What breakdowns led to one of the worst losses in Flyers’ history

Claude Giroux

      It was a game the Flyers would love to forget but most definitely should not.

      Why? Because there are so many mistakes which need correcting, they probably need all 21 hours to review them before they take the ice again on Thursday night at the New York Islanders.

      The embarrassing 9-0 score in a loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden doesn’t do this pitiful effort any real justice. Amazingly, it could have been even worse.

      Actually, it was a multiple franchise record-breaking defeat. Start with allowing seven – count ‘em, seven – goals in the second period, three of them in a row by the Blueshirts’ Mika Zibanejad, who not only recorded a natural hat trick but an NHL record-tying six points in that frame.

      Zibanejad scored with what is referred to as a “Mario Lemieux hat trick’’ – a power-play goal, a shorthanded goal and an even-strength goal.

      There’s more. This was also the worst loss to the Rangers in the Flyers’ 54-year history, eclipsing a previous 7-0 demolition in 2011.

      The Flyers’ team defense was invisible, leaving both starting goaltender Brian Elliott (five goals on 13 shots) and reliever Carter Hart (four goals on 16 shots) out to dry.

      The defense pairing of Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers was particularly brutal. Each was a career-worst minus-6.

      Philadelphia’s forecheck was nearly non-existent. Time after time, the speedy Rangers broke through the neutral zone untouched and hit the Flyers’ blue line with a ton of speed.

      To make the humiliation even more degrading, the Flyers were facing a team without its entire coaching staff. Head coach David Quinn and his three assistants had to stay home due to COVID-19 protocol.

      In their place were AHL/Rangers’ affiliate Hartford Wolfpack head coach Kris Knoblauch and associate head coach Gord Murphy.

      If those names sound familiar it’s because both were assistant coaches on the Flyers when Dave Hakstol was running the show a few years back.

      After this one-sided beatdown, the Flyers met briefly to go over what went wrong, then came on the media Zoom line to speak in hushed tones about why there was no energy, few puck-battle wins and no sense of cohesion.

      Captain Claude Giroux pointed out some of the Flyers’ deficiencies, which were numerous and especially strange considering the Flyers had just beaten this team in overtime two nights before.

      “It was embarrassing to be playing on that ice tonight the way we played,’’ Giroux said. “We didn’t help our goalies at all.

      “There’s not a lot of words to say. We know we have to wake up. The good thing is we have a game tomorrow.’’

      The bad news is the game is against the Islanders, who just had a nine-game winning streak ended by the equally hot Washington Capitals.

      Sanheim was guilty of turnovers which led to a couple goals.

      “I don’t know what to say,’’ he said. “I got to be a lot better. I was on the ice for a lot of goals against. I’m not doing my job. . .it starts with me, I have to take ownership of that.’’

      A visibly unhappy coach Alain Vigneault used words like “pride’’ and “leadership’’ (perhaps in short supply for both) to describe this debacle.

      “We weren’t good tonight,’’ he said. “We couldn’t defend, couldn’t make a play. We got truly embarrassed.

      “The whole part of our game was bad tonight.’’

      >Another slow start costly

      Aside from Monday night’s two-goal first period, the Flyers have fallen into their bad habit of getting behind early. Those slow getaways were costly in last week’s three straight losses to the Capitals and returned on Wednesday night as New York scored twice in the first, then connected four more times early in the second.

      >What happened to ‘trending the right way?

’      After the Flyers lost to Washington on Saturday, they insisted they were heading in the right direction. They did back that up a bit by staging a third-period rally against the Rangers on Monday.

      But after this 9-0 blowout, where do things stand now?

      “We lost a lot of battles,’’ Giroux admitted. “We didn’t play the way we want to. The effort has got to be better. It’s not one or two guys, everybody’s got to be better.’’

      Added Vigneault: “I don’t have an answer for you. Nothing about this game was any good. We’re going to throw it out and get ready for the next one.’’

      >Have the Flyers hit rock bottom?

      Ever since the Flyers had their season paused by the pandemic, it’s been a struggle. At one point they were 8-3-2. Now they’re 14-10-3.

      Giroux was asked if he needed to say anything from his position as captain.

      “I think everybody knows (this is a season low),’’ Giroux said. “We talked a little bit after the game. Everybody knows that’s not acceptable. There needs to be an answer tomorrow.’’

      >Negative stats? A couple more here

      The Flyers’ previous high for goals allowed in a period was six (four times, most recently in 2006).

      This was also the most decisive road loss in team history. The previous mark was 8-0, done twice (1969, 1994).

About Wayne Fish 1464 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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