When it comes to writing the obituary on the Flyers’ 2020-21 season, this miserable week against the Devils might not be in the first paragraph, but it is an example of how things have deteriorated since March 1.
The Flyers’ playoff hopes had all been dashed when it started, so these four games were going to be meaningless.
The Devils beat the Flyers again, this time pinning on them a 4-1 loss as the Flyers allowed the first goal for the 10th consecutive game. That should be impossible.
The players, 4-9-2 at home since March 1, have not quit, according to their captain.
“The guys care in [that] locker room,” Claude Giroux said. “I don’t think there’s laziness on the team. I think that when one thing goes wrong, there’s always a second and third thing. I don’t think laziness is part of this.”
The 9-0 loss to Rangers, the laughable trip to Lake Tahoe, or any mention of Carter Hart’s regression will take precedence in telling this season’s story.
But consider this: The Devils entered this unique series having lost nine in a row in regulation. What does it say about the Flyers that at no time did they ever have the lead during these four games? The one game the Flyers won came in a shootout after they had to set their pants on fire just to get the game tied in the waning minutes of regulation.
The Devils had one shot on goal in the final 15 minutes of Saturday’s first period and still led, 1-0. Jesper Bratt opened the scoring with a shot that Brian Elliott missed with his glove before clanging awkwardly off his mask and into the net.
Mackenzie Blackwood made 31 saves, and missed a shutout by less than two minutes when Joel Farabee beat him with a laser. Blackwood is a Brodeur-like 4-0-1 against the Flyers this year. He’s never lost in regulation to Philadelphia in his three seasons in the NHL (6-0-2).
Less than a minute into the second period, Janne Kuokkanen made it 2-0 by beating Elliott’s left glove hand. It was their sixth shot of the game, and came after Travis Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere nearly allowed a two-man breakaway.
The Flyers never regained balance and Jack Hughes made them pay by finding Kuokkanen for a one-timer.
The Flyers had a 22-14 shot advantage through two periods and nothing to show for it.
“In this game, you have to make the opposition pay when they make a mistake and that’s how you build momentum,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that.”
» READ MORE: Ghost in, Zamula back to the minors
Kevin Hayes was back in the lineup after a one-game benching. It was the 500th NHL game of his career, but he hasn’t scored in his last 16.
Vigneault assuredly said on Friday that the players’ hearts were still invested in the lost season despite being in a slump that is now 11-18-4 since March 1 They have allowed the first goal in 19 of their last 21.
Nico Hischier scored a shorthanded goal in the third period, the sixth the Flyers have allowed this season. Yegor Sharangovich scored with five minutes left, his fourth goal in the last three games.
The Flyers have five games remaining, beginning with a back-to-back set against Pittsburgh on Monday. Washington is on the schedule later next week. Those two are atop the East Division. If you’re looking for good news, check out some of the DeVonta Smith stories. Nothing to see here.
“We’re not winning a lot of hockey right now,” Vigneault said. “And when you’re not winning a lot of hockey, confidence is an issue and a factor.”