Hapless Flyers Drubbed in Ottawa
Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers held a 2-1 advantage over the Ottawa Senators despite being outplayed for much of the first two periods. Then, with less than two minutes remaining in the second stanza, the Senators scored two goals and retook the lead. They continued to outplay the lethargic Flyers until the final horn sounded. After a humiliating 5-2 defeat, the Flyers have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. The Eastern Conference smells blood, and it’s leaking out of every pore.
There has been no secret that the Flyers have struggled throughout the second half of the season this year. Their play has been lackluster and the results been indicative of that. Tuesday night was the perfect illustration of their struggles and then some. After a disappointing shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday, conventional wisdom would be that the Flyers would be out to gain two points against the lowly Senators.
At this point, conventional wisdom is the one opponent that the team consistently defeats.
Philadelphia was held to five shots on goal in the first period to Ottawa’s 12. Although the team went into the first intermission tied at one with the Senators, their performance was exemplified by the shot chart, not the scoreboard.
Of course, the Flyers managed to exorcise some demons on the power play, with both goals coming from the man advantage. But, even that silver lining was destroyed by the ineptitude of the other four opportunities the Flyers had with an extra skater. Too often, drop passes and lack of offensive zone possession are the name of the power play’s game, and Tuesday’s failed attempts were no different.
Another thorn in the Flyers’ side was their penalty kill, as Ottawa scored three times in five opportunities. The lack of aggressiveness by the Orange and Black’s penalty killing unit allowed the Senators to penetrate the defense at will. When the home team found space, it made the Flyers pay.
But, the unaggressive nature of the team wasn’t exclusive to the penalty kill; in fact it was quite the opposite. The inability to kill penalties was a microcosm of the Flyers’ Tuesday night struggles. Whenever Ottawa would enter the Flyers’ defensive zone, they did so uncontested. Each entry saw the Philadelphia defense surrendering the blue line, as if to welcome the Senators attack.
When all was said and done in Scotiabank Place, Ottawa had fired 36 shots at goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. The statistic was much more reflective of the Flyers complacency and inability to clear the puck than it was of the Senators aggressiveness. The continued troubles of defensive zone lapses haunted the Flyers once again. With two games remaining in the season, it seems as though the lapses will continue to haunt the team until the season has come to its end.
That is where the frustration among Flyers fans has reached a boiling point. With the team struggling each night, there is little to no time left to wait for things to turn around. Next comes the playoffs, and the opponent may not matter anymore.
Philadelphia isn’t playing winning hockey. They didn’t play winning hockey against the Rangers. Winning hockey was left behind when the team traveled to New Jersey and lost. There was surely no indication of winning hockey in a Flyers sweater on Tuesday night.
Time is running out at attempts to find that style of hockey. The style of hockey that is aggressive,, big hitting, fast, and furious. That style of hockey is what made the Flyers so successful this season. What Philadelphia is placing on the ice these days is losing hockey. And, that brand of hockey has let their opponents gash them all over until the others realize how much blood is in the water.
Right now, there’s more than enough to go around.