For a team that has faced more backups this season than iCloud storage, the Flyers have a way of making no-name netminders look like the next big thing.
Enter 25-year-old journeyman Jordan Binnington straight from the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL.
It was one of those rare games in which 20-year-old Carter Hart, making his seventh career start, was actually the more experienced goaltender on the ice.
Seven years Binnington had bounced around in the Blues' minor-league system as he had followed the bouncing puck from Peoria to Kalamazoo to Providence to San Antonio.
With the Blues playing their second game in three nights, interim head coach Craig Berube was so desperate for a backup to starter Jake Allen that he took Binnington straight from the Alamo City and tossed him into the crease for his first NHL start in Philadelphia, where Berube never had an issue about making an opposing goalie feel uncomfortable.
Monday night, Binnington became the 35th goalie in NHL history to earn a shutout in his first career start, a 3-0 decision over the Flyers (see observations). And without taking inventory of the previous 34 instances, I’m willing to say that Binnington’s bagel may have been one of the easiest.
The Flyers made a very futile attempt to make his life miserable, unsettling or even remotely uncomfortable.
“We seem to get every goaltender’s best," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. “Now is that because the goalies on the other team are playing that much better against us, or is it because we’re not doing enough things as far as creating traffic?"
The ice at the Wells Fargo Center felt like blinking red lights on Broad Street. There was no sign of traffic for nearly the entire 60 minutes.
“There’s no jam to our game,” Scott Laughton said. “We are one and done every time we get in the zone.”
Binnington was tested early in the first period with some big shots and he was prone to some even bigger rebounds, almost exclusively from the Flyers' top line, but there was never a guy in orange and black within Binnington’s vicinity to pounce on a second-chance opportunity.
According to the website NaturalStatTrick.com, the Flyers mustered a measly five scoring chances in the high-danger area, where they had been averaging nine per game throughout this season.
“We had a lot of guys that just didn’t seem to have it,” Gordon said. “Especially handling the puck and making plays.”
If “it” is tenacity, desperation and a hunger for scoring goals, “it” hasn’t existed since Dec. 29 as we’ve moved into calendar year 2019. The Flyers now have just seven goals over their last six games, and they’ll take that fragility into Washington to face the defending Stanley Cup champions Tuesday night.
The losing streak, or “winless” streak, has now reached seven games and as we’ve discovered last season, it has the legs to keep moving in the wrong direction.
After all, it’s difficult to generate traffic, scoring or any offensive momentum when you have a team with a lot of passengers and very few drivers.
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