As Flyers suffer brutal loss, playoff door begins to close

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As Flyers suffer brutal loss, playoff door begins to close

BOX SCORE

With a lot of talk about believing in each other and their ability to scratch and claw their way to the playoffs, the Flyers had deemed each one of the 10 games they’ve played so far in March a must-win.

But after Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, they fell to 3-6-1 for the month, and seven points out of playoff contention.

“It comes down to one-on-one battles, and we didn’t win many of them today,” Kimmo Timonen said. “I think it was all Rangers -- they were hungrier and a better team today.”

Time is running short for the Flyers, who are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference and have just 16 games left in the season to get their act together. But against the Rangers, to whom they’ve now lost 11 of their last 12 games, the Flyers allowed themselves to fall into a 3-0 deficit before they woke up at all.

They seem to think they know the reason why.

The problem is, they can’t figure out how to correct it.

“I always think it comes down to individual preparation,” Timonen said. “You’re either ready to play or you’re not. And a lot of guys, a lot of people, blame coaches. But we play the game. We’re out there making plays. Like I said, you’re ready to play or you’re not.”

And on Tuesday night, right from the very first shift, in which they allowed Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin to skate in on Ilya Bryzgalov on a breakaway, the Flyers simply weren’t ready to play.

“The losses are just a result of us not coming to battle shift after shift,” Wayne Simmonds said. “To win games in this league that’s what you have to do, and it just didn’t happen tonight.”

Based on all their talk, and even on the way in which they played for much of Sunday’s overtime loss in Pittsburgh, though, they should have been. In fact, it should have been Timonen’s night to shine. With his friends and family in attendance, the veteran defenseman was honored before the game for having played his 1,000th affair in the NHL.

Instead, it was the Rangers’ Rick Nash and Derek Stepan who stole the spotlight.

Stepan had four points and was involved in all but one of the Rangers’ goals, while Nash scored twice. The ex-Blue Jacket has now scored four goals (equal to a third of his season total) against the Flyers in 2013.

The game seemed to unravel for the Flyers in the second period. Though the Flyers entered the middle frame trailing 1-0 thanks to Nash, the Flyers fell apart as it went on, allowing goals to Brad Richards and Stepan, who now has points in 11 of the Rangers’ last 14 games.

Simmonds got one back late in the second period after the Flyers had fallen down 3-0, but the period ended 3-1 -- and the Flyers were 1-10 when trailing after two periods this season heading into Tuesday’s affair.

“It’s disappointing,” Claude Giroux said. “It’s a big game. Need to find a way to be ready for those kinds of games. It’s frustrating because we have a good team in here and can’t find a way to get those wins.”

Voracek, who recorded his 10th multi-point game of the season, scored for the Flyers in the third period. Giroux’s shot from the high slot appeared to hit Jakub Voracek in the chin area, into the net, making it 3-2 and giving fans hope of a comeback.

But whatever hope there was faded quickly, however, when Nash scored his second of the night on a wraparound less than a minute and a half later. Chris Kreider’s goal to make it 5-2 sucked what air remained out of the arena. Fans left in droves.

“We have 16 games left, and to me, we have to move on,” Timonen said. “Obviously it’s tough and this was a huge game to lose. We can talk all we want or watch tape, but once we step on the ice and it doesn’t happen that’s our fault. We’re the players that play the game and that’s our fault.”

There are small things to build on from Tuesday’s game. Bryzgalov looked very sharp through two periods, and the Flyers finally scored a third-period goal. But the end result makes it that much harder for the team -- and its fans -- to keep the faith that a run at the playoffs is at all possible.

“There’s nowhere to go except to the rink tomorrow for practice and to get ready for the next game,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Regardless of how the night went, the season’s not over. We need to win hockey games. The objective remains the same.”

Four games now remain in what is undeniably a crucial homestand for the Flyers. And most of the players in the locker room believe they must win all four in order to have any chance of making the postseason.

“We have four games left on this homestand, and we’ve got to put up points,” Simmonds said. “There’s no excuses.”

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Two days before the NHL trade deadline, Mark Streit is content.
 
Not with how the Flyers are playing or anything even close to that.
 
The 39-year-old defenseman is content with his role on the Flyers and would very much like to complete his fourth and final season with the club to the bitter end.
 
Whether that's the playoffs or going home early.
 
Somewhere out there, there's a playoff club with a struggling power play that could use his skill set. Perhaps San Jose, which has a poor power play. Yet the Sharks are in need of a scoring winger, not another blueliner.
 
As an unrestricted free agent, Streit is a perfect candidate to be moved at this point.
 
"I don't know, to be honest," Streit said on Monday. "I don't know. Maybe there is a demand for me. I don't really think about it.
 
"I'm an older guy and my contract is up. Usually, you talk about those guys being dealt. That is just the nature of the business. But I love being here, love the guys and love the team. I want to win with this team."
 
The Flyers aren't going to win the Stanley Cup this season. Right now, they're not even going to make the playoffs.
 
Kimmo Timonen was a Flyer a few years ago, missed nearly the entire 2014-15 season with blood clots, and when he was finally allowed to play, asked to be traded to a playoff contender.
 
Timonen won a Cup with Chicago.
 
Streit has a modified no-trade clause and can give the Flyers a list of 10 clubs to be traded to.
 
"[Timonen] was in a little bit of a different situation," Streit said. "He didn't play a big part of the year and he came back and we were out of the playoffs.
 
"If I were 100 percent sure this was my last year and I would retire, then I would probably look at it differently. I still feel great, I still want to play. So this is a little different.
 
"I am not looking like I want to get dealt and go to a contender or anything like that. That's why I don't look at it like Kimmo's situation."
 
It's entirely possible the Flyers move Streit and then re-sign him for one year to act as a veteran presence in the dressing room next season to bring along some of the younger defensemen, perhaps Robert Hagg and/or Sam Morin or Travis Sanheim.
 
Streit told CSNPhilly.com Monday even if he finishes the season here, he would like to return to the Flyers on a short-term deal to help transition some of the young talent the Flyers are expected to promote next season.
 
"It's on my mind," Streit said. "We're going to have a lot of free agents (defensemen) and maybe there's going to be changes and maybe not.
 
"There's young guys on the team. ... I would like doing that, like I have with Ghost [Shayne Gostisbehere] and Provy [Ivan Provorov] and I think it'd be a great thing to do. I've already thought about that and yeah, it's an option for sure."
 
Group meeting
Streit was part of a leadership group meeting at center ice Monday at Skate Zone during Flyers practice with coach Dave Hakstol. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds were included, as well.
 
Neither Hakstol nor those involved in the meeting would speak to its specifics.
 
"When you win 10 in a row, everything is easy," Streit said. "Everybody is happy and everything works itself out. Times like [this] it's up to guys in the room to lead by example.
 
"If you play good, you've got to play great. If you're playing great, you've just got to play a little bit better and help the team in a good way, a positive way. You can only do it as a team ... you're not going to do it as individuals."
 
Giroux offered his take on the meeting, as well.
 
"We have to find a way to win hockey games," Giroux said. "Everybody is frustrated right now. We can't be pointing fingers.
 
"Everybody needs to be a little bit better and give a little more and go one game at a time here. Tomorrow, we're back in front of our fans. We've got to get this win, we know that. We've just got to keep at it."
 
Loose pucks
Steve Mason is expected to start in goal Tuesday against Colorado after sitting six consecutive games. ... Travis Konecny (ankle and knee) skated with assistant coach Ian Laperriere and then participated in limited practice with the team. He could return by the weekend. 

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning was suspended two games for his illegal hit to Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel during Saturday's 4-2 loss in the Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.
 
Manning's shoulder made contact with Guentzel's head.
 
Manning wasn't surprised and even admitted to reporters that he fully expected "one or two" games because he hit a player who didn't have control of the puck yet.
 
Strangely, there was no penalty on the play for interference, yet the NHL's explanation on Monday afternoon specifically cited "interference" as the reason for the suspension.
 
This is Manning's first NHL suspension.
 
The hearing was conducted on the phone Monday with Stephane Quintal, senior vice-president of NHL Player Safety. Manning will forfeit $10,833.34 in salary.
 
"It was late," Manning said of the hit. "He didn't touch the puck after it hit his skate, which I thought he was going to do. They do their whole breakdown by time frame."
 
Manning said he caught Guentzel's shoulder first, then his head "on the follow through" because Guentzel is shorter than him. The 6-foot-1 Manning has two inches on Guentzel.
 
Guentzel, who had two assists in the game, was not injured.
 
"Looking at it, [the hit] is a little late," Manning admitted. "I thought he was going to touch the puck. Usually, when a puck hits your skate, you pick it up, and he kinda left it. ... The hard part is, there was no penalty called on it."
 
Manning said he had to make a hit or face an odd-man rush.
 
"There were two players there and if I don't play my guy there, it’s a 3-on-1 the other way," he said. "You're giving up scoring chances. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. He finished the game and that's always the good thing."
 
Mark Streit, sitting on the bench at the time, said he saw the hit and was shocked at the suspension.
 
"It was a great hit," Streit said. "You look at the replay and everything looks different. You can slow down every hit and talk about it. I guess it was a little late ..."
 
Manning's suspension likely means Michael Del Zotto will play against Colorado on Tuesday.
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Manning has been a "solid piece" for the club this season.
 
"He brings that physical edge, he's been reliable, and he's been a staple for our lineup," Hakstol said. "That's a hole we'll have to fill over next couple of games here."
 
Manning will also miss Thursday's game against Florida.