Thirty-nine hours after the Flyers held a players-only meeting in the visitors' locker room at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, Steve Mason led the team onto the Wells Fargo Center ice to applause.
The Flyers were reeling, six losses in seven games leaving them a point behind where they stood through 21 games last season. The next 60 minutes of ice time would be their last at home for almost 2 weeks. And the road has not been kind to this Flyers team.
But even in the friendly confines of their South Philly arena, the Flyers were outplayed once again. They put on another lousy display in a 3-0 Black Friday loss to the Rangers, boos raining down as the final horn sounded.
"We're playing like crap so they deserve to boo us," Wayne Simmonds said. "We deserve to get booed."
This is the second consecutive season in which the Flyers (8-11-3) have lost seven times in an eight-game stretch. As you may recall, it's how they opened last season, when Craig Berube replaced Peter Laviolette just three games into the year. Through 22 games of the 2013-14 campaign, the Flyers were 10-10-2.
These same teams cap their home-and-home series today at 1 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. The rival Rangers (10-8-4), who eliminated the Flyers from the playoffs in the first round in April, have won both meetings thus far in the season. Cam Talbot, the back-up to Henrik Lundqvist, has tended goal for New York in both, his only two wins in six starts.
"We're definitely in a rut here," said Mason, who saved 21 of 24 New York shots. "There's still lots of time to make up room, but you can't let this keep sliding like this. It's unacceptable. It's embarrassing and we have to get going on a roll here."
The Flyers fell to 3-11-2 this season in games in which their opponent scores first. The Rangers took advantage of an early Zac Rinaldo roughing penalty in the first period, Dan Boyle firing a slap shot from the point past Mason for the game's first goal.
Martin St. Louis gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead early in the second period, cleaning up a rebound off Mason's pads. St. Louis' ninth goal of the season doubled as his 1,000th point, 61 of which have come in 48 career games against the Flyers. He and Derek Stepan assisted on Boyle's goal.
The Flyers' futility reached a new level in the third period. New York's Chris Kreider was sent to the box with a four-minute major for a high stick to the face of Sean Couturier. Less than a minute later, Rick Nash scored a short-handed goal on a 3-on-1 breakaway to extend the margin to three.
Philadelphia's power play was anemic in six opportunities with a man advantage. It contributed to the fourth game this season in which the Flyers were shutout, the second this week. They have yet to score against the Rangers in six periods.
"I think the first period was all right and it seems like we came apart after that," general manager Ron Hextall said. "I think our frustration level right now is high and we've got to find a way to flush that out. You can play with emotion, and I actually thought we had some emotion tonight, but it's got to be controlled emotion or it doesn't do you any good."
Hextall noted he's "not happy at this point" and reiterated what he said the day prior, that the Flyers have been plagued by a lack of consistency over the full 60 minutes of a game. That being said, he said he doesn't envision any big trades on the way. He said Thursday he wouldn't "make a trade for the sake of making a trade."
"We're going to make moves that we think are going to benefit the organization long-term," he reiterated yesterday. "There are no short-term fixes here. I will say this: This is a better team than we're playing right now and this is a better team than our record's showing. In saying that, we've got to get going here."
The Flyers sent Jason Akeson down to the Phantoms before yesterday's game. Akeson averaged 7 minutes, 36 seconds of ice time over 12 games but had been a healthy scratch the previous five games. … Defenseman Luke Schenn was a healthy scratch yesterday for the second consecutive game. … Rookie center Scott Laughton played a season-high 17 minutes. … Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, sidelined since Nov. 1 with a separated shoulder, returned to action yesterday. … Cam Talbot is the first goalie shut out the Flyers twice in 10 days or less since the 2007-08 season (Steve Valiquette), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … The Flyers held a moment of silence before the game to honor the memory of former coach Pat Quinn, who died Sunday night in Vancouver of a lengthy illness.