Five games into the postseason, including two in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Flyers’ top five scorers in the regular season -- Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and James van Riemsdyk -- have combined for zero goals.
The players on the top line (Giroux, Couturier, and Joel Farabee) were each minus-2 in Friday’s jaw-dropping 5-0 loss to Montreal, which evened the Eastern Conference quarterfinal at one win apiece.
“There’s no doubt, at any time, whether it be in-season hockey or playoff hockey, you need your top players to be driving the bus,” coach Alain Vigneault said after the defeat. “I know their intentions are good, but it has to transform on the ice. I mean, today, the total team was off. We haven’t had one of those in a long time.
“We picked a bad time to play a bad game.”
In addition, they lost Konecny to an apparent ankle injury late in the game, and his availability for Sunday’s 8 p.m. game is unknown.
The Flyers had 18 more points than the Habs in the regular season.
“I don’t think we underestimated them,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “It’s pretty clear, though, that they’re at a higher level than we are now, so we have to ramp it up here, and we’ll be better the next game.”
It was just the Flyers’ second loss in their last 15 games, dating back to the regular season. There was only one time in 2019-20 that the Flyers suffered a more lopsided loss, a 7-1 defeat to Pittsburgh on Oct. 29.
Since Nov. 1, the Flyers had the second-best record in the NHL through the end of the regular season.
Vigneault was upset with his team’s effort Friday and with the fact that interim Montreal coach Kirk Muller put his top power-play unit on the ice when he had a 5-0 lead late in the game.
“We had embarrassed ourselves enough and I don’t think we needed to get embarrassed more,” Vigneault said. “I’m going to make sure our team is very aware of that next game.”
The Flyers went 0-for-5 on the power play and just 4-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Montreal’s power play was 0-for-12 in its stunning upset of Pittsburgh in the play-in round, but it went 2-for-6 Friday and is 3-for-7 in the two playoff games against the Flyers.
The Flyers’ power play is 1-for-8 in the series.