PHILADELPHIA – Alain Vigneault left no doubt in anyone’s mind why he’s disgruntled with his team’s recent efforts.
The Flyers coach admitted he himself can “do better’’ after his team’s winless streak reached five games.
But he also placed some – maybe a lot – of the blame on his players.
“We’re obviously being challenged right now,’’ Vigneault said after a 6-3 loss in the Black Friday afternoon tradition game at the Wells Fargo Center. “As an organization we’re being stretched out (injuries to Kevin Hayes, Ryan Ellis, Derick Brassard) with player personnel. It’s a challenging time but everyone has to be better and that starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job of making sure guys perform to their level. You look at our group, there are a few guys in my estimation that can give us more, give us better and that’s what we have to do.’’
Captain Claude Giroux offered some specifics about what the Flyers have to do to improve their chances of winning.
“We know we can play better, we know we can support each other better on the ice, either in the offensive zone or the defensive zone,’’ Giroux said. “We have to play as a unit of five and right now we’re not.’’
Some of the Flyers’ top sharpshooters can’t find the back of the net right now.
“The top two lines are not playing great,’’ Giroux said. “It’s not by line, it’s the team. We’re flat, we’re not playing the best we can. We know that. There’s frustration in our game. We need to reset here and figure it out. . .too many mistakes.’’
Meanwhile, apparently the Hurricanes had revenge on their minds.
Given the fresh wound of a 2-1 Flyer win on their home ice just two weeks go, the Hurricanes played like a team on a mission.
Philadelphia held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 but watched them all disappear under Carolina’s relentless attack.
Goaltender Carter Hart gave up a season-high six goals but didn’t have a chance on several of them.
The Hurricanes were trailing by a 2-1 score after one period courtesy of a nifty shorthanded breakaway goal by Joel Farabee, who deked past forward Seth Jarvis and beat goaltender Antii Ranta.
“We were on the PK and I thought it was a great breakout, great help by Cam (Atkinson) to the get the puck out,’’ Farabee said. “Once I got it I saw that it was a forward on the left side and I just tried to attack him.’’
Philadelphia was still in it early in the second period when a blast from Rasmus Ristolainen at 1:16 countered the second of two Sebastian Aho goals for a 3-2 Philadelphia lead but from there it was all Carolina, which scored the next four goals.
Just 29 seconds later, Jesper Fast tied the score at 3-3. Then came goals from Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Steven Lorentz and the outcome was pretty much decided.
In the third period, Andrei Svechnikov scored to make it 6-3.
Vigneault saw that first-period lead as a bit of fool’s gold.
“In the first period we came out with a one-goal lead, but I didn’t think we had played extremely well,’’ the coach said. “The second period I thought we played a lot better but we gave up four goals. That goal in the third just sucked all the energy out of us.’’
Giroux said worrying about the absence of Hayes, Ellis and Brassard is “just making excuses.’’
The power play’s ineptitude is almost embarrassing – just four for its last 47 attempts. Teams aren’t afraid to take penalties, and liberties, knowing the Flyers’ power play isn’t a real threat.
Farabee believes the Flyers can get things turned around but it’s going to take some real focus.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily one thing,’’ he said. “We know what works, it’s just a matter of doing it. I don’t think there are any major issues. The last five games have been tough. It hasn’t been easy. All we can do is focus on what’s ahead and go from there.’’
Hart implied it’s a little too early to jump to conclusions about the Flyers’ recent tailspin.
“We’re still early in the season,’’ Hart said. “We just have to bear down and play a full 60. Pucks aren’t going in for us right now. We just have to stick to the process.’’
The Flyers fell to 8-7-4 for the season.
>Black Friday statistics
Since 1997, the Flyers have played games on Black Friday all but 2004, 2012 and 2020 which are years when the NHL wasn’t operating (the first two for labor lockouts, the last for the pandemic. Over that period, the Flyers are 11-7-1-3 overall, including 2-0 on the road.
Doug Yandle ran his ironman consecutive game streak to 940 and now is just 25 behind the NHL record held by Doug Jarvis. . .The Flyers return to action on Sunday with a game at New Jersey. . .Philadelphia entered the game 4-0-1 in its last five games against Carolina.