Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

As skid extends to seven games, Flyers struggling to play complete games

The Flyers have suffered a long losing streak this season already and the same mistakes may be haunting them again.

With their 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night, the Flyers' skid extended to seven games. Now, they haven't won a game since Dec. 29 against the Seattle Kraken.
With their 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night, the Flyers' skid extended to seven games. Now, they haven't won a game since Dec. 29 against the Seattle Kraken.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

Same score, similar issues — in their last two games, 3-2 losses to the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers, the Flyers seemed allergic to maintaining momentum.

Against the Bruins, the Flyers dug themselves out of a 2-0 deficit to tie the game on a Cam Atkinson power-play goal and a Joel Farabee backhander. But just 16 seconds after Farabee’s equalizer, a Justin Braun tripping penalty set off a chain of unfortunate events for the Flyers. Max Willman was called for a hooking penalty while on the kill, which gave way to David Pastrňák’s five-on-three game-winning goal.

“We had all the momentum,” interim head coach Mike Yeo said after the game. “That shift after a goal like that is critical. And obviously you end up putting yourself shorthanded.”

Two nights later against the Rangers, the Flyers fared better in the discipline department, but couldn’t build on defenseman Cam York’s first NHL goal that put the team up 2-1 halfway through the third period.

Following the ensuing faceoff at center ice, Travis Konecny attempted to dig the knife in further with a couple of shots on goalie Igor Shesterkin. One was blocked by defenseman Adam Fox, Shesterkin denied the other, and the Rangers recovered the puck to start a breakout. The first entry yielded nothing for the Rangers and Konecny poked the puck out of the Flyers’ end and to the neutral zone.

However, the second entry brought success for the Rangers after regrouping, as Fox set up Dylan Strome for a pass below the right dot, who found a wide-open Artemi Panarin on the weakside post. Panarin tapped the puck to Filip Chytil in the low slot, who shot the puck past goalie Carter Hart to tie the score at 2 roughly 30 seconds after York’s goal.

Then, less than three minutes later, Chris Kreider tipped in the Rangers’ game-winning goal and sealed the Flyers’ seventh straight loss.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” York said of the two quick goals. “I mean, no one wants that to happen. It’s not like we’re going out there and predicting that. ... We’ve got to play a full 60 minute game. This is a good league, and there’s good players. And if you take a shift off, they’re good enough to put it in the back of the net.”

With their sights fixated on the end goal of a win, Yeo said the team overlooks doing some of the little things that help close out hockey games.

“You start thinking about only that result, and quite often you forget about that one little thing that you have to do right at that moment,” Yeo said. “That’s where it’s not easy; it’s very challenging, when you’re dealing with the stress and the emotion of going through a losing streak like this. You have to make sure you continue to stay focused on the process and play all the way through.”

The Flyers’ inability to play consistently well isn’t just an issue limited to the moments following their game-tying or go-ahead goals. It’s an issue that permeates the team’s recent play from puck drop until the final buzzer, serving as an underlying cause for their recent woes.

In the first period, the Flyers have come out flat to start the last two games. On Thursday, the Bruins scored twice in the first period while the Flyers mustered only six shots on goal. Roughly halfway through the first period of the game on Saturday, the Rangers led the Flyers in shot attempts, 11-1, and held the 1-0 lead with a goal from Mika Zibanejad. Eleven minutes into the first period, the Flyers finally managed their first shot on goal thanks to Farabee.

“I think that for the most part, we looked like a team that was a little bit nervous,” Yeo said after the Rangers game. “I think that we had the right mindset. First shift, we come out, and then we kind of make a mistake and next thing you know, it’s coming back at us and we’re on our heels a little bit.”

The Flyers (13-17-7, fifth in the Metropolitan Division), in need of a boost of confidence, are set to face off against three teams this week with similarly drab records — the New York Islanders on Monday and Tuesday (11-13-6, eighth in the Metropolitan), the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday (17-17-1, fifth in the Metropolitan), and the Buffalo Sabres (11-19-6, sixth in the Atlantic Division).

But over the course of the last week, each of those teams has won at least one game, something the Flyers haven’t done since Dec. 29, in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Seattle Kraken. The Flyers sit 13 points plus a tiebreaker disadvantage behind the Bruins in the Eastern Conference wild-card race, and the Bruins have two games in hand.

If the Flyers have any interest in snapping their skid, they must figure out a way to put together complete games, not rely on occasional spurts of momentum to carry them through 60 minutes.