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Rangers 8, Flyers 3: I just want it to stop

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The punches continue to rain down on this already unconscious Flyers team.

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Flyers lost another game in embarrassing fashion, albeit in a slightly better overall effort than the 9-0 loss to the Rangers on the 17th. What the hell happened? Let’s recap.

What went wrong?

After starting the game strong, the Flyers gave up an easy goal in the crease to Ryan Strome (almost identical to Travis Zajac’s goal on Tuesday) and instantly fell apart. Ivan Provorov flubbed a puck, and just like that Pavel Buchnevich made it 2-0 off the 2-on-1. The Flyers flopped about uselessly as the Rangers took control of the game, getting completely dominated before allowing yet another goal to Mika Zibanejad.

The break between periods only exacerbated everything. The Rangers came out of the tunnel and promptly tallied another three goals in under three minutes to open things up. Mika Zibanejad managed another pair of snipes to find the hat trick (his second in two games against the Flyers), and K’Andre Miller buried another goal to make it a decisive 6-0. The Flyers managed to show a bit of fight to close out the second by scoring a pair of goals, but the general vibe remained the same: this team is cooked.

Expected goals chart for the Flyers tonight.
Image via Evolving-Hockey.com

The empty goals kept coming, but the Rangers made sure to emphasize how ultimately futile they were by outscoring them in the third period. A Sean Couturier goal (which brought about his second point of the game) went by the wayside behind tallies by Pavel Buchnevich and Filip Chytil. Sam Morin got in a pretty lame fight, nothing much happened, and the Flyers ended up with another demoralizing loss despite dominating the Rangers for long stretches. Funny how that’ll happen when you’re losing by a lot early in the game.

Where do the Flyers go from here?

I don’t know. At this point the season seems unsalvageable barring a miraculous turnaround from Carter Hart despite the unforgiving schedule. Nothing positive seems to be on the horizon; it might be time to accept that this group is going to remain untouched until the offseason. One can only hope that Chuck Fletcher is as incensed by the collective failures of the players, coaches and himself as we all are.

The mistakes are the same in every loss, and they’re honestly not worth repeatedly writing in-depth about. The communication between the defenders is atrocious, the decision making is tentative, and everyone looks like they just want to go home after giving up a goal. Honestly, I can’t blame them when Hart and Elliott have been providing historically awful performances in goal. The transition game is quality until a few bad shifts, the turnovers aren’t problematic until someone checks out for a few seconds, blah blah blah. The bottom line is that nothing is working.

It might be in the best interest of this team to pull Carter Hart out of the lineup and throw one of Alex Lyon or Felix Sandstrom into the fire. Hart’s mental state is my greatest concern at the moment, and he’ll need some time to get right. Lord knows that Lyon can’t be much worse than what the team has gotten from Hart lately. The priority should be helping your young, uber-talented goalie through the hardest time in his career by giving him a reprieve.

Three Big Things

  1. It’s time to focus on the future. This season is belly-up and there’s not a clear way to fix it. Hart needs to be shelved, assets need to be evaluated, etc etc. Chuck Fletcher has to take a long, hard look at the standing of this team and decide whether he wants to stand pat at the trade deadline this year.
  2. Someone needs to be fired. Alain Vigneault isn’t going anywhere, and Michel Therrien is his buddy (so by extension he’s probably safe), but Mike Yeo could be on the chopping block sometime soon.
  3. The Flyers are gunning for a top 10 pick. I’m at a loss for words. Everything can turn around in an instant, but it feels like it’s time to focus on names like Brandt Clarke and William Eklund instead of Mattias Ekholm. It sucks, but that’s the reality.

No music tonight. I’m not in the mood. The Flyers will take on the Rangers again this Saturday, so be sure to follow along on Broad Street Hockey. Good night, and as always, go Flyers.