Flyers getting good at helping teams end long winless streaks

Sean Couturier

“If your team is down,

And it’s losing games,

Who you gonna call?

Streakbusters!”

 

Well, the Streakbusters, aka, the Flyers were at it again on Tuesday night.

The downtrodden New Jersey Devils had gone 10 games without a win (0-9-1) but the Philadelphia crew came to the rescue and did it in almost comedy movie (did someone say “Ghostbusters?”) fashion.

After falling behind, 3-0, the Flyers rallied to score a goal in the second period and two more early in the third for a 3-3 tie at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

But then, after giving up a goal and scoring another, the Flyers surrendered a fifth goal on the way to a 6-4 loss.

This just a month after helping Buffalo end an 18-game (0-15-3) winless streak which was threatening league records for futility.

Another slow start contributed to the debacle. The Flyers have now allowed opponents to score first eight straight games and 17 of the last 19 outings.

Coach Alain Vigneault is running out of answers.

Although he continues to maintain his players aren’t quitting, he’s not saying much about the level of hockey intelligence we’re seeing out there.

This game saw the Flyers commit one mistake after another, leaving goaltender Brian Elliott once again out to dry.

How bad was it?

The Devils entered the game one for their last 25 chances on the power play. So what do they do? Score on their first two opportunities.

On Sunday night, the Flyers needed a pair of Claude Giroux miracle goals in the final two minutes to send the game to a shootout and an eventual 4-3 win over the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.

But there would be no such drama on Tuesday night as the hungry Devils refused to lose.

It was only the Devils’ fifth home win (5-17-3, close to an NHL record for poorest home record) for the season.

Typical of the Flyers’ weak start was their inability to cash in on a four-minute power play of their own in the first period. They managed just one shot and that seemed to give the Devils some added life.

“The first period, I thought energy-wise I thought we started off all right,’’ Vigneault said in a post-game media Zoom call. “Then they took the four-minute penalty and we totally lost momentum there.

“Our power play wasn’t effective at all. Other than hitting a post, we had absolutely nothing.’’

Poor starts are one of the reasons the Flyers haven’t won back-to-back games in the month of April.

One of the worrisome aspects of this effort was the way the Flyers went limp after Sean Couturier scored on goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood at 12:25 of the third period to tie it at 4-4, only to have New Jersey’s Yegor Sharangovich connect just 11 seconds later for what was the game-winner.

Eleven seconds. Like a scene from a pee-wee game.

“The fifth goal was a miscommunication between the ‘D’ and the goaltender,’’ Vigneault said. “Unfortunate to give that up the way we battled back.’’

With a pair of games against both the Penguins and Capitals next week, the Flyers probably need to do something in their next two games against the Devils to avoid finishing the season under .500.

>Zamula steady in debut

Russian defenseman Yegor Zamula made his NHL debut and held his own. The 21-year-old was a plus-1 with 27 shifts (19:19 ice time) and three shots.

“Everybody can see the potential and the upside,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s got to work and we’ve got to work with him to help him become the best player he can be.’’

Said Zamula: “It’s a little bit different level than the AHL. I tried to work hard every shift, play faster, but this is the first game. I will work hard in practice to get ready for the next game.’’

>Elliott a bit overworked?

With Carter Hart still nursing a sprained knee, 36-year-old Brian Elliott has been getting more action than he can probably handle. Alex Lyon did start one game over the past two weeks but Elliott has done most of the heavy lifting and it might be starting to show.

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to win every game,’’ Vigneault said. “When he’s been fresh, he’s been outstanding. His record is real good. This is his third game in seven nights. It makes it a little more difficult.’’

>Fun to watch rookies make debuts

Couturier, a grizzled veteran at 28, confirms he gets a kick out of rookies like Zamula, Wade Allison and Jackson Cates get their feet wet in the NHL.

“For these guys it’s a dream come true,’’ Couturier said. “They worked hard their whole life to be up here. They’re finally getting that opportunity. They’re doing well, playing a good, hard game. They don’t look out of place. It’s fun to see. Overall, I think they’re doing a great job.’’

>Short shots

The Flyers also got goals from Oskar Lindblom and Phil Myers, his first of the season. . .The setback snapped a four-game winning streak for the Flyers at Prudential Center. They were trying to win their fifth road game in a row against New Jersey for the first time ever. . . Zamula’s 19:19 is the most a Flyer has played in his NHL debut since Robert Hagg played 21:19 in his debut on April 9, 2017.

About Wayne Fish 1379 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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