Even with a four-day break, there was some excitement and enjoyment in the air with Wayne Simmonds MVP performance at the All-Star Game.
All of the good vibes of Simmonds’ All-Star heroics and a three-game winning streak entering the break vanished quickly in what is quite possibly the Flyers ugliest performance of the season.
The Carolina Hurricanes, like any team in the East certainly not out of the picture yet, were a motivated bunch riding a five-game losing streak and it showed in their 5-1 romp over the Flyers.
Here are 10 Postgame Points from Flyers-Hurricanes.
- Talk about a complete lack of effort and energy from the Flyers. This was team-wide. They didn’t skate. They didn’t win battles along the boards and in the key areas. They couldn’t connect on passes. They turned the puck over. This game was a disaster from start to finish. Remember the three games before the Flyers three-game winning streak? Remember Boston, Washington and New Jersey? Yeah, this one falls into that category.
- There is one differing factor in this game than in the other three mentioned above. At least the Flyers had their chances in those games. The Flyers arguably were the better team in the first period against Boston before the second when things unraveled. After two periods in Washington, the Flyers were down 1-0 and very much in the game. Against New Jersey, again it was an even game before a penalty changed things, shifted the momentum and the Devils opened up a two-goal lead with two late goals in the second. But in those games, at least the Flyers had shots. To finish a game with just six shots is unacceptable for any NHL team. Even worse, the Flyers had 37 shot attempts in the game. The Hurricanes had 28 shots on goal. At a time, the Hurricanes had a 5-0 lead on the scoreboard while the Flyers still had six shots on goal.
- Sebastian Aho had a night. His first career hat trick, increasing his season total to 15. His first two goals were both the result of bad turnovers. First, Travis Konecny tried to make a quick drop pass instead of control the puck and carry further to exit the zone. Carolina intercepted, Aho sped through the Flyers defense and put a move on Steve Mason to score.
- The second goal for Aho was the result of another turnover. This time, Claude Giroux tried to glove down a clearing attempt and as he placed it on the ice, couldn’t control to bring it out of the zone. Carolina again took the puck away and used a mini three-on-two to take advantage again.
- Dave Hakstol certainly sent a message on a late power play in the game for the Flyers. The fourth-line, which did have the most energy when they could get on the ice, was rewarded, as Hakstol said, but that sure sent a message to the top players on this team that their play was severely lacking.
- I think Hakstol also deserves a lot of credit for his own accountability after the game. He didn’t mince words about the team’s play, but fully acknowledged that if that was the result and that was the level of play and energy on display, then he did not have them ready to play either. Hakstol generally pulls out a lot of positives from games that generally don’t deserve it. Not this time.
- The Flyers power play did get a goal on their five opportunities, Brayden Schenn’s 100th career goal, albeit at a time when the change in scoring meant very little. As for the other four power plays, like the rest of the Flyers play, there were few positives to that. Carolina does have the top penalty kill percentage in the league, so give them credit for their play while shorthanded.
- This goes back to the turnovers that led to two Carolina goals, but at the same time, the Flyers in general have struggled and very poorly moved pucks out of their own zone. We’ve come to see this is a generally careless team with the puck as it is, but the mistakes in their own zone have been magnified.
- Mark Streit was also very honest with his postgame remarks and used an interesting word to describe this game: maturity. “We can’t be that emotionally crazy and lose our heads because of a missed call and then we just give up goals. If you want to make the playoffs, we have to be more mature than that.” Yes, the Flyers have a couple of young players on the team, but a good chunk of this team has been there before and knows about fighting to the finish to get into the playoffs. There was no excuse for that, and it was certainly welcome to hear an honest response from the Flyers most veteran player.
- Steve Mason put it best: “If we play like that, we’re not getting into the playoffs.” He’s right, but there’s one addition I want to make to this. Yes, if the Flyers play like that in general, they are not a playoff team. But the Flyers bigger struggles have come on the road and this was just another example. Since the start of the Christmas break, roughly five weeks ago, the Flyers have played overall poor games in New Jersey, Boston and Washington and not fared much better in losses in St. Louis, San Jose and Buffalo. They appeared to turn a corner with two quality road wins in Brooklyn and New York last week, but that all got erased with this loss.
Dave Hakstol talked about keeping everything in perspective and that this game on Tuesday was just one game. That’s true, but haven’t we talked about this before?
Haven’t we seen this kind of embarrassment? Haven’t we watched this team come out flat to start, let mistakes snowball into goals against and ultimately drop a game they were never really in to begin with?
Keeping things in perspective is all well and good if it happens one time and then gets corrected. But the Flyers have had this happen several times this season, and given the timing, this isn’t the same as getting off to a slow start.
This was the final game of January for the Flyers, a month where they went 5-6-2, not horrible on the surface, but certainly not good entering the most crucial time of the season. There is essentially two months left, with a handful of games to be played in the month of April. In total, there are 31 games remaining on the season. That’s enough time to get things corrected, but doesn’t leave a lot of room for error either.
The Flyers have a lot to correct and perhaps coming home for three straight games could be a good way to figure it out.