The past seven games have been a roller coaster ride for the fan and the team. Great games against the Lightning and the Red Wings, really bad games against the Sabres and Panthers. The Flyers once again showed their inconsistent play with a mistake-filled game versus their cross-state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After another holiday layoff, the Flyers once again played at a level that one might see right before an old 80’s movie montage where nothing went right and all they needed was some editing and a rock song to turn their play around. Sadly no amount of editing or hair band rock music would help in the game tonight.
The Flyers did not look sharp right from the start with players mishandling the puck with little pressure, passed going either just off the mark or in the case of an early two on one a pass going ten feet wide. The only thing that seemed to keep the Flyers in the game was that the Penguins were playing just as bad. Brian Elliot faced only six shots in the opening period and I could not help but wonder if the lack of shots would affect his level of play. The players on the ice were not the only ones having a sub-par effort the officials seemed to have issues of their own. In the final seconds of the opening period, Kris Letang got his stick up in the face of Andrew Macdonald causing his lip to bleed. Over the last few years that has been an automatic four-minute double minor, but this was not the case on this penalty.
Entering the second period the fans hoped the rust had been knocked off with the one period of play behind them. With the emotion that the games played between these two teams have had in the past, it is hard to think of a game with less drive and effort from the Flyers in recent memory. With Travis Konecny in the box for tripping Daniel Sproug, the Penguins were allowed easy access into the zone when the penalty killers for the Flyers were caught flat-footed at the blue line allowing Phil Kessel to skate in and score on a low shot that Elliott seemed to just miss.
The Flyers seemed to be just going through the motions for the majority of this game and after Jordan Weal tied the game on a deflection at 10:29 of the second the wheels fell off. Just when you thought the lack of emotion from this team could not get any worse the team as a whole played the worst three-minute span in a game all year. The Flyers problems were not only on the skaters in this game Brian Elliott also was having a bad game in net. The four goals he allowed were all scored on stoppable shots which he either did not react or reacted late. The period ended with the Penguins scoring four goals with only eight shots on net in the period and only 14 shots all game giving Elliott a .714 save percentage for the game.
With the third period of a poorly played game starting Dave Hakstol pulled Elliott in favor of Michael Neuvirth. The move did little to change the momentum or change the Flyers level of play. The Penguins would increase their lead to 5-1 with a goal by Jamie Oleksiak on the power play that sent the fans to the exits.
The Flyers next opponent is the New York Islanders who have beaten the Flyers twice so far this season. Both games were during the ten game losing streak and needed overtime to decide. The Flyers are 136-90-26-12 against the Islanders and hope to give a better effort than they put on the last two times they have faced each other.