With Boston's 2-1 overtime win over Carolina on Sunday, the Flyers were formally eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Though, as just about anyone with common sense would attest to, the Flyers were eliminated following the weekend of March 7-8, when they fell to the Bruins and New Jersey Devils in lifeless fashion.
Idle springtimes are not a concept entirely too familiar to fans of the Orange and Black, as this is just the 10th time in their 48-season history that they'll be watching the playoffs from the cliché golf course.
So with six games to go -- six games in which the team is playing for nothing other than pride -- why not bring up some younger players from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and give them some experience in The Show?
Mark Alt and Oliver Lauridsen were called up for Saturday's shootout loss to San Jose, replacing Mark Streit and Carlo Colaiacovo, who were out with flu-like symptoms. Following the game, both were demoted back to Allentown. What's the harm in bringing at least one of them up to finish the season -- especially Lauridsen, who spent a cup of coffee with the Flyers back in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign?
To be fair, Streit's difficult to replace with a young gun -- considering his offensive production from this season, and the "A" that's stitched on his sweater. But considering how frequent Craig Berube's shuffled defensemen around the press box as healthy scratches this season, it won't hurt to provide younger talents with big-league experience.
In addition to Lauridsen and Alt (who made his NHL debut on Saturday), the Phantoms have young defensive talents such as Brandon Manning -- who seems like a lock to finish out the season with the big club after being recalled on several occasions -- as well as Robert Hagg and last year's seventh-round pick, Jesper Pettersson. Hagg and Pettersson, both 20, have experience playing against men in the high-scoring SHL, and have eaten minutes for Terry Murray's squad this season.
The Phantoms' talents don't expand to just defensemen -- they have some capable forwards as well. Guys like Nick Cousins, Scott Laughton and Jason Akeson have seen time with the Flyers this season, while Taylor Leier's been a key Phantoms cog as well, with 13 goals and 28 points in 63 games.
Much like their parent club, the Phantoms are also not playoff bound -- the last time they even made the Calder Cup playoffs was 2009, when their home games were played at the Wachovia Spectrum. In their first season since moving back to the region, their record stands at a mediocre 30-29-6-1, with 67 points. They remain 13 points behind the Portland Pirates for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with just 10 games to go in their season. Sure, stranger things have happened, but ultimately, the Phantoms are in line for their sixth-consecutive missed playoff berth. It won't hurt to season some players once their campaign comes to a halt.
Of course, there's the issue of confidence as well. The Orange and Black have games coming up against formidable teams such as Pittsburgh, Ottawa and the New York Islanders. Six games can be enough to make anyone lose confidence -- especially against playoff-bound teams -- but could still provide an outstanding learning opportunity and chances to grow at the same time.
The Flyers have finally learned that they won't be going anywhere this postseason, and will now watch their Stanley Cup drought reach its fourth decade. Their American League affiliate isn't going anywhere as well, despite high expectations for the start of the season. Much of the Phantoms' roster is being groomed for play at the big-league level, so what's the harm in bringing them up to finish the season with the big club?
Rob Riches is a writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Riches61