Because what else do we really have? (Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography)
The game on Saturday night in Winnipeg left us feeling pretty good about the Flyers. In a game that really showcased their strengths, the Flyers picked up their first win in 6 games and things seemed to be headed in the right direction. Tuesday night’s tilt with the visiting Avalanche was exactly the opposite. Against a seemingly weak opponent, the Flyers showcased all of their biggest flaws in a truly disappointing 4-0 loss.
Michal Neuvirth faced 15 total shots in the first period, allowing the period’s only goal on probably the least threatening one of them. A fairly weak bouncer from Jarome Iginla somehow found it’s way between Neuvirth and the post, giving the Avalanche the 1-0 lead just 57 seconds into the game. The period that followed was fairly sloppy from Philadelphia, especially when it came to exiting their own zone. Troubles moving the puck up ice led to Philadelphia registering just 7 shots on goal against an Avalanche squad that has struggled mightily with shot suppression. Luckily, they found themselves behind just one goal headed to the locker room.
That good fortune would not stay with them during the second period, however. After starting the period with the same sloppy play that we saw in the first, the Flyers quickly found themselves down 3-0 when Matt Duchene put two rebounds behind a shaky Michal Neuvirth. These goals were followed by a long period of lifelessness from the Flyers attack, including a period of over 10 minutes without registering a shot on goal. They would awaken towards the end of the period, but left the ice down by three on the scoresheet and down 29-14 in shots.
While the Flyers survived the first minute of the third period without giving up a goal, they didn’t survive much longer. A Cody McLeod power play goal ended all hope of a comeback and gave Colorado a 4 to nothing lead. The Flyers put some pressure on Reto Berra from there on out, but could not find the back of the net.
Last year, the Flyers were routinely criticized for not playing well against poor teams. This criticism was mostly unfounded, as the Flyers were outplaying these teams and losing as a result of some bad puck luck. This season is a different story. Philadelphia has simply played really poorly against a lot of their low quality opponents. While I think it’s a matter of execution rather than effort, it’s definitely strange. The Flyers have executed Dave Hakstol’s system far more efficiently against stronger opponents. They executed it very poorly tonight, and it showed up on the scoreboard.
The Flyers will look to bounce back on Thursday against a tough Capitals team. Some more observations:
-The offensive attack was simply unacceptable tonight. Against the worst shot suppression team in hockey, the Flyers generated just 25 shots on goal and only 14 in the first two periods. Not good at all.
-The attack suffered in large part because the transition play tonight was brutal basically the entire way through. The Flyers really only started moving the puck up the ice efficiently when Colorado went into the turtle shell after going up by 3. Ugly, ugly stuff in the defensive zone.
-The horn sounded briefly in the third period and fans celebrated before realizing that the puck had just landed on top of the back of the net. Fairly good summary of this game.
-Michal Neuvirth was not on his game tonight, but he gets a pass for a couple of reasons. First off, he has kept an undeserving Flyers team in every game he’s played so far. Second of all, the Flyers would not have won tonight with any net minder playing. They simply did not execute in front of him.
-A familiar problem bit the Flyers tonight; they really only had two lines that generated any consistent offensive pressure. Aside from the Giroux and Couturier lines, there wasn’t really anything going until garbage time in the third.
-On military appreciation night, this effort was disrespectful to the troops.