SAN JOSE, Calif. - Flyers cofounder Ed Snider is miffed by his team's lack of secondary scoring.
"Never seen anything like it in all the years I've been in hockey," Snider said in a telephone interview from his Montecito, Calif., home on Monday afternoon. "Even when we were an expansion team" in 1967-68, "somebody chipped in here and there."
In their last nine games, the Flyers have gotten just two goals from forwards who were not on their first line.
The lack of secondary scoring helps explain why they are in a 1-7-1 slump and have fallen to sixth place in the eight-team Metropolitan Division.
"We're gripping our sticks too tight," said winger Wayne Simmonds, who has just one goal in his last nine games.
The highly productive top line - Claude Giroux centering Jake Voracek and Brayden Schenn - needs help if the Flyers are going to make up ground in the Metro race. They start a three-game West Coast trip by facing scuffling San Jose on Tuesday night.
"It's not going to be an easy fix if we can't get more production out of our players. You can't be a one-line team and win in this league," said Snider, who plans to attend Saturday's game in Los Angeles and says he is hopeful the West Coast trip turns things around.
Snider said the Flyers miss the presence of veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, "but basically it's a similar team as last year, and it's very hard for me to understand what's going on. It's the coach's job to fix it, and the GM's job to do whatever he can to help the coach."
Because of many huge contracts handed out by his predecessor, Paul Holmgren, new GM Ron Hextall inherited a club that was already over the $69 million salary cap when free agency started last July. Teams can go 10 percent over the cap in the summer.
"All teams are having cap problems. We'll find a way to work around it," said Snider, whose team finished 42-30-10 last season. "In the meantime, that's not the issue. The issue is that we have pretty much the same team as last year, and we're not performing. We're hoping they can turn it around. We have two of the best forwards in the league, but two players can't turn around a team. What's going on with everybody else? What's going on with [Sean] Couturier, [Matt] Read, Simmonds, and the other guys? They should be chipping in with some goals. It's weird. I'm not going to give up on those guys. Even [Vinny] Lecavalier got 20 goals last year. What happened?"
Voracek entered Monday second in the league with 32 points, while Giroux was sixth with 27 points.
"When you have two players like that, you really just need your second and third lines to chip in periodically to help them out, and that's not happening," Snider said.
Snider said the Flyers can be a playoff team if the other lines wake up. "Guys can't go the whole year without scoring," he said. "That would be the most shocking thing I've ever seen."
Asked to evaluate coach Craig Berube, Snider said "that's not my job, but I just know he did a very good job last year and he's the same guy. It's not that the team isn't playing a good system, it's just a lack of scoring, and Berube can't go out and score for those guys."
If the Flyers don't regroup soon, is it time to go into a rebuilding mode?
"It's premature to even discuss that," Snider said. "We have to know what we have and what we don't have. I haven't given up on this year. We're not the first team to go through a bad situation for a period of time. There's three-quarters of the season left, so ask me that in a couple months."