The Flyers will almost certainly not be in the Stanley Cup playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 seasons, so the last four regular-season games are a matter of pride.
“Being a professional, you have to leave it all out there,” said forward Danny Briere, whose team plays in Carolina on Saturday night. “I think the guys are ready to do that no matter where we are in the standings. It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing, but we’re getting paid to do that, so there is no reason for us to not give it all we have left.”
The Flyers (19-22-3) would have to win all four games to finish above .500; they have not been above .500 at any point this season.
“Obviously, it’s not where we want to be. We have to learn from it,” said winger Jake Voracek, who leads the Flyers with a career-high 19 goals. “It wasn’t the best season….Those four games (they lost in a row recently) killed us. We have to make sure we finish on the right note.”
The most interesting part of the last four games will be watching goalie Steve Mason’s progress, along with the development of young defensemen Oliver Lauridsen and Brandon Manning, a pair of Phantoms call-ups trying to make an impression for next season.
The rookie defensemen have done well “for not having a lot experience, and jumping into a situation where we’ve had so many guys out,” coach Peter Laviolette said after Friday’s grinding practice in Voorhees.
In 11 games, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Lauridsen has played with lots of physicality while being paired with Luke Schenn.
"It’s a work in progress,” Lauridsen said. “Maybe I’ve turned on a little more of an edge. I’m running a little more on adrenaline rushes. I definitely want to have that edge to my game.”
Lauridsen, whom the Flyers want to play with more discipline, says the late-season experience will help him be more comfortable when he goes to training camp in September. He said he tries to model his game after Chris Pronger and Derian Hatcher.
“They were great at what they did, and they’re still with the organization and I can learn a lot from them,” Lauridsen said. “I try to play a similar way.”
Manning, who has a striking facial resemblance to former Flyer Mike Richards, has played in two games and recorded his first NHL point after being promoted from Adirondack. He was hindered by knee and hip problems earlier this season.
“The year didn’t go the way I wanted,” said Manning, who was minus-28 with the Phantoms, “and fortunately for me I’ve gotten this opportunity this late in the season. You go into the next camp with a lot more confidence, and it’s something to be excited about instead of dwelling on my season in Adirondack.”
Laviolette said he may tinker with his lineup in the last four games and “try some personnel in different situations, whether it be the power play or penalty kill.”
Breakaways. The Flyers have had 104 consecutive sellouts at the Wells Fargo Center….Enforcer Jay Rosehill, sporting a black eye from a fight earlier in the week, participated in practice and could play Saturday…..Jaromir Jagr and the Boston Bruins visit the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. Thursday could be the final home game for the classy Briere, who is expected to be traded or have his contract bought out after the season…GM Paul Holmgren said he will decide on whether to extend Simon Gagne’s contract after the season….Laviolette on defenseman Erik Gustafsson: “Consistently, I think this has been his best stint up here.”
Contact Sam Carchidi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.