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Gilbert: Fletcher, Flyers need to preserve dignity in lost season



Flyers coaches bench

The Philadelphia Flyers are spiraling out of control. A bad start to the month of March has only gotten worse. They lost two of three to the Penguins from the 2nd to 6th. Then, they lost all three meetings against the Capitals from the 7th to 13th, with a come-from-behind shootout win against the Sabres in the middle.

After winning two of three from the 15th to 18th, with the loss being of the 9-0 variety, the Flyers have now lost four games in a row. The last two presented the opportunity for the Flyers to turn things. Now, however, the Flyers are tied with the Rangers after another loss.

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The Flyers were going to need to win at least three or four of their last five games of the month to show that they might still be a playoff team. They played poorly for 50 minutes in a bad loss to the Devils on Tuesday before laying another stinker against the Rangers on Thursday. They now have to win all three games if they want to have a chance at saving the season. That’s if it’s not too late already.

If the season is going to be a lost one, Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers need to at least preserve their dignity.

Another embarrassing loss

The Rangers embarrassed the Flyers last week and ran up the score to a 6-0 lead less than 23 minutes into the game in their next meeting. There wasn’t any form of response. The Flyers started out the game with some jump, but as soon as the Rangers scored they piled on with another one 52 seconds later. Less than five minutes after that, it was 3-0 on a power-play goal.

There was a chance for the Flyers to stem the tide after intermission, but the Rangers scored two more power-play goals and scored on a floater from the blue line to go up 6-0 just 2:42 into the second period.

The Flyers at least scored a few goals and didn’t give up nine, but it was another putrid performance.

If the season is over, at least save some face

Everything is going wrong in this season for the Flyers. Carter Hart is having the worst stretch of his young career. Hell, it’s getting to be longer than just a stretch. This whole season has been bad for him. It’s not all his fault, however, as the team defense in front of him is nonexistent on most nights. The combination of defensive breakdowns, poor goaltending, and lack of consistency has created the perfect putrid storm in Philadelphia.

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The Flyers still have a decent roster, all things considered. Their core is still performing with seven players having at least 20 points through 32 or fewer games. The young players aren’t going to be this bad forever. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Philippe Myers have all gone through huge growing pains this season. Hart certainly has dealt with a lot as well and is bound to bounce back. The Flyers can’t go off selling core pieces, but a shakeup among the role players or behind the bench should be in the cards.

All of those players regressing and the Flyers not being able to bounce back after a bad goal or loss leaves no room for them to hide. They are consistently inconsistent and it’s getting late early.

This unique, shortened season has gotten to the point where the Flyers just need to show something. They’re in a tough position in a difficult division, but every team is dealing with the same thing. The Flyers don’t get a pass just because of the circumstances. It may make it a little bit easier to swallow looking back on it –– we might even laugh! –– but right now there is nothing funny about this team and the only easy thing is beating them.

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It’s gotten past the point of needing something to change to save the season. The Flyers’ failures are one of the main talking points around the league right now. They’ve gone from a Stanley Cup contender –– if not favorite –– last season to a laughing stock this year. It’s certainly not a position any team wants to be in and, quite frankly, it’s a position that the Flyers shouldn’t be in. But here we are. Everything has gone wrong and the Flyers are the talk of the league, and this time it’s not a good thing.

Tonight’s loss to the Rangers was another embarrassing one. There have been several embarrassing losses this season. If the Flyers aren’t going to make the playoffs, they need to at least save some face. There are 24 games left in the season for them to show some life and preserve their dignity.

Photo: Heather Barry Images

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