Flyers Massacred in Manhattan, 7-0
With a three game losing streak weighing heavy on their shoulders, the Philadelphia Flyers took the ice in Manhattan. For the team, it seemed that their longtime rivals the New York Rangers would help cure their woes. After all, the Flyers entered the game with a 4-0-0 record against the blueshirts. There was no cure. Philadelphia was beaten in every facet of the game on Sunday, and that’s putting it mildly. The Rangers tallied early and often in a 7-0 obliteration of the Flyers, and in the process they added more weight to the team’s burden.
For the Flyers, the problems that have plagued them in their losing streak appeared again on Sunday. Not only did the problems appear, they became nearly crystal clear. With 17 games remaining in the regular season, Philadelphia is no longer in the comfortable position that they held for so long. Instead of adding onto a lofty total in the point column, the team is left searching for solutions to problems that must be remedied by mid-April.
Through much of the season, the Flyers have boasted one of the NHL’s best defensive units, but lately that hasn’t been the case. During their four game losing streak, the team has given up 19 goals, almost five per game. Opposing forwards are getting to the net unmarked and the result is a defense that stays on their heels. In Peter Laviolette’s aggressive fore-checking system, the team should always be moving forward and that has hardly been the case recently.
Earlier in the season, whenever the defense was lackluster, the offense saved the day. However, in the last four games that has seen the Flyers allow an inordinate amount of goals, the team has only tallied six of their own. Philadelphia has had trouble sustaining pressure in the offensive zone which is largely contributed to turning over the puck.
Recently, opposing teams have simply shown more determination than the Flyers much of the time, and it’s clear while watching the team’s performances. With increased physicality, other teams simply take possession of the puck from the Flyers. As a result, the team lacks any type of continuity in the offensive zone. Without the wherewithal to win puck battles (and consequently, the ability to cycle the puck), the team has nowhere to go offensively.
One of the most telling examples of the Flyers’ inability to sustain possession is their total of only 24 shots on goal Sunday. In a game where the team was trailing throughout, the shot total should be much higher than 24 for a team with the Flyers’ talent. The team’s lack of grit recently has become all too evident in their recent struggles and when the playoffs begin, that grit will become even more necessary.
Although Sunday’s game was certainly discouraging for the Flyers and their fans, now is not the time to jump ship. Every team in every sport finds themselves in a slump at one point or another, and now the Orange and Black are stuck in one of their own. Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks notched only eight points in 11 games during a 24 day stretch in March. It is not unprecedented for a team to turn things around, but it must start with the basics. They have the opportunity to get back to those basics and get back in the win column when they welcome the Edmonton Oilers to Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.
Only time will tell if they use the opportunity to their advantage and turn their recent struggles around. The ‘Manhattan Massacre’ of Sunday certainly illustrated that the opportunity should be welcomed by the Flyers.
Also Read: Glen Miller's Rangers Perspective