’Tired’ Flyers lose to another last-place team

Travis Sanheim

      PHILADELPHIA – Fatigue is not a word NHL coaches use lightly to explain losses because every team has to play a demanding 82-game schedule.

      For 74 games, Flyers coach John Tortorella did his best to steer away from using tired players as an excuse for less than desired results.

      Then came Saturday night’s game against the last-place Chicago Blackhawks, an uninspired 5-1 loss at the Wells Fargo Center and Tortorella just couldn’t help himself.

      His team simply couldn’t execute plays, didn’t look all that sharp defensively and dropped out of third place in the Metropolitan Division as Washington generated a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to Boston.

      For a second straight game against a last-place team (Montreal being the other last Thursday night by a 4-1 score), the Flyers didn’t seem to have enough energy to prevail.

      Trailing by a pair of goals at the first intermission, the Flyers got one back just 17 seconds into the second period.

      Rookie Tyson Foerster hit the 20-goal mark, sending a mid-range shot past goaltender Arvid Soderblom to cut the deficit to 2-1.

      Chicago responded with a power-play goal with just 2:32 remaining in the period. After Scott Laughton went to the penalty box for tripping, Nick Foligno took a pass from Tyler Johnson (standing below the goal line) and sent a short shot past goaltender Sam Ersson.

      Chicago never looked back and some of that might have to do with a Flyers’ effort which didn’t show much gumption.

      “I don’t think it’s lack of preparation,” Tortorella said about the two unexpected defeats. “I don’t think we played badly but I don’t think we played well at all. That’s a good old-fashioned drubbing right there.

      “We’re not executing. We didn’t make one play. I think we hit the bottom here. Maybe that needs to happen to get back into it. I know ‘Sanny’ (Travis Sanheim) and ‘Yorkie’ (Cam York) are on fumes (York played 24:46). They’re not even thinking correctly.”

      The Flyers called off Sunday’s practice and also will not practice on Tuesday. Anything to get some energy back.

      “You watch our power play, our top guys struggle, I think it (fatigue) is there,” Tortorella said. “But there are a lot of teams that are tired this time of year. We have to figure it out. They’re all big games now.

      “When you see as a group we’ve struggled, I have to think we’ve played a lot of hockey. When you see your whole team struggle, that (fatigue) has to come into play.”

      Sanheim doesn’t want to make excuses but he and York have been put through the grinder lately.

      “We know it’s a long year,” he said. “A lot of games played. Tonight was a big one we needed to have. Unfortunately we didn’t show up. We (he and York) know we’re relied upon. We have to contribute and play well in those minutes. We’ll enjoy our day off tomorrow, try to get as much rest as we can. We should have a ton of energy, we’re fighting for a playoff spot. We shouldn’t be lacking energy.”

      The Blackhawks might have entered the game with a poor road record (6-29-1) but they certainly looked like a confident team in a lopsided first period.

      Chicago ran up a 2-0 lead and a 10-7 edge in shots.

      In continuing a trend of giving up an early first goal in recent games, the Flyers looked out of sorts when Lukas Reichel squeezed a puck under Ersson’s left skate near the post at 2:01.

      At the 17-minute mark, the Flyers appeared confused as the Blackhawks broke out of their zone on a three-on-two rush. Philipp Kurashev finished the job with a shot from about 25 feet and it was 2-0.

      In the third period, the Blackhawks put it away when Joey Anderson scored off a break-in at 9:09. Then, with 5:27 to play, MacKenzie Entwistle scored to complete the Chicago scoring.

      Foerster really couldn’t celebrate his milestone goal.

      “At this time of year we just have to play better,” he said. “I thought we could have done a lot of better things tonight. We don’t care who we’re playing, we just have to be better, I think.”

      >Short shots

      The Flyers get back into action on Monday with a home game against the New York Islanders. It’s a big encounter for both teams. The Islanders and Capitals are the Flyers’ closest pursuers in the race for third place in the Metropolitan Division. . .With defenseman Nick Seeler returning to the lineup after missing 11 games with a lower-body injury, Ronnie Attard was a scratch. Up front, Denis Gurianov returned to action, which meant Cam Atkinson, Olle Lycksell and Nick Deslauriers were scratched. . .Backup goaltender Ivan Fedotov wore jersey No. 82, the highest number worn by a goaltender in Flyers history.

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.