Enough is enough. Chuck Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers need to do something, especially after the New York Rangers hung a nine-spot on them in one of the ugliest losses in Flyers history, 9-0 at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.
The Flyers have been playing uninspired hockey for the entire month of March –– and we’re 17 days and nine games in. They are 3-6-0 in March, but it could easily be 0-9-0. The Flyers overcame an ugly start in Pittsburgh for their first win, an even uglier start against the lowly Sabres in a shootout win, and a bad second period against the Rangers on Monday night. There hasn’t been a full 60-minute effort worth talking about since their back-to-back shutout wins in Buffalo to end February.
Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers provided an opportunity for the Flyers to show that they have turned things around. They won an overtime thriller on Monday night and had a chance to sweep the two-game set before heading to Long Island.
The Flyers’ play in the first period wasn’t even all that bad. They had a heavy advantage in shot attempts, shots on goal, and scoring chances during 5-on-5 play. A ton of pressure in the offensive zone was generated, but they couldn’t get a puck by Alexandar Georgiev.
In their own end, a few mistakes ended up in the back of the net. When the defense is playing well, the goalie isn’t. When the goalie is playing well, the defense isn’t. On Wednesday night, neither the defense or goalie was playing well.
The Rangers opened the scoring after Adam Fox skated around Andy Andreoff –– who shouldn’t even be in the NHL –– and fed Brendan Lemieux in front. Lemieux skated to the blue paint unimpeded by Connor Bunnaman, Phil Myers, or Travis Sanheim, all three of whom were within reach of him.
The first period was bad, the second period was at least three times worse –– literally. The Rangers scored seven goals to take a 9-0 lead. Brian Elliott allowed five goals on 13 shots, then Carter Hart replaced him. He didn’t get much help as he ended up allowing four more goals in the second period.
The Flyers didn’t allow a goal in the third period, but the Rangers weren’t really trying. Still, perhaps this is a building block for Hart.
Even after going down by so many goals that a comeback was impossible, the Flyers still gave up odd-man rush after odd-man rush and hung Hart out to dry. The defensive breakdowns continued, the Flyers were constantly outnumbered on the puck, they couldn’t win a battle, and seemingly they couldn’t do anything right.
Deeper issues in Philadelphia
This has become a common theme around the Flyers this season, especially this month. When something goes wrong, it snowballs out of control. On Wednesday night, everything went out of control and it snowballed into a 9-0 deficit after two periods of play.
Something around this team needs to change. Whether it be a significant lineup change, a prospect called up, a trade, or a coach being fired, the Flyers can’t keep going on as they are.
The most troubling thing is that although this was just one game, these issues have been occurring for far too long. There hasn’t been a single game this month where the Flyers dominated the game. Even going back to their shutout wins in Buffalo, they couldn’t score on their early chances and couldn’t put the game away. They took a 3-0 lead in the second period in both games and that was the final score. Buffalo was a bounce or two away from possibly stealing a game.
It’s time for change
If the Flyers are going to become the contenders that they want to be, something is going to need to change. The 9-0 loss is bad and it’s a sign of problems that run much deeper in the Flyers organization. The coaching staff hasn’t been able to get the most out of the players, and they’re not putting the players in the best position to succeed.
The Flyers aren’t as bad as 9-0 loss, but they also aren’t as good as their 7-2-1 record to start the season. They’re somewhere in between. Something needs to change to fix the Flyers’ deeper-rooted issues.