Loser’s lament: Flyers’ best players still far from their best

Sean Couturier
      Well, now they’re a perfect 10.
      Or maybe imperfect 10 is a better way to put it.
      The Flyers’ “Big Five’’ has gone 1 for Canada since arriving in the Toronto bubble several weeks ago and the goal drought continued in Monday night’s Game 1 loss to the New York Islanders.
      You couldn’t put the blame on James van Riemsdyk because he was scratched.
      And technically Kevin Hayes can’t be included, because he scored in the final game of the Montreal series.
      But the trio of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny continues to fire blanks and now the questions are getting more blunt.
      “The top players have got to play better,’’ said Giroux in a Zoom call after the 4-0 defeat at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. “I’m obviously one of them.’’
      Coach Alain Vigneault sounds like he’s getting tired of the excuses.
      “Our top-end guys are good players,’’ Vigneault said. “Their execution is just a little off tonight. They had some good looks. Hayes’ line (which includes Konecny) had some good looks. Obviously I expect more from ‘Coots’ (Couturier) and his line (which had Giroux on it for most of the game).
      “They’ll have the opportunity to bounce back (Game 2) Wednesday afternoon.’’
      Is frustration setting in? A couple of times Konecny threw his head back and stared at the ceiling after missed opportunities.
      “Frustration is not going to help,’’ Vigneault said. “What you have to do right now is focus on the process, focus on the task and put your best effort on the ice.
      “There are a few players now, in my estimation, that can play a lot better with the puck. We’ll address it.’’
      Giroux said: “Frustration is something that we can’t have. We generate offense, our first period lost us the game. We tried to get back in it. We haven’t lost two in a row in a long time and we don’t plan on losing the next one.’’
      It’s not like the Flyers didn’t have chances to score, especially in the second period when they put 15 shots on Islander goalie Semyon Varlamov yet couldn’t break through.
      “I think when we get shots from the point and we have guys at the net, we have to get loose pucks,’’ Giroux said. “We had a lot of puck possession in the second (period). We know what we have to do to win some games.’’
      >Tough to crack Islanders’ defense
      The Islanders blanked Washington, a pretty potent offensive team, to close out the first round and then blanked the Flyers on Monday night.
      What makes them so tough to generate offense against?
      “They have structure,’’ Jake Voracek noted. “They have five guys inside the zone, on the hash marks. It’s hard to get shots through. We have to bring the same intensity (into Game 2) as we had in the second period tonight.’’
      Having not lost back-to-back games since January should provide some measure of confidence going into the second game.
      “It’s a good thing,’’ Voracek said. “That says a lot about this team, that we can rebound. I have no doubt we’re going to do that.’’
      The Montreal series is a perfect example. After losing Game 2, 5-0, the Flyers came out and threw shutouts the next two games. Then, after losing Game 5 by a 5-3 margin, they eliminated the Canadiens in Game 6 by a 3-2 score.
      “It’s a long series (vs. the Islanders),’’ Voracek said. “It’s one game. Look at the mistakes and move on.’’
      >Hart braced for attack
      Even though Carter Hart let in three goals, it could have been a lot worse. He had a handful of spectacular saves. He knows just how deep and talented the Islanders are.
      “We know they have some guys who have some good skills,’’ Hart said. “Guys on the back end who put a lot of pucks toward the net. They just come to the net hard, all their guys. Some guys have more skill than others but they all have a willingness to come to the net and battle.
      “For us, we just have to compete hard in front of their net and in front of our net as well.’’
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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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