Hey Flyers, where are the anger and passion?
Let's pretend for the moment that the Flyers are a TV show. If so, they have gone from This Is Us to Two Broke Girls.
Let's pretend for the moment that the Flyers are a TV show. If so, they have gone from
This Is Us
Two Broke Girls.
From a promising, strongly rated show to one that needs major repairs.
This happens over time in TV land. Shows grow stale. Ratings tumble.
But what makes the Flyers' situation so rare is that it has been weeks, not years, for the fall to take place.
On Dec. 14, they had a 10-game winning streak and were the NHL's hottest team. They were This Is Us in the ratings.
Since then, they have lost 11 of 14, and their playoff chances are diminishing by the day.
They repeatedly say the problem is simple: They haven't been playing a full 60 minutes, that they take a period off.
But then they go out and, well, take a period off, such as the embarrassing third stanza in their 5-0 loss Sunday in Washington.
They say if they play a full 60, they will get back to their form from a month ago. Back then, they could do no wrong; they were proud of their streak and didn't want it to end. They played hard every shift, knowing the streak was on the line, knowing it had made them the talk of the hockey world and had given them an identity.
Four weeks later, the Flyers' identity may turn into this: They could become the first team in NHL history to miss the playoffs after a regular season in which they had a 10-game winning streak.
This team needs its leaders to show up, on and off the ice. It needs someone to call them out.
Quite frankly, that hasn't been happening.
After allowing four third-period goals in a five-minute span during the D.C. meltdown, the Flyers should have been a furious team.
Yet, in the locker room after the game, the players spoke in soft, measured tones. Where was the anger?
Someone needs to take charge during this make-or-break part of their season.
Captain Claude Giroux did address the team after Sunday's loss. Hopefully, there was some emotion shown at that meeting because I didn't see much in the locker room when the media was allowed to enter.
The Flyers need to play with some anger on the ice, too. There is no passion, no urgency, no hunger on many of their shifts.
General manager Ron Hextall hinted that if things don't improve after they return Saturday from their bye week, changes are coming.
The Flyers are rightfully on notice. Sam Morin, Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier, Greg Carey and Colin McDonald figure to be on speed dial in Lehigh Valley.
Defense has been the Flyers' biggest weakness. They lead the league in goals allowed (148) and lack snarl on the blue line. Morin, at 6-foot-7, 227 pounds, could provide some much-needed physicality on the back end.
Hextall is also exploring the trade market. Colorado's Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog would fit in nicely. But with little cap space, that probably won't become a reality.
Most importantly, the Flyers need Giroux to step to the plate. He was one of the main reasons for the 10-game winning streak, collecting five goals, 12 points and a plus-10 rating in that stretch.
Giroux has no goals in the last 11 games and just one tally in the last 17 games. Inexplicably, he is minus-15 in the last 15 games.
The captain isn't the only reason for The Great Skid, of course. Fact is, everybody has gone bad at once: the forwards, defensemen and goalies. There is plenty of blame to go around.
Coach Dave Hakstol contributed by overplaying goalie Steve Mason and not trusting promising Anthony Stolarz when he was with the team. And it hasn't helped that Ron Hextall's offseason signings (Dale Weise, Boyd Gordon) have been busts.
During their 10-game winning streak, the Flyers outscored their opponents, 36-22. They have been outscored, 51-27, during their 14-game free fall.
This team isn't as good as it looked when it was winning and not as bad as it has appeared during its collapse.
The Flyers are what they are. A team that has to play at its best just to earn a playoff spot, a team that isn't a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, which should make Hextall a seller around the March 1 trade deadline.
With a promising group of prospects getting closer to the NHL and more cap space available in the offseason, the Flyers will have a chance to get marginally better next season.
For now, they need to start playing with the passion that the late Ed Snider showed - oh, how he would be throwing tantrums if he was around to watch what has transpired - during his days as the club's chairman.
If not, their 50th anniversary season will be one to forget.