PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – It’s become a common theme for a Flyer’s team that’s had trouble generating offense all year, but again they’ve failed to capitalize early, and it cost them late in a 4-2 loss to the visiting Maple Leafs.
The Flyers have had to chase two-goal leads in each of their last four-games, and they’re 2-2 in that time. Giving up an early lead, especially a multiple goal lead, is a recipe for disaster, but in the case of a team that’s been unable to crack the .500 mark all season, it’s almost unbelievable.
When asked about being two-games under .500, Zac Rinaldo said, “Yeah, we have to come out guns blazing especially in the first period. I know we’ve been slacking the last couple of games in the first period, but we have to pick thing up; we’ll be alright though.”
Since beginning the season with a record of 1-6, the Orange and Black have been struggling to put the pieces back together, both on offense, and defense. The only constant has been in net, and thus far, Ilya Bryzgalov, by all accounts, has been their best player.
The team gave up power play goals in each of its first four games, 2-of-3 in their first, and 3-of-6 in the second. They also started the season going 2-for-17, on their own man-advantage.
They seem to have stabilized the special team’s issues, going 7-for-24 on the power play, and only allowing 3-goals on 39-times short-handed. Much of it can be attributed to the revitalized play of captain Claude Giroux.
But another person who deserves a great deal of credit is Jake Voracek, who’s joined Giroux on the top line. A goal and an assist in the loss versus the Leafs extended his point’s streak to 6-games, with 5-goals and 9-assists.
Although the team has received great performances, the problem is they frequently follow them up with average showings full of break-downs, or a lack of a 60-minute effort. Many players and Flyer’s head coach Peter Laviolette have commented on this, and the coach expounded on the effort stating that the team seems to be making great strides towards the playoffs, but each stride is followed by a step back.
“There has been a lot of talk about the .500,” said Flyer’s head coach Peter Laviolette. “It’s not like we’re shooting for .500 in the room. But we’ve just got to get back, and it’s got to happen through this stretch of games where the home games favor us and not as many road games. It’s got to get to the point where we put together three out of four, five out of six, six out of seven, and start to get the win column going in the right direction so we can set ourselves up for the last third of the year and a playoff push. We’ve got to get back to it Wednesday night and start climbing back out. It’s like one step forwards and two steps backwards.”
The Flyers, have unfortunately, dug themselves into a hole, in this 48-game season, and with points being distributed to teams above them in the standings each night, they need to fight for regulation wins in back-to-back games if they want to see some time in the playoffs. This game versus the Maple Leafs represents one of those possible turning points lost.
Saturday’s miraculous come from behind win versus the Winnipeg Jets was rendered moot by the lack-luster loss to the Leafs, which became ever-more important, since the Leafs began the game in eighth place, four-points above the Flyers in the standings.
These are the types of games the Flyers need to win. Their execution needs to be more precise, and they can’t continue losing a game just after a big win. The Flyers need to take a page out of the book of the Chicago Blackhawks, and take each game seriously.