The Philadelphia Flyers fell completely flat in a big spot on Tuesday night. Again.
After a disappointing overtime loss to the Islanders on Monday night, the Flyers couldn’t keep up their strong play. They were outplayed by the Devils for at least 50 minutes before Sean Couturier scored twice to make the 4-1 game a more respectable 4-3 final score.
“We didn’t look like we had a lot of jump at the start of that game. Their speed and skill level showed. It didn’t seem like we had a lot in the tank,” Alain Vigneault said. “We had a push at the end there, but it didn’t seem like we had a lot there.”
The Flyers ended up outshooting the Devils 33-32, but those were hollow numbers. The Devils held a 23-18 advantage in shots at 5-on-5 play, and 25-15 when adjusted for score and venue effects.
Essentially, the Flyers were outplayed by one of the worst teams in the division. Granted, the Devils are playing well right now, but the Flyers had no business not getting up for this game.
“We played the Islanders at home and probably one of the best 60 minutes that we played, and we follow up with this effort,” Claude Giroux said. “It’s very frustrating. I do understand that we play a lot of games in not a lot of nights, but it’s not an excuse. The other teams are doing it, too.”
After a 1-1-1 result in their three-game series against the Islanders, the Flyers had a chance to gain some ground. This was the first of five straight games against teams below them in the standings, though the Rangers could catch –– and pass –– them during this upcoming two-game set. They still have four straight winnable games, but this one wasn’t very encouraging.
What made Tuesday night’s game even more important is what’s happening on Wednesday afternoon. Chuck Fletcher will be holding his annual mid-season press conference at 1 p.m. EST. Fletcher has been under fire recently due to the team’s poor play, particularly on the defensive end. During the offseason, Fletcher only re-signed Justin Braun and signed Erik Gustafsson to replace the retired Matt Niskanen. That has backfired with Gustafsson being one of the worst defensemen on the team this season.
Fletcher’s press conference comes less than three weeks before the trade deadline. The Flyers have been linked to a few Nashville Predators defensemen, namely Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. However, there are a few backup options available if the Flyers don’t improve their play and show they’re just one top-four defenseman away.
After Tuesday night’s disappointing effort, both head coach Alain Vigneault and captain Claude Giroux were asked about trades and outside additions.
“I’m not at all concerned at this moment about the trade deadline or acquisitions, “Vigneault answered when asked if an outside acquisition could spark the team.
On the surface that may be worrisome, but it’s what a coach is supposed to say. He can’t throw his team under the bus.
“It’s my job to get these players to play up to their full potential,” Vigneault continued. “What we have to do right now is we have to re-energize and refocus. We have tomorrow to do that and then get ready for our next game. That’s what we’re going to do. ”
Giroux echoed his coach’s sentiment. He still believes in this group and didn’t even mention a potential addition or trade when asked about it.
“We have a lot of confidence in our group. We still think we are going to make the playoffs,” Giroux said. “We need to be a little bit more consistent in our game. It starts with me. You can’t play one good game and then one bad game and keep going like that. We need to put a few good games together here.”
Vigneault and Giroux are saying all the right things, but the Flyers need to show it on the ice. Fletcher’s comments on Wednesday afternoon should be more telling.