The Philadelphia Flyers look confused. Can you blame them? They haven’t scored in five days and have gone three straight games without picking up a victory.
Thursday night’s effort at the Wells Fargo Center in a rather big game against the Columbus Blue Jackets was, putting it mildly, unacceptable. There are many reasons why the Flyers, once again, missed out on earning two points against a team that is in the process of chasing them down in the division but we will look at three.
The First Period
3. The First Period
The Flyers had put up strong efforts against the NHL-leading Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues – both are tied for the most points in the NHL with 111 – in back-to-back games prior to Thursday night. Despite ending in shootouts, the Flyers still had to feel good about the efforts they put forth.
Instead of coming out with some jump looking to prove they are an elite team, the Flyers let the Blue Jackets control the pace early and often in the first period.
“We came out flat,” said Flyers forward Scott Hartnell. “We let them come in our zone too easy and just let them move the puck around way too easy.”
Philadelphia had turned their play around since the beginning of February thanks in large part to their early play. They were plagued early in the season by falling behind in the first and second periods leaving the crucial third period to salvage the game. Recently, they have jumped on opponents early with a strong forecheck and strong passing but that was absent in the first period on Thursday.
The Power Plays
2. The Power Plays
The sloppy first period the Flyers put forward was compounded by moments of sloppiness from Columbus that put the Flyers on the power play – three such opportunities to be exact.
In three first-period power plays, Philadelphia was able to muster just two shots on Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. The Flyers know that is not acceptable, especially for a team looking to make a run in the playoffs.
“The power play has to step it up,’ Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds explained. “Special teams are going to be key – penalty kill and power play – and our power play hasn’t been the best the last few games.”
Flyers captain Claude Giroux was rather direct with his assessment of the man-advantages against Columbus, “Power play, some games it’s going to go in, some games it won’t. We had our chances.”
Overall, the Flyers went 0-for-4 on the power play en route to another shutout. The terms “lifeless” and “sloppy” were tossed around often when describing the power plays. The Blue Jackets went 1-for-3 on the man-advantage and that turned out to be the game-winning goal.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky
Let’s face it, sometimes you have to hand it to the other team. Former-Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was making his first start against his former team at the Wells Fargo Center. It would difficult to deny that there was some underlying emotions to the game for the 25-year-old.
“[It] was special,” Bobrovsky said after the game. “Definitely. It was exciting. It was different; it’s tough to explain. It was special.”
How could he not be excited following the win? He posted his fourth shutout of the season against the team that traded him nearly two years ago. Bobrovsky was challenged from the beginning facing 10 shots in the opening period then had to fend off a hungry Flyers team that fired 17 shots at him in the second period, including 11 in the first nine minutes of the frame.
Overall, Bobrovsky made 37 saves – the fourth most all season for the Russian netminder and the most in a shutout. He earned the game’s second star but he was the real star for the Blue Jackets on Thursday night and the reason Columbus left Philadelphia with a regulation victory and two points.
The Flyers get a chance to prove their worth tomorrow in Boston as they face the Bruins at TD Garden at 1:00 pm. Let’s hope they can find the back of the net.