That week for the Flyers?
To poach a line from a Charlie Brown movie you may have watched over the last few days … “Good grief.”
This past week saw the Flyers hit the ice three times and fall three times in disheartening fashion, pushing their losing streak to seven games, the longest for the club since it lost 10 straight in 2008.
On Tuesday, they sleepwalked to a bowling-shoe ugly 5-2 loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks. On Wednesday, they suffered 4-3 OT loss to the New York Islanders in Brooklyn. And in the annual Black Friday matinee, they blew a two-goal lead to the Islanders in the third period and fell yet again in OT, 5-4.
There is plenty to get to as the natives get more and more restless, so let’s hop right into this week’s observations.
• Moments after the Flyers sewed up their longest losing streak in nearly a decade Friday, head coach Dave Hakstol stood in front of the media and made some interesting comments regarding his team’s recent play.
“You’ve got to evaluate it for what it is,” he said. “I think in seven of our last ten we’ve gotten a point. Five of those are shootout or overtime losses.”
A point is a point, sure, but a loss is also a loss. The Flyers, before Sunday’s games around the league, have 22 points and are last in the Metropolitan Division. They also still have seven straight losses and the season could be on the verge of unraveling before we even hit December.
Hakstol also hinted at veteran merit as a reason for throwing a Claude Giroux-Valterri Filppula-Brandon Manning three-man unit out against the Isles in OT rather than playing a younger, more offensively gifted defenseman such as Shayne Gostisbehere or Travis Sanheim, or even Robert Hagg or Samuel Morin in OT.
Again … hmmmm.
Merit is one thing, the best chance to win the game and end a long losing streak is another. Odds are the younger players give the Flyers a better chance to win there with their offensive gifts.
Look, many coaches aren’t going to be negative to the media, especially after a hard loss. And Hakstol is “coach-speak” royalty. Very rarely are you going to get something out of him in a press conference — and that’s fine, that’s just who he is.
But who are the Flyers right now? No need to read between any lines, the Flyers just aren’t a very good team right now, in all phases.
• While he didn’t find the scoresheet in the two games against the Isles this week, Danick Martel left a nice impression after his call-up from the Phantoms.
Martel, who earned his promotion to the big club by scoring 14 goals in the Phantoms’ first 17 games of the season to lead the entire AHL, fired four shots on goal and made himself noticeable on the ice. You have to like the scrappiness he displayed as he played an integral role in any scrums when he was on the ice and wasn’t afraid to get his nose dirty.
Those are the types of things that can provide energy and that’s a player himself who can provide energy. And if there’s something the Flyers need a desperate injection of right now, it’s energy.
• Remember the shootout narrative that has forever plagued the Flyers? That was a rhetorical question, of course, you do. Well, there’s a new narrative forming to bog the Flyers down because they can barely get to the shootout without falling flat.
The Flyers are now 2-10 in one-goal contests through 23 games played this season. They are 1-4 in overtime games and 0-2 in shootouts this year, as well.
So let’s do everyone’s favorite activity, math, and add up the numbers here. That’s six extra points left on the table in the OT and shootout losses and another helping of six more points left on the table in the remaining three one-goal losses. That adds up to 12 potential points the Flyers have left hanging there.
Even worse, the Flyers have held leads at some point of each of the last five games of this miserable losing streak.
• The effort Tuesday against the Canucks may have been the most futile of the still-young season for the Flyers. After Ivan Provorov’s first-period tally that opened the scoring, the Flyers were just lifeless as Brock Boeser and the Canucks dominated from there on out. The boos that played the night’s soundtrack at the Wells Fargo Center that night were well-earned.
That black eye Tuesday ended a stretch that saw the Flyers play 10 straight games against Western Conference foes. They went 2-4-4 in that span and were shut out four times.
• Observation (kinda) from the future: The Flyers will face the blood-rival Penguins for the first time this season Monday evening. And while the many of the main characters who made the Battle of Pennsylvania must-see television in recent years remain in their respective sweaters, some of the luster has been wiped away, as the Flyers have been so inconsistent and the Pens have dominated all comers.
Here’s hoping the rivalry can soon find that same disdain and boiling blood that we all know and are gluttons for.
Coming up this week: Monday at Pittsburgh (7 p .m. on NBCSP), Tuesday vs. San Jose (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Saturday vs. Boston (1 p.m. on NBCSP).