Different opponent, same weekend storyline. The Flyers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against the visiting Capitals on Sunday night, just to watch the lead slip away to an eventual 3-1 defeat.
Despite the heart, the Flyers didn’t have the legs to mount a comeback as they suffered the same fate against the Penguins and Capitals.
One day off then back at it Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
Here are your 3 Storylines to Watch:
They got legs, they know how to use them
The Flyers simply couldn’t find the collective energy push on Sunday night against the Caps to mount a comeback.
This schedule and team conditions have not been favorable. Six games in nine days, six regulars coming off Covid/quarantine, a jaunt to Tahoe for a beatdown.
It adds up.
With one day rest completely away from the ice, can the Flyers find enough recovery time to get re-calibrated with their systems and timing? Is this a time to get more of the taxi-squad involved to give anguished workhorses like Provy and Hayes the night off in preparation for the back-to-back Caps rematch Thursday/Saturday?
At the very least, the Flyers should be able to get the desired matchups at home and roll all four lines to balance out the ice time. Looking at the continued intensity in March though, the coaching staff may have to get creative with the rest times for their regulars.
For the first time this season, the Flyers are numerically out of playoff position. There’s still 33 games to go, but the Flyers need to win. Buffalo is a great slump-buster prospect (knock on wood) as the Sabres are bottom dwelling in the division with a 6-14-3 record.
Looking at the schedule for the remainder of March, it is a lot of Caps, Isles, and Rangers in there. All teams that are either in a playoff spot or still in the fight.
For the Flyers to continue to keep pace with the playoff-pack, they need to take care of business against this struggling Buffalo team Tuesday night and use it to dig deep and find their game.
PK + PP = WTF
The Flyers special teams issues continue to cost them games.
On Saturday afternoon the Penguins scorched the Flyers PK twice on their way to a 3-2 victory. The personnel-package is solid. Coots, G, Provy, Hayes, Braun, Farabee. However, the strategy that made the Flyers PK so effective last season, intensely going after any hint of an unsettled puck, seemed to pause with the rest of the league last March.
The Flyers penalty kill is currently 28th in the NHL. With an intense schedule causing limited practice time, it is hard to see immediate improvements coming.
The Capitals didn’t score on their PP’s on Sunday night, but unfortunately neither did the orange and black who currently sit 22nd in the league in PP%. The Flyers had their chances, they had their looks, but they ran into Ilya Samsonov, a hot goaltender who closed the door and crushed any hopes of a PP tally.
The lack of productivity on the Power Play is just as big of a factor as their dismal PK in grinding out these victories.
Can the Flyers get the special teams in order starting with Buffalo Tuesday night? The Flyers need to find time to revisit their special teams’ strategy. Try some different looks and players to get results.
It can’t get (much) worse…
Photo Credit – Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire