For just over the past month the Philadelphia Flyers were playing some of their best hockey this season. After their atrocious 1-7 start to the season, the Flyers not only managed to climb back up in the standings, but up until a few games ago were second in the Metropolitan Division behind the dominant Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, the high of coming from so far behind is now over. Though they had been winning games, the Flyers have made a bad habit of getting behind in games. In fact the Flyers have had to come from behind so often that they have tied the franchise record for comeback wins in the third period. As a sports fan, nothing is more fun than witnessing a comeback, but there comes a point when it has to stop. The Flyers are at that point.
The inability to score early is not a trait of serious playoff contending teams. It is not coming back to bite the Flyers as the once “weak” Metropolitan Division is now jam packed.
The New York Rangers, also in the Metropolitan Division, are clicking on all cylinders, getting strong goal tending they lacked early in the season. Even star winger Rick Nash has heated up since being named to Team Canada’s Olympic ice hockey team. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets are ahead of the Flyers being lead by former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky, who won the Vezina Trophy last season, which is awarded to the best goalie in the NHL.
What has lead to the Flyers less-than-stellar over the past few weeks or so? Well, the most obvious answer to anyone who has watched them play this season is that the Flyers defense isn’t what you could call good. In fact I’d call it painful to watch. The same mistakes are made game in and game out. Poor man coverage and turnovers are two of the more glaring mistakes that happen gamely.
Another thing to look at is the amount of goals that have been allowed recently. It has been 10 games since the Flyer have allowed less then two goals in a game in a 3-1 win over Montreal. Whom you blame for the amount of goals allowed in a subjective. Where one person can blame the defense, or lack thereof on every goal, another person can put all of the onus on the goalie, no matter how many time the puck deflects off one of his teammates.
It is very easy to point out the players who have been failing to meet the expectations put before them. Instead, lets look at some of the positives that have occurred over the past month.
Brayden Schenn is putting up new career totals for himself. He has already scored 14 goals this season, breaking his old total of 12, as well as being one assist away from tying his career high in assists.
Wayne Simmonds leads the team in goals with 17 and has 38 points on the season, second on the team to only Claude Giroux.
Erik Gustafsson made is way back into the lineup against the Boston Bruins last Saturday after sustaining a knee injury about a month ago.
If the Flyers truly want to be competing for a playoff position than the bad habits, the turnovers and lazy play, is going to have to end. While the season doesn’t end until early April, a bad streak now, especially in such a tightly packed division, could easily send a team spiraling towards the bottom of the standings with little time to recover.
It’s make it or break it time.
In Flyers prospect news, goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz suffered a scary skate cut on his leg. Luckily for him nothing major was cut and he’s expected to miss at least a month. Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon played for the Philadelphia Flyers minor league affiliate the Adirondack Phantoms in his first professional game in 14 months. Bourdon battled back from post-concussion syndrome. Former Flyers Chris Pronger and Keith Primeau are still dealing with the after effects of post-concussion syndrome.