The Philadelphia Flyers have dominated the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference pretty much all year. So it comes as a surprise then, to some, that they have been slumping recently.
They are currently fighting through a four-game losing streak. They have lost to the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Bills and yesterday, the New York Rangers.
These are all teams that the Flyers would have beaten earlier in the year. The latest loss to the Rangers was a 7-0 blowout shutout, or a "beat down and a half," as captain Mike Richards put it.
Should the Flyers be concerned about their slump or is the media making too much out of the slump?
A little of both.
One of the biggest issues of the Flyers is their tendency to take penalties at the worst of times. They have been no different in their latest slump.
Meanwhile, when they get power plays, they aren’t able to capitalize on chances.
They’ll need to fix this before the playoffs.
Despite the four-game slump, the Flyers are still sitting in the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
They still have a two-point lead in the standings over the Boston Bruins.
They also still have a two-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Atlantic Division.
Maybe it’s because they don’t have a sense of urgency, but they’ve been playing some sloppy hockey lately.
They’ve turned the puck over too many times, letting opponents get more chances and score.
They need to start playing with a sense of urgency. If they're urgent, maybe they won't make so many sloppy mistakes.
Plus, they excel in that position, as we saw from last season.
The NHL season is long: 82 games. Let’s face it: teams can’t stay winning forever. They’re going to go through periods where they lose.
Four games really isn’t that many in the grand scheme of things—if it continues, then that’s a cause for concern.
However, if the Flyers get their stuff together in the next few games and get back to their earlier-season form, they'll still be in really good shape going into the playoffs.
The Flyers have become their own worst enemy. They lose games in the third period, when they should be able to seal the deal and get a win.
They play well in the first period, but it goes downhill into the second and especially the third.
The Flyers used to be a great third-period team—they need to get back to that form.
The Flyers did this last year. They couldn't win games, which is why it ended up going until the final game to determine the final spot in the playoffs.
The only difference: Last year, they almost didn’t make the playoffs. This year, it is highly unlikely that they would fall all the way out of playoff contention.
They need to get this out of the way now so they can go into the playoffs on a roll and just continue. If they get stay too high all season, they risk getting blown out in the first round.
The Flyers have lost to Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo and the New York Rangers. The last three of those teams they could potentially meet in the first round of the playoffs.
Currently, the Rangers and Sabres are sitting at the seventh and eighth spots in the standings, respectively. The Maple Leafs are only five points behind the Sabres. If the Maple Leafs get on a hot streak, they could still make the playoffs.
This means that three of the teams that have beaten the Flyers recently could very possibly be who they're playing in the first round of the playoffs.
If these teams figure out how to beat the Flyers now, they will have an easier time with it in the playoffs.
There are reasons for the Philadelphia Flyers to be concerned about their recent slump. However, it is best for them not to worry about it and just go out there and play hockey.
If they think about it too much, they could further the losing streak, and that would make it very concerning.
However, if they just get out of it, this could actually be good for them in the long run.
It is better for the Flyers to get grounded in reality now than to get grounded in reality in the playoffs. This way, they can fix their issues and have another good run in the playoffs.