Well, they’ve done it. With last night’s 4-3 loss to the Islanders, the Flyers reached a new franchise milestone, hitting a 13 game winless streak.
We’ll let you sit with that one for a moment longer.
Okay moving on.
For a while, it really looked like the Flyers might just be able to pull this one off, holding on for a win and stopping this bleeding, as they not only scored the first goal of the game (a rare occurrence around here) but scored the first two and really leveraged their strong start into something tangible. But they let off the gas a bit, let the Islanders back into this one, and before we knew it, we were hitting the intermission with a tied game.
For the rest of the game, the Flyers were really just holding on for dear life. The second period saw them outdone 27-10 in shot attempts and 17-6 in scoring chances at 5-on-5, and then 13-5 and 4-2 in the third period. That they only gave up one goal in the second period (and on the penalty kill, no less) felt like something of a small miracle, but they still weren’t able to build well off of that. They got a really good, hard working goal from Gerry Mayhew to tie the game back up early in the third period, got maybe one chance shortly after that, and then it took them more than 12 minutes to register their next shot on goal. And the game winner by Zach Parise, just seconds after they’d killed off a puck over the glass delay of game penalty, was a real heartbreaker, but not really surprising.
This one might sting the most of any loss in this stretch, in part because it sets a pretty brutal marker with that new franchise record, but also for the fact that the Flyers had real, legitimate chances to keep this game under control and pull off a win, but it was a few mistakes at critical times that sank them. But, really, that unfortunately comes with the territory when you’re dealing with a team that is just not very good.
And if we haven’t already, it’s time to accept some tough realities. This season has the chance to slightly get back on the rails, but it’s not going to end in the playoff push we were hoping for. It’s too early to start selling off pieces, but that will come eventually. Things are not going well and that’s just what it is right now.
And for all the outrage and disappointment we can muster about things not going the way we wanted, the way they were supposed to, it’s a hard sell to blame this on anything other than a universe uncaring about the Philadelphia Flyers. As much as we might want to retcon this season and everything leading up to it, it’s not fair or even accurate to say that Fletcher’s plan—though not without its faults, to be clear—was a complete and abject disaster, and all of the Hextall years aimed at pulling the team out of the mess it was in and getting the present iteration to a better spot were terrible dumb plans all doomed from the start. Perhaps the most difficult reality to accept is that they were fine, just fine, plans in the moment, and they just didn’t work out.
This isn’t to absolve anyone entirely, a critical eye isn’t a bad thing and we can pick apart holes in these plans rightfully if we want to, but the reality is that right now, it’s just not that deep. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and as for this season, it’s really hard to predict the levels of injuries sweeping through the team and being forced to ice half an AHL lineup for months at a time.
It sucks, it does, and as much as we want to blame someone for it, sometimes things just happen. Where we go from here matters a whole lot more, and with Chuck Fletcher set to meet with the media later this morning, we’re likely to get a bit of insight into what he thinks that’s going to look like.
We’re in for a long season here, but the team is at least off until Saturday. I know everything is bad right now and no one is having fun, but my hope, as a humble writer at this sentient blog, is that we can all still find some moments to step away and enjoy something else that doesn’t make us as miserable as this team. Because it’s not everything. Take a little breather, folks, I know I will be.