3 overtime win over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, dropped a disappointing 3-2 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, impressed with a strong 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and then were stifled in a frustrating 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon.

Let's take deeper dive into the week that was for the Flyers.

• While it was another one of those up-and-down weeks for the Flyers that we've all become used to, Sean Couturier stuck out in a good way this past week. Two plays, in particular, stuck out, and not just because the puck ended up in the back of the net each time. Sunday in overtime against Carolina, Couturier revved up on a quick and powerful solo rush up the ice, broke in on goalie Cam Ward and created a prime scoring opportunity that Brayden Schenn cleaned up for the game-winner. It was something we don't see often enough from Couturier. He has the size with his 6-foot-3, 211-pound frame and can be tough to stop when he gets in gear the way he did in OT on Sunday night. That could be such a weapon for the Flyers if he could do it on a more consistent basis. His goal Thursday in Minnesota was a thing of beauty. He took a slick pass from Schenn, maneuvered the puck through his legs and beat Devan Dubnyk five-hole. Between the pass and the lovely finish, it might have been the prettiest goal the Flyers scored all season. But it was Couturier's skill that finished it off. So he again showed flashes of mixing his size and skill this week to create offense. Queue the broken record, but the Flyers, who average just 2.50 goals per game heading into Sunday night's tilt in Pittsburgh, really need Couturier to do those kinds of things much more consistently.

• Steve Mason was not out of line to question his teammates after Tuesday's disheartening loss in Winnipeg. Heading into that game, the Flyers talked about how, even though their playoff hopes were slim, they still thought they had a real chance to reach the postseason. Entering the third period on Tuesday, the game was tied at 1-1. The Flyers had 20 minutes to vanquish a Jets team that was missing five regular defensemen in the lineup. Instead of playing like a team hungry for the playoffs, the Flyers sat back and let the Jets carry play to predictably terrible results for the Flyers. Think about this: the Flyers had just two shots in the period 13:34 into the frame. I know Mason mentioned the eight straight minutes of penalties the Flyers took in the second period, and, while frustrating, that happens sometimes. The two shots through more than half the third period can't happen. Urgency anybody? They did respond nicely Thursday against a good, albeit stumbling, Wild team. That may have been the Flyers' best all-round effort of the year.

 • In response to Tuesday's lackluster effort in Winnipeg, Dave Hakstol again switched up the Flyers' lines ahead of Thursday's game in Minnesota. One of the changes saw rookie forward Travis Konecny slide down to the fourth line next to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde. That's a curious move. Think about this: the Flyers' playoff hopes are virtually toast, right? What does Konecny get out of playing fourth-line minutes now? Shouldn't he be further up the depth chart in an effort to find some chemistry with more skilled linemates heading into next season? I get that he has defensive deficiencies. But he's a rookie and all rookies have those. At the end of the day, the kid is a skilled scorer. And these are important minutes for him to get more and more comfortable in a top-wing role. You've got to take the good with the bad, especially with the Flyers' goal-scoring needs.

• The Flyers' power play continues to be a debacle. After an 0-for-3 showing Saturday in Columbus, the Flyers' power play is 3 for 43 in the month of March. It's not just that the power play is stagnant right now. It's that it's giving the opponent momentum and helping turn games around against the Flyers. It's more deflating than anything else. More often than not, it just seems that opponents have more quality chances while shorthanded than the Flyers have with the man advantage. Gotta give the Flyers' power-play units credit on Saturday, though. They fired 10 power-play shots on goal, but Sergei Bobrovsky had every answer. He was superbly flawless all game long for the Jackets, for that matter.

• Want a telling stat? Try this on for size: heading into Sunday's games, 16 teams have positive goal differentials for the season and 14 teams have negative goal differentials for the season. Those 16 teams with positive goal differentials are in the current playoff picture. The 14 teams with negative goal differentials, well … I'll let you fill in the blank. FYI, the Flyers' goal differential is minus-27.

• Was going over some stats on Sunday morning and, oh, those poor Avalanche fans. Colorado has just been abysmal this year. As of Sunday morning, the last-place Avs are 20 points behind the next team in the standings, Arizona. Twenty! The Avs' goal differential on the season is minus-104. That's an astounding number that's 44 goals behind the next worse number, coincidentally Arizona's. So for you Flyers fans angry at how this season has soured, just remember it's worse somewhere else. Much, much worse. … If that's any consolation.

Coming up this week: Sunday at Pittsburgh (7 p.m./NBCSN), Tuesday vs. Ottawa (7 p.m./TCN), Thursday vs. New York Islanders (7 p.m./CSN), Saturday vs. New Jersey (7 p.m./CSN).

Flyers-Penguins 5 things: Final long road trip of season ends in Pittsburgh

Flyers-Penguins 5 things: Final long road trip of season ends in Pittsburgh

Flyers (34-32-8) at Penguins (46-17-11)
7 p.m. on NBCSN/CSNPhilly.com and NBC Sports App

The Flyers conclude their final four-game road trip of the season on Sunday night in Pittsburgh against a Penguins team with its playoff ticket already punched.

Let's take a closer look game at No. 75 for the Flyers.

1. Power outage
The theme remained the same for the Flyers in their 1-0 loss to Columbus on Saturday: a lifeless power play leads to little offense in a must-win game that killed any realistic, however slim, hope of making a last-second run at the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot.

After going 0 for 3 against the Blue Jackets, the Flyers' power play is now 3 for 43 in March, 0 for its last 14 and 2 for its last 25. On Sunday night, they face a Penguins penalty kill that is lingering near the bottom 10 of the league at 19th overall with an 80.3 percent kill rate.

"We're getting our chances and it's not going in," Shayne Gostisbehere said Saturday. "It's not like we're not getting shots, so it's a matter of sticking with it and it'll come."

In their 4-0 shutout win over the Penguins on March 15, the Flyers were 1 for 4 on the man advantage and it was the last game the team found twine on the power play.

2. Mr. 100
After winning his 100th game as a Flyer on Thursday night Minnesota -- only the third goalie in franchise history to reach 100 wins -- Steve Mason had Saturday afternoon off.

Without context, rolling with Michal Neuvirth on Saturday was a surprising move considering Mason has been the better goalie of the two and the team believed its season was not yet over. But it was the first game of a back-to-back against two of the East's elites.

Neuvirth appeared rusty in the opening period but settled down in Columbus, but Mason is expected back in between the pipes Sunday against the Pens, whom he shut out 11 days ago.

On Sunday, he's expected to make his 50th start of year. Mason will be the first goaltender in Flyers history to start over 50 games in four consecutive seasons. He's appeared in 53 games this season in total heading into Sunday night's tilt.

Mason is 2-3-1 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in March and owns a 2.73 goals-against average and .906 save percentage overall this season.

3. Playoffs … playoffs?
With Saturday's 1-0 loss, the Flyers' playoff hopes are realistically dead -- not as if they weren't already. The Flyers have eight games left and are eight points out of the playoffs.

One has to believe the Flyers have to win out and acquire all 16 possible points to have any legitimate chance at the playoffs. That's not taking into account help needed elsewhere.

Let's do some math. If the Flyers were to earn all 16 points on the table, they'd finish the year with 92 points. Is that enough to get into the playoffs? Not unless the four teams ahead of them crash and burn. The Flyers are not officially eliminated, but the playoffs are a pipe dream.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let's go with Sean Couturier, who has three goals and seven assists in his last 11 games. He had a goal and an assist with a career-high eight shots vs. the Pens 11 days ago.

Penguins: Nick Bonino has seven goals in his last 10 games and nine points in his last 12 games. Bonino has one goal in three games against the Flyers this season.

5. This and that
• The Penguins will wear their gold Stadium Series jerseys against the Flyers on Sunday.

• The Flyers have scored just 20 goals in their last 17 losses.

• This game was originally set for 12:30 p.m. but was rescheduled earlier in the season.

• Pittsburgh is 3-0-2 in five contests since losing to the Flyers on March 15. The Pens are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games and are coming off back-to-back shootout losses.