The list of Flyers’ problems might seem like a lengthy one right now but Shayne Gostisbehere was able to sum it up in one short sentence.
“You know right now this team has really lost its identity,’’ Gostisbehere said on Thursday night after the Flyers were destroyed by the New York Rangers for the second time in eight days, in this instance by an 8-3 score.
“From where we were at the beginning of the year to where we are now, we have to find something because we’re too good of a team to squander it away. We owe it to our goaltenders, to these older guys on our team, it’s just unacceptable.’’
Indeed. After getting pounded by the Rangers with an 9-0 hammering in New York last week, the Flyers were expected to come out looking for redemption.
Instead, they gave up three goals in the first period and three more early in the second for an insurmountable 6-0 lead.
Adding to the embarrassment: New York’s Mika Zibanejad became the first player in NHL history to score natural hat tricks (three straight goals) in consecutive games against the same opponent.
Of perhaps of even greater significance, the Rangers passed the Flyers in the NHL’s East Division standings, relegating the Flyers to sixth place.
Philadelphia’s minus-19 goals number is now tied with New Jersey for seventh in the East, bettering only the Buffalo “15 straight losses’’ Sabres.
The Flyers are quick to point out Friday will be the first time the compressed schedule allows them to conduct a full practice in 12 days when they take to the ice at the Skate Zone.
Here’s a suggestion on what to work on first: Stop handling the puck like it’s a hot potato or a hand grenade.
Even coach Alain Vigneault agreed with that idea.
“Execution with the puck, we’re going to get back to work,’’ the coach vowed. “Clean up some areas in our zone. They’re going to work their way through this.’’
Gostisbehere was critical of the play of the defense.
“It’s just straight not good enough right now,’’ he said. “We’re letting guys beat us up in front of the net, it makes our goaltenders look (bad). We have to be better as a team, better as a D-corps. We have to bear down.’’
Goaltender Carter Hart started for the Flyers and gave up five of the eight goals. Brian Elliott was subjected to the same sort of treatment.
Zibanejad finished with six points, duplicating his performance in that 9-0 game.
>Where was the Sam Morin punch in the opening minutes of the game?
It took 58 minutes and 24 seconds for the Flyers to show their displeasure about being outscored, 17-3, in the two routs.
Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin flattened the Rangers’ Brandon Lemieux as the clock was running out, perhaps sending a message for Saturday afternoon’s game at the Wells Fargo Center.
But the Flyers should have had someone stepping up in the first 86 seconds of the game, not the last 86, to provide some kind of early spark.
“There’s no doubt we came into tonight’s game with the right intentions,’’ Vigneault said. “It didn’t go that way at all.’’
>Is Flyers’ psyche fragile right now?
It seems like when the Flyers face adversity, such as surrendering early goals, their confidence diminishes.
“Nobody quit tonight,’’ Vigneault insisted. “If you look at how we played, we got behind. . .obviously that team has a high skill level. They capitalized on their opportunities. Our guys continue to do the right things on the ice.
“But it seemed like tonight, everytime we made a mistake and gave them an opportunity, it wound up in the back of our net.’’
>Great news for Lindblom
Oskar Lindblom, who battled through cancer the first half of 2020, received some great medical news when he basically was given a clean bill of health.
That touched off a celebration at Thursday morning’s practice at the Skate Zone.
“It (test) came back good,’’ Lindblom said. “It’s a great feeling to still know that – hopefully keep it the same and be cancer-free for the rest of my life.’’
>Giroux wants accountability
Claude Giroux clearly is frustrated by the Flyers’ inability to stay in games in March. The record has fallen to 4-9-1 and the goals against (119) are now by far the worst in the NHL.
“I mean we’re in a tough position right now,’’ Giroux said. “The important thing is everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and just do their jobs.
“We play as a team and it’s very frustrating the way it’s going for us right now. But we know we just have to keep battling.’’
Elliot said: “You have to approach every day like it’s a new day. Right now we just have to focus on the next day. Everything is coming at us in a hurry. We have to flip the switch, not focus on the negative stuff.’’