PHILADELPHIA – Just when it looked like the Flyers were skating out of their power-play doldrums, the struggles resumed on Black Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.
A recent 1-for-28 slump was temporarily stopped when the Flyers picked up three goals in two games with the man advantage. But since then, the Flyers have gone 1-for-9, including an 0-for-4 in a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
The Flyers did generate some chances with the extra man but just couldn’t get a puck past New York goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
For the season, the Flyers are only seven for 66, leaving them just above 10 percent and loitering near the bottom of the National Hockey League.
Either the Flyers aren’t getting enough traffic in front of an opponent’s net or too many point shots are being blocked by defenders.
“I don’t want to talk about the power play,” coach John Tortorella snapped after the game.
Fortunately, Cam Atkinson did. Biggest issues?
“Execution,” Atkinson said. “Wanting the puck, wanting to make a difference. Shooting the puck if the shot is there. I think we just got away from our structure, got away from our game plan and what has made us successful.”
>30 stitches from friendly fire
Flyers forward Noah Cates was skating out of his defensive zone in the second period when Atkinson tried to clear the puck with a high backhand flip. Unfortunately, it hit Cates squarely above the upper lip. He quickly skated off the ice and headed into the locker room.
He said he received about 30 stitches and was back in action for the start of the third period.
“I think they finished the stitches right as the third was starting,” Cates said. “I wanted to get some water, kind of regroup, take a breath, get moving again. About 30 stitches, they did a great job. It’s kind of tough to come back and play but it’s hockey, and it happens.”
Cates said the Flyers did a good job of regrouping after falling behind by a 2-0 score in the first two minutes.
“Yeah, for sure, you know we got some shots after that,” he said. “We started playing our game and playing in their zone. I think we recovered after that. If we had found one there, it would have been 2-1 and a totally different hockey game.”
There were a lot of Rangers fans in the audience, perhaps due to the extended holiday weekend. A big roar went up when the Rangers scored those early goals. How do you block that out?
“It’s different,” Cates said. “It’s a rivalry game, it’s Black Friday. They have great fans, tons of great atmosphere. We have to kind of build from it. I thought our fans were a little more into it just because they (the Rangers) had some more fans here.”
>Division games important
Every time the Flyers play a Metropolitan Division opponent, it’s like a four-point game. That’s why Saturday’s game at Long Island is so important.
“These Metro games, our division rivals, concern four points,” Atkinson confirmed. “They’re so crucial for us. Tomorrow is another good test, a team that just beat us. So we have to be ready to go.”