The Flyers are slippin’, fallin’, and can’t get up. They couldn’t get up against a bottom-feeder last weekend, and they couldn’t keep up with a playoff hopeful last night. Another game against an inferior opponent, another loss. Darryl Boyce had a late game winner for the Maple Leafs last night, in a 3-2 win.
Going into the game, we knew that the it wouldn’t be easy because the Leafs have been surging lately. We knew they were a hungry team, and regardless of their lack of big names, that they would come to play. But we also knew that if the Flyers really wanted this game, it was theirs for the taking. About 6 minutes in, Versteeg opened the scoring after the Flyers had pushed the pace from the opening faceoff. Foolishly, I thought we’d manage to run things the rest of the way. Nope, 21 seconds later, a turnover in our zone ends up past Bob.
Second period comes, Richards feeds a beauty to Versteeg again, and we have the lead. Now we won’t blow it, right? Another turnover, with 10 seconds in the lead and we’re back to square one. In the third, we still can’t manage anything, and with the game looking like it’s headed to OT, we blow it. We let some random dude walk out from behind the net and swing the puck into the cage. With our net empty for the last minute or so, we come close, but can’t tie it up.
This lack of motivation the team has been showing lately is beginning to manifest itself into mistakes that we haven’t made in a while. Sure, we’d blow shutouts because of mistakes or lapses here or there. But for the most part, the defense was air tight, forcing opponents to earn their goals. Now we’re having losing the puck in our zone. Instead of 2-3 lines cycling the puck and keeping up the offensive pressure, we’re having 1, maybe 2, lines playing well offensively. We’re playing well in spurts, rather than a full 60 minutes. And it all comes back to one thing: laziness.
When a team is lazy, it’s all those little things that start to go wrong, and it shows up on the score sheet. It’s about poor breakouts, bad dumps, not supporting the first forechecker, and not clearing the slot. The powerplay has struggled most of the season, but lately they’ve had even more trouble entering the zone. Once there, they still do a pretty good job of moving the puck around, but they’re limiting themselves by not getting in there fast enough.
I’m not sure what it will take to right the ship. Teams go through rough patches, but it sucks watching this happen now. There’s so much on the line, and hope is fading fast as the losses start to pile up. If we’re capable of having such a collapse, what does this mean for the playoffs. Are we just going to back ourselves in, and then get smacked out of the first round by some team that’s just happy to be there? My biggest fear is that the Devils continue to surge, and then they get their revenge on us from last year. I’m not scared of anybody if the Flyers are playing up to their potential. But the question remains on whether or not we’ll manage to get back to that level.
- Powe and Carter were scratched late because of the flu. We didn’t lose because of that. It’s not an excuse. Let it go.
- Richards to Versteeg looks like a good combo. Richards finally has a winger this year that he can feed. The better this combo gets, the brighter the near future will be.
- Z looked a lot better last night, and maybe he’s finally learned his lesson. I didn’t watch him closely enough to see if he was consistent, but he wasn’t invisible like he had been before being waived. Another sign that maybe we’ll turn a corner and head back in the right direction.
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