In their first action since the Christmas break, the Flyers looked like they were still enjoying the comforts of time off.
Another slow start put the Flyers behind early, but the stretch of lazy play continued into the final period before another late push that came too late in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Let's get to it in our Postgame Review.
- Another Slow Start - The Flyers allowed the first goal of the game once again. It was the ninth time in 12 games this month where the Flyers have allowed the game's first goal. That hasn't always been an issue though, as the Flyers have won four of the first six games this month when allowing the first goal.
But the Flyers have also surrendered the game's first goal in each of the last three games, all losses. And both in Buffalo last Friday and in Florida in this game, the Flyers have come out completely sluggish. In Buffalo, it didn't cost them on the scoreboard in the first 20 minutes. It did in Florida.
The bottom line is that the Flyers have talked about getting better starts in games, and they once again failed to do that on Thursday night.
- Extended Break - Didn't this game feel like a carbon copy of the Buffalo game from last Friday? The Flyers get outplayed and outshot for two periods and have to play from behind in the third.
The two games had their differences. The Flyers trailed in this game fairly early and never recovered, whereas the Buffalo game entered the third scoreless and there for the taking.
In both games though, the Flyers were able to get the lead down to one goal with a late rally. In Buffalo, the Flyers first goal came with three minutes to play. In Florida on Thursday, they scored with 7:32 to play. In both cases, it was far too late.
The Flyers late pushes have been great, but when the first 55 minutes of the game don't reflect the same urgency, energy and will to try to put the puck in the net, it's really no surprise that the results aren't as desired. The Flyers have come close to getting points out of two games by playing about five minutes in each. That's not good enough, especially out of a five-day break.
- Careless Puck Management – As the third period trudged on through the first 10 minutes of the final 20, the Flyers just looked lethargic and lazy with the puck. Entries were poor. Exits were poor. Passing was way off. They struggled to handle the puck.
Overall, puck management has been a problem. It directly resulted in the Panthers shorthanded goal.
This has been an ongoing trend for the Flyers too. Far too often, they find a way to cough up the puck in situations where they need to be smart and careful with their control. It's something that has to improve starting on Friday for the Flyers to have any shot at competing for a playoff spot.
- More from Moose – Brian Elliott was back in goal for the Flyers for the 12th straight start. The Panthers first goal was definitely on him. That's a simple shot from the slot that Elliott needs to have. But the other two goals were the result of good plays by the Panthers and not his fault.
Even though the Flyers were behind 3-0 after two periods, Elliott wasn't the problem again, making 24 saves. While a night off would certainly be earned, the Flyers could turn back to him on Friday night in Tampa and he'd be ready and willing to go again.
The Flyers have been down then up then down again it seems in the last two months. Elliott has been the constant, and while the decisions have been all over the place, he's been fairly consistent and all you could ask for out of your goalie.
- One More in 2017 - The Flyers have one more game in the 2017 portion of their schedule and it isn't an easy one.
The Flyers close out the back-to-back Florida road trip by meeting the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
Much like last weekend — playing Columbus after Buffalo — the Flyers get a team with tremendous talent and outrageous results to close out a back-to-back.
In fairness, Tampa played on Thursday too, taking care of business with a 3-1 win over Montreal. But the Flyers are facing the uphill battle of playing a team clearly superior to them. With the way the Flyers played on Thursday, there isn't much encouraging heading into this game.
The Flyers gave Florida four power plays including a 5-on-3. That's a death sentence against the Lightning and their lethal power play.
The Flyers allowed numerous odd-man rushes. That's a disaster waiting to happen with players like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat ready to take advantage at any time.
If you're looking for 2017 to end on a high note, it's going to be tough against the league's best. But the Flyers played a solid game against Columbus last weekend to follow a poor effort in Buffalo. Perhaps a similar effort could produce a better result. But it's definitely a longshot.
Play of the Game
The Flyers first goal came off a nice rush with Scott Laughton getting the finish.
By the Numbers
The Flyers never really got into a rhythm in this game, even with the late push. They started slow and managed to survive the first period down 1-0 despite a 14-7 disadvantage in shot attempts at 5-on-5. The Flyers got slightly better from there, but never had any dominant stretches, even down the stretch. Even in the third period where they outscored Florida, 2-0, the Flyers had just a 55.56 CF%.