There was a thought that Thursday’s dramatic win at Pittsburgh, where the Flyers came back from a three-goal deficit, could be the springboard to a surge up the standings. But then somebody drained the water from the pool, and reality set in.
Two losses followed. The Flyers were competitive in each, a faulty line change costing them in one game, a missed assignment on a faceoff to blame for the other.
Fatigue from playing six games in nine nights had to be a factor. “All the teams are on the same schedule,” defenseman Ivan Provorov grumbled. “That can’t be an excuse.”
True dat, as the young’ns say.
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Hartnell reflects on his Sunday debut as NBCSP analyst
Scott Hartnell said Sunday night “was the closest I felt like I was playing in a long time. I woke up. Read a bunch of stuff online; you know, the news clippings. Had a big lunch. Had a little nap. Got to the rink early.”
Hartnell was the sixth overall pick in the 2000 draft. He played 17 seasons in the NHL and has done studio analyst work for the NHL Network and, this year, for NBC Sports Philadelphia, since retiring. He was a fan favorite in his seven seasons here (2007-14).
But he had never done anything like this.
Hartnell said his competitive juices were flowing as it was his first attempt at color commentary for a game. Hartnell said Monday morning that he was going to look at the tape and give himself an honest critique of his performance, which came alongside play-by-play man Jim Jackson.
“I hate listening to myself, like a lot of people in the business,” he said. “But the only way to get better is to learn from your mistakes. I wasn’t sure all the time when to come in, when not to come in. JJ made it real easy. He would ask me a question, or feed me so that I could come in [make a point] and then get out. I don’t want to be talking so long that there’s a 2-on-1 and I’m still talking about an icing from the play before.”
One thing he will notice is the habit of calling players by their first names or nicknames. “G” for Claude Giroux, “Jakey” for Jake Voracek, that kind of thing. It’s understandable given how close he remains with the core Flyers players. Scott Laughton, as a young player, lived in Hartnell’s South Jersey home in 2012-13.
Players who transition to the booth often bring the casual monikers for teammates and opponents with them. Tony Romo still uses first names for Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and many other quarterbacks. It just sounds funky.
Hartnell was critical when it was required Sunday. He pointed out that the Flyers needed to get more shots on goal from their sagging power play and that Joel Farabee was slow to react on the set play that led to the Capitals’ second goal — a backbreaker — in the waning seconds of the second period. Washington won the game, 3-1.
Hartnell, 38, prepared for the gig by soliciting advice from former teammates Jody Shelley and Brian Boucher, and shadowing Jackson and his usual partner, Keith Jones, while the two broadcasted Flyers road games last week from the Wells Fargo Center.
At this point, Hartnell just wants to be a spot starter doing color commentary, similar he said, to Bill Clement at the end of Clement’s broadcasting career. If Jones has a commitment with NBC, Hartnell can sub in.
“Now that I’m on the dark side, I definitely pay more attention,” Hartnell said. “Before, when I watched games, I was watching the play. Wasn’t really listening to Pierre McGuire’s [quick comments on NBC]. Now, my mind has changed where I’m listening to adjectives and words and [descriptions]. I’ve definitely learned a lot.”
His next chance at game analysis will be at the end of the month.
“I think I got better as the game went on,” Hartnell said. “Obviously, the second time will be a little bit easier. I’ll know what to expect. I’ll know when to come in for the [promotional] reads. It was a learning experience. Sometimes it’s good to learn on the fly.”
Things to know
Ivan Provorov doesn’t want the condensed schedule to be an excuse for the sloppy play, and neither does Flyers beat writer Sam Carchidi
Sam’s notebook includes items on the special teams and an impressive stat on Farabee.
The Flyers’ power play is struggling, but Boston and Buffalo say “hold my beer.”
Aubrey Whelan catches up with some of the lucky folks who were in the house Sunday
Legendary public address announcer Lou Nolan has been a lonely man this past year.
The Rangers (6th place in the East) will visit the Penguins (4th place) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on NBCSN. The Flyers are in fifth.
Over the recently completed six games in nine nights, Provorov played 145:23 — that’s 36 minutes longer than the movie Animal House.
Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, in the second season of an 8-year, $72 million contract, scored his first goal of the season.
The Sabres are in disarray, having lost six in a row — seven if you count a defeat in overtime. The Flyers need to get up on them early before the 3,000 fans at the WFC get cranky.
Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, is -21. Farabee went 14th in that draft.
Flyers’ next five
Tuesday: Buffalo at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Thursday: Washington at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Saturday: Washington at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Monday, March 15: Flyers at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m. (NBCSP locally, NBCSN nationally)
Wednesday, March 17: Flyers at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
From the mailbag
Reader feedback: Without any major moves in the offseason, you have almost the same roster, with a great coaching staff. They squeezed blood out of stone last year. Right now, the well is dry. They simply lack the combo of skill, size, and snarl to compete.
The Pens, Caps, and Tampa all build amazing rosters and farm teams. The Flyers did not. AFTER the Kings/Hawks run dominating four years’ worth of Cup titles, the past 4 out of 5 Cup winners were from our conference: Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Washington and Tampa.
During that time I would argue the Flyers focused on coaching while their roster is in shambles.