Last Monday the Flyers started a six game road trip and it was known that it could have a profound effect on the rest of the season. There was a lot of hope when they ventured to Toronto, winners of three of their last four games and looking to keep the momentum that is so important in a lockout shortened season. That hope has since vanished and the momentum is gone. This is now a team that appears close to tearing in half while the season quickly falls apart.
Last night’s 4-1 loss to Montreal (9-4-1, 19pts) was the third loss in four games on this six game road trip, pushing the Flyers (6-9-1, 13pts) road record to 2-8 on the season. This team is now 16 games into a 48 game schedule, is 12th in the Eastern Conference and doesn’t appear any closer to figuring out the scoring woes that have plagued the team all season.
In 11 of the 16 games this season the Flyers have been unable to score more than two goals. In those games, the Flyers are 2-8-1.
Those are not great numbers for a team that is supposed to have high powered offense and is built on the youth and depth they have at forward. This is not a good sign for a team that has gaping holes on defense, due to injuries and a lack of depth at that position coming into the season.
Last night we saw a Flyers team that just wasn’t able to generate much of anything. The power play struggled, going 0-4, and not being able to generate anything at the end of the second period after two delay of game penalties by Montreal. The power play on the road has been abysmal all season, scoring on just 6 of 44 opportunities in ten games, a scoring percentage of just 13.6%.
The Flyers got down early when Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher skated into the offensive zone, stopped short and got the puck to his forehand, and took a shot around Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. The goal was weak, although the argument could be made that Timonen was screening goalie Brian Boucher, it was stop that needs to be made. The goal put the Flyers down 1-0 and that was how the first period ended. The Flyers are winless in six games this season when they trail after the first period. Although Boucher did let in a softy on the Canadiens first goal, he also made some great saves that kept his team in the game much longer than they should have been.
Montreal took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when David Deshamais banged home a rebound in front of the net, a goal that Boucher had no chance to save.
Beyond the Briere knuckler, there wasn’t much to cheer for offensively. Matt Read had some scoring opportunities in the first but seemed unable to hit the net. Tye McGinn had a few chances as well, one that was robbed by Budaj and another where McGinn flubbed the shot.
The Flyers managed just two shots in the first period. The eight shots tallied in the second period aren’t very impressive either, considering the power play time they had to work with. The team looked like they lacked heart and certainly the intensity they need at this point in the season.
This team is one with a lot of issues: a lack of depth on defense, two journeyman goaltenders battling for the back-up job, injuries to top players like Scott Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros and a total lack of offensive production from a laundry list of guys who are underperforming. There is talk as to whether a major move needs to be made to change the roster or maybe a change at the head coach or key front office positions may be in store.
In a short season, there is no time to work through scoring droughts. Answers need to come quickly and leadership is of the utmost importance. We know this team has the ability to score, although they appear to be playing more defensively to cover issues on the blue line. The Flyers have leadership, but in this town and on this team, the fans will always look to the man wearing the “C” on his chest to lead by example. The Flyers need their captain to come out like he did in game six in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. They need a fire to be lit, not by preaching, but by doing. Without that fire, this season may soon one to forget.Tags: Brian Boucher, Danny Briere, loss, Matt Read, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers