It is now safe to hit the panic button.
After getting shredded by the visiting Boston Bruins in a matinee game before an anniversary celebration of the Flyers first Cup victory at Xfinity Live across the way later, the Flyers looked in an absolute funk.
The defense once again looking completely horrid with plenty of minus action going around on the stats sheet, Steve Mason getting yanked again, and both goalies facing nearly 35 shots once more, this was another step backwards for a club who had reeled off ten in a row, and looked like they had developed a 60 minute mentality finally.
It is not the case at all.
Before this game, the Flyers had already been teetering on the downward slope of the win-loss see saw.
I’m not sure whether this is an issue of the team finally buying into its own hype, all the adulation that stemmed from turning the season around and becoming a productive squad. I don’t know if this is just a symptom of another streak, this time a losing one, and i previously wrote about how streaky the club can be. I do know and understand that this is not where the Flyers want to be, and the obvious issue is being unable to recognize the flaws at the present moment, and then addressing them properly.
The problems first began during the Islander back to backers. They won the first game, a game they should have lost. They followed that up by laying a stinker on the Isles home ice. Then came the infamous snow delay. The Flyers were scheduled to play the Carolina Hurricanes in Philly, but the snowstorm pushed back the contest by a day, and the extra rest didn’t matter. The Canes came to town and collectively hammered the Flyers goaltenders while Philly’s defense seemed to just stand there and watch.
It’s been a vicious cycle, really. When the defense gets aggressive, they overplay, and the odd man rush is allowed. When they play passively? The other team just keeps pushing, and the Flyers defense isn’t exactly the most agile to handle a good team’s cycling, failing to take the puck away and snap it out of the zone.
The Bruins put on the best example of this, just pushing the puck up ice, into the Flyers zone, and then playing keep away with it until the Flyers exhausted themselves. The power play was on fire for Boston as key players took penalties and forced the Flyers to put out patchwork penalty kills. Zdeno Chara and gang took advantage of this three times, including two killers in the third that really hammered home how embarrassing Philly has been playing lately.
What we are witnessing is eerily reminiscent of how the Flyers began the season, and as much as it’s a bummer to type this, we’re more than likely going to be treated to a few more games of it, because this club seems to take long stretches to get things clicking. Once they do, it can be fun to watch, and even gets the hopes up for some true playoff contention, but the fear is there will be another downswing in performance. As much as I would love to see this club make the playoffs and possibly shock a team in the opening round, the harsh reality is that’s about all they’ll do, eventually bowing out in the second round to a superior squad. A worse fear is that a stretch of painfully bad play late in the season may rear its head, and actually cost the Flyers a playoff position to begin with.
Either way, until the need for a true defensive leader occurs, this club won’t be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. To think, there will be a host of us attending the Flyers Carnival tomorrow, and it’ll be fun for all if these guys show up to the affair in a surly mood.
Go easy on ’em tomorrow, Chief, for our sakes as well.