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Flyers Trying to Avoid Collapse Similar to Last Year

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Scott Laughton, Philadelphia Flyers
Scott Laughton (right) aids a skater when military members visited a Flyers practice last week. Photo: Zack Hill.

As the Philadelphia Flyers start a three-game road trip Tuesday in Columbus, they need a victory to avoid the “here we go again” feeling from last season.

A year ago at around his time, the Flyers went on a 10-game losing streak and never recovered. Later last season, they had a 13-game skid.

Flip the calendar to this season. The Flyers (7-6-2) have lost three straight heading into Columbus. In those games, Philly lost to the Blue Jackets, Ottawa, and Dallas by a combined 14-4.

Are the wheels falling off again after a strong start?

We shall see.

After playing Tuesday in Columbus (4-9-1), the trip has stops in Boston (14-2) on Thursday and Montreal (8-6-1) on Saturday.

‘Huge for our team’

“This is a huge stretch for us coming up,” forward Scott Laughton said. “Going to be huge for our team to see where we’re really at, and what happens in the standings here.”

Center Kevin Hayes agreed.

During the trip, he said, “everyone needs to figure out what they can do a little differently to help our team win.”

The Flyers need lots of help on special teams. They have been outscored by a combined 5-0 on special teams in their last two games, losses to Ottawa and Dallas, respectively.

The power play went a combined 0 for 9 in those two games, and allowed a shorthanded score in Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to Dallas. Philly is in a 2-for-22 power-play funk over the last seven contests. It hasn’t scored a power-play goal in the last four games.

“Obviously, we’ve got to get on top of this before it gets too late,” said Travis Konecny, who has a six-game point streak.

The penalty kill is also in a rut, allowing Ottawa and Dallas to each go 2 for 3 on the power play in the last two games.

On Tuesday night at 7:30, the Philadelphia Flyers will play in Columbus (ESPN+/Hulu), which got three points from South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau in its deceiving 5-2 win over the Orange and Black last Thursday. Two of the goals were empty-netters.

The loss ruined Flyers coach John Tortorella’s return to Columbus, where he coached for six years.

Like the Flyers, Columbus is beat up, and most of their injuries have occurred in recent days. The Jackets lost three defensemen to injuries Thursday against the Flyers:  Zach Werenski (shoulder), Nick Blankenburg (ankle) and Erik Gudbranson (upper body).

Werenski, who is out for the season, and Blankenburg had formed the top pairing. Gudbranson is day to day.

Columbus right wingers Patrik Laine and Jake Voracek are also sidelined with injuries.

The Flyers are without Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis and James van Riemsdyk.

Prediction: Flyers 3-2.

Breakaways

Carter Hart, the Flyers’ projected starter, is 1-4 with a 2.68 GAA and .902 career save percentage against Columbus. … Konecny has 20 points (7-13) in 19 career games vs. the Blue Jackets. … The Flyers’ PP  has dropped to 28th in the NHL, clicking at 16%. … Philly has allowed the first goal in 11 of 15 games.

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