For the second time this season, an opponent snapped a double-digit losing streak against the Philadelphia Flyers. It doesn’t get any more Philadelphia than that. First, the Buffalo Sabres end an eighteen-game losing streak in March. Now, the New Jersey Devils stop a ten-game win drought, winning 6-4. Serenity now!
The Flyers face the Devils three more times this season. With seven games remaining, they’re hoping to win the majority of their contests against New Jersey. A plethora of issues contributes to a 5-4 loss at the Prudential Center on Tuesday night. Before Philadelphia finishes the four-game series at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, they need to pull themselves together in New Jersey before the puck drops on Thursday.
With a 12-10-3 road record this season, the Flyers officially are on the losing side of history. Five losses were by a margin of one goal. The rest were by a margin of three or more.
Eleven of those road decisions featured Brian Elliott in the crease. He’s 6-5-0 this season on away ice.
Philadelphia, comfortably out of the playoff picture, puts too much pressure on a 36-year-old goaltender when other options are ready for exploration ahead of next season.
Finding a Competitive Balance
Alain Vigneault approached the post-game press conference with a “glass half full” mentality. He was satisfied with the way his team kept fighting, not backing down when trailing on the scoreboard.
“We keep pushing, we keep trying, and that’s what you want from your players.”Alain Vigneault; 4/27/21
Twice now, the Flyers had tied the Devils after falling behind by two goals. Both times, on Sunday and Tuesday, Philadelphia trailed 1-3. The first time, the Flyers’ resiliency resulted in a comeback victory. When Philadelphia attempted another comeback, New Jersey kept one step ahead.
Before regulation finished, Oskar Lindblom, Philippe Myers, and Claude Giroux tied the game, 3-3. Then, Sean Couturier tied the game one more time, 4-4. Vigneault is correct; the Flyers kept battling.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, battling from behind continues to be problematic. Through the second half of this abbreviated season, Philadelphia adopted an erratic and inconsistent brand of hockey.
“The effort level was unacceptable in the first half of the game.”Sean Couturier; 4/27/21
Imagine not falling behind by three goals. That’s the difference between a win and a loss.
Flyers rookies Keep Contributing
Despite allowing six goals to the seventh-place Devils, two rookies contributed towards an improved individual effort. Jackson Cates tallied his first NHL point, and Egor Zamula finished with a plus-one rating on the second pair.
Cates notched an assist when Oskar Lindblom scored the first Flyers goal early in the second period. Working the puck from behind MacKenzie Blackwood, the bounces disoriented the goaltender just enough to spring Lindblom in close. Cleaning up the rebound, Lindblom cut the 0-3 deficit to two goals, including Cates on the assist.
Zamula Was just as impressive. Aside from Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, who are on the power play, Zamula logged the most ice time of the remaining defensemen in his NHL debut. He blocked a shot, accounted for a takeaway, took three shots on goal, and finished with a plus-one rating after playing more than nineteen minutes. Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault may consider priming Zamula for first pair duties alongside Provorov. He would be a welcome replacement to Justin Braun.
Zamula praised the Lehigh Valley Phantoms coaching staff, who have prepared more rookies this season to contribute at the NHL level.
The only rookie this season to struggle at the NHL level was Maksim Sushko. Tanner Laczynski underwent season-ending surgery but remained a plus-one forward in five games. Cates and Wade Allison contribute to the point column. To cap off a season of notable debuts, Zamula may develop into a quality defenseman.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre