Flyers say missing playoffs on last game of season ‘tough pill to swallow’


Though the negative of the moment will last for a bit, coach John Tortorella chose to see the positives, especially for a team that went 38-33-11, a seven-win improvement over last season.

“I’m proud of the team,” he said. “They fought to the end.”

And the belief is a group of players that skews younger will benefit from this experience. Three of their top-five point producers (Owen Tippett, 25, Joel Farabee, 24 and Morgan Frost, 24) and three of their top four goal-scorers (Tippett, Farabee and Tyson Foerster, all 22) are 25 or younger, as are three of their top-six defensemen, Jamie Drysdale, 21, Cam York, 23, and Egor Zamula, 24.

“As a young team, the quicker and the sooner you can play these meaningful games down the stretch, it’s great experience,” Couturier said. “I just hope, and we’ll make sure, that we don’t take this for granted.”

Defenseman Erik Johnson, at age 36 standing on the other end of the spectrum, sees a promising future for the Flyers after being part of it for 17 games following his acquisition in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on March 8.

“They should be really proud as a young group that no one really gave a chance to,” he said. “To be right there at Game 82 … I think it’s great for those young guys. It’s been talked about but tonight was Game 7, no doubt about it. And the last few games were playoff games as well.

“To go through experiences like that as a young player it only kind of makes the trajectory of your career a little bit better because you get used to those games at a younger age. Maybe my first playoff series I was 24, so not super young but still not an established player. So coming into a game like tonight there is no nerves because I’ve seen it all and I think if you have players on this team that haven’t seen something like this and they go through it like they did, it’s going to help them in the long run because those nerves will be a lot lower.

“You know what to expect in tight games like this so it’s great for those guys. While it wasn’t officially a playoff game, this stretch games are huge for their development.”

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