Flyers Road Trip Part 1-2: Speared by Hawks, Stung in Columbus

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst IDecember 27, 2008

When the Flyers looked at their schedule that awaited them following the Christmas break, they knew what to expect. This time around, the normally long road trip consisted of six games.

Well Christmas is unfortunately over, and the Flyers already are wishing that the holiday season hasn't come and past.

The Flyers are 0-2 in their current road trip. They haven't really showed up in either contest. In a 5-1 drubbing to the Chicago Blackhawks last night, the Flyers played like a team who hadn't woken up yet from an extended nap. The only player that wanted to play last night appeared to be Mike Richards.

The Flyers lost two defensemen in that game, Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle. Timonen suffered a chip fracture in his ankle, said Holmgren, and will miss at least one week. Carle suffered an ankle bruise and missed tonight's game against Columbus. He is listed as day-to-day according to GM Paul Holmgren.

Scott Hartnell also got hurt in last night's game. He suffered a broken right toe and was listed as doubtful for tonight's game. But he did play, way to man-up.

Tonight, the Flyers went into Columbus where they could have come in and rebounded against a below-average Ken Hitchcock led Blue Jackets. Obviously, not so much.

The Flyers were shutout for the first time this season, losing 3-0. The orange and black registered only 20 shots on rookie goaltender Steve Mason, it was his third shutout of the season. Mason improved to 10-7-1 and lowered his NHL-best goals-against average to 1.87. This was the Blue Jackets' first win over the Flyers in franchise history.

The Flyers were delayed landing in Chicago on Friday and missed the morning skate before losing 5-1 to the Blackhawks on Friday night.

Then fog prevented the Flyers' plane from taking off and the team didn't arrive in Columbus until Saturday afternoon. I'm not going to accept that as an excuse as to why the team came out shooting blanks against the Hawks and the Blue Jackets. You're all professionals, play the game.

The Flyers picked a bad week to bring up Claude Giroux. Because of the fact that the team is looking bad out on the ice, he might be the guy sent back down. Also, if this club continues to have defensemen issues with injuries, he might be the guy who goes back down, even though he had 33 points in 31 games for the Phantoms (17G, 16A).

For the record, as much as people want to talk about a goalie controversy, there isn't one. Niittymaki didn't play great tonight and Marty Biron played poorly in his first game back after missing two weeks. Biron, when he is 100 percent is their guy, deal with it.

"Tonight, we just didn't play very well. Tired or not, you still have to find a way to win," Captain Mike Richards said about the 3-0 loss.

Regarding the layover issue with the plane ride into Columbus, Mike Knuble hopes for the sake of the team that nobody uses that as a crutch on their performance.

"You know I hope nobody comes in here and uses that as an excuse. We had certain circumstances, but I don't pick that up in the room," Knuble said.

"We have to make a mental commitment out there, and tonight it looked as if we didn't. We have to stop letting up chances and generate more of our own," Knuble added.

"We can't make excuses right now," Coach Stevens said after the game. "We've got to regroup, we've got to tighten up, we've got to do the little things better.

Richards and Knuble believe that the two days' rest before their next game Tuesday against Vancouver will help the club regroup and find their winning ways again. For their sake, and the Flyers faithful sake, I sure hope so, because I know this team is better than what their putting out on the ice.