When a team finds out during the afternoon before a night game that it will be without two of its best players, there has to be an emotional letdown factor.
At least that appeared to be the case when the Flyers hit the ice for a game against the Ducks at Anaheim’s Honda Center on Tuesday night.
Dealing with the absence of captain Claude Giroux and ironman defenseman Ivan Provorov due to their addition to the team’s COVID-19 protocol list, the Flyers gave a gritty effort but still came out on the short end of a 4-1 decision.
The Flyers finished their four-game West Coast swing with a 1-2-1 mark and fell back under .500 overall at 13-14-6.
While the Flyers did get goaltender Carter Hart along with forwards Scott Laughton and Max Willman off the COVID list, the team had to start rookie defenseman Cam York for his first NHL game as he subbed for Provorov.
Also missing from the lineup were defenseman Nick Seeler and forward Jackson Cates.
Anaheim’s Troy Terry scored twice in the first period on the way to his first career hat trick.
The Ducks raced to a 2-0 lead on Terry’s tallies before the opening period was half completed.
“It’s obviously difficult,’’ said interim head coach Mike Yeo in a post-game media Zoom call. “Those are quality players. It (the Giroux-Provorov announcement) came right at the start of practice. That’s the world we’re living in right now. We can’t make excuses. That game was still there for us.’’
Provorov saw his streak of 403 straight games from the start of his career come to an end. That was the longest streak by a defenseman on the same team from the start of a career in NHL history.
Anaheim goaltender John Gibson did see a number of quality scoring chances by the Flyers but he allowed only the one goal to Cam Atkinson off a Joel Farabee entry at 18:42 of the first.
As for the overall trip, Yeo seemed to have mixed feelings.
“When you’re looking at the results, it’s not good,’’ said Yeo, whose team previously had put together a seven-game point streak including an overtime win at Seattle to start the trip. Then came an overtime loss at San Jose and a 6-3 defeat by the Kings on New Year’s Day. “We had one win on the trip and unfortunately we’re in a position where we’re chasing everybody. It’s difficult to sit here and say we did this well and that well.’’
Added Atkinson: “I thought we did some good things. There’s room for improvement. It’s tough when guys go down. I think overall it was an OK road trip.’’
Hart was asked about the loss of leadership with the absences of Giroux and Provorov.
“It’s tough,’’ Hart said. “Guys have no symptoms or mild symptoms. The league has to find a way to change that. We’re either going to be playing shorthanded all season long or we’re going to have to keep having games postponed. I think it’s a joke. It has to change.’’
The Flyers return home on Thursday to face the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins and they have to get their act together.
“The bottom line is we need to grind some points out,’’ Yeo said. “I will say our guys battled extremely hard tonight. We had grade-A opportunities but we couldn’t find a way to put the puck in the net. Although we didn’t get points the last two games I thought they were our best (on the trip).’’
>York looks steady in debut
York, the 2019 first-round draft pick, didn’t look out of place on a defense pairing with Justin Braun. Yeo seemed to like what he saw.
“I thought if there was one thing for our fans to feel good about, it was York,’’ Yeo said. “I thought he was outstanding tonight, right from the drop of the puck. We didn’t try to shelter him, let’s put it that way. Defensively, I thought he was assertive, confident. We saw his puck-moving ability.’’
The Flyers are scheduled to play Detroit at home on Jan. 18 but that game has been postponed (no reschedule date) to make room for the Islanders to make up their game with the Flyers which was postponed on Nov. 30.