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Sabres 5, Flyers 3: Second half of back-to-back also fell short

Is the stench of rotten eggs from Easter or is it from the Flyers’ play?

Felix Sandstrom makes a save against Dylan Cozens Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Growing up, Easter Sunday was always a bit of a letdown in terms of holidays. The gifts were just never as good as what you’d get on Christmas or on your birthday. There was a lot of chocolate, but it wasn’t anywhere near what you’d get while trick-or-treating for Halloween. Sure the lore of the Easter bunny was still exciting, and decorating eggs to then find around the house as you also searched for where your basket was hidden was fun, but it ultimately wasn’t worth all the fuss surrounding it.

The Flyers chose to live up to my general expectations of the holiday. Their gift was a hockey game, but it was a stale hockey game. It was yet another loss to the same team they played last night, and I’m glad I was watching from the comforts of home, because I don’t think it would have been worth the cost of admission at the Wells Fargo Center.

I hope you chose a better way to celebrate your respective holiday this weekend, so here’s your recap of the Flyers’ loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Period 1

It was deja vu early on as the Flyers jumped out to score only 1:16 into the game. It was Kevin Hayes who scored this time, but it still had a flavor of youth movement to it with an assist from Noah Cates.

There was more deja vu to come when Keith Yandle earned himself a hooking penalty, gave the Sabres a power play, and they did what the Flyers can’t do on theirs: score. Victor Olofsson scored from the right face-off dot, and the early lead the Flyers had disappeared.

The Flyers had a power play opportunity of their own, but predictably, nothing came of it. This is the league’s worst power play unit, folks. The Flyers do better when they’re at even strength. Which, for a while, it seemed like this was the case. The Flyers were outshooting the Sabres and dictating the pace of play through the back half of the period.

But I couldn’t help but feel doubt creep in. After all, whenever the Flyers are doing something good, there always seems to be an inevitable crash.

I wasn’t wrong. The Flyers were caught in the middle of a line change, and it allowed Anders Bjork to take off on a breakaway and score. That was a perfect, prime example of how the Flyers can just take good momentum and completely destroy it. To top it off, this was Anders Bjork’s first goal since December 14. That’s over four months of hockey without scoring, folks. That guy earned himself a nice confidence boost courtesy of this abysmal Flyers team.

The period ended 2-1 even though it probably should have ended 1-1 were it not for such a baffling mistake on the team’s part. It wasn’t the worst period for the Flyers, but when they made mistakes, they were costly.

Period 2

Early on, Travis Konecny was getting good looks at scoring, and it wound up with an entire mess of chaos. Bodies crowed up into the net, Owen Power covered up the puck himself, the referees declared a penalty shot was in order, but then the replay showed that the Flyers actually scored anyways! The goal went to Cates, assisted by Konecny.

As much as a penalty shot would’ve been fun to watch, I’d take a bona fide goal over the chance at scoring a goal any day.

The Flyers and Sabres once again traded power play opportunities, and the predictable outcomes occurred for both. The Flyers did nothing on their power play, and the Sabres scored on theirs. It was a last second power play goal for Olofsson,

The Flyers then continued to further fall apart as they allowed Tage Thompson to score on a play that was truly an all around mess for every player in orange on the ice.

This period ended 4-2, and this time, the losing score was much more deserved. Despite the early jump the Flyers showed at the start of the period, it just went right back to completely falling apart.

Period 3

At one point, Konecny missed the wide open net, the puck immediately went the other way down the ice, and Jeff Skinner went on a breakaway. I was ready for the puck to make its way past Felix Sandström, but he actually made the save. This isn’t a shot at Sandström’s ability in net. This is just me being surprised that the Sabres didn’t manage to capitalize on a moment that really would’ve twisted the knife for the Flyers.

After a stretch of time where, just like last game, nothing at all was happening, Scott Laughton had a good looking chance for himself. He then hit the post. Thanks.

The Flyers could sense the collective disappointment, though, and redeemed themselves by scoring just a couple minutes later. It was a collective rush of bodies to the net, and the goal was credited to Zack MacEwen.

The Flyers pulled Sandström with a little over two minutes remaining in the period, and it really shouldn’t be surprising that the Flyers at 6-on-5 has about the same effect as when they’re on 5-on-4. They spent so much of the early puck possession just standing still on the ice. I don’t know how they really expect to do much of anything when there’s no momentum being generated while they have possession of the puck.

Tage Thompson got his second goal of the game on the empty net. Honestly, sure it killed the Flyers’ ability to make a comeback, but I’m not entirely sure I wanted to see the Flyers go into overtime either. This game was just a slog fest, and putting Flyers fans out of misery was probably the better choice.

Final thoughts

If you sat through this back-to-back with me, I honestly have to applaud your dedication to this team. This has been a rough pair of games to watch, and it’s not like they’re rough in isolation either. The main attraction at this point is the chance to watch these new, young players in Cates, Bobby Brink, Owen Tippett, Egor Zamula, and so on, but even then, it hasn’t been like these kids are lighting the league up. Their talent can only be unlocked so much when the team they’re playing on doesn’t have much at its disposal to help them.

There are six games left in the season. The Flyers may have chances at picking up wins against the Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Senators, but who knows. I also don’t want to fully count out them out against the Penguins next weekend, both because the Penguins are in a slight free fall right now, but also because the Flyers are capable of bringing extra energy into these rivalry games. However, I don’t have a whole lot of hope that these last six games are really going to get much more enjoyable to watch.

This team is burnt out, has lost a lot of their veterans, has key players still out with injury, and is icing a lot of inexperienced players right now. It’s better for draft position for the Flyers to just lose out, but it’s not enjoyable to watch. It’s abysmal.

Here’s to hoping that maybe this whole “aggressive retool” strategy that the Flyers’ higher ups are invested in will pan out, because right now, there’s nothing about the end of this season that’s bringing me hope that this team will be any better going into next year.

If you’re committed to riding the rest of this season out with us, the next game is at 7:00 p.m. ET on April 19 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.