Sometimes you watch a game between two teams in the bottom quarter of the league standings and it ends up being kind of entertaining, be it in a trainwreck sort of fashion or in some other way.
This particular game between the 23rd-ranked team in the standings and the 28th-ranked team (coming into the game) wasn't one of those.
It wasn't that the Flyers were thoroughly dominated tonight en route to their 4-2 loss or anything -- despite them falling behind 3-0 early on in the third period, this seemed like a game between two relatively evenly-matched teams, one where both had their occasional good stretches but in the grand scheme of things didn't play overly well. Heck, the Flyers even won the possession battle. And they came on strong at the end, clawing from a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 and making a game out of one that looked lost, so points for trying, I guess.
But, all of that said, knowing that is the best way you can paint the Flyers' performance tonight is "they lost, but it maybe kinda wasn't as bad as the score looked at times" kind of says it all, doesn't it?
The issues that plagued the Flyers are the ones we're bringing up in every recap, so they aren't worth going through in depth, but we can sum it up as such: between the 17:59 mark of the first period and the 9:32 mark of the third period (that's 31:33 of game time! Over half of the contest!), the Flyers put six (6) (six) shots on the Coyotes' net. Six. All while trailing the Coyotes.
That is bad. And it's what happens when you've got guys who can barely execute simple passes to one another, and who find themselves stuck in their own zone for extended periods of time after repeatedly turning the puck over. You could say something similar after probably two-thirds of the Flyers' losses this year, so it's barely worth getting angry over at this point. But it's the state this team is in now.
And that's how the Flyers managed to lose to the third-worst team in hockey despite getting two goals in 3:02 from R.J. Umberger. Yes, that R.J. Umberger! And they happened right as I was writing a sentence in the recap about how bad he had been before that! Maybe I should try that more often.
VERY QUICK NOTES:
* If there IS a positive to come from this game, it's that the Flyers' fourth line of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Vincent Lecavalier, and Chris VandeVelde are still, by and large, doing good things. They were the team's most active forward line in this game (particularly in the first period) and right now is probably the best that Lecavalier, in particular, has looked all season. Berube has clearly been looking to shelter them and give them advantageous minutes, but -- while you do wish you could save those for some of your more skilled lines -- it's worked out pretty well for them.
* All of that said, I still wouldn't be surprised to see Zac Rinaldo draw in for one of those guys soon, because of the team needing #energy after this lame game and all that. (Please note that I do not endorse this; I only kind of expect it.)
* As was expected, Steve Mason officially came back from his weird back injury to play tonight. He let in three goals on 24 shots, including one rough goal late in the first which may or may not have been deflected -- it didn't look like it, and it was officially not ruled as a deflection, but for Mason's sake, we'll hope it was tipped, because it was very much a bad goal to let in otherwise. Nothing else real noteworthy.
* The good news was that the Flyers only took two penalties tonight! The bad news is that one of those turned into a power play goal. The penalty kill, which had been trending back upwards for most of December after a wretched first two months, has had a rough past couple of games
* Today and last Saturday against Nashville marked the first two consecutive games of the year where Jakub Voracek was held without a point. Thought that line seemed a bit out of it tonight, save a couple of chances here and there. Nothing to be worried about, but not a great night. Good thing R.J. Umberger was there to pick up the slack, huh?
* God I still can't believe R.J. Umberger scored two goals and we couldn't take advantage of it. Really nice work by Streit and Couturier on those two goals (respectively), as well.
Colorado on Wednesday night. You can get drunk on New Years' Eve the same way you would any other night: while watching the Flyers! Sounds like a plan. Go Flyers.