NEWARK, N.J. – After giving up seven goals in each of their last two games, the Flyers appeared to be concentrating on better defense during Wednesday night’s game against the Devils.
Only one problem: They forgot to mount much in the way of an attack at the other end of the rink.
The result was another disappointing 3-0 loss at the Prudential Center which dropped the Flyers’ season record to 8-12-4.
New interim head coach Mike Yeo probably summed it up best by saying “I thought we looked a little bit safe tonight at certain times.’’
The setback extended the Flyers’ winless streak to 10 games (0-8-2), tying the third-longest drought in team history. The franchise record is 12, set between Feb. 24-March 16, 1999.
Philadelphia got Derick Brassard (hip) back in the lineup but it didn’t make much of a difference. The quality shots against New Jersey goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood were few and far between.
Flyers goaltender Carter Hart saw his own winless streak grow to six games (0-5-1).
It was a frustrating loss for Yeo, who was hoping for more in the way of offense. The Flyers netted five goals in Monday night’s loss to Colorado but there was no sign of that attack mode in this game.
“We scored some goals last game and I thought there was some stuff to build on,’’ Yeo said. “I didn’t see much of that. You could see the players are really trying to bear down, play a strong, structured defensive game. You want to be responsible, you want to be smart but when you’re safe you end up being in between.’’
Indeed. The Flyers didn’t look sure of themselves and really couldn’t sustain pressure on Blackwood.
“Whether it’s your defensive game and you’re not quite up to having the gap, the pressure that you need to kill those plays to recover the puck and you’re sort of caught in a position where you’re in between,’’ Yeo said. “I think the biggest thing now is to find a way to be executing. It’s too difficult a game. You look at the second periods and the struggles that we’re having. It really comes down to our puck play.’’
Players such as Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny are in serious goal slumps. Couturier is scoreless in 14 games, Konecny in nine. Can videotape sessions to show them what they were doing correctly before the slumps be of any help?
“A lot of it is between the ears right now,’’ Yeo said. “Zero doubt about that. You can see the tightness, you can see if things don’t go well the frustration building in the players. When you’re like that, you don’t move your feet as much. We don’t expect perfection. We’re going to have to play with urgency, all that stuff but you have to want that puck on your stick.’’
James van Riemsdyk is also scoreless in eight games. He indicated there are no easy answers to the team’s unsteady play.
“Some of it (safe, uncertain play) comes from (lack of) confidence,’’ he said. “You look at the good teams around the league that have success, they’re on their toes and they’re just playing and reacting. Not thinking as much. Just doing their job, being in the place they’re supposed to be. We just have to play more instinctively and reactively instead of thinking too much.’’
New Jersey opened the scoring at 5:30 of the second period. Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim slipped and fell while trying to guard Jesper Bratt. The Devil forward worked a give-and-go with Nico Hischier, eventually sending a short-side shot from the right circle past Hart.
The Devils made it 2-0 at 11:35 on a power play. Dawson Mercer got credit for the marker. A long shot came through a screen and Hart had no chance to find the puck.
New Jersey added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.
One of the challenges facing the Flyers is getting practice time to institute some of the system changes Yeo has made. The trouble is, the Flyers are in the midst of five games in seven nights, so most of the off time is spent recovering from game action.
“It’s a tough stretch,’’ Sanheim said. “There’s a lot going on this past week. We got to get out of this. We have to be better, we know that. Executing, a lot of that comes with confidence. We don’t have a ton of that right now. We have to try to get out of this together. No one else is going to help us.’’
Defenseman Kevin Connauton, claimed off waivers from Florida on Tuesday, has posted 27 goals/77 points over nine seasons (334 games) in the NHL. He has played for five NHL teams – Florida, Colorado, Columbus, Arizona and Dallas. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Connauton has also appeared in 261 American Hockey League games over parts of six seasons.
>Power point presentation
Claude Giroux tied Bob Clarke’s alltime power play points record (333) the other night. Giroux needed only 966 games to achieve the mark. Clarke required 1,143 to establish the milestone.
>Winless streak data
The last time the Flyers went winless in 10 games was between Nov. 11-Dec. 2, 2017. During that skid the Flyers went 0-5-5. In their history, the Flyers now have three 10-game streaks, along with two with 11 plus the record 12-gamer.
Devils had an apparent goal disallowed with 1:53 remaining in second period. Yeo challenged the play and won it. Officials ruled the shot into the net from Pavel Zacha did not count because of an offside infraction. . .The Flyers continue this three-game road trip with games at Las Vegas on Friday and Arizona on Saturday.