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5 observations: Flyers’ losing streak reaches 11, but Claude Giroux’s stock is rising

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Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen scored against his former Buffalo teammates to tie the game at 1-1.

The Philadelphia Flyers lost in Buffalo on Saturday afternoon at the KeyBank Center, 6-3, and their winless streak is now 11 games — one shy of equaling an unwanted franchise record set in 1998-99, a season they made the playoffs.

Their next game is Monday against visiting Dallas.

The Flyers, who fell into last place in the Metropolitan Division, reached the halfway point of their disastrous season with a 13-20-8 record.

What have we learned? That coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t the reason for the team’s struggles, that the Flyers don’t have enough depth to withstand all of their injuries.

As for the game, Buffalo had its highest-scoring total of the season, and it collected its first home win since Nov. 26.

That says a lot about how the Flyers are playing these days.

“This team is so fragile now. Like a corn flake,” said Al Morganti on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

He wasn’t wrong.

“We didn’t have the battle level we need,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “We weren’t ready to go, and that falls on me.”

Here are some quick thoughts:

1. Claude Giroux is increasing his trade value.

If Giroux decides to waive his no-trade clause, there will be a long line of suitors. He has played at a high level all season, and he continued to shine Saturday, scoring a goal to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead, adding a power-play tally late in the game, and firing a team-high seven shots.

After the game, Giroux said he feels “like we’ve hit rock bottom We can’t catch a break.”

He said the team’s momentum was stunted by a controversial call (see No. 3) that he thought was inaccurate.

“I feel like we have to play a perfect game,” he said. “We make one mistake and it’s in the back of the net.”

2.  Rasmus Ristolainen was the most satisfied player in the building midway through the first period.

That’s because the Flyers’ defenseman scored on a right-circle wrist shot against his former Buffalo teammates in his first game against them.

It’s no secret that Ristolainen wanted out of lowly Bufflao and wanted a fresh start. Little did he know that the Flyers would also struggle mightily, and it makes you wonder if he will test the free-agent market in July.

“Like I told the guys last night, there’s no better place to turn this around than in Buffalo,” Ristolainen said before the game, before the Flyers stumbled again.

After the game, Ristolainen was critical of the team.

“We got outworked from the first shift of the game, and that can’t happen,” he said.

3. The NHL’s replay system is, um, what’s the word? Bogus.

Yeo challenged a power-play goal scored by Tage Thompson with 4:27 left in the first, claiming the play was offside.  The replay shown by NBC Sports Philadelphia showed the Sabres were offside. Barely.

Yet …

After about a four-minute video delay, the officials ruled that the goal stood.

Say what?

It changed the game’s momentum and sparked a three-goal Buffalo outburst in a 2:27 span.

The disputed goal tied the game at 2-2 and gave the Sabres another power play for a delay-of-game penalty. It took Thompson 24 seconds to strike again, scoring on a left-circle shot with Ristolainen defending. And about two minutes after that goal, Peyton Krebs made it 4-2 with his first career score.

Exit a shaky Martin Jones, who allowed four goals on eight shots. Enter Carter Hart.

Krebs made it 5-2 when he came out of the penalty box and beat Hart on a second-period breakaway.

4. Don’t use the Flyers’ injuries as an excuse. They had seven players injured. Buffalo had 11 players sidelined and was using its sixth-string goalie, Michael Houser.

The Flyers were going against a Buffalo team that had won two of its last 11 games and had struggled on the power play. No matter. The Sabres clicked on 3 of their 4 power-play chances Saturday.

4. I liked how Yeo gave winger Wade Allison power-play time, some of it on the first unit.

This season is done, so might as well experiment and find out things for the future.

Allison was promoted from the Phantoms and played his first game with the Flyers this season. He was later suffered a lower-body injury and did not return. He played 8:16, took two shots and was minus-1.

Earlier this season, Allison had to overcome ankle and elbow injuries.

5. Jones and Hart were extremely shaky. Ditto the Flyers’ special teams.

The Flyers lost in a blowout despite having a 33-24 shots advantage. Their special teams weren’t very special. Philly was 1 for 5 on the power play — scoring a meaningless goal late in the loss —  while the Sabres were 3 for 4.

Breakaways

Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 963rd consecutive game, one shy of equaling Doug Jarvis’ NHL record. He can tie it Monday against visiting Dallas, and break it Tuesday at the New York Islanders. … Mattias Samuelsson, whose father, Kjell, works for the Flyers’ player development department, saved a goal when he cleared the puck off the goal line after Travis Konecny’s second-period shot hit iron. … The Flyers allowed the first goal for the ninth time in the last 10 games. … The Sabres will miss the playoff for the 11th straight season, a dubious NHL record.

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