Flyers

With 6th straight loss, Flyers in dangerous spot 20 games into season

Flyers

The Flyers' worst losing streak under Alain Vigneault grew to six games Sunday night as the team stumbled to the Devils, 5-2, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

The back half of November completely spiraled on the Flyers. With the postponement of Tuesday's game, the club finished the month 4-6-3. That mark is in stark contrast from Vigneault's first season at the helm in 2019-20 when the Flyers went 10-2-4 in November with an NHL-best 24 points.

The hobbling Flyers are 8-8-4 through 20 games this season. The 20 points match the club's 9-9-2 start in the tumultuous 2018-19 campaign. The organization underwent significant change that season as Ron Hextall was fired in November and Dave Hakstol in December.

The Flyers were 12-5-3 after 20 games last season, which went totally awry. During 2019-20, the Flyers were 10-6-4 through 20 games and finished one win short of the Eastern Conference Final in the Toronto bubble.

The team's six-game skid is its worst since 2018-19 when the Flyers lost eight straight from Dec. 27 to Jan. 8.

The Devils (9-6-4) had dropped five of their past six games before beating the Flyers in the first of three meetings this season.

• Minimize his impact all you want but the Flyers sorely miss Ryan Ellis.

They need him badly.

A top-pair defenseman can change the game to such a high degree. Ellis eats up important minutes by playing in all situations. He undoubtedly would be playing a major role in the Flyers' goal prevention and goal production.

 

The Flyers are a drastically different team with him.

He's that good. But he's not on the ice. He has played only four games because of a concerning lower-body injury.

Ellis was the headliner of general manager Chuck Fletcher's active offseason. The team has hardly had him in its lineup and the void is starting to truly show. Arguably the biggest reason for the Flyers' mess last year was the hole on their top defensive pair. That hole is still there with Ellis not in the lineup.

The 30-year-old defenseman could be out until Jan. 1. Where will the team be at that point and how will it look are troubling, troubling questions for the Flyers.

On Sunday night, the Flyers were without Ellis, Kevin Hayes, Derick Brassard, Nate Thompson and Patrick Brown.

"Right now, we're stretched out," Vigneault said Saturday. "Keeping our fingers crossed that it stops and that we get some guys back. We've got a good team, but we're like anybody else, right now we're really stretched out."

More: How much leash will Vigneault have from Fletcher?

• The Flyers were in a 2-2 game over midway through the third period Sunday night before Rasmus Ristolainen and Ivan Provorov combined for an ugly turnover. 

Andreas Johnsson jumped on it and fed Jesper Bratt for the decisive go-ahead goal. Fewer than two and a half minutes later, New Jersey cushioned its lead with Provorov and the Flyers' first line on the ice.

Johnsson put in an empty-net goal to finish off the Flyers.

• To illustrate how faulty the Flyers have been on the power play:

Over the last 11 games, they have the same number of man advantage goals as they do shorthanded goals: two.

Scott Laughton drew the PK even with the power play when he scored a timely shorthanded marker in the first period. The Flyers were down 1-0 and had just come up empty on their first man advantage.

Vigneault and assistant coach Michel Therrien have to find a way to spark the power play. It's 5 for its last 54 and flipping momentum to the Flyers' opponents.

Since Oct. 30, the Flyers have scored 1.71 goals per game, the second fewest in the NHL over that span. They've gone 4-7-3 during that stretch. They haven't scored more than three goals in a game since Oct. 27.

Recently, Joel Farabee has answered the bell. He tied Sunday night's game three minutes into the third period with his third goal in the last three games. Prior to this spurt, he had only one point (a goal) in the previous 14 games.

• Martin Jones converted 30 saves on 34 shots.

New Jersey netminder Mackenzie Blackwood improved to 7-0-2 lifetime against the Flyers with 23 stops.

• Considering his six fights in 34 games for the Canucks last season, one could safely surmise Zack MacEwen knows how to throw 'em.

 

MacEwen and Mason Geertsen indulged in a big-boy bout during the second period. MacEwen was very adept at switching to his left.

Flyers' Zack MacEwen has big fight with Devils' Mason Geertsen

• With the Tuesday's game postponed because of the Islanders' COVID-19 situation, the Flyers next play Wednesday when they visit the Rangers (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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