EDMONTON, Alberta — Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher believes the answers for the team’s countless problems have to come in-house.
Right now, that house is on fire and nobody can find the hydrant to connect the hose.
Friday in Edmonton, the Oilers poured more gas on the Flyers' blazing inferno of a season that continues to go up in smoke, winning easily, 4-1, at Rogers Place (see observations).
“It’s tiring to say we didn’t play that bad and maybe we deserve better,” Jakub Voracek said. “In the end, it doesn’t really matter. It sucks. It sucks for everyone here. There are no excuses. Nobody cares. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. You can fight whatever feeling you want. It doesn’t matter.”
To be clear, Voracek’s not saying that the Flyers don’t care, but rather the league doesn’t care about how poorly the Flyers are struggling.
Yet, here’s the disturbing part: opposing teams don’t need to bring their A-game to produce a "W" when a B-minus effort will get the job done. The Oilers were a tired bunch, having played the previous night in Winnipeg. They were also down two key defensemen and resorted to calling up a 21-year-old rookie making his NHL debut.
On a night when three different NHL teams rallied from three goals down to win, the Flyers once again looked deflated falling behind 1-0, which is pretty much all it takes these days — and their 6-12-2 record (23rd in NHL) when the opponent scores first reflects a spiritless attitude.
“When we get down, I don’t know what it is, but we get really down on ourselves and turn into a negative bunch,” Shayne Gostisbehere said.
Edmonton tried to inspire the Flyers. Oilers center Drake Caggiula gifted the Flyers a four-minute power play with a high-stick to the chin of Nolan Patrick that could have swung the game in the Flyers' direction. Then again, an eight-minute man advantage against the 23rd-ranked penalty kill probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome.
No goals. No momentum. No chance.
“Lately, our power play — I mean all year — we’ve been doing nothing,” Sean Couturier said. “It’s horrible. Right now, we’re just passing it around and we’re not doing anything and it’s killing the momentum.”
Even Connor McDavid had a superstar night on the scoresheet without actually dominating the game on the ice. McDavid mustered just two shots on net — a bank shot off Anthony Stolarz from behind the goal line and a tap-in putt into an empty net. His first goal came off a hard forechecking play that made Gostisbehere look rather silly (see highlights).
“I should’ve made a better play,” Gostisbehere said. “I was at the puck first and should have gone D-to-D, but he picked my pocket to their guy and then shot from the corner. Best player in the world made a good play, but I should have made a stronger play.”
Flyers hockey is one hot mess with too many fires to put out right now.
And everyone should be feeling the heat.
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