The Flyers had a ridiculously tough schedule this weekend, flying down to Phoenix from San Jose to play two games in less than 24 hours, dealing with a time zone change and a team who had the previous night off.
With those excuses in mind, the Flyers turned in a pretty lethargic performance in what should have been an entirely winnable game, never seeming to get out of first gear. In the end the Flyers had sleepwalked their way to a 3-1 loss, their third loss in four games.
The game turned halfway through the third period on a couple dubious calls that went in the Coyotes' favor. James van Riemsdyk was whistled for interference after barely colliding with a Coyote off a draw in the Flyers' offensive zone, putting the home team on the power play. Then on said power play, a puck that slipped offsides was not whistled, even though one linesman put up his arm. The Flyers froze in protest, and the Coyotes immediately scored. It was a bad break, for sure, but the Flyers handled it horribly.
Even though the Flyers didn't deserve to lose like that, they didn't deserve to win this one either. It was a listless, uninspired effort nearly from start to finish.
Some more assorted thoughts from Saturday's 3-1 loss:
- Ray Emery was fine for the most part, though he didn't react at all to the game-winning shot. But starting him made absolutely no sense whatsoever. After getting lit up for six by San Jose only hours earlier, it made no sense to put him right back in against Phoenix, when a confident and well-rested Brian Boucher was waiting in the wings.
- The one bright spot on the night for the Flyers was Scott Hartnell's beautiful breakaway goal in the second. The play was a beautiful example of cherry-picking at its best, and Kimmo Timonen deserves just as much credit for the goal due to his beautiful outlet pass.
- Blair Betts dislocated his shoulder by reaching for a puck? That's quite a lackluster way to lose a guy for a month.
- The Flyers defense on their own power play continues to look weak. For a team that only gave up one shorthanded goal last year, they've given up an incredible number of chances early on this season.
- Riley Cote might as well have not shown up for how little he was used by John Stevens. Cote took only five shifts the entire game, for a total of 2:03 of ice time. His final two shifts lasted :06 and :04, respectively.
- Phoenix's final goal was essentially the result of a "goaltending" call against Pronger, which was pretty ridiculous given that the Coyote forward nearest the puck did not have clear possession, nor was he completely in front of the net at the time of the debatable infraction.
- 24 shots against a goalie of Bryzgalov's caliber is just not enough to win a hockey game.
A day off Sunday, and then another tough tilt for the Flyers on Monday night in Denver against the Avalanche. It will be their fourth division leading opponent in their last six games.
This road trip stuff is not for the weak.