Dec 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) is congratulated by his teammates for scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Flyers Fail to Measure Up Against NHL's Elite

Dec 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) is congratulated by his teammates for scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve ever been to an amusement park, before you walk in they have posts where guests can measure themselves to see which rides they are eligible to ride. Countless times children, so excited to ride the big roller coaster, are turned away because they don’t measure up. The child screams and cries and causes a scene when things don’t go the right way, but in the end they are denied entrance into the big attraction.

After a roller coaster of a season so far, the Flyers looked to measure up to the NHL’s elite Wednesday night against the defending Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks. Could this team really play with the NHL’s best?

No.

Not even close.

Instead of enjoying the big ride, the Flyers turned into the screaming kid not quite big enough to do what the big kids can do. The Blackhawks outclassed the Flyers 7-2, using a five goal second period to show who’s boss.

After the dreadful 1-7 start, the Flyers roared back into playoff contention, pulling within two points of a playoff spot. Flyers fans wondered if maybe this was the start to a turnaround. Maybe this team could compete for a playoff spot.

Wednesday’s contest was a measuring stick for where this really was at this point in the season. And if it is any indication, the Flyers aren’t going anywhere.

It was a lackluster effort that has been far too familiar to Flyers fans this season. After a strong first period in which Jakub Voracek gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead, the wheels fell apart.

Within the first five minutes of the second period, Chicago scored three goals, including a short handed goal by Michael Handzus. Steve Downie stopped the bleeding, but from then it was all Blackhawks. The Hawks scored four more times to end the game.

Chicago scored seven goals on 23 shots. SEVEN GOALS ON 23 SHOTS! Ray Emery allowed six goals on 18 shots, while Steve

Dec 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery (29) fails to make a save on a goal scored by Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (not pictured) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Mason, who came in relief, allowed one goal on five shots faced.

It wasn’t the goal-tending tonight though, as has been the case for most of the season. The Flyers defense was absolutely horrific.

Andrej Meszaros completely forgot how to play defense Wednesday night. On Chicago’s second goal, Mesz turned the puck over in the Flyers defensive zone. He then stood and watched in the slow at Andrew Shaw took the puck around the net and wrapped in around Emery.

After a turnover on the blue line, Jakub Voracek just decided not to back check (just like Scott Harnell and Claude Giroux. He learns from the best!) and allowed a 2 on 1 to develp, leading to Handzus’ shorthanded goal.

Luke Schenn felt like giving former Flyer Kris Versteeg a goal tonight. Schenn allowed Versteeg to just hang out in the slot and put the puck past Emery.

Tonight was just an all around piss poor effort by Philadelphia.

Were the Flyers expected to beat the Blackhawks tonight? Not necessarily. But it shouldn’t have been this lopsided.

This team proved tonight that it is not ready to take the next step. There’s a long way to go in this season. But if tonight is any indication, the Flyers can’t play with the NHL’s best. They’re barely a middle of the road team, and they’re only even at that point thanks to solid goal-tending.

With a defense prone to breakdowns and sloppy play too often, an offense that is too streaky,  and an overall team that takes too many penalties (the team had 39 penalty minutes tonight), there is no reason to believe the Flyers can make any noise if they were to make the playoffs.

Yes. Somehow this team can make the playoffs. Thank the Metropolitan Division for that. The Flyers, at 29 points, are still only three points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for the third and final spot in the division.

But if they want to compete with the NHL’s best, they’ve got to play like they belong.

If the game against the Blackhawks is any indication, they certainly do not measure up.

“Security, get this crying kid away from the big attraction. He’s too small.”

 

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