PHILADELPHIA – Here’s a formula for failure: Play 19 hockey games and fall behind by a 2-0 score in 10 of them.
For the Flyers it’s been a recurring nightmare. They can’t seem to get out of their own way early in games and by the time they’ve had a chance to mount a comeback, it’s too late.
Such was the case on Monday night when the Flyers played host to the Calgary Flames at the Wells Fargo Center; on Hockey Fights Cancer Night.
Once again, the Flyers surrendered the first two goals and were never able to recover in a 5-2 setback, extending the Flyers’ winless streak to seven games (0-5-2).
Overall, the Flyers fell below .500 (not counting overtime/shootout losses) at 7-8-4 for the first time this season.
Coach John Tortorella deemed the problem for this game to be “low energy.’’ That, and a pair of miscues on Calgary’s first goals.
“We were flat,’’ he said. “Give up both of the goals, just not supporting our ‘D.’ We were in the rush, our D was pinched on the two situations and our forward didn’t back them up. Then two on one.’’
That’s called Backchecking 101, and the Flyers didn’t get a passing grade on this particular night.
“I’m going to look at the tape and show them what they need to work on,’’ Tortorella said. “Wake up tomorrow and start another day.’’
The Flyers suffered through winless streaks of 10 and 13 games last season so most of the players know the frustration produced from that sort of futility.
A lot of the lack of offense has to do with injuries to key players, including Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson, Wade Allison, James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton.
“Obviously we want to win,’’ goaltender Carter Hart said. “It’s not like it’s a lack of effort. It’s tough when you lose a lot of guys. You can’t control that, it is what it is. It was a one-goal game (until the end). Nothing to hang our head about.’’
Travis Sanheim acknowledged a short roster factors into the difficult situation.
“It’s next man up right now,’’ he said. “We just have to find a way to stick together as a group, continue to fight through this and find a way to win. I think tonight the energy wasn’t necessarily there.’’
Joel Farabee, who scored in the third period to cut the Flames’ lead to 3-2, was asked if the current winless streak is starting to feel like the long droughts of last season.
“No, we’re playing hard,’’ he said. “It doesn’t feel like last season at all. We’re battling out there. I think the effort is there. The pucks are going to go in for us. We just have to stay focused on that.’’
Jonathan Huberdeau, who led the Florida Panthers in scoring last season but was traded to the Flames, opened the scoring at 4:43 when he finished off a two-on-one rush.
Then Dillon Dube scored at 13:51. Again, the Flyers’ defense was lax as Dube raced in virtually unchecked and beat Hart with a short shot.
Tanner Laczynski cut the Flyers’ deficit to 2-1 at 14:33 when he deflected Kevin Hayes’ turnaround shot past Calgary netminder Jacob Markstrom.
The right wing/center was just called back up from Lehigh Valley after a two-game stint with the Phantoms. It was his first NHL goal.
“He did some good things there and that’s why he was called back,’’ Tortorella explained at the pre-game skate at Voorhees, N.J.
Laczynski was all smiles after the game. He just welcomed his first child, a boy, into the world and said he plans to give the puck from that goal to him someday.
“I feel like I’ve just been waiting for it to happen,’’ he said. “I was fortunate enough to get a nice bounce there. Any time you score you get some confidence. I’ll just to build off it.’’
But the Flames came right back and got a third goal from Rasmus Andersson at 3:29 of the second.
Farabee broke an eight-game goal drought with an unassisted tally at 8:03 of the third to get the Flyers close. Calgary closed it out with a pair of empty-net goals in the final two minutes.
>Hayes to wing
Due to injuries, etc., Tortorella chose to move Hayes from center to left wing for this game.
Hayes said he couldn’t recall playing anything but center during his tenure with the Flyers.
Tortorella said he wanted to keep Noah Cates at second line center for development purposes.
“I think Cates is more responsible down low (than Hayes) defensively,’’ Tortorella said. “There’s been some struggles in that part of the game. I’m certainly not trying to turn Kevin into a checker but I’m going to try to take a little pressure off him and use Cates there.’’
Tortorella said he believes the Flyers’ performance in Saturday night’s was one of their best of the season and showcased why he believes effort is not the problem.
“I thought we played our butts off,’’ Tortorella said. “The biggest thing with me is we need to be patient here. I’m not going to be patient with effort but I am going to be patient with everything else.
“The tying goal (with three seconds left), we had guys in great when you try to get on the other side of it, when you get some people back, if we do, I think we’re going to be a better team quicker because of some of the experiences they’re gaining now.’’
General manager Chuck Fletcher said on Tuesday he will give medical updates on injured players, including Konecny, Allison, van Riemsdyk, Atkinson, Laughton and Couturier. They were scheduled to be evaluated by doctors on Monday night.