When Flyers play this badly, it shows why they don’t deserve to add players

Brian Elliott

Thousands of people watch the Flyers whenever they play but there’s only one set of eyes which really matter.

Those would belong to Chuck Fletcher, the general manager of the Flyers, who chose not to add players to his roster at Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

And maybe that was a good call.

At least it sure looked like one a night later when his team failed to show up for a game against Washington at Capital One Arena in D.C.

Fletcher could have somehow traded for Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Alexander Ovechkin and it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of this disgraceful effort.

The Flyers skated out, quickly gave up four goals in a mindless first period and went on to a 6-1 beating.

This, just two days after a complete meltdown loss to Buffalo in front of their own fans.

Coach Alain Vigneault appeared to be past the point of doing a complete critique of this mess.

There are probably a lot of things he would like to say but can’t for fear of completely losing this bunch.

Saturday’s inspirational 3-2 win over Boston seems like about a month ago now.

Tangible reasons for this loss? Start with the Flyers’ penalty kill. Philadelphia gave the Capitals just three power plays. Guess how many Washington scored on? All three.

Goaltender Brian Elliott probably has seen worse performances than this in front of him over his lengthy career but this has to rank right up near the top.

Vigneault didn’t even think about pulling Elliott after the fourth goal because what would be the point? Bringing in Carter Hart wasn’t going to change anything at that juncture.

Both the Bruins and the Rangers won on Tuesday night, so the Flyers find themselves trailing Boston by six points (plus two games in hand) and New York by two.

The Flyers have just 14 games left to pull off some sort of miracle.

“It wasn’t good enough,’’ Elliott said in a post-game media Zoom call. “We got beat all over the ice in basically every category.

“They played a good game and we didn’t.’’

The Flyers had a fleeting bit of energy when Sean Couturier scored  to tie the score at 1-1 at 7:45 in the first.

But the Flyers quickly gave that one back on a Tom Wilson power-play goal at 11:33. Then came another power-play goal by Nicklas Backstrom at 16:26 and a fourth goal from Carl Hagelin at 18:21 to put the game out of reach.

Couturier, an alternate captain, questioned the Flyers initiative in this burn-after-watching-video disaster.

“Tonight our PK didn’t get the job done,’’ he said. “It’s tough to get momentum when they’re two for two in the first. We have to do better than that in that area of the game.

“All around we need to be better. It’s not fun to see, I guess.’’

Vigneault can only do so much as coach.

“I didn’t like at all the way we came out,’’ Vigneault said. “Not the way you give yourself a chance against such a strong opponent.

“It wasn’t good enough. . .we put ourselves in a hole. We let our goalie try to stand in by himself.’’

>Long-term security still an issue

Just because a number of Flyer veterans escaped the in-season trade deadline doesn’t mean they’re all going to dodge banishment once the offseason trade market opens.

If the Flyers don’t make the playoffs there’s going to a public outcry for more than a couple scalps.

“We’re going to find out a lot about this group,’’ Vigneault asserted, “in the next coming while. We’re not in a position that we anticipated to be.

“But at the end of the day, we all have a job to do and we have to do it.’’

>Flyers sign free agent Cates

The Flyers have signed college free agent forward Jackson Cates from the University of Minnesota-Duluth to a two-year entry-level contract with an average annual value of $925,000 that begins this season.

Cates, 23, recently completed his third season at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he ranked second on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points in 28 games this season to help the Bulldogs reach their fourth consecutive Frozen Four.

>Goal differential becoming a nightmare

Remember when the Flyers’ plus-minus rating dropped to an almost unimaginable minus -37 a couple seasons back?

Well, don’t look now but this year’s team has a good chance of sinking below that red number. After last night’s game, the Flyers are now a rather unsightly minus-31.

That puts them in good company with six other likely non-playoff teams: New Jersey, minus-32; Columbus, minus-33; Anaheim, minus-40; Detroit, minus-41; Ottawa, minus-45 and Buffalo, minus-47.

>Why no energy at the start?

Vigneault said he couldn’t say why his team came out at the start unprepared.

“I can’t say how the players feel,’’ he said. “I’m not a mind reader. I will say this was our sixth game in nine nights. That’s a tremendous amount of hockey.’’

About Wayne Fish 1449 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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