Flyers Hit Rock Bottom In New Jersey

Patrik Elias scores past Ilya Bryzgalov in the New Jersey Devils victory over the Flyers Wednesday night.The Flyers disappointing season finally hit rock bottom Wednesday in New Jersey after an abysmal 5-2 loss to the division rival Devils. What was being billed by players and fans and me as a must win game turned into a 60 minute example of everything that has gone wrong in the lockout shortened season. Turnovers, bad line changes, getting beaten at even strength, all have been plaguing this team from day one and those same issues killed them at the Prudential Center.

New Jersey started the scoring in the first after an Andrej Meszaros turnover led to an easy goal for Patrik Elias. Meszaros had a bad game and really hasn’t played well since returning from injury.

The Flyers tied the game, albeit briefly, when Jakub Voracek buried a nice Wayne Simmonds feed on the power play for his 13th goal of the season. The game fell apart soon after the Voracek goal.

Less than a minute after the Voracek goal, Adam Henrique was credited with a goal on a shot that actually hit Matt Read in front of the net and deflected in the goal past Ilya Bryzgalov. Read later missed an opportunity to pinch the puck in the zone on the power play that led to an  Ilya Kovalchuk shorthanded breakaway goal and gave the Devils a 3-1 lead after one period.

The game felt like it ended on the bad bounce past Read and the shorthanded goal for New Jersey. The first period was filled with missed opportunities, bad bounces and odd man rushes for the Devils. It felt like the Flyers were constantly defending  2-1 or 3-1 breakaways for the Devils.

The Flyers were shorthanded on the blue line when defenseman Luke Schenn was scratched from the line-up due to the flu. Kurtis Foster struggled in Schenn’s place and defenseman Braydon Coburn and Bruno Gervais also played poorly.

The amazing disappearing act of Danny Briere continued last night. Put on a line with Simon Gagne and struggling youngster Sean Couturier, Briere was a -3 on the night with just 10:34 of ice time. It is alarming how much of a non-factor he has become in regular season play. It may literally be playoff games only that get Briere’s mojo going because this team has been playing one big game after another the last two weeks and he has vanished.

Brayden Schenn is another player that may start showing up on the back of milk cartons in the greater Philadelphia area. Schenn, in his last five games, is a -7 with no points. That is zero production in what has been the most important five games of the season.

Ilya Bryzgalov will take a lot of heat because of the box score, but he really didn’t have a chance last night on any of the goals scored against him. What can be said about Bryz is that he will rarely bail this team out when they need it. I cannot see any scenario that has Bryzgalov on this team beyond this season.

The Flyers third period goal was their first at even strength in almost a week, with the Kimmo Timonen scorcher on Marc-Andre Fleury being the last. It was over eleven periods of hockey! This team has been beaten all season long when playing at even strength hockey.

The Flyers (12-15-1, 25 points) are still in a tie for 11th in the conference but still have games in hand on everyone and face a huge challenge in getting back into the any sort of race in the east.

To be honest, last night this team didn’t even look close to being a playoff contender. They are disorganized, undisciplined and ill-prepared for the challenges that they are facing. There is a lot of young talent and upside on this team but there are also major issues that need to be resolved before the Flyer can be considered among the elite teams in the league. Time will tell if any changes are made in season or management may just wait, ride out the next few months and reboot over the summer. Patience has never been Ed Snider’s style and I truly don’t expect it to start now.

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Joshua Herb

Josh was born, raised and still resides in Central PA. He is a die hard Philly sports fan. He can be followed on Twitter @joshua_herb.