Skip to content
Sports
Link copied to clipboard

Flyers' Mike Vecchione likely to make NHL debut Saturday vs. Blue Jackets

NEW YORK - After the Flyers were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday with a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers, coach Dave Hakstol did not rule out the possibility of Mike Vecchione making his NHL debut Tuesday in New Jersey.

NEW YORK - After the Flyers were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday with a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers, coach Dave Hakstol did not rule out the possibility of Mike Vecchione making his NHL debut Tuesday in New Jersey.

But he hinted that Vecchione wouldn't be ready until Saturday afternoon's home game against Columbus. The Flyers conclude their disappointing season Sunday night against visiting Carolina.

"I don't know about Tuesday," Hakstol said. "But we absolutely want to get him in a game or two, maybe more. I want to make sure it's a good situation for him."

Vecchione's season with Union College ended March 26, and the 5-foot-10, 195-pound center wasn't on the ice again until a week later. He has not had a full practice with the Flyers, and won't have that opportunity until Wednesday because the team was off Monday and has a game Tuesday.

"You want to put a player in as much of a situation of strength as possible to have success," Hakstol said. "The reality is, Mike still hasn't had a practice with us. He's had a couple morning skates, so we'll look at Tuesday and consider it. We do have a couple good days of practice after that, leading into the weekend. We'll take all that into consideration, and make sure we give him a real good opportunity for success when he does go in."

As far as the overall season, Hakstol said he never felt the playoffs were a given even when the Flyers had a 10-game winning streak that ended Dec. 17. When they won their 10th straight, the Flyers had 41 points.

At that time, only three of the NHL's 30 teams - Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Montreal - had more points than the Flyers. The Flyers had 13 more points than Toronto, which is now seven ahead of Philadelphia.

"I said it at that time it was going to be a battle all the way through," Hakstol said. "I don't think anybody in our room got too far ahead of themselves. You just know things are too tight when you look throughout the conference. You look at a couple key points - three or four games where you look at different outcomes - [because] it's that close.

"But the reality is, we're on the outside looking in."

The Flyers are on the outside because their special teams killed them down the stretch. Before a way-too-late four-game winning streak recently, the Flyers power play was 3 for 43 (7 percent) and its penalty kill was 22 for 32 (68.8 percent) in the first 12 games in March.

Those dozen games (5-6-1) virtually wiped out their playoff chances.

Breakaways

The Flyers have missed the playoffs 11 times in 49 seasons. This is only the second decade in which they have been out of the postseason more than twice (three times in the last five years). . . . With six regular-season games left, Lehigh Valley (44-22-4), the Flyers' AHL affiliate, has a magic number of six points to clinch a playoff spot. . . . Valtteri Filppula on why he held onto the puck for a long time as the final seconds were disappearing in Sunday's one-goal loss: "I was just trying to look for an opening." Filppula had his first two-goal game since 2013. . . . The Devils' Dalton Prout was suspended two games for his hit Saturday on Radko Gudas. He will not face the Flyers Tuesday and will forfeit about $38,000.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull www.philly.com/flyersblog