April 3, 2019 (3:55 a.m. CDT)
There are still several more hours to go before I have to be back at DFW Airport this morning for my flight to St. Louis. Years ago, before my wife and I got married, her aunt Karen warned her some of the pitfalls of getting involved with a writer.
"They keep weird hours," Karen said in her distinctive voice that my wife can imitate to a tee.
She is right, too. Most days, I am up writing by 4 or at least watching game videos and/or highlight packages from the previous evening.
This morning, though, I chose not to rewatch the Flyers' 6-2 loss to the Stars last night. This one wasn't hard to get a grip on what wrong and how it happened: puck management, Stars players open in prime range on several goals, Philly giving up their third and fourth opposition power play goals in the last three games, getting in penalty trouble in the third period and two goals against (the first and the fifth) that starter Cam Talbot would have liked to have back were not a good recipe for trying to play spoiler against Dallas.
Philly was resilient after falling behind 2-0 in the first 4:11 of the opening period. The Flyers have shown themselves to be a good comeback team, but it's very hard to have sustained success when you are chasing the game.
The Flyers eventually pulled even in a generally dominant second period only to give up two late goals and fall right back into a multi-goal deficit. Players did not deny after the game that it was disheartening and frustrating.
Getting in late to St. Louis, the Flyers have a day off from practice and will have a full morning skate at the game rink on Wednesday. What is known is that veteran goaltender Brian Elliott, who enjoyed a successful tenure with the Blues before moving on to Calgary and the Flyers, will get the start in goal on Thursday. Carter Hart will go in the season finale at home on Saturday against Carolina.
During yesterday's morning skate at the American Airlines Center, I had the opportunity to chat about some of the prospects in the farm system with Flyers president Paul Holmgren.
One of the more heartening recent developments has been the long-delayed introduction of Pascal Laberge to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' lineup after a long recovery road from surgery. Laberge has five goals in his first 12 games, including a hat trick.
Oddly enough, the Flyers schedule has worked out that the club has played three of its last four games against opponents coached by former Flyers' players: Rod Brind'Amour (Carolina), Jim Montgomery (Dallas) and, tomorrow night, it will be two-stint Flyers Alumni player and former head coach Craig Berube's St. Louis Blues. Berube has done a nice job taking over for Mike Yeo in St. Louis. The Blues have turned around an awful start -- much as the Flyers did, but were able to sustain it down the stretch.
It is kind of an empty feeling to have two games left in the 2018-19 season with five months to wait for the start of the next training camp.
This is going to be a critical off-season for new Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. There is significant cap space open for potential free agent signings, a stockpile of assets for possible trades, decisions on incumbent coaches, and more. Above all, there's an absolute need for the team to address areas that have played into excessive streakiness, not only this season but in other recent seasons that preceded it.
Those, however, are discussions for another day. First, the team has two more hockey games to play.