The recent cold streak plaguing the Flyers has me feeling like an anti-Michael Corleone from The Godfather Part III. To paraphrase and tweak an otherwise famous quote, “Just when they pull me in, they push me back out!”
Speaking of disappointing follow-ups, let’s talk about this Flyers offense.
Not counting an empty-net goal against the functionally AHL-caliber Arizona Coyotes, the Flyers have failed to record more than two goals in every game since the 5-3 win over the Oilers on October 27th. This cold streak comes at one of the most intense “measuring stick” portions of the schedule, in which the Flyers see how they stack up against some true contenders across the league.
The next two weeks see the Flyers face the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes and two-time defending champs Tampa Bay Lightning twice each, the Flames and Panthers who have each already handed regulation losses to the Flyers, the Bruins who always make for a tough matchup, and the Dallas Stars who may be their weakest opponent in the stretch, but will likely wind up at least a Western Conference bubble team.
By Thanksgiving, we will have a very good idea if this Flyers team looks to make some noise this year, or if we’re doomed to another year of “Same Old Flyers.” The offensive dry spell that has sapped the life from the forward corps as well as the fanbase has come at a rather inopportune time, one where the Flyers can really put some standing distance between them and other Eastern Conference contenders.
It goes without saying that the return of Ellis and Hayes will be tremendous boons to the team. Ellis will certainly contribute offense from the top pairing and Hayes finally gets a legit 2C between Farabee and Atkinson, this of course assuming Hayes is fully healthy and able to contribute upon return. But that doesn’t excuse other lines.
The Farabee-Brassard-Atkinson has significantly cooled down since the start of the year. The Lindblom-Laughton-JVR line has played well, driving play and keeping things mostly concentrated in the offensive zone, but the finishing ability has been largely absent. The 4th line is the 4th line. The top line of Giroux-Coots-TK has been contributing on at least a semi-regular basis, but other competent teams look to shut this line down and force others to pick up the slack.
We know AV will look to shuffle these lines up as time goes by. He always does, generally to mixed results. The elephant in the room remains the anemic power play, which earlier tonight saw Giroux inexplicably fall back to the right side of the ice because… Michel Therrien. The Flyers have a number of players capable of producing on the power play from Giroux to Coots to JVR to Farabee… you get the idea. And yet this power play fails yet again to get it done. We hammered the players last year (largely deserved) for not producing and now the Flyers have added multiple pieces to help, especially from the blue line. The same paltry returns are rearing their ugly head, a head that resembles that of Michel Therrien. I am convinced this power play will not move forward until Therrien is removed from power.
I miss the first two weeks of the season. Let’s do all that again and actually have some fun watching this team again, shall we?
-Brian Adams (@BadamsProblems)
Photo Credit: Montreal Gazette