A solid reimbursement for Flyers fans who paid to attend the team's 5-0 loss to the Devils would have been a free pass to Alain Vigneault's postgame news conference.
It stood as the lone entertainment value Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
For as fun and dominant as the Flyers have looked at home in 2019-20, they tossed up a boo-inducing dud against the last-place team in their division.
Bad game, bad timing for Vigneault's playoff-pursuing bunch.
Vigneault, a coach with a justified self-confidence and postseason pedigree, wasn't about to lose anything at the podium.
After all, he wanted this challenge. He wanted Philly. He wanted the fans. And he wanted the Flyers, despite the team's problematic 2018-19 season.
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Thursday night's performance didn't end the Flyers' 2019-20 season. The team has 28 games remaining, is projected to finish with around 98 to 99 points and entered Thursday holding a 61.3 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com.
But a performance like the 5-0 loss to the Devils would make most fans second-guess the direction.
When Vigneault was asked if his Flyers were built to not only make the playoffs, but also make noise against one of the better teams in a seven-game series, he hardly flinched.
That's a good question. The important question for me is getting my team ready for Washington this next game. That's what we need to do. I will reaffirm that we are getting in, we're going to get into the playoffs. Once we're there, we'll deal with what you're asking me. But first, we've got to get there. To get there, we have to stay in the moment. We've got to focus on Washington.
On Saturday, the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals are the Flyers' next matchup, which opens a tough stretch of seven straight games against the NHL's top 13 teams.
Vigneault was ready to put the New Jersey game behind him. He could even somewhat joke about it. Against the Devils, the Flyers' power play went 0 for 4 with six shots, while New Jersey's penalty kill scored a goal and finished with four shots.
"I should have denied," Vigneault quipped about the man advantage. "Our power play was terrible. I don't know what else to tell you. Every time we were on the power play, they were having chances toward our net. So, we should have denied it after the first one. I should have figured it out, I didn't. I will next time."
A coach who doesn't sugarcoat things, Vigneault didn't question his team's focus or preparation.
"I do believe that our players were ready to play," he said. "In an 82-game schedule, there are no excuses. But some nights you're going to get games like this. We got a bad one tonight. And what we need to do is go home, get some sleep, come to work [Friday], have a good practice and get ready for one of the top teams in the league."
Vigneault won Thursday night with his postgame performance. How the Flyers answer this loss on the ice will test his prediction and postseason pedigree.
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