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Five reasons the Flyers were eliminated

Could not overcome lack of scoring, size against Capitals

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers were six points out of a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Feb. 18.

They went 16-6-4 in their final 26 games and clinched the second wild card in the Eastern Conference with a win in their second-to-last game of the regular season

All the momentum they built during that run, however, was wiped out in six games by the Washington Capitals.

Here are five reasons the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs:

1. No offensive support: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers' top five scorers during the regular season, combined for two goals in the Eastern Conference First Round series.

Giroux, who has more points than any player in the League since the 2011-12 season, had one point in the series, an assist in Game 4.

"Not good enough," Giroux said when asked about his play. "I'm pretty frustrated with myself. I've got to find a way. Doesn't matter how it is. You've got to find a way." The Flyers scored six goals in the entire series.

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm3: Holtby denies Giroux, keeps Caps on top

2. Power outage: On special teams the Flyers were outscored 8-1. Their power play went 1-for-24, but more than the total was the timing of some of the extra-man failures.

They had three power plays in the first period of a scoreless Game 1. Trailing 1-0 in the first period of Game 2 they had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:07 but had two shots on goal. In the second period of Game 2 they had a power play 32 seconds after Voracek's goal made it 2-1 and had four shots on goal. In Game 3 they had a power play for the first 1:52 of the second period with the game tied 1-1. And in Game 6 they had a two-minute 5-on-3 advantage and had three shots on goal.

"I give their penalty kill a lot of credit," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "Their PK [penalty kill] is a pressure PK. They're very disciplined, they're very much in sync together. They did a good job. ... I think we could have done a better job as a group gaining possession, getting eyes up and being able to make a play against a high-pressure kill. The advantage went to them and their penalty kill. Kudos to them through the series for that."

The Flyers' penalty kill wasn't much better. It allowed eight goals in 17 chances in the first three games, putting the Flyers in too deep of a hole to dig out of even though they killed all 10 Capitals power plays in the final three games.

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm3: Ovechkin pots second goal of game

3. Net deficit: The Flyers would not have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs without goaltender Steve Mason, who started 15 of the final 17 games of the regular season, and after March 5 had a League high 10 wins, a 2.14 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

But he looked out of gas in the first three games of the series. While not all 12 goals he allowed in three games can be blamed on him, there were a few notable ones that cost the Flyers dearly.

Trailing 1-0 early in the second period of Game 2, Jason Chimera's deflected puck slid 101 feet and between Mason's pads; the Flyers went on to lose 4-1.

Game 3 turned 1:58 into the third period. The Flyers were trailing 2-1 when Mason gloved Justin Williams' shot but dropped it in the slot and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored. The goal was the first of four the Capitals scored in the third en route to a 6-1 victory.

"The third goal-against, the way it happened, the first time it's happened to us in a while, it took the wind out of our sails," Hakstol said.

Michael Neuvirth replaced Mason and was outstanding in the final three games, but Mason's subpar play, combined with the lack of offense, ended up being too much to overcome.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm1: Couturier exits game with injury on hit

4. Losing Couturier: Without Sean Couturier, who sustained an upper-body injury in the second period of Game 1, the Flyers had to play without their second-line center and top defensive forward against the arguably the best offensive team in the Eastern Conference.

Where Couturier's loss was felt most was on the penalty kill. During the regular season the Flyers had an 81.9-percent success rate killing penalties when he played, and 76.8 percent in 19 games he missed.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Couturier's absence had a noticeable effect on the Flyers' lineup.

"I think that's a big piece that they lost," he said after Game 6. "Couturier I think under the radar is a quality shut-down second center in the National Hockey League. ... He's a big piece for them."

Couturier's loss also exposed a lack of depth at forward. In his absence the Flyers used Schenn and Michael Raffl in the middle but neither was able to give the Flyers a reliable second-line scoring option.

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm6: Capitals move on with Game 6 victory

5. Size matters: The Flyers' offense is predicated on a strong forecheck leading to traffic and chaos around the opposing net. Simmonds was the perfect example of that, with 16 of his 32 goals scored from within 10 feet of the net.

But the Capitals' size and strength advantage never allowed the Flyers to get to the net. The 14 Flyers forwards who played at least one game averaged 6-feet tall and 197.3 pounds, and that includes the 6-2, 219-pound Colin McDonald, who played the final three games. Meanwhile the eight Capitals defensemen to play at least one game averaged 6-2 and 207.5 pounds.

"It's something that I think I said a year ago," general manager Ron Hextall said. "We'll look at trying to bring some bigger forwards into the organization. ... It's a focus moving forward." 

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