Coming off a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night and having fallen from fifth overall in the NHL to 28th place, the Philadelphia Flyers have gone from one of the most feared hockey clubs to the laughing stock of the NHL and it only took them about three weeks to do it.
To put it mildly, the Flyers are in big trouble, having gone an abysmal 2-8-0 record in their past ten games and, as a result, which, given the talent that is on the roster, is alarming.
Management wanted to change the culture of the team in the off-season and felt it could accomplish that with the addition of veteran defenseman Chris Pronger and, from all accounts, the Flyers may have got more than they bargained for there.
There have been numerous reports swirling around that Captain Mike Richards and Chris Pronger are in what I will call a power struggle. Pronger has called into question the heart of his team and, in the process, some are suggesting that he has also called out Richards.
To be honest, it seems to be much worse than just two players vying for power. The word on the street is that the veterans on the team and the youngsters are not seeing eye to eye. The fallout has led some to believe that Richards’ captaincy was in jeopardy—with Pronger being the beneficiary of his dismissal.
Dressing room squabbles aside, this Flyers team has a ton of issue’s on the ice, not the least of which is an offense that is sputtering along, one which has posted a paltry 14 goals in the Flyers past nine games.
Take away the 6-2 win over over the New York Islanders on Dec. 8 and you have an offense that is averaging less than one goal per game.
The culprits? It’s the usual suspects, of course. Mike Richards has been struggling all season and has just five goals in his last 18 games. Jeff Carter, last years poster boy for scoring, has just five goals in the same time-span.
Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher has been very good for the Flyers thus far, but the reality is Boucher will likely tire in the coming days and, as such, may end up costing the Flyers a few more wins, which, given the fact the Flyers have posted just two wins in their past 12 games.
Pronger, who had registered 17 points and a +13 rating in his first 16 games, has just two points in his last 14 games and, by all accounts, is starting to hurt this team defensively as well, especially when you consider Pronger has a plus/minus rating of -4.
Richards, Carter, Pronger and a few other Flyers players need to do a proverbial gut-check. As I have lamented on many occasions, December is likely to be a key month for the Flyers and, thus far, it has been a complete and utter disaster.
Up next, Monday night in Boston, the Flyers get a chance to right the ship against the surging Boston Bruins. These two teams last met October 22, a 4-3 win for the Flyers. But this is a very different Bruins team, a team that has posted a 7-1-2 record in it’s past ten games and, by all accounts, look to be back to it’s 2008-09 form.
The game will serve as another preview to the NHL’s Bridgestone Winter Classic, an outdoor event that will take place Jan. 1, in Boston’s Fenway Park. One of the key factors in an outdoor game such as the Classic can be the elements, such as snow, rain, sleet and the like. The Flyers can only hope that the weather at the Classic does not emulate their teams struggles, otherwise the weather outside will be frightful.
Until next time,