I’m not sure what has happened to the Flyer’s defense and goaltending this year, but the struggle we are witnessing right now is quite worrying.
After losing the rubber match to the New York Islanders in a game Philly should have won, they dug themselves a 4-1 hole last night against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers then had one of their classic third period revivals, led by two goals scored by Sean Couturier to cut the score to 4-3. It would not be a classic Flyers third period without coming up just short, and the game ended 4-3 Devils.
Nice pass from Travis Konecny here, at least:
This is a New Jersey team that has now won four of their last five games. The orange and black on the other hand, have won three out of their last ten games. It is really frustrating when you see how many games the defense (and more recently the goaltending) has forced the team to fight their way back into games, especially when you see how close the Flyers have made these contests lately.
On the Devil’s first goal, Phil Myers is covering the opposing player on the boards right at our blue line. This gave defenseman Ty Smith a wide-open lane to skate into, creating a dangerous 2-on-1 scenario for Carter Hart to deal with. I am not sure if there was some miscommunication or just a bad read by Myers, but this kind of play for New Jersey was just too easy.
The Devils then made the game 2-0 with five seconds left in the first period on a goal that is just flat out brutal. It is a goal that consistently good teams just do not allow to happen, and those goals right before the period ends are absolute killers. Shayne Gostisbehere attempts to clear the puck on the penalty kill, and then chaos ensues when it is deflected in the air.
Kevin Hayes grabs the puck out of midair and then basically drops the puck right onto the tape of the Devils player, unbelievably unfortunate.
The third goal for our rivals was a prime example of our poor defensive coverage. Erik Gustafsson is on the boards to give Myers an option, Myers tries to throw the puck around the boards to him, but it is blocked.
Now is when Gustafsson should be hustling to get to the front of the net in case there is a turnover. However, instead he sort of lazily skates to the front to cover the insanely wide-open Yegor Sharangovich who one-times a shot past Hart. That kind of effort is simply unacceptable and is also a play that will not endear you to Flyers fans, that is for sure.
I will say it again, these are the kinds of goals you just do not see teams like the Capitals or Islanders conceding. These are the kinds of goals that will land you outside of the playoffs when the season ends. I know that GM Chuck Fletcher has a lot to consider with the expansion draft looming, but this team needs a bonafide top pair defenseman.
Luckily, Philly is still only two points behind the Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. If Boston was not also having some consistency struggles, this season could look way darker than it does right now. This team can still make things interesting if it can start to win more hockey games, first place is only ten points away.
Tomorrow, the Flyers face the New York Rangers once again *queue sarcastic hooray*. Philly will hope to limit the Rangers chances after allowing a whopping 14 goals in the previous two game set between these two rivals.
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