The Philadelphia Flyers finished up a three game road trip on Tuesday night in Long Island and needed two points in regulation to keep their very slim playoff hopes alive. Coming off a loss in Winnipeg in which the team scored first and then gave up four unanswered goals in a 4-1 loss, the Flyers rebounded by scoring first and then giving up four unanswered goals in a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Ladies and gentlemen, this has been your 2013 Flyers.
The Flyers (17-19-3, 37 pts) are now surely out of the playoff race after the loss to the Islanders and have fallen to 5-14-1 on the road this season. In a game where they needed a consistent effort, the Flyers got a big start that was followed by undisciplined play and an ending that was fitting to the lockout Flyers we have been exposed to for the last three months.
The scoring started in the first period on a beautiful stretch pass from Claude Giroux to bust out Jakub Voracek, who deposited a shot in the five-hole of Evgeni Nabokov who was then pushed into the net by his own player, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders got on the board at 15:36 of the first when Matt Moulson scored on a feed from Brad Boyes to tie the game at 1-1 with a shot that may have deflected off the stick off Flyers defenseman Bruno Gervais.
The game was tied until late into the second period when Michael Grabner beat Flyers goalie Steve Mason over the glove hand to give the Isles a 2-1 lead. The thank you cards from Islander’s fans for the second goal can be addressed the Brothers Schenn. The Flyers had been stuck in their own zone for what seemed like days and had to ice the puck, prompting Coach Peter Laviolette to call a timeout to give his players a break. Following the timeout, the Flyers gained possession of the puck and Brayden Schenn carried the puck into the offensive zone and instead of dumping and completing a line change, tried to make a play on the boards and turned the puck over. The Islanders got a rush off the turnover and Luke Schenn, stuck in a one-on-one with Grabner, dropped to his knees to half-heartedly attempt to block the shot, which he did not, and screened the Mason in the process.
The second goal was not only born from an inexcusable play that shows a lack of discipline that has plagued this team all season but also came at the end of the second period. The Flyers are a putrid 2-12 when trailing after two and have had a lot of trouble finishing games this season.
The third played out as we all thought it would, as it has all season long, with the Islanders looking like a team that wanted the win and the Flyers looking like a team that will use their postgame press conferences to talk about how poorly they played, how good they can be and how they need to play better.
The nail in the coffin came at 18:23 of the third period when Erik Gustafsson dove to break up a play trailing behind an odd man rush for the Islanders. When Gus dove he knocked the rebound of an Isles shot past Mason, putting the Flyers in a 3-1 hole and effectively ending the game.
The Flyers again struggled to put any sort of consistent effort together in what was their biggest game of the year. The chances of this team making the playoffs were very slim and if that is as good as they can play in that big of a moment, it may be better they are not making the playoffs. Nobody likes to see extra hockey more than me, but I am not sure how much more of this I can watch.The team has not gotten better and anytime they do put a few games together, which has been rare, they erase any gains by playing equally poor in the follow-up effort.
Laviolette decided to start Mason last night in goal in place of Ilya Bryzgalov, which is most likely the start of the end of the Bryzgalov era in Philly. While the season cannot be blamed on Bryz, because the team issues go beyond the goalie, his uneven play and nonchalant attitude about not starting show exactly why the nine year contract he has is about five years too long.
Mason was okay last night and did have a nice save on a break away goal that most assuredly would have beaten Bryz. It appears the Flyers may be getting in Mason what they already have in Bryz, but at a much more cap friendly price.
The Flyers are 12th in the conference and five points out of the last playoff spot with nine games to go, which means several small miracles would need to happen for the team to get into the playoffs or to get even close at this point. Again, even if they did make the playoffs, I don’t know one person who thinks they could do anything but get rolled in the first round. It is time to look to the future and find out how to fix the problems that have plagued this team all season long.Tags: Brayden Schenn, Bruno Gervais, Claude Giroux, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jakub Voracek, loss, Luke Schenn, New York Islanders, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Steve Mason