Philadelphia Flyers Free Fall: Why the Flyers Are in Trouble
Remember a couple months ago when the Flyers were the toast of the NHL? Their offense was scoring at will, their defense was shutting down opponents and even their goaltending, considered by many to be their Achilles' heel, was coming up big.
Fast forward to today and the Flyers are facing a serious gut check moment. This weekend they blew a 2-0 lead at home to the Sabres and were embarrassed 7-0 by a New York Rangers team they've beaten up on all season.
So what's wrong with the Flyers...and is it too late to fix it?
Look at the Devils and look at the Flyers. The talent on the team is fairly similar. For the majority of the season, the Flyers were playing with confidence, while the Devils were not. The result? The Devils were the NHL's biggest disappointment, while the Flyers were the NHL's top team.
Now the Devils are playing with confidence and they have been the NHL's hottest team, while the Flyers look lifeless and shell-shocked, with results to match.
The goalie in hockey is similar to the pitcher in baseball—a one-man position who can make up for many shortcomings on a great night or be the catalyst for many problems on a bad one. The Flyers' combo of Brian Boucher and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky never really scared anybody all season, but they were playing beyond their talent.
Now that they've been exposed for what they are—average, at best, goaltenders. The Flyers offense is being relied on too much to help make up the difference.
Chris Pronger Isn't Fully Healthy
Pronger's injury in December sidelined him for a month and threatened to cause a serious rift in the Flyers' back pairings. Since he's returned, Pronger has mixed in big games with ones in which he disappears, leading to questions of whether he's really fully healthy. If he isn't, the Flyers would be wise to ease up on his minutes and maybe sit him out a game or two.
The Flyers' recent struggles could be borne out of complacency. Their current four-game losing streak featured losses against the Sabres (eighth seed), the Rangers (seventh seed), the Senators and the Maple Leafs—two teams out of the playoffs as of now. They haven't been getting knocked out by top-flight competition and may have expected to win by simply showing up to these games.
The Penguins have somehow found ways to win without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and they are now only two points behind Philly. Boston has also kept winning and is also only two points behind the Flyers.
The Flyers seemed destined to run away with the conference only a couple of weeks ago, but their recent struggles could drop them from the top spot.
The Flyers have six goals in their last four games, which is wholly inexcusable considering not only the competition they've faced, but the talent they feature. If their goaltending continues to struggle, they'll have to put up 3-to-4 goals a game on a consistent basis.
Claude Giroux's Struggles
Giroux has been a big surprise for the Flyers, leading them in points and placing third in the team in goals. Since the beginning of February, however, Giroux has been limited to only two goals, severely hampering a struggling offense.
Costly turnovers have led to easy opportunities for opponents in all four of the Flyers losses, and the Flyers cannot continuously put themselves in such big holes.