City-Wide Sports Slump Engulfs Flyers
Philadelphia, what more could possibly go wrong?
The Phillies put forth two consecutive subpar seasons. No playoffs in either year. Nowhere close, to be frank.
The Sixers did no better this past season, and as of right now, they could be a consensus pick as the NBA's worst team.
A quarterback imbroglio and an inability to win at home in a calendar year has plagued a sub-.500 Eagles team that will likely lead to, you guessed it, no playoffs.
And the Flyers.
Oh, the Flyers.
This proud franchise, after acquiring big-ticket players like Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit, sit almost dead last in the NHL. They barely find themselves ahead of a dreadful Buffalo Sabres team that had plans of rebuilding anyway.
It's the worst start to a Flyers season. Ever. There have been some pretty bad Flyers teams in this organization's history, but this version is officially the worst at three wins and eight losses. Sparkling accolades, for sure.
The Flyers organization has prided itself on its top-flight competitive identity from year to year. Playoffs never seemed to be a question. Led by owner Ed Snider's bravado, the Flyers have always been successful. That's their culture, after all.
However, old habits seem to be dying hard. Did Peter Laviolette ruin this team over his tenure? Is that even possible for professionals to just forget how to play? At many points, players have looked lost, as if they had never played a game of hockey in years.
The more bravado shown by players, whether it was Snider's attitude a few weeks ago, or Giroux's bold statement that this broken team would make the playoffs, the harder it is to accept the fact that this truly is a bad team. Unless something changes—personnel or otherwise—losing will happen more than winning.
Empty words won't solve anything. Time for wins. Maybe some goals, too.
Only once during this season has this team scored more than two goals in a game. If not for Vincent Lecavalier, arguably Flyers MVP, perhaps they would have set a historical record for games without more than two goals. That would be a sad label to possess.
In games against Vancouver and Anaheim, scoring one more goal would have been paramount. It seems like a mental block right now. Those two losses could be considered mirrors of themselves. Flyers had a lead, scored just two goals, and let the other team in to win.
Only two more teams can't score goals to a laughable extent: the New York Rangers (1.64) and the league basement Buffalo Sabres (1.57). Nashville joins a sad sack bunch by scoring a shade under 2 goals per game (1.92). Somehow, said Rangers team has four wins, and are ahead of the Flyers in the standings.
This is bad.
Perhaps what is most baffling is the personnel itself. Seven players have scored more than 20 goals in their careers before. Many of them as it stands won't even come close to that when all is said and done.
Most baffling is how Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen, critical cogs on the Flyers, have zero points. Timonen, a guy who posted 35-50 point seasons regularly, does not have a point through 11 games. He has not even come close to getting one, and his demotion off the top power play unit won't help him either.
Giroux still does not have a goal this season. He does, however, have five points in his last five games, including a two point night against the Islanders last Saturday. Ever since Lecavalier joined Giroux's line, his play has jumped considerably.
Problem is, he has just 23 shots on goal, and seemed tremendously reluctant to shoot in Tuesday's debacle.
Credit should be heaped on Flyers goaltender Steve Mason (3-6-0, 2.25 GAA, .928 sv%) who has continually kept his team in games. Only two of his starts have led to save percentages under .900. In six of his starts, he has had to face over 30 shots per game.
His goals against average ranks 12th in the NHL, and his save percentage ranks 9th. These numbers come from a guy who was the losingest goaltender in the entire league since his Calder Trophy winning year in 2009.
They got this guy for Michael Leighton? Crazy.
Perhaps the only positive that could possibly be taken away from this dismal start is they are not out of the race yet, somehow. The Metropolitan Division is so bad that the Flyers, with just six points through 11 games, could possibly find a way back into the race with an easier schedule ahead.
Carolina, who sits tied for second place in the Metropolitan with the Islanders with 11 points, is just five points removed from the Flyers. This isn't insurmountable. It just shows how awful this division is.
Their next six opponents (Capitals, Devils, Hurricanes, Oilers, Senators) are all struggling. No teams are struggling moreso than the Capitals (5-7-0), Devils (3-5-4) and especially the Oilers (3-9-2), who continue to baffle the NHL with how bad they are.
Put up, or shut up, Flyers. Now is the time. It starts Friday. Can you turn it around, for our sake? Please?
We're all sick of losing. We hope you are, too.