There are a number of adjectives that I would choose to describe the Flyers performance tonight. Of the few I can actually say here, unmotivated and lazy come to mind. Just use a thesaurus look up homonyms of those two words, and that should cover it. As many of you know I have been saying this for weeks. The Flyers have been playing more and more lackluster as we go deeper into the season. This is an extremely alarming trend. So much so that their own GM has called them out.
If that is not a wake up call I don’t know what is. The best player on the ice tonight was none other than Nikolay Zherdev. He received his call gents, when are you going to get yours? Or maybe it will be too late like Washington last year. Before I get too far off track, there was a game to cover.
The first period started out as you would expect a game involving a first place and last place team. The first place Flyers carried the play out shooting the Senators 15-3. Yet again the Flyers lacked the ability to finish and only led 1-0 after one. The game was seriously lacking emotion or anything for that matter until late in the first when, guess who, Claude Giroux made a nice play to set up a goal.
The play started with defenseman Andrej Meszaros pinching off Jason Spezza deep in the Flyers’ zone. He chipped the puck to a swirling Giroux and he darted quickly out of the zone. Weaving his way through the neutral zone, Claude put the perfect touch on a pass off the boards to Hartnell. Hartnell did the rest streaking in and ripping a snap shot past Anderson just inside the post glove side. The standout star of the first period had to be Anderson who stopped 14 of the Flyers 15 shots on goal.
The second began much like the first and lacked any emotion or fire like the past Senators and Flyers games. But very soon the Senators started to carry the play in the period. This was something the Flyers are not used to as they have outscored opponents by 31 goals in the second stanza. That total would dwindle to 29 by the end of this particular second period.
As often happens when you let a lowly opponent hang around, the Senators began to gain confidence early in the second. On their first power play of the game (don’t forget the Flyers had already failed to capitalize on 4 previous chances with the man advantage) the Senators capitalized as Nick Foligno potted one past Boucher. After some hard work Foligno emerged from the corner with the disc and sent a water bottle knocker short side past the Flyers net minder.
Shortly after Foligno tallied, Erik Condra scored his first NHL goal on a beautiful one timer from the right circle. Shannon used his speed to gain some space behind the net and wired a gorgeous pass to Condra who beat Boucher to make it 2-1. The second ended very uneventfully with the score 2-1 and the Senators on top.
Starting the third you would expect a charge from a team that is far superior skill wise. Not tonight boys and girls. The Flyers continued their not so stellar play into the third period.
Midway through the third Chris Phillips (the current and possibly soon to be former Senator) scored his first of the year on a blue line slap shot that beat Boucher. To Brian’s defense the shot was tipped and changed direction, however they all count, and that made it 3-1.
Nearly to the end of the third, Condra scored his second career NHL goal. Karlsson, Ottawa’s all star, got the assist. The game concluded with the Senators topping the Flyers 4-1.
The style of play the Flyers brought tonight is a great cause for concern. Some say it is a switch you can flip come playoff time. I tend to disagree with this theory. I reference you to the Flyers just last year for an example. They were a team fighting for their very lives for the last month or so of the season. They carried that momentum all the way to the SCF and almost the promise land.
The exact opposite was true for the Capitals as they had first place all but wrapped up for a long time. They got outworked and outlasted by a Montreal team who scrapped just to get in the playoffs.
You can’t just “flip a switch” once the playoffs come. You need to establish good habits now in the regular season. Am I worried? Honestly, a little bit. Do I think the Flyers have the coaching staff and team to get the job done? Absolutely. I just hope this team, that we all have very high expectations for, can heed the warning signs and turn it around before it’s too late.
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On another note tonight was Do It For Daron night in Ottawa. Many of you remember Luke Richardson, a member of the orange and black from 1997-2002. His daughter, Daron, took her own life in November of last year. They put together the DIFD night to raise awareness of teen mental health problems. All of our condolences go out to the Richardson family. Luke was a class act on and off the ice and we should do anything we can to help a former Flyer with his mission. To help out or read more, check it out here.