Our Philadelphia Flyers haven't won consecutive games since January 10th and 12th when they beat the Carolina Hurricanes and then the New York Islanders. Since then, it's been either back and forth in the Win/Loss column, or, more recently, a few losses with a win sprinkled in.
The orange and black are now 2 - 4 - 2 since the All-Star break, and hemorrhaging defensively more than ever before.
Coming off back-to-back losses this weekend, the Flyers head into a four day gameless rift in the schedule. To us all, this is a good thing. Gives our boys a chance to recoup and gather their feet. Last night's 4 - 3 loss to the Red Wings marked a historical significance in the hockey books. It was Hockeytown's twentieth home win in a row this season which ties the all-time NHL record (1976 Philadelphia Flyers & 1930 Boston Bruins).
Ironically enough, the milestone was matched against the Club who last accomplished the feat. But to be honest, that's the last thing any Flyers fan has to worry about.
Saturday afternoon was spoiled for Philadelphians when the Bullies hosted the troubling New York Rangers and got outmatched all regulation long. The Blue Shirts are now just one victory away from sweeping the Flyers in our 2011-12 season series. Five games, five losses, zero-points for Philadelphia.
The Rags camp comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference and have continued to display their defensive dominance. Their abilities to win rival that of Boston; Two Eastern powerhouses that the Flyers have been unable to solve all season long (minus our first 'W' versus Beantown back in October). But to the Flyers credit, we're still fourth in the Conference and have accomplished this thus far with sketchy goaltending, a permanently sidelined Future Hall of Fame defenseman/Captain, more rookie starters than ever before, and a lack of snarl from the blue line.
Then again, I'm not here to read any of you a bedtime story and scratch your backs as you blissfully fall into a deep sleep. Have no illusions, this Philadelphia Flyers squad absolutely cannot handle the NHL's colossus clout.
Despite Brayden Schenn's two-goal evening, Philly lost two leads throughout 60-minutes of play. And it wasn't just losing the leads that had every soul wearing a Flyers crest discomforted; It was how quickly the opposition answered back.
After Schenn potted his second puck in the 2nd period to put the Flyers up 2 - 1, it didn't take three minutes for Detroit to gather a chance on the man-advantage and tie it up. Then Max Talbot contributed the third and final Philadelphia goal which was equalized by a Zetterberg slap shot, and then eliminated later by Johan Franzen's GWG 52-seconds into the 3rd period.
It was a defensive and penalty-killing meltdown.
Once again the Flyers outshot their competition (29 to 25) but were defeated down low, as well as from the points in their zone.
Sergei Bobrovsky looked sub-par despite getting no circumventing remedy from his comrades. He denied 21 of Detroit's 25-shots on his net, and ended the night with a .840 SV%. Ilya Bryzgalov watched from the end of the bench while combating the flu. I did not see him enjoying any hot chicken soup from his thermos.
Facing Bob from the opposite side was 32yr old Joey MacDonald who - in defiance of making a handful of absolutely braindead decisions in(and out of) net - skated away with the victory after his .897 SV% outing.
It was a game our guys could have (and should have) won.
For a short period of time of late, newly re-signed Braydon Coburn has been out-muscled in our own crease and has been branded the scapegoat on a handful of goals against us.
I will not, and cannot, disagree that his performance (or lack thereof) has cost the Flyers on second chance garbage goals. I will not, and cannot, disagree with how frustrating it is to see Coburn's failure to stick with his man in the slot when the play is switched to our zone's opposite side. That has ultimately left many a man open for the easy, open net tip in.
However, what I refuse to do is attack these facts with an unbalanced synopsis. I firmly believe Braydon Coburn is playing out of his element. He's trying to fill the role of a more physical, defensive defenseman and it's leading to overshooting his objectives as a d-man. I do not question his intensity or will to win. Those strong attributes are apparent.
But as a whole, the blue line is missing a plethora of gritty essentials and instead of successfully stepping up and covering those bases, Coburn continues to flounder.
Personally, I'm not going to rag on the man. Up until two weeks ago, it seemed this squad was able to compete with this Pronger'less, apocryphal defense. However there's no question it's all caught up to the Flyers and the blue line remains bleeding from an artery that can only be sewn up by our management making a move before the trade deadline.
Like I said, unfortunately our boys are unable to go the distance with this Conference's steamrollers. In Saturday's game review, Tim March mentions how this team has overachieved given the circumstances surrounding our recent history. Tim tells our readers that this Flyers team may benefit more from becoming sellers by the deadline, rather than hunters and buyers. He didn't say this in a whim of frustration and hate. Tim backed it up with a well thought thesis.
But Tim is not Paul Holmgren, that much I'm sure of.
So what if Homer doesn't see it Tim's way? What if Homer refuses to believe this team can't make its run in the post-season? Well, if that's the case, then our general manager has 14-days and 5-hours to pick up the phone and make his belief a reality.
On February 27th, the NHL's trade deadline will be here. It will come and go in the blink of an eye, and if our management has any hopes of salvaging the remainder of the schedule.....then defensive aid has to be dealt for.
Some believe this isn't a time to panic. I agree. It isn't.
But on the same note, today (more than any other) we know our current roster is unable to handle teams like the Bruins and Rangers. To ponder what those two Clubs would do to us in a Playoff series is both sickening and infuriating. To give ourselves a chance, a true defensive defenseman is a must-target and acquire.
Because I don't know about any of you, but I'm over the Marc-Andre Bourdon Experiment.
Next puck drop is Thursday (16-Feb) at The Well versus the visiting Buffalo Sabres, 7:00pm.
Good night. Bad hockey.
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