Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Flyers were just 3 points shy of first place in the Eastern Conference, in first place in the Atlantic Division. Today, they are in tenth place in the conference, last in the division, and sinking fast in the hearts of Comcast Countrymen.
Why? Some excuses for injuries, of course. It kills to be missing Gagne, although actually it helps to know for sure he isn’t coming back this season. Lupul is a bigger loss, because he’s been in the lineup and very productive more often than Gags has this year, and the team really misses his high energy and physical presence on top of the skill.
As much of a focus of fan dissatisfaction as he’s been, Hatcher had been a key penalty killer on this team. And both extended absences for him have resulted in Flyers slumps.
But even the injury-depleted crew has been able to come up with wins here and there earlier in the season. And did some of that without Gagne and without Lupul.
Still, it’s becoming more and more difficult to watch the clear signs of a team in distress.
Where once they shot lasers on net from pretty much anywhere on the ice, now they try to guide shots, without pace, that never get through or shoot hard well wide of the target.
When they were winning, they passed crisply to briskly moving team mates. Now, guys are standing around waiting for passes that are tentatively dinked around.
The passes that used to go forward into the offensive zone or were dumped deep have turned into dangerous, oddly timed cross ice passes to no one.
Biron, started the year contained, composed, and in position, with the puck finding him and sticking, is now trying to do too much, ranging far afield from the safety of the crease, and looking scrambly and discombobulated.
They used to have a good number of players who hit consistently throughout the game. Now it seems there’s a switch some evil mastermind is turning on and off.
During the winning streak they were winning battles for the puck. I’m not sure they can find a battle that doesn’t involve a pointless goon padding his penalty minutes.
There have been nights with enough muffs on passes and shots that there was cause to wonder if someone had sawed off the sticks as a practical joke. But I guess this is what happens when they’re said to be squeezing the sticks–their arms get short.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to watch, easily as frustrating for the fans, who are starting to pick scapegoats and savage them in the arena with the taunting boos of discontent. It’s always seemed counterproductive to me. Do you remember any player getting better because he was being booed?
The Flyers desperately need to come out Saturday with guns blazing and play like they can, not like they have been. Or suddenly, this will become another long discouraging season.