Well, that was a joke. For the third game in a row, the Flyers used a solid balance of awful defense, poor special teams play and stretches of complete effortlessness en route to a 3-0 loss. This time, it was to the Devils ... and holy crap, did that feel a whole lot like last spring.
Well, sort of. It felt like last spring in terms of the result, the general feelings of disgust and for many of us, the strong taste of alcohol come the final tick of the third period clock. But in practice, the Flyers lost in the complete opposite fashion. They controlled possession for the majority of the game -- at least while it was close. New Jersey did a nice job marginalizing the Flyers' chances, and when Martin Brodeur did see pucks, he turned them aside with ease.
The Devils, meanwhile, seemed to score every time the puck entered the Flyers' end of the ice. Whether it was atrocious defensive coverage in the first period that led to an easy Travis Zajac goal, or a bad luck play when David Clarkson knocked Ilya Bryzgalov's stick out and then banked a puck off Ruslan Fedotenko's skate while on the PP.
It wasn't until the Devils made it 3-0, however, that the Flyers came unglued. In fact, the Flyers were probably the better team to that point and just hadn't picked up the bounces. But while on the power play in the second period, Ilya Kovalchuk got away from Kimmo Timonen and Jakub Voracek at the points. Kimmo caught Kovalchuk on the ensuing breakaway but hauled him down from behind. He didn't miss the penalty shot.
From there, the Flyers took 12 minor penalties (!) and two fighting majors. They stopped skating. They completely gave up. Regardless of how poorly they've played or how little luck they received in the early part of the game, that's an inexcusable part of tonight's loss.
We can't overreact too much. We shouldn't say that Peter Laviolette should be fired or that Brayden Schenn might not be the player that we think he is or that the defense has no hope or that Ilya Bryzgalov is a sieve. It's been three games, and to be honest, when even Claude Giroux looks like total crap, it's indicative of a team-wide problem. It's not on one person here. We can pinpoint the issues to a certain extent, but even the pieces of this team we know are good look like hell. Let's be (seriously) concerned, but let's not call for drastic solutions at the same time. Doesn't help.
Let's hope they get it sorted out, at least in part, by Thursday night. They play the Rangers, and I hear they're supposed to be a pretty good team this year. More notes on tonight's loss in the morning with a clearer head.
Comment of the Night
Somehow, this is all Matt Carle's fault.