The Philadelphia Flyers notoriously became the first team to lose to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. Someone had to be first.
The good news? They won’t be the last. Even though the vibes around this Flyers team took a major hit with the deflating 2-1 loss, the Sharks were due for a regression to the mean. Even the supremely talented Edmonton Oilers – led by three-time MVP Connor McDavid and once-MVP Leon Draisaitl – came up empty-handed against a team that had allowed 10 goals in two consecutive games.
Head coach John Tortorella already saw it coming with his team. “We shouldn’t be able to spell trap game,” he remarked.
The fact of the matter is no, the Sharks were never going to stay a team playing so poorly that they could not conceivably win a game. While the Flyers may have been perceived as a team vastly superior to their West Coast counterparts, the two teams are in the same boat for the same reasons. They are two teams that frequented the postseason in the 2010s, but could not consistently draft talent to supplement or replace their grey hairs in the long-term.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ path forward
The Flyers’ next opponent, the 7-5-0 Anaheim Ducks, might provide an example of how this process could play out in a few years time.
That’s also why it’s paramount that the Flyers, and especially their young players, quickly move on from the Sharks loss. In the NFL, they use the term “any given Sunday”. In this case, we’ll use… “any given weekday”.
Indeed, this is a learning curve that many Flyers will need to endure. Even a guy like Cam York, who seems like he’s been around for a while, is only in his first season as an established NHL regular.
When York faces his hometown Ducks tonight, he and his teammates can prove they too can win on any given night. In their last meeting on Oct. 28, Anaheim scored seven goals, led by a Frank Vatrano hat trick. Tortorella will not be pleased with a repeat of that performance.
This is the type of inconsistency the Flyers signed up for when starting a rebuild. However, both the Oilers and Sharks prove that it’s a part of the everyday NHL experience. It only becomes a problem when it’s habitual. For now, the Flyers will continue to learn and push forward.