It’s hard to gauge what exactly has dipped faster over the past few days.
The outside thermometer or the Flyers' offense, and good luck predicting when either will turn frigid at a moment’s notice.
For the orange and black, the goal-scoring cold spell blanketed the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday and increased in intensity during Thursday’s 3-0 loss to the Devils (see observations).
Hard to make sense coming from a Devils team that had the NHL’s worst road record at 1-7-0, and a defense ranked 29th in goals allowed.
“No, I didn’t see frustration,” Dave Hakstol said. “We competed our tails off tonight. It was a tight hockey game, but we created enough and then some to score goals in this hockey game.”
The return of James van Riemsdyk was expected to inject even more offense into a team that had scored 25 goals over a six-game stretch until Tuesday rolled around. Ironically, it was JVR who actually took away a goal when he brushed into Keith Kinkaid’s glove as he glided in front of the crease just as Shayne Gostisbehere’s power-play shot had found its way into the back of the net.
“The explanation they gave me was pretty funny actually,” van Riemsdyk said. “They said I moved my upper body to get in the way of the goalie. So, I don’t even know what that means. I thought it was outside the crease and I think it’s that grey area where some games that’s a call that maybe goes our way, but tonight, obviously it didn’t.”
Interestingly, Hakstol challenged what appeared to be a rather obvious call to only say it was a miscommunication between himself and the referee.
“It’s goalie interference, by nature I guess,” Hakstol said. “There’s grey area. With the fact that James’ glove hits his glove whether it’s outside the blue paint or where the goaltender is set up before the puck goes into the net.”
Missing the call wasn’t the issue, missing mark was more like it and the Flyers were just inches away from easily scoring three or even four goals. At final count, the Flyers had hit five different posts and perhaps the biggest absence of puck luck came when Wayne Simmonds was staring at a wide-open net to only see Kinkaid’s stick dive into the picture at just the last second.
“I’ve never seen that,” Sean Couturier said. “We had a lot of chances and open nets. The puck just didn’t want to go in tonight.”
Same can’t be said for the Flyers' anemic power play that has converted just three times over its last 43 chances. A couple of posts came during the man advantage but the sample size is now large enough to deeply question everything involved from the setup to puck movement and even shot selection. The top unit has even seen three different personnel units over the past three games.
“Power play needs to get one. It’s very frustrating right now,” Claude Giroux said. “We had some good chances, some good shots. I think if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to score some goals on the power play.”
One can only hope that’s the case, because if not, the Flyers may not have a snowball’s chance over the winter months.
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