After a thrilling win last night by the Philadelphia Eagles (defending Super Bowl champions, people forget that), the Flyers could score a touchdown of their own with their seventh straight loss. They’ll take on another one of the underperforming teams in the NHL this season, the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have gone through their own fair share of turmoil this season, having fired head coach Mike Yeo and replacing him with former Flyer bench boss in Craig (Graig) Berube. The Blues have also had a much publicized fight during practice, and two of their star defensemen in Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko possibly being shipped.
The Flyers meanwhile are coming off of an overtime loss to the Calgary Flames, a game in which they lead in the third period. They have lost six consecutive games and are coming close to their 10 game losing streak from last season. I’m not sure if this has ever happened before, but if the Flyers somehow lose 10 straight game in back-to-back seasons I’m sure they’ll have broken some kind of record. This has truly been the season from hell and it doesn’t appear to be getting better any time soon.
St. Louis and Philadelphia are tied at the moment for second to last in the NHL, and both were absolutely not expected to be where they are. Vladimir Tarasenko has struggled, and they simply haven’t gotten enough goal scoring from their best players and their depth alike. It also doesn’t help that their goaltending has let them down, although it can be said that Jake Allen has played better for them of late.
The Flyers are generally in the same boat, with outside of Claude Giroux the Flyers core not performing, and the depth nowhere to be found, and of course poor goaltending as is tradition in Philadelphia. If the Blues and Flyers are going to turn their seasons around, they’re going to need a lot of players to step it up and for the goaltending to go on a tear.
1. Limit them offensively
For the amount of offensive firepower the Blues have in the likes of Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Alexander Steen, and the aforementioned offensively capable Pietrangelo and Parayko on defense. Even with the struggling Jake Allen, the Blues are just 19th in the league in goals allowed, relative to the Flyers 28th in the league. There shouldn’t be too much trouble with keeping this team out of the high danger areas offensively, so it all comes down to the goaltending. That shouldn’t be an issue, right?
The Blues are a minus one percent threat offensively according to hockeyviz, 13th in the league in expected goals for according to Corsica, and 23rd in the league in scoring chances and 28th in high danger chances according to Natural Stat Trick. What I’m trying to say is, there is very little to no reason why the Flyers shouldn’t be able to dominate this team from a defensive standpoint.
2. Offense needs to be better
This is a “well duh” kind of take, but it still needs to be said. If the Flyers want to get out of this funk, the offense needs to step up. The depth of this team has relied on the core to carry them to the postseason essentially each time since 2011-12, and this season the core is not getting the job done. They can be criticized for that and it is perfectly fair, but the depth of this team needs to and should be better than this.
Something that also needs to change is this team’s offensive mentality when trailing in games. I’m sure this team is tired of poor goaltending performances, but that’s no excuse for having that kind of deflated mentality they seem to have after a goal against. They did comeback against Carolina last week which was nice to see, but in general the offense needs to keep the intensity. The Blues are a solid defensive team but do have some glaring weaknesses on the blueline in an aging Jay Bouwmeester and overall lack of depth. The Flyers need to attack those weak areas if they’re going to end the losing streak.
3. If you’re gonna lose, lose in regulation please
Look even if you’re rooting for the stealth tank, which I think most of us are at this point, wins are still kinda fun. But, if they do lose like we want them to do for the most part, don’t go to overtime alright? Those are the kind of losses that are truly frustrating in seasons like this because it’s a loss which is good, but it’s still a point in the standings which might be the difference at the end of the season in lottery odds. So, if this team is going to continue losing, at least do it in regulation please.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Giroux — Couturier — Konecny
Lindblom — Patrick — Voracek
JVR — Weal — Simmonds
Raffl — Laughton — Weise
Provorov — Sanheim
Gostisbehere — Gudas
Hagg — Folin