If it’s possible for a team who is currently the number one seed in the eastern conference to hit rock bottom, the Flyers did it today. This afternoon they were completely embarrassed on national television by the New York Rangers losing 7-0. Prior to today’s throbbing on NBC, the Flyers were 4-0 against the Rangers this year. They were completely dominated by a far inferior team. It goes to show that no matter how much talent you have, you have to show up to play each game. It is the worst loss the Flyers have suffered since losing 8-0 to the Sabres in the playoffs in 2001.The loss is the 4th straight for the team and have hopefully hit their low and will turn it around after today’s loss. You can be sure that Laviolette did his share of yelling in the locker room and there will be some changes by Tuesday night. The thing that worries me most is that the team didn’t show up today. Its one thing to lose a close hard fought game but to not even show up is just embarrassing. This team faced adversity last season and there is no reason to think they will not come through this slump a better team.
The Rangers jumped on the Flyers out of the gate scoring the first goal of the game after just 51 seconds ticked off the clock. Then on the power play the Rangers tacked on another goal to take a 2-0 lead after the 1st. They outplayed the Flyers in the 1st outshooting them 14-7. The Rangers went on to score 2 more in the 2nd before Boucher was pulled, but Bob didn’t have any better luck between the pipes. He gave up 3 goals in relief while facing 15 shots. With all of the struggles the team has had over the last few weeks they are still in great shape in the standings. I think it may be best to throw the game tape out and just move on. The only thing you can take from the game is play each game like it’s your last and never have a poor effort like they did today. Even before today’s game, the team still had it fair share of struggles. I think the two main reasons are a poor power play and a lack of an elite goal tender. In today’s game, the Flyers went 0-5 on the power play.
The Flyers inability to score on the power play is mind boggling. It doesn’t make sense that a team with that much offensive fire power would struggle on the power play. With talented forwards like Richards, Carter, Giroux and Briere and hard shots from the point from the likes of Pronger and Timonen, you would think it would be one of the best units in the game. The Flyers are the highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference and the 4th best in the NHL. During their four game losing streak they are a horrific 1 for 16 on the power play. The Problems on the power play are not just a problem over the last few games; it is something that has progressively gotten worse throughout the season. Going in to today’s game, they were 21st in the NHL on the power play converting on just 16.6% of their opportunities. Since the all star break, they are 24th in the NHL only converting 12.2%!
It is not a secret that Boucher and Bobrovsky are not elite goaltenders in the NHL. The Flyers have been able to get by with great team defense and just solid play between the pipes. As a team they rank 11th in the NHL in GAA with 2.54 but are 4th worst in save percentage. Flyers goaltenders only save 90.1% of the shot s they face. They are also the only team in hockey to not record a shutout so far this season. This formula has worked for the Flyers for much of the season and it looked as though they would be fine. But as the season goes on, it seems as though the goaltending has gotten worse. Bob has given up his fair share of soft goals and seems to be out of position on a lot of shots. Boucher has been more consistent but he doesn’t have the natural ability that Bob does. The problem is the team doesn’t have a goalie that can bail out the team if they have an off night. If they don’t out play the other team, they are not going to win. The importance of solid goaltending is only going to increase as we get closer to the playoffs and eventually in the postseason. In the playoffs, goalies can win games or even series almost single handedly by shutting the other team down.
So what should happen after a horrible effort like we witnessed today? I don’t think there is any easy answer for that question. Today’s loss wasn’t due to a lack of talent; it was because of a lack of intensity, focus and effort. They were not prepared mentally to play the game today. The fault is not on one person or player, everyone from the coaching staff to the players should be embarrassed by the way they played today. Hopefully today’s game will be a wakeup call for this struggling team. But with all of the negatives I have mentioned, this is still one of the best teams in the NHL. They didn’t suddenly forget how to play hockey, this team has a lot of talent. This is a very important moment in the season for the Flyers, it is a time where they will either fold around the controversy or rise up and play their best hockey. I think that after the season, we will look back on this game as the turning point in the season; we just have yet to see if it will be a positive or a negative one.