For the second time this week, the Flyers fell to the lowly Buffalo Sabres (see recap), essentially assuring that the Sabres will win at least one season series this year.
We all know of the Flyers' perpetual issues with playing against lesser teams. They've toppled teams such as Chicago and the New York Rangers with ease, yet in a three-game stretch where they've faced the Sabres and New Jersey Devils, they've mustered just one point.
Of course, the Flyers (4-4-2) had a similar issue tonight that did them no favors in Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Devils -- too many penalties. The Flyers could not stay out of the box, and it hampered their ability to generate any offense and scoring chances.
"We have to stay out of the penalty box," Michal Neuvirth, who made 33 saves on 36 shots, said. "We spent too much time killing penalties."
Although the Flyers' penalty-kill unit allowed just one goal on six opportunities, they still were not able to help the Flyers salvage any offense. The unit's been on the ice for a total of 11 opportunities in the past two games alone. Killing 76.2 percent of their opportunities, the unit ranks 25th in the NHL.
Of the six power plays that the Sabres had, four of them came in the second period. Of 20 minutes that were played, the Flyers played nearly half of them shorthanded. It showed in the shots column, as the Flyers could only put seven shots all period on Linus Ullmark.
"The second period tonight, we just spent way too much time in the box, and spent all of our energy killing our penalties off," Dave Hakstol said. "In the third our effort level and our will was good, but we didn’t get a push until the very end of the period."
The Orange and Black stepped out to a 4-2-1 record earlier in the month, and with three games against weak opponents to close out their October slate, they were poised to earn a spot towards the top of the Metro Division. Instead, the team sits at an unspectacular even record (not even, however, when you factor in the two overtime losses), and faces a daunting task ahead by continuing a five-game road trip to open their November.
Chalk it up to slow starts. Chalk it up to penalties. Chalk it up to whatever you like, but one thing is certain -- the Flyers have plenty of kinks to work out, or they will continue to regress further and further.
"We haven’t been able to get into any kind of rhythm in any one of these last couple of games, whether it’s one thing from the next," Hakstol said.