As the Flyers took the ice on Wednesday in St. Louis, you could tell midway through the third period that they hadn't played in nearly a week. Play in their own end was dreadful, and it led to a complete disintegration in the third stanza en route to a 6-3 loss.
Their road trip continues tonight at SAP Center against an ever-competitive San Jose Sharks squad, who will make a team pay for their mistakes. The Orange and Black are winless in their last three road contests, scoring just four goals, which gives them even more of a battle to fight against a team that has lost just four games on the home 'Shark Tank' ice this season.
I, like so many other fans, anxiously await the World Junior Championships each December. For the fan of the game, and not just a team, there is not much else that could possibly be better.
Seeing the young stars of the future don the uniforms of their country and take to the ice to play for pride and the chance to be the best in the world.
This is hockey at its purest form, country and career on the line each night as the players take the ice. Fearless young gladiators, some whom are teammates back home on their junior squads, facing off as opposing nations. Others, who suit up for country, are bitter rivals on a nightly basis during the regular season.
They all put it on the line as their traditional duties are temporarily suspended for a few weeks to determine regional glory.
The end of any year always brings out a period of contemplation and reflection, and 2016 is no exception. We often think about what went right and what went wrong for us, all while looking forward to what the next year will bring.
For the Flyers, 2016 was an interesting year. It was a year that saw them make the playoffs against many odds, as well as celebrate the ever-significant 50th anniversary milestone. It provided a glimpse at the team's future, and of course, it provided more than its fair share of highs and lows.
With that said, here are the biggest Flyers figures of 2016:
Robby Fabbri snapped out of scoring slump in a big way. Fabri scored once in the first and twice in the third for his first career hat trick to spark St. Louis to a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.
Wayne Simmonds opened the scoring just 3:25 into the game. Simmonds tapped in a pass from Travis Konecny for his 17th goal of the season. Brayden Schenn picked up the other assist. Schenn made a pass to the far post to Konency who passed it back across the crease to Simmonds for the 1-0 lead.
The Philadelphia Flyers (20-12-4) return to the ice after the holiday break tonight as they take on the St. Louis Blues (18-12-5) in St. Louis. This is the first of just two meetings between the clubs this season. Opening face-off is set for 8:00 p.m.
Philadelphia will look to rebound from an absolutely dreadful performance in New Jersey last Thursday. The Flyers were blanked 4-0 by the Devils and were never really in the game.
Player to Watch
58 Taylor Leier
91 Vladimir Tarasenko
Last 5 Games: 1 G, 1 A, 2 P, -1
Last 5 Games: 2 G, 2 A, 4 P, -5
Taylor Leier will get a chance on the top line tonight replacing the injured Michael Raffl. Leier has played with speed and grit since his call up from Lehigh Valley in a third or fourth line role. Tonight will be a chance for the 22 year old to show what he can do while playing top line minutes.
What else can be said about Valdimir Tarasenko that hasn't been said already. The 25 year old is a threat to put the puck in the net everytime it is on his stick. Coach Hakstol will most likely try to get the Pierre-Edouard Bellemare line out against him as often as he can.
With that said, the Giroux line opposite Tarasenko could also favor the Flyers. Tarasenko is not exactly known for his defensive zone prowess
35 Steve Mason
40 Carter Hutton
14-10-4, 2.69 GAA, .908 SV%
2-4-2, 2.91 GAA, .893 SV%
Steve Mason figures to be back in the net for the Flyers tonight. Mason was lifted in last Thursday's loss to the Devils after allowing two goals in the first period. The Flyers netminder was reported as having some tightness in his back and was taken out most likely as a precautionary move. Mason has been nothing short of brilliant since Michal Neuvirth went down with an injury.
Carter Hutton gets the start for St. Louis. Hutton has proved to be one of the more reliable back up goalies in the NHL over the past few seasons. He filled in brilliantly for an injured Pekka Rinne back in 2013-14. He went 20-11-4 in 40 games that season for the Predators.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Scratches: Michael Raffl, Brandon Manning, Sean Couturier, Michal Neuvirth, Matt Read, Mark Streit
58 Taylor Leier
28 Claude Giroux
93 Jake Voracek
11 Travis Konecny
10 Brayden Schenn
17 Wayne Simmonds
76 Chris VandeVelde
78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
13 Roman Lyubimov
25 Nick Cousins
27 Boyd Gordon
22 Dale Weise
3 Radko Gudas
15 Michael Del Zotto
47 Andrew MacDonald
9 Ivan Provorov
53 Shayne Gostisbehere
55 Nick Schultz
35 Steve Mason
Power Play: Flyers (6th, 9th on road), Blues (7th, 18th at home)
Penalty Kill: Flyers (12th, 17th on road), Blues (2nd, 1st at home)
Recent History vs. Blues
Dec. 21, 2016 - The Flyers claimed a 4-3 victory in Philadelphia. The Blues built a 3-0 lead midway through the game before the Flyers came roaring back. They got goals from Chris Vandevelde and a pair from Wayne Simmonds to tie the game early in the third period. Evgeny Medvedev got the eventual game winner at 16:47 of the final frame. Mason made 26 saves in the win.
Dec. 10, 2015 - Claude Giroux netted a goal and two assists in a 4-2 victory in St. Louis. The game was scoreless after the first period before the Blues got on the board less than two minutes into the second. The Flyers responded with three goals before the end of the second to hold a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes. Former captain David Backes got the Blues to within one at 3-2 before Ryan White iced the game with an empty netter with just two ticks left on the clock. Neuvirth made 35 saves to pick up the victory.
Sean Couturier appears ready to return to the lineup. If he does not play tonight expect him to play Friday in San Jose.
Michal Neuvirth will make the trip with the team but is not expected to dress in any of the three games.
The Flyers make their return to the ice on Wednesday night out of a six-day break for the holidays. They do so with the memory of their last game still certainly fresh.
A 4-0 loss in New Jersey was a rough way to end an excellent start to the month of December that had stretch through the midpoint. As the Flyers embark on a three-game road trip, starting Wednesday in St. Louis, getting back to the level of play they had to start December is a focus for GM Ron Hextall.
Day 2 of the World Junior Championships was a much lighter night for the Flyers prospects in the tournament. For one, all three goalies were not in action with USA and Sweden off, Slovakia playing starter Adam Huska and Canada opting to start backup Connor Ingram over Carter Hart.
That left four players in action during the four games on Tuesday. One of the Flyers Russian prospects was the standout this time around, and it wasn't their 2016 first-round pick.