Flyers burned by lowly Devils, 5-2
NEWARK, N.J. — Wayne Simmonds did his best to keep it together in the Flyers' church-quiet dressing room.
The only audible noise came from the running water of the shower and zippers of hurriedly packed equipment bags. You could almost see the steam building up behind his ears.
"Not good enough," he said.
Hard to tell, really, if he was talking about the night, the lost weekend or the entire season. Probably all three.
"It's a bad feeling," Simmonds said. "It's definitely not the way we envisioned it. Today was awful. No one really played a good game. We left [Steve Mason] out to dry. It killed us."
No, the Flyers' season was over on Saturday afternoon, when they gagged away a pivotal lead with 15 seconds to go, their playoff chances plummeting from 1-in-10 to 1-in-100 with an overtime loss in Boston.
Last night's 5-2 loss against the 24th-place Devils was just a vaudevillian peek into the Flyers' fragile mindset, a confirmation of what's been apparent since October. That was the Flyers' wheels falling off the bus on the New Jersey Turnpike - leaving a 15-game autopsy to pick through between now and April 11.
"It wasn't good," coach Craig Berube said. "I didn't like a whole lot, to be honest with you. Our team, and you've seen it, has shown real good signs of being a good team. Today, I thought mentally we weren't there in this game. I think that defeat [Saturday] in Boston obviously affected our team."
With the loss, just about the only remaining record that would get the Flyers into the Stanley Cup playoffs is 14-1-0 or better. Boston is back playing at a 96-point pace, requiring 97 from the Flyers because of tiebreakers.
"We probably have to run the table, win every game and get some help," Simmonds said, without even looking at the standings.
There is nary a player in the Flyers' locker room who now believes that is possible. There is no coming back from a blown opportunity to draw down to two points with 16 games to play. Heck, since 2005, only four NHL teams have come back from being five points out on Nov. 1 of the season - and the 2013-14 Flyers are one of them. That team had a franchise-record 12 third-period comebacks; this bipolar team fumbles leads.
The Flyers are seven points back of the Bruins. No team in the Eastern Conference has played more games. Ottawa (three), Boston (two) and Florida (one) each have games in hand.
"It is [hard to believe]. It is," defenseman Mark Streit said. "But, you know, we can't change that now. This weekend hurt us."
If we're being honest, the only reason the Flyers ever truly had a shot to make the playoffs was because Boston faltered at the time the Flyers went on a run with points in nine consecutive games. Even then, while toppling some of the best teams, the process was flawed: The Flyers were manhandled in shot attempts and possession.
"There's not excuse for it. No explanation," Mason said, saying the Flyers have underachieved. "We have nobody to blame but ourselves. That's the frustrating thing, because you see the type of team we could be, it's just not on a consistent basis. That's been our problem all year long."
Too many times, the Flyers appeared to be better than they truly are - too easy to fall in love with their wins over St. Louis or Nashville or Washington or Tampa Bay. Those nights acted to cover up unsightly blemishes against the Devils, Blue Jackets, Sabres and Hurricanes.
It became easy, then, for even the Flyers to ignore the deep flaws of a team that has truly played itself into no-man's land. Two months ago, they at least had a 7.0 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick and a generational player in the draft lottery. Now, they're at 5 percent (22nd place), dangerously close to 3.5 percent (21st place), and the best they can do is fall to 24th place (6.5 percent).
"At the end of the day, we needed to find a way to not be so frustrated before a game," Giroux said. "Frustration has built up. We think we're a better team than where we're standing in the standings. We need to breathe here and start just playing the game."
There is plenty of time for that now. It will be a lot easier to breathe with nothing on the line.
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto sat out with an "upper-body" injury suffered in Boston. He'll miss the next 7 to 10 days. He was replaced by call-up Brandon Manning . . . Mark Streit admitted his costly two turnovers made for a "horrible" game. "You look back and you think: 'How could I have did that?' " . . . The Flyers allowed 17 goals in their four-game season series (1-3-0) with the Devils, with New Jersey averaging nearly double (4.25 vs. 2.3) their season average for goals per game . . . Devils backup Keith Kinkaid (4-4-3) made just his first start since Feb. 21 . . . New Jersey scored at even strength, shorthanded and on the power play . . . Luke Schenn has compiled a three-game point streak . . . Steve Mason was credited with the 10th assist of his career.