Flyers on brink of elimination

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Ilya Bryzgalov looks back to see Ryan Carter's second-period goal.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Ilya Bryzgalov looks back to see Ryan Carter's second-period goal.
Posted: April 19, 2013

ILYA BRYZGALOV slammed his stick on the crossbar after watching Matt D'Agostini's shot bounce out of the net as quickly as it entered, simultaneously letting out one last gasp of frustration as the Flyers' maligned season drew its last breath.

Any previously exaggerated reports of the Flyers' death were finally confirmed.

Not even a miracle will help the Flyers avoid watching the Stanley Cup playoffs go on without them for the second time since 1995.

After Thursday night's sleep-inducing, 3-0 shutout loss to the visiting Devils, the Flyers are seven points back of a berth with four games to play. They can be officially eliminated from contention on Friday night with a win or overtime loss by the Rangers in Buffalo - or by losing in Carolina on Saturday.

"After we lost four in a row, the writing was on the wall," Danny Briere said. "Somehow, we found a way to dig in and scrap a couple games. It's frustrating and disappointing. There's four games left. Being a professional, you have to leave it all out there."

Scott Hartnell said the Flyers have "nowhere but up," to go from here.

"You know what, it's a disappointing season," Claude Giroux said. "There's still a couple games left. It's just frustrating the way we played this game. They won more battles than us."

Hartnell also said it was a strange feeling, since the Flyers could be eliminated "not by our own doing." Yet, as Giroux alluded, the lack of hard work, intensity and willingness to win puck battles was a recurring theme in most of their 22 losses this season.

The Flyers controlled their own destiny, holding the keys to pull within three points of a spot back on April 9 with 10 games to play. Instead, the Flyers dropped that game on Long Island and lost two more in a row, before making another flirtatious run that ended on Thursday against a team that had lost 10 straight. It didn't help that the Rangers also won.

"You looked at the scoreboard in the third period and the [Rangers] were up 6-1 going into the third," Hartnell said. "It's never fun. It's the first time in a long time for Philadelphia and for myself . . . It sucks."

By the time it was over, few fans were left to see the Flyers' Sean Couturier - of all players - mix it up with the Devils at center ice. Frustrations boiled over, trickling down from oldest veterans to the youngest rookies.

The Flyers are 1-8 against New Jersey going back to last year's second-round knockout. Neither the Flyers nor the Devils - last year's Stanley Cup finalist - are returning to the playoffs.

"They wanted it more," Hartnell said. "Every time they circle us [on the calendar], they probably say, 'This is going to be a fun game,' because they're winning and we're not."

Perhaps the most interesting moment of Thursday's dreadful game was the third-period "Gangnam Style" rendition of "Dancing Shawny's" familiar routine in the upper deck - a painful reminder of the 2006-07 season in which the Flyers finished dead last at 22-48-12. It was that bad.

This year's edition (19-22-3) isn't much better, mired deep in in a 30-team league. The only positive out of Thursday night's casket-closing loss was that the Flyers actually gained a few pingpong balls in the draft lottery by falling a spot in the overall standings.

In a season filled with profound lows, the wind was finally sucked from the Flyers' sails.

"There's been nights like this as well," coach Peter Laviolette said. "This is one. I've always said, you come into the locker room after a game, you sit here, you come in the next morning . . . players care. The organization cares. It's not a comfortable spot."

Slap shots

The Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Kimmo Timonen for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for dedication and perseverance to the game. Ian Laperriere (2011) was the last Flyer to win the league-wide award . . . The Flyers have used a league-high 37 different players in at least one game this season. Carolina (37) is tied and the Lightning (36), Panthers (36), Devils (35) and Rangers (35) aren't far behind . . . Martin Brodeur is now 47-30-9 against the Flyers . . . Jake Voracek had a goal disallowed in the second period because of a "distinct kicking motion" . . . Scott Hartnell had his bell rung off the dasher board on a hit by Andy Greene, but Hartnell remained in the game.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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