Last night’s loss to the Canadiens sent the Flyers soaring back down to earth. A 5-0 defeat humbled the NHL’s hottest team in a way they hadn’t experienced in a while. But if one thing’s for sure, it’s sent the right message – Alain Vigneault cannot afford to allow his players to get complacent.
The Flyers were simply poor across the board last night. Tomas Tatar and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each scored twice, only adding fuel to a burning fire, while Carey Price stopped all 30 shots he faced opposite Carter Hart, who was consequently pulled from the game after a tumultuous night at the office.
Only making things worse were their power play struggles. After a positive sign in game one with a power-play goal, the Flyers went 0-for-5, despite 13 shots on goal during those chances. The top line remained quiet and the frustration was visible. Alain Vigneault noted that something just wasn’t clicking that game.
“There’s no doubt that in any time, whether it be in-season hockey or playoff hockey, you need your top players to be driving the bus. Right now, I know that their intentions are good, but it has to transform itself on the ice surface. Tonight, the total team was off. We hadn’t had one of those in a long time. We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey lately. At the same time, we picked a bad time to play a bad game, but we did.”
“There’s no doubt that they outplayed us in all facets of the games tonight, especially in the will department. We’re going to need to be a lot better. I saw towards the end of the game there, where Kirk Muller there have got a 5-0 lead and he puts his #1 power play on the ice. We had embarrassed ourselves enough. I don’t think we needed to get embarrassed more. I’m going to make sure our team is very aware of that next game.”
The question now becomes one of rebounding. The Flyers have taken a shattering shot to the jaw, but can they keep swinging and avoid letting it knock the wind out of their sails? Matt Niskanen is one man who believes so. Nisky has been around several winning locker rooms in his time, most recently the Stanley Cup-winning Washington Capitals. For him to double down on the men around him who have helped elevate his game to a point where he recorded 33 points in 68 games, (8 more points in 12 less games than his last season as a Capital), says a lot.
The guys in the room. I like our group. We believe in our abilities. We got guys that are hungry for success and had a bit of a blunder today. We’ll learn from it quickly. Get excited and our energy up for the next game. I know we’ll play better.
Kevin Hayes was another who spoke up on the leaders within the locker room and the confidence he has in them to help the team rebound from this loss.
We have Hartsy and Moose in there and they always help. We have the right coaching staff and the right leaders on this team that know that we need to respond in a certain way. I have all the faith in the world in our leaders and in all of our teammates that we’re going to respond in the right way in Game 3.
Neither AV or this Flyers team have given us reason to doubt their resilience so far. This will be their biggest test yet, but hopefully another they can overcome without much drama.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre