A 4-0 loss to the Islanders was not the way that the Flyers wanted to start their week, but it’s a harsh reality they will have to face. In a deceivingly close-fought game until the third period, the Flyers had their Achilles Heel exposed once more – production from their top lines.
A Flyers fire burning out
The Flyers hit the ground running when round-robin play opened, netting 11 goals in three games. Pucks were being buried in the net by players of all skill levels. From notable names down to unsuspecting heroes, everyone wanted a piece of the pie. Since then, they’ve scored just 11 goals in their last seven games.
As the games have worn on, the need for scoring from the top of the depth chart has increased. Depth goals are great, but there’s a reason why they’re not top-line guys yet. Maybe it’s youth, maybe it’s the opposite. Perhaps it’s consistency or chemistry, and potentially injury-related. But you cannot expect fourth-line players to bring the bulk of your offensive production (outside of
LeBron James Jake Voracek) to the table each and every night.
Firing up the Bat-signals
Neither, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, or Travis Konecny have scored since the playoffs officially began. What makes things worse is that the Islander are one of the tournament’s top defensive teams and came into this series giving up a begrudge 1.67 goals per game – the least of any playoff team.
Just like they struggled to get past Carey Price, the Flyers spent forever knocking on the door of Semyon Varlamov, who made 29 saves for the Islanders. He now has a shutout streak of 136:20.
The Flyers had 3 shots through the opening 16 minutes. They would rebound by firing a further 26 in the direction of Varlamov, which is a positive, but those 29 shots were less than half of the 67 that left the sticks of Flyers players. 16 shots missed the target and 22 were blocked.
“Our top-end guys are good players that the willingness is there and the execution is just a little off tonight.” Alain Vigneault said after the game. “They had some good looks. Hayesy’s line had some real good looks tonight. I expect more obviously from Coots and his line. They’ll have an opportunity to bounce back and answer back on Wednesday afternoon.”
Team captain Claude Giroux was a little more critical of the game.
“First period probably was the worst period we’ve had since we’re in the bubble. I think second and third we generated more offense and played better. I agree. The top players have got to play better. I’m obviously one of them. We’ve got to get going here.”
As for Kevin Hayes, he voiced confidence in the people around him to pick themselves up and get ready for war.
“I think we have the right recipe in that room. We have coaches that break down film. We have guys watching the games. Good leadership. We know how to respond. I’ve got all the faith in the world in my teammates right now. Obviously losing 4-0 sucks, but you can’t lose a series until you lose four.”
There has to be a sense of urgency for this team moving forward on the offensive side of things, or things could get messy. They can no longer lean on the depth of the roster or Jake Voracek to consistently provide the points. Production has to come from the players who have been at the top of the team all season. The longer the drought lasts, the more pressing the desperation becomes.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre