Flyers eliminated, could not overcome injuries to Ellis, Hayes

The Philadelphia Flyers failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Philadelphia (21-35-11) was eliminated from contention with a 4-1 loss at the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. The Flyers can finish no higher than fifth in the Metropolitan Division. The top three teams from the Metropolitan and Atlantic Division, and the next best two teams in the Eastern Conference, qualify for the playoffs.

It’s the first time the Flyers have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since a five-year drought from 1989-94.

Here is a look at what happened in the 2021-22 season for the Flyers and why things could be better next season:

The skinny

Potential unrestricted free agents: Nate ThompsonF; Keith YandleD; Kevin ConnautonD; Nick SeelerD; Samuel MorinD; Martin JonesG

Potential restricted free agents: Owen TippettF; Morgan FrostF; Zack MacEwenF; Hayden HodgsonF; Wade AllisonF

Potential 2022 Draft picks: 6

What went wrong

Injuries: The Flyers never had the team they envisioned going into the season. Defenseman Ryan Ellis sustained a lower-body injury during training camp that limited him to four games, none after Nov. 13. Sean Couturier, their top center, played his final game this season Dec. 18 and had back surgery Feb. 11. Kevin Hayes, their No. 2 center, had abdominal surgery Sept. 21 that kept him out the first 12 games of the season. He played two games and was out for two weeks after aggravating the injury, then had surgery Jan. 18 to drain fluid from the adductor region of his hip that kept him out until March 5. Philadelphia also played without forwards Joel Farabi, Nate Thompson, Scott Laughton and Derrick Brassard for long stretches.

Power-play struggles: The Flyers success rate with the man-advantage is 13.4 percent, worst in the NHL. Compounding the problems was allowing eight shorthanded goals and a plus-18 power-play goal differential, also worst in the NHL. They tried different personnel; 16 of the 27 skaters who played at least 10 games averaged at least 30 seconds per game on the power play. Three assistant coaches oversaw that area of ​​the game, Michel Therrien (fired Dec. 6), Darryl Williams and John Torchetti, each to no avail.

More offensive women: The Flyers didn’t fare much better at even strength; Their 2.57 goals per game average is third lowest in the NHL, and they have been shut out five times. The only player to score 20 goals is forward Cam Atkinson (23).

Reasons for optimism

Goaltending: Carter Hart and Martin Jones kept the Flyers in most games despite facing a barrage of shots while receiving little support. Hart has faced 33.4 shots on goal per 60 minutes, more than the 29.4 he faced last season, but has a lower goals-against average (3.04 compared to 3.67) and a higher save percentage (.909 compared to .877). Jones also has had a bounce-back season in a backup role, with a .900 save percentage while facing 34.2 shots on goal per 60 minutes, compared to .896 while facing 31.5 shots on goal per game last season with the San Jose Sharks. Jones is a pending UFA, but the Flyers could look to re-sign him and keep a solid partnership for at least another season.

Return to health: Couturier’s back surgery was planned so he could finish his rehabilitation and have a full offseason of training; he’s already resumed skating on his own. Ellis is expected to be healthy next season and resume his spot on the top defense pair. Hayes has scored 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 13 games since returning to the lineup March 5 and said he feels healthy for the first time in two seasons. Having full seasons from Couturier, Hayes and Ellis could go a long way toward the Flyers solving their issues on offense.

Developing young players: There was positive development from some of their young players this season. Cam York, a 21-year-old defenseman, has scored eight points (two goals, six assists) and averaged 18:33 of ice time in 24 games, including 10 with at least 20:00 of ice time. Forwards Morgan Frost22, and Owen Tippett23, have gained confidence with increased opportunities following the trade of Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers on March 19. Also taking steps toward NHL spots next season were forwards Noah Cates23, Tyson Foerster20, and Zayde Wisdom, 19; and defensemen Egor Zamula21, and Ronnie Attard23. Bobby Brinka 20-year-old forward, led NCAA Division I hockey in scoring with 56 points (14 goals, 42 assists) in 39 games for the University of Denver.

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