Fans of the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t had much to cheer for lately — the team is in the midst of yet another losing streak, and their chances of qualifying for the postseason are dwindling. But Saturday night, Flyers fans did have a little something special to keep an eye on.
Highly anticipated forward prospect Elliot Desnoyers made his NHL debut against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. The 21-year-old has impressed with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season, logging 19 goals and 36 points in 48 games, and his debut with the Flyers was well earned.
He centered a line with Scott Laughton and Olle Lycksell, who he knows well from his time with the Phantoms.
“It’s quite another level,” Desnoyers said of his first taste of the NHL. “Guys have good sticks, good speed, and it’s gonna be a little bit of an adjustment going forward.”
Desnoyers finished the night without a point, but then again, so did everyone else on his team.
On the same night the Devils honored their 2003 Stanley Cup championship, the Flyers were shut out in North Jersey, losing by an embarrassing score of 7-0. It’s almost poetic, really.
Devils goalie Akira Schmid stopped 25 Flyers shots to earn the first shutout of his NHL career.
Desnoyers had his legs moving throughout the game, but unfortunately for the Flyers, so did Devils superstar Jack Hughes, who was directly involved on a pair of Devils goals — first a breakaway tally, followed by an absolutely disgusting assist in the third period that left Nick Seeler seeing stars.
Jack Hughes is absolutely not fair. Devils lead the Flyers 6-0. pic.twitter.com/4ZlWXlxt6f— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) February 26, 2023
Just another reminder of how badly the Flyers could use some truly elite, high-end talent on their own roster.
The closest thing the Flyers have to an elite offensive dynamo on the roster is Travis Konecny, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday morning due to an upper-body injury suffered against the Calgary Flames on Monday. The Flyers are averaging just two goals per game without Konecny in the lineup this season.
Rookie goaltender Samuel Ersson had his hands full for much of the evening. After a perfect first period, the 23-year-old was pelted with 30 shots against in the following 40 minutes, when the Devils found the back of the net seven times. However, Ivan Provorov is largely to thank for one of those goals after he shoved a Devil into Ersson, allowing Dougie Hamilton to score into the open net.
Ivan Provorov shoves a Devil into Samuel Ersson and Dougie Hamilton makes it 5-0. pic.twitter.com/9z1Fpe4fSj— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) February 26, 2023
Ersson finished the night with 29 saves on 36 shots against to suffer the first loss of his NHL career.
The Flyers have now lost 11 of their last 14 games and sit nine points out of a playoff spot with about a month and a half remaining in the regular season.
“We’re not there with that team. I don’t know how else to say it. It’s not a criticism of our team, but we’re not anywhere near there right now. This was probably them a few years ago — Jersey — when they were going through their process, so I have to continue to understand that,” said head coach John Tortorella.
“I just want our guys to have some sanity in the last quarter here by being smart when we play these games now, because we have a limited lineup. And for us to compete and feel good about ourselves on certain nights with some wins, we’re gonna have to make an adjustment and stay consistent on understanding who we are.”
The NHL trade deadline is set for Friday, March 3 at 3 p.m. ET. You might want to circle that date on your calendar. It should (!) be a busy day for Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher.
The Flyers will be off for the next three days before returning to action Wednesday night against the New York Rangers (and possibly Patrick Kane?) at Wells Fargo Center. That game will be their last before the trade deadline.