When a team gives up a combined total of 15 goals in just two games of a four-game road trip, it’s time to take out 20 mirrors for a little self-examination.
What the Flyers might see in their reflections can’t be pretty.
Although the Flyers limped home 2-2 on their week-long swing through New York, Saturday night’s 6-1 loss to the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum is going to make the whole experience a rather bad memory.
Especially when one considers that 9-0 pounding they took from the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Look at it this way: Twenty – count ‘em, 20 turnovers – aren’t going to get it done. And when you have to let Oskar Lindblom, a survivor of both cancer and COVID-19, drop the gloves and fight in order to provide a spark, something is definitely out of whack.
Like the no-show effort against the Rangers, the Flyers – who were playing without No. 1 center Sean Couturier (lower-body injury) — took themselves out of this one early.
They allowed a whopping four goals in the first period, actually held their own in the second, then resorted to river hockey in the third by surrendering goals on turnovers by defenseman Nate Prosser and goalie Carter Hart.
But there was plenty of blame to spread around, as veterans and youngsters alike played “hot potato’’ with the puck.
So the Flyers return to Philadelphia for a third straight game against the Islanders on Monday with at least a chance to redeem themselves.
One shudders to think what might happen if the Flyers were to give a repeat performance.
The parade of miscues started with Travis Konecny taking a needless hooking penalty just 5:43 into the first period. The Islanders needed only 28 seconds to score.
Then came rapid-fire goals by Jordan Eberle at 8:01 and a pair from Casey Cizikas at 10:03 and 15:25. At 4-0, this one was all but over.
Having just started the second half of their season, the Flyers can’t permit themselves too many more of these confidence-killing “stinkers’’ if they hope to make the playoffs.
“I think we’re at the point where we just have to play better,’’ Konecny said on a media Zoom call after the one-sided setback. “If you’re losing games, you want to be losing them by one or giving up an empty-net at the end.
“We’ve got to be keeping it tighter, making the right plays, giving ourselves a chance to be in games. I think everyone knows what to do and we just have to execute.’’
The Flyers’ team plus/minus number has plummeted all the way to minus-12, which makes them the only team with a negative number among the top six outfits in the NHL’s East Division.
Even the sixth-place Rangers are a plus-10.
“It (giving up so many goals) is making it challenging for us,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said. “Tonight, we gave them those goals. First goal was a penalty-killing goal. . .TK took that penalty, Oskar blocked a shot and it went to (J-G) Pageau, who had an open net.’’
It went downhill from there.
“The other goals we gave to them, whether it was turnovers or bad decisions,’’ Vigneault said. “It didn’t seem at the beginning we had a lot of energy.’’
>Couturier takes warmups, then can’t go
Couturier apparently had an issue with his lower-body injury at the morning skate but decided to give it a try in pre-game. But after consulting with medical chief Jim McCrossin, Couturier took off his skates and called it a night.
His status for Monday’s game is uncertain.
“He tried this morning and thought he would be all right,’’ Vigneault said. “He went out for the warmup, then he and Jimmy discussed it and felt it was better not for him to play.’’
>Why no momentum after Thursday’s dramatic win?
One would think the Flyers would have come out with some fire after handing the Islanders their first loss on home ice in regulation time this season on Thursday night.
Then came another slow start.
“Before the game I thought we were really focused,’’ Vigneault said. “We talked about making sure that we followed up that performance that we had with another solid one, making the right plays.
“But right off the bat, we were turning over pucks in the neutral zone. You give a team opportunities like that and they’re going to put them in the net.’’
>Rough nights for Gustafsson, Prosser
Erik Gustafsson, filling in for the benched Shayne Gostisbehere, and Prosser, back in action due to an injury to Robert Hagg, both struggled in this game.
Gustafsson admits he can play better and has to.
“We have to be quick with the puck and we have to make better plays,’’ Gustafsson said. “That means me, too. I have to make the play tape-to-tape. It’s tough on the forwards, too, when we have to ‘rim’ the puck around the boards to get it out of the zone.’’
>Oskar the enforcer?
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Lindblom decided to drop the gloves with New York’s Oliver Wahlstrom late in the first period to try to give the Flyers a spark.
The Flyers did get a goal from Joel Farabee but that was about it.
“Everyone knows he (Lindblom) is a team guy,’’ Konecny said. “He knows when to do the right things at the right time. That was definitely the right time to give us a spark. It’s just too bad we didn’t respond the way we should have after Oskar stepped up.’’