By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
Whether this current slide hits double-digits or not, it’s extensive enough that it doesn’t seem to make a difference. If it were to get to 10 games, the Flyers would be able to claim two such streaks in the same season, thus essentially giving away a quarter of their season. And it may not even be half over when that happens.
Game 37 for the Flyers went as many others this season have gone. There were mistakes. There was a slow start. There was a superior opponent eventually taking over and getting the two points in the end and leaving the Flyers with nothing.
It’s really become a familiar pattern for a team that is consistently fragile, just waiting for the next thing to go wrong rather than doing the things that can help it keep going right. Just like on Thursday night, the Rangers skill and talent levels became too much in a game that was certainly competitive, but not deserving of the final result.
Here are five takeaways from the Flyers 3-2 loss to the Rangers.
1. 'Nervous' Start
“We had some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. I think that for the most part we look like a team that was a little bit nervous. I think that we had the right mindset first shift we come out then we make a mistake and next thing you know it’s coming back at us and we’re on our heels a little bit. But then once we start to find the mindset of getting in on the attack, playing in the offensive zone really it only took one or two of those shifts to start generating some momentum for us and then we started to go.”
This was what Mike Yeo said when asked about the team’s first 10 minutes of Saturday’s game. Truth be told, it was a mess.
The Flyers did not have a shot on goal for almost 11 minutes. They allowed the first five shots on goal, one being a power-play tally for Mika Zibanejad. At the midpoint of the first period, 5-on-5 shot attempts were a staggering 16-2 in favor of the Rangers. Yeah, that’s a fragile team that made one mistake early in the game and never recovered.
Now this wasn’t the case for the entire game, and it actually proved to be competitive, much like the game on Thursday. But essentially being a no-show for 10 minutes and falling in a hole again continually becomes unacceptable.
It goes back to the question about playing with pride. Sure, the season may be well out of reach when it comes to talk about the playoffs. There’s no recovering from the hole the Flyers have fallen into. But you can finish the season strong and determine your fate and the fate of those around you. Too many times, too many players on this team seem to just try to hang on for dear life. They seem to get panicked and almost play scared rather than assertive.
It’s how this team has completed two seven-plus-game losing streaks already this season. The first streak reached 10 games before coming to an end. Is there any end in sight on this one? The Islanders will determine in the next two games if it reaches the precipice of that elusive number.
2. MSG South?
If you didn’t know any better, you would have assumed that the Rangers donned the typical road white sweaters for a home game at Madison Square Garden on this Saturday night. That’s how much the presence of Rangers fans stood out.
From the start of warmups, it was apparent that this was going to be a crowd that had plenty of New York representation. But when the Rangers struck for the first goal of the game just under six minutes in, the building erupted with cheers. There were multiple times that “Let’s Go Rangers!” chants rang through.
On occasion, you’ll get a few fans of the opposition that may attempt to get a chance going and quickly get drowned out with boos from the home faithful. Despite their best efforts, there was no stopping Rangers fans on this night.
3. Lindblom Evens It Up
Oskar Lindblom was among the Flyers best players on the ice in this game. He continued to string together some productive numbers, scoring his fifth goal of the season and reaching 11 points.
Nine of those points have come in the last 11 games going back to Dec. 14. He also scored his first goal of the season on Dec. 6, the same day the Flyers made a coaching change.
Since then, Lindblom’s point production goes hand-in-hand with his playing partners. He’s better suited when playing with playmaking talents, like on Saturday when Travis Konecny tipped a centering attempt on goal and got a big rebound for him. That’s the type of goals Lindblom can score, and it takes better talent that placing him on the fourth line to get the best out of him.
4. Smile for the Cam-era
Cam York has played in five games since being called upon to close out the Flyers road trip in Anaheim. It’s becoming more of a challenge to send him back down based on what he’s done.
He had a bit of a rough night last Saturday against San Jose, with a minus-2 rating in the 3-2 loss, but he did also pick up his first NHL point that night with an assist.
On this night, the milestone was his first NHL goal. After a failed clear by the Rangers, York stepped into one and sent a rolling puck whistling past Igor Shesterkin to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 9:49 remaining in the third. York was on the ice for both Flyers goals in the game as well.
But more than production, York continues to show off some confidence. He’s embraced the challenges of playing against teams like Pittsburgh, Boston, and now the Rangers and taken it completely in stride.
5. Sudden Death
Just when it seemed like York’s first goal was going to be the momentum shift the Flyers needed to snap the losing streak, they gave it right back. It took just 37 seconds for the Rangers to get the game tied again with some nifty passing from Ryan Strome to Artemi Panarin back in front of Filip Chytil for the goal.
Then, as was the case against Boston, leave it to a top team’s top playmakers to make something happen at a key point in the game. Adam Fox continued to show his excellence, getting space and stepping up with a chance that deflected off the stick of Chris Kreider with 6:30 to play.
Just like on Thursday, the Flyers made the game competitive, but could not come out on top at the end. Teams like Boston and the Rangers just possess too much talent, too much skill, and frankly too much confidence in their past games to drop games like this that can be there for the taking.
When the Flyers take the ice again on Monday night, they will be facing a team that may also be just too far out of the race, despite the number of games they have in hand on, well, the rest of the league. But the Islanders have a lot of talent, and that could give the Flyers fits if they continue to show how fragile they are.
The result could be an eighth, then ninth, straight loss, setting the stage for potentially another double-digit losing streak.