FFR2 Gm 48: MTL 4, PHI 1 - Kov On
That's all it took for the Philadelphia Flyers to fall out of Thursday night's game against the flailing Montreal Canadiens. Two goals in that span took the Flyers from tied 1-1 to trailing 3-1 in an eventual 4-1 defeat. Less than 24 hours after beating the best team in the NHL, the Flyers lose to a team that had lost eight of their previous ten, and fall out of a playoff spot. Again.
We're forty-eight games into this season now. That's a large enough sample size to have an idea about what this team is all about. And unfortunately, it seems like nothing has changed with this team. They are still mediocrity defined, with all of the negative stereotypes, headlined by playing down to inferior, still rearing their ugly head far too frequently.
Oh, I know that they've been much better against bad teams than good ones - the numbers say that. But how do you explain beating the three best teams in the NHL and then laying an absolute egg against one of the most struggling teams in the league? Don't give me the second half of a back-to-back excuse - the Canadiens played yesterday, too, and lost by three goals to the also bad Chicago Blackhawks! The same Blackhawks the Flyers beat twice this season!
These are the kinds of games you desperately need to win if you are a bubble team like the Flyers are. That's all the Flyers have been for the last SEVEN seasons! We're on the fourth cycle of being two years away from being two years away and we STILL haven't made even the slightest little bit of progress in the standings. The numbers don't lie.
Oh, but what about the injuries? Tough luck. Every team has to deal with them. The Penguins have literally suffered the second coming of the plague this season and they're second in the Metro! Braden Holtby has been a sub .900 save percentage goalie for the Capitals this year, and they're first in the Metro! The Islanders literally only have two players who can score goals, and they had a sixteen game point streak and are in a divisional spot too! The Hurricanes starting goalie is Petr "I physically can't move to my right" Mrazek! The Blue Jackets lost THREE All Stars over the summer! Their starting goalie is hurt too and you don't see them dramatically underachieving! How are the Flyers better than NONE of these teams right now?
We heard so much about the process under Ron Hextall, how he was going to stock the Flyers with legions of prospects that would combine with Giroux and Voracek to form the second coming of the mid-80's Oilers, giving the Flyers more star power than space and more depth than the Grand Canyon. And here we are with G on a 56-point pace, JVR not scoring in his last 12 games, and we've still got Michael Raffl somehow playing in the top blanking six.
It's time to face the music. This team is mediocre. They'll always be mediocre, even though they always take the craziest and most dramatic way to get there. All of those massive winning streaks and frustrating losing skids average out into the definition of a fringe playoff team. Maybe they'll make it. I sure hope they will, because you never know what can happen if they do. But who knows if they'll be playing past early April?
They keep telling us things will be different. That this team is made of something different. That all of the changes that were made will spark this team into something special. And yet every time that spark flares up, it fades away just as quickly. I believe they are capable of being better, but I also don't believe that they will ever reach that next level with the group they currently have. After all, they've had the chance to do so for the last seven years. Why would anything be different now?
One day the Flyers will be great again. They will be the cream of the crop of the NHL, beating nearly all of the meek teams that dare to challenge them. The Wells Fargo Center will be packed with 20,000 screaming fans on a nightly basis. The Flyers will dominate, and finally end their long, ongoing Stanley Cup drought, bringing their fans the championship they rightfully deserve.
But that day won't be today. And I don't know if it will be anytime soon. It's not the end of the world that the answer to the Flyers new slogan isn't now. I just hope it's not never.
The lone bright spot on the scoresheet was a late 1st period tally by Joel Farabee, giving the Flyers a rare 1-0 lead. It was a monkey of the back goal for Farabee, his first since Dec. 3, and his first into a tended net since Nov. 5.
What was unforgivable is that despite Farabee's goal coming with just 1:13 remaining in the 1st, the Habs tied it up before the end of the frame. Tomas Tatar buried a wide-open backhand-forehand chance - another goal against for the Sanheim-Myers pairing.
The counting numbers won't be stellar, but Alex Lyon was far from the reason the Flyers lost this game. He was solid in between the pipes, and although he wasn't perfect from a technical standpoint and looked a little frenetic at times, Lyon did his job and then some. Can't ask for anymore than that from a spot start.
Carey Price just straight up out-dueled him at the other end. It's been a trying season for Price, but after a shutout in his last start, he might be getting back on track. The Flyers just weren't able to take away his eyes enough or create enough chaos at the front of the net to beat him - except on the Farabee goal, which came as a result of a net-mouth scramble.
The Flyers PP went 0-4 tonight, failing to make a positive impact in a game the Flyers desperately needed it to. Montreal's PK has been great as of late, killing off 22 of their last 24 attempts. At least Claude Giroux actually went to the left side of the ice a couple times! Progress!
Despite leading all players with EIGHT shots on goal, James van Riemsdyk failed to light the lamp for the twelfth straight game. Go figure.
1st - Carey Price (MTL) - .976 SV%
2nd - Ilya Kovalchuk (MTL) - 2 Goals (6, 7)
3rd - Philip Danault (MTL) - 3 Assists (21, 22, 23)
MTL - 1/18 vs. VGK (24-19-6, L4)
PHI - 1/18 vs. LA (18-26-5, L1)