Coming off of a 7-0 loss to the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins is something to be ashamed of. The Flyers were dominated in all aspects of the game, plain and simple. Pittsburgh came out firing on all cylinders, and the Flyers came out the way that we have become accustomed to, flat.
It’s not time to panic yet, however. Yes, a 7-0 loss is incredibly discouraging, but history shows that the Flyers stand more of a chance than some might give them heading into game 2 tonight.
After coming off of a loss of four or more goals, the Flyers are 4-4 over the past two years. No, this isn’t meant to be discouraging, but it isn’t exactly the greatest motivator either. During the 2016 season, the Flyers lost by four or more goals 4 times, New Jersey twice, Washington and Carolina once each. After two of those games, they rebounded and grabbed a win from their next opponent. The other two, they lost by three goals apiece.
This season, the Flyers found themselves in the same position four times once again. This time, going 2-2 as well, losing to Anaheim, Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lighting, all by 4 or more goals. They followed up the Pittsburgh and New York games with wins, and followed the Tampa Bay and Anaheim games with losses.
Things get even more mediocre when talking about how the Flyers do coming off of a shutout loss. During the 2016-17 season, the Flyers were shut out eight times. They were shut out by New Jersey twice, Tampa Bay, San Jose, Washington, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Columbus. They mustered three wins after three of those shutouts, and 5 losses, one of those being after another shutout loss. This put their 2016-17 record after a shutout at 3-5.
This year, the Flyers were shutout six times, two coming back to back against Minnesota, one each to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nashville. Both times the Flyers played Minnesota, they picked up losses, one of them being the other shutout to the Wild. After playing Chicago, Boston, Nashville, and Los Angeles, the Flyers picked up wins. They were 4-2 this year coming off of a shutout loss, putting them at an even 7-7 over the past two years after coming up goalless in their previous game.
This isn’t meant to be encouraging. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done if the Flyers hope to come back roaring against the Pens. The Penguins have a lethal amount of speed on their team, paired with a ridiculous amount of talent. Sure, Wednesday night made a series win look like an oasis in the middle of the desert. However, this shouldn’t be a reason to panic either.
A few minor tweaks to the lineup, and the Flyers could be soaring high again. The Flyers played with absolutely no edge. Sure, hits were laid, but not at the level the Flyers are known for dishing them out. If the Flyers look to announce their physical presence, bringing Robert Hagg back into the lineup for a struggling Radko Gudas or Andrew MacDonald may be the right decision to make for coach Dave Hakstol.
To match up to the Penguins level of speed, players like Taylor Leier and Jordan Weal need to slot in for guys like Jori Lehtera and Valtteri Filppula, who have shown that they simply cannot hang with the pace of play the Penguins play at.
It’s a simple fix, that could pay off in a big way, but just because it makes sense to fans, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do in the mind of Dave Hakstol. Don’t expect drastic changes to be made, but maybe a minor tweak here or there. The Flyers have been here before, they know how to handle themselves after a loss of this magnitude. The panic button should remain untouched, because if history has shown us anything, is that it may not be in favor of the Flyers here, but it certainly isn’t against them either.
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports