The Flyers may well be nearing the point of no return.
After a tough showing against the Bruins on Saturday, they headed down to Florida to face off against the Lightning, and summarily dropped this one in spectacular fashion, being shut out and losing 4-0. And there was a real opportunity there—this is a Lightning team that hasn’t had a smooth start to the season, and while they still aren’t a joke, a Lightning team without both Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point is one that there’s room to do some damage against.
But the Flyers didn’t really do anything with that opportunity, and instead brought another really flat offensive showing. The zero goals hurt, but the process behind that was also leaving quite a bit to be desired, this wasn’t just a case of them just getting goalied. They ended up with a respectable enough total of 23 scoring chances and 13 high danger chances at 5-on-5 on the night (though they were still out chanced 33-23 and 14-13 in those areas), also included in that was a truly disastrous second period which saw them out chanced 15-0 in scoring chances and 9-0 in high danger chances. That’s when the Lightning started to run away with this one, and it’s not really a surprise as to why.
And in some ways the numbers feel a bit misleading in this one—they tell us for at least two thirds of the game, the chances should have been there for them, but we’d be hard pressed to list off many that seemed to be truly dangerous. The Flyers’ top players were largely pretty quiet in this one—Zack MacEwen led the team in high danger chances with three. And, of course, not to take anything away from his individual work, he was really the only skater we could say played well in this one, when your fourth line winger is your best player in a game, that’s a problem.
We’ve seen poor offensive showings from this team already this season, but last night was different. Not only were they not getting bounces, not getting a ton of good chances, but at times they were also looking listless and almost disengaged. And that’s when we start to get really concerned.
This is a new team, to be sure, but we’re still seeing shades of the old team in here. Things aren’t breaking their way and instead of pushing through, the offense just seems to be getting colder. And, what’s more, they were dealt another blow as they lost another center in this one, as Derick Brassard left during the first period with a lower body injury and didn’t return.
Things are snowballing and it’s starting to get concerning. And the Flyers need to find a fix, and fast.
Now, as one of the strongest proponents of bringing up Morgan Frost to help the team, we should still note that he isn’t going to be the savior here. Would he inject an extra bit of skill and give them a better chance of being able to score some more goals? Absolutely. But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the issue at hand is larger than just one player can solve, even if it’s your top prospect. It’s a start, but it’s not everything.
The Flyers haven’t scored more than three goals in close to a month (the last time was October 27 against the Oilers), and they've now been shut out three times since then. The offense is trending distinctly in the wrong direction, and we’re not really seeing any signs that they’re moving towards turning things around.
Might this seen a little dramatic after one particularly poor offensive outing? Maybe, and we hope we can look back on this and say that it was. But we’ve also seen this play out before, where things stop going to the team’s way, they start to spiral, and they start to check out.
This next stretch of games is no cake walk, with the Panthers and the Hurricanes on deck next, and then three more divisional games against the Devils, Islanders, and Rangers up after that. None of those games are gimmes, and this spiral can get very ugly very quickly if they don't make some moves to stop the bleeding quickly. We don't even need them to swing wildly in the opposite direction and put up something like seven goals on the Panthers tonight (though we certainly wouldn’t complain if they did). They just need to take the first step. They just need to show up.