Because of the blizzard conditions, more than half of the Flyers' fans didn't show up for yesterday's matinee against the New York Rangers at the Wachovia Center.
After the first 5 minutes and 16 seconds, new Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was probably wondering if his team had also decided to stay home.
That's how long it took Lt. Laviolette to burn his time-out and lash expletives at his sleepwalking players.
They had just allowed a goal, been outshot by 6-1, and had shown as much energy as department-store mannequins.
The Flyers woke up for a while and had numerous chances but couldn't get enough shots past acrobatic goalie Henrik Lundqvist in a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
Afterward, Laviolette, whose punchless team is 2-6-1 since he replaced the fired John Stevens, roasted his players.
"It was a poor start. There's no excuse for it. I can't think of one reason why we would come out flat, and we did," Laviolette said in a measured, angry tone. "And we needed a time-out to try to refocus. I would have thought we would have ripped the hinges off the gate tonight to get out on the ice. We were so far from that, in my opinion, to start the game, and we got what we deserved. We're outshot, 6-1, we turn the puck over [Claude Giroux was guilty], and it's in the back of the net."
The Flyers have lost 13 of their last 16 games.
"This is about the Philadelphia Flyers playing a brand of hockey that you can be proud of, and I don't know how anyone can possibly be proud after the first two periods," Laviolette said. "It's completely unacceptable."
Asked how he planned to turn things around, Laviolette said: "We will continue to work, and work and work. End of story."
There is a holiday trading freeze that runs through next Sunday. If the Flyers continue to stumble, general manager Paul Holmgren could break up the team's chemistry with a deal or two.
Firing the coach didn't work, so Holmgren may go to Plan B.
After the early Rangers domination forced Laviolette to call his time-out, the Flyers outshot the visitors by 36-18. Overall, the Flyers had a 37-24 advantage in shots.
Lundqvist was brilliant. He made 36 saves - none better than one on a James van Riemsdyk backhander on a juicy rebound with 11:57 left.
The Flyers had a 16-5 shots domination in the final period, but Lundqvist was at his best.
"Hank did a great job," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said, referring to Lundqvist, "and the defense did a good job of taking guys out in front of the net."
With the score tied at 1-1, Artem Anisimov backhanded a shot from the left circle that caromed off defenseman Ryan Parent's right shin pad and past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher with 15:14 left in the second period.
Earlier, the Rangers' Chris Drury and Chris Pronger (power play) exchanged first-period goals.
The loss ruined the return of Simon Gagne, who contributed an assist and played well in 20:16. Gagne had missed nearly two months after undergoing hernia and abdominal surgery.
"I think we're a team that's not very confident right now," Gagne said. "You can tell on the ice. Watching on TV it's different. It's easy to look at a game and say you should do this or should do that. But when you get into the game, you know what the guys are going through. It's a hard game. Everybody wants to win. The Rangers were a team looking for those two points, too."
"If we maybe win one or two games, the confidence will come back," he said.
Danny Briere said he had never seen a team go into such a prolonged scoring slump in his 13-year career. In their last nine losses, the Flyers have just eight goals, and they have scored only 15 even-strength goals in their last 15 games.
"Our start wasn't very good - the first five to seven minutes - but after that, I thought we outskated them," Briere said. "But once again, the same problems we've been having for the last month - scoring goals. Scoring one a game, two a game is not good enough with the team we have."