Flyers

Another home nightmare has Flyers walking the plank

Another home nightmare has Flyers walking the plank

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After watching what transpired over the last two games, there’s a strong feeling the Flyers played their final game on South Broad Street this season.

And for those who forked over postseason prices for Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, those fans certainly didn’t receive face value for what they paid.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Flyers dropped Games 3 and 4 on home ice, and neither game was even remotely competitive. After the Flyers lost, 5-1, in Game 3, the Penguins dimmed the lights at the Wells Fargo Center and shut off any electricity the crowd was hoping to generate in Game 4 with a 5-0 shutout (see observations).

Simply put, the Flyers looked deflated and dejected knowing they would be forced to play without Sean Couturier, who was a game-time decision but officially ruled out 40 minutes before the opening faceoff.

“They came out hard,” Andrew MacDonald said. “We kind of looked a bit flustered and I don’t know if it was attributed to the lines or what, but it certainly wasn’t a great start for us.”

Whatever rivalry existed between the Flyers and Penguins coming into this season was hardly recognizable in the four games played in Philadelphia (two regular season, two playoff), where the home team was outscored 20-4 (see story).

Just the mere presence of the Penguins in this building is expected to bring out the best in the Flyers. Instead, we saw them at their worst, and nothing irks Flyers fans more than watching Sidney Crosby walk out of the City of Brotherly Love with six points and two victories in a pair of playoff games. 

“It’s disappointing,” Dave Hakstol said. “You take that upon yourself. Bluntly, we’re not happy about it. It wasn’t good enough.”

The Flyers may have fed off the home crowd for one period on Sunday afternoon, but even as they barraged the Penguins with constant pressure, they still found themselves down 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes. After a slew of penalties in the second period, the Flyers were never the same.

Disapproval poured down Wednesday when the Flyers flopped on their power play, which finished 0 for 10 in the two games on home ice, and the crowd of 19,644 booed unmercifully as the horn sounded after each period.

With the Wells Fargo Center half empty midway through the third period, the postseason frenzy felt more like a preseason yawner. 

“Fire Hakstol” chants could be heard from the upper deck — the first time that phrase echoed throughout the building since the 10-game winless streak in November.

Prior to this week, the lasting memory of a playoff series against Pittsburgh was Claude Giroux decking Crosby on the opening shift of Game 6 in 2012 and then proceeding to score the first goal as the Flyers eliminated their cross-state rival.

For whatever reason, the Flyers never evolved into a dominant team on home ice this season. The Flyers' 22 wins were the fewest of the 16 teams to reach the postseason and even three non-playoff teams finished with better records at home.  

At times, the Flyers played too cute or tried to execute too perfectly in their building, but in this series, it was just too ugly.

“Earn Tomorrow” was the Flyers' playoff slogan coming into this series.

After what the Wells Fargo Center witnessed this week, a chance at tomorrow may be too much to bear.

This time, Flyers didn't crumble in face of adversity and that says a lot

This time, Flyers didn't crumble in face of adversity and that says a lot

Three weeks ago, this would not have happened. In fact, we have hard evidence to back this up. The Flyers were gut-punched by the Islanders on Oct. 27 at the Wells Fargo Center and laid down. The end result was a barbarous 6-1 defeat that created social media angst among fans.

On Saturday afternoon, the Flyers’ will was tested again. But this time, the outcome showed us just how far they’ve come since that depressing October Saturday three weeks ago. If there’s such a thing as a character loss, the Flyers’ 6-5 overtime defeat to the Lightning is the face of it (see observations).

This had the making of a story we’ve written before, one in which the Flyers face adversity on home ice and crumble. The Flyers were behind 5-1 in the third period after Tampa capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play for two goals in 51 seconds. Three weeks ago, that’s game, set, match.

Instead, the Flyers rung off four goals in 6:04 to force OT. It’s the ninth time in league history that a team erased a four-goal deficit in a game’s final 10 minutes.

“We showed some good character,” James van Riemsdyk said. “Any time you can get a point when you’re down four goals in the third period, I’d say that’s a pretty good thing. … 

“You want to have good responses. We had some pretty good process-related stuff as far as carrying the play, but we’re paid here and we’re here to get results, so it’s not good enough.”

van Riemsdyk, in his second game back from a knee injury, was a major part of the Flyers’ comeback. He snapped the team’s 0-for-15 power-play drought in the second period with his first goal of the season and had assists on the goal that began the comeback and completed it.

There is a lot to unpack after Saturday. The loss capped off a five-game homestand that began promising but ended leaving much more to be desired — 2-2-1. The Flyers have now lost three straight, tying their season-high losing streak that came after the Islanders loss on Oct. 27. The penalty kill had another merciless effort, allowing three more power-play goals. The Flyers have now allowed an NHL-worst 22 power-play goals and the PK ranks 30th at 68.6 percent.

Claude Giroux became just the fourth player in franchise history to reach 700 points with a two-assist game, which put his total up to 701 (see story). He also moved into a tie with Brian Propp for second all-time in team history with 480 helpers. The Flyers dominated just about every play-driving metric and outshot the Lightning, 45-26. Their power play awoke with three goals.

“It’s hard. We want to take a lot of positives out of that,” said Travis Konecny, who had his fourth career two-goal game. “It shows what we have in the locker room. It’s just tough to look at it that way. (Head coach Dave Hakstol) comes in between the second and third and says we’re actually playing a good game, it’s just we got to get our bounces and stick together.”

Stuck together they did, and if we want to take anything away from Saturday’s OTL, it’s that. That didn’t happen three weeks ago.

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Lightning 6, Flyers 5 (OT): Furious comeback ends in heartbreak

Lightning 6, Flyers 5 (OT): Furious comeback ends in heartbreak

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What began as a promising five-game homestand ended in heartbreak Saturday afternoon.

The Flyers (9-9-2) dropped their season-high third straight game with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center to finish the homestand 2-2-1.

Anthony Cirelli scored the game-winner at 1:41 in overtime.

Tampa temporarily moves atop the NHL standings. The Eastern Conference-leading Bolts are 14-5-1 with 29 points. The Predators (27 points) host the Kings tonight.

• The big difference between this Flyers team and the one that left Philly on Oct. 27 after a 6-1 clunker to the Islanders is its fight. Tampa went up 5-1 and things were getting ugly. But the Flyers fought back with four straight goals and forced overtime. The Flyers rung off four goals on eight shots in a span of 6:04. Travis Konecny had two and both Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds had one.

They lost and it was an unsuccessful homestand, but they didn't lay down like they did three weeks ago. This was really an effort in which you're happy with a point.

• This is a story about an unstoppable force meeting a very movable object, and well, you know the result. It was not pretty.

The Flyers' 30th-ranked penalty kill surrendered three power-play goals. The Flyers now have allowed an NHL-worst 22 power-play goals. They have allowed three power-play goals two times and multiple power-play goals five times. They have gone just five games without allowing a PPG. The Flyers played with the NHL's fifth-best power play and were electrocuted. Tampa was 3 for 4 on the power play.

You cannot win in the NHL with a penalty kill this ineffective.

• Finally, the Flyers' power play struck twine Saturday. In fact, it recorded a hat trick. James van Riemsdyk ended an 0-for-15 drought in the second period and Konecny and Couturier added two in the third period.

The Flyers' PP is now 6 for its last 48 opportunities since Oct. 13 and has just six goals at home. Really, special teams have been the Flyers' biggest wart, and it hurt them again Saturday. As bad as the PK has been, the PP has been equally feeble.

But Saturday's development was a huge positive.

• Claude Giroux, after two pointless games, picked up an assist on JVR's PPG for his 700th career point as a Flyer (see story).

With another helper in the third period, Giroux became tied with Brian Propp for second on the franchise's all-time assists list (480) and is 149 points from passing Propp for third on the team's all-time scoring list.

Giroux now has 24 points in 20 games this season and is on pace for 98.4 points. He is an all-time Flyer and somehow, he's still underappreciated by a good portion of the fan base.

• Calvin Pickard's stat line Saturday doesn't read well: six goals on 26 shots. But it's hard to fault him. He wasn't bad. Tampa's second goal was a bit leaky but its others don't fall on Pickard. With Brian Elliott out two weeks, the Flyers will need Pickard to raise his level of play. He mostly did that Saturday.

• The Flyers came out ready to play with a strong first period, outshooting the Lightning, 18-7, and had 21 shot attempts at 5-on-5. The biggest takeaway was how the Flyers were attacking Tampa. The forwards went to high-danger areas and the defense had just six shot attempts at 5-on-5. That's usually a successful formula for scoring, but goalie Louis Domingue was the Lightning's best player despite some shaky moments.

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