It’s difficult to quantify what scenario is worse in hockey.
Having a team steamroll right through you in the opening 20 minutes like the Maple Leafs did last Saturday or suffering a remarkable collapse in the final 10 minutes on home ice against an inferior hockey team.
We’ve now witnessed both ends of hockey’s unbearable spectrum in a span of 72 hours.
It took all of five minutes and 29 seconds for the Senators to erase the Flyers' 3-1 lead Tuesday and take their first advantage with 2:59 remaining in regulation on their way to a 4-3 shocker at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).
The Flyers' dressing room was simply stunned by what transpired.
“As soon as they got that second goal, we kind of got scared,” Jakub Voracek said. “Can’t do that. Every single team is going to jump on it. They gained the momentum and that’s what they did. It’s only one goal. It’s a one-goal game. I still don’t know what happened. I can't believe we lost that game.”
Voracek was brutally honest in his assessment of the Flyers' recent struggles, a 1-5-1 stretch over the last seven games and a team that has now plummeted to last place in the Eastern Conference (see standings).
“I don’t think it’s focus. I think it’s the way things are going right now,” Voracek said. “Everything we touch just doesn’t work. But like I said, nobody gives a damn what kind of position we are in. Feels like we got scared. We started slamming pucks everywhere along the ice instead of holding it and making a hard play. We’re just whacking at it. It’s not a good thing.”
Certainly, the Flyers had a frail Senators team right where they wanted it with Ottawa having played the night before, losing, 4-2, to the Rangers. The Flyers entered well-rested with two days in between games. None of that really matters when self-doubt appears to have crept into the team’s overall psyche.
“I think these are mistakes by a team that doesn’t have confidence, which we don’t have right now,” Voracek said. “There’s nobody to blame but us. Up 3-1 against a team that played yesterday, no matter what kind of position you are mentally, you have to find a way to win that game. We didn’t.”
Until the final 10 minutes of the third period, the Flyers didn’t have to lean too heavily on goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who was making his first start in over 18 months. Two goals were deflections, one goal Stolarz couldn’t locate on his pads, and the game-winner was Matt Duchene’s impressive rebound backhand shot that Stolarz was slow to react to (see highlights).
“Usually, I always slide into the post like that,” Stolarz said. "You want to stay down in case the guy comes back at it quick. You don’t want to be on your feet and he’ll beat you low. Credit to him, he made a good play getting it back to the net. As a goalie, you’re going to want that one back.”
As a team, it’s a game the Flyers certainly want back, and one they desperately needed.
The Flyers are a fragile team heading into Pittsburgh Saturday, and the thought of playing scared against the powerful Penguins should be frightening to every player in that locker room.
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