It hasn’t been easy defending the Philadelphia Flyers to this point. There have been glimmers of hope sprinkled through the month of October- 20 minutes here, a 2nd period there, where the team actually looked like they belong in the NHL.
Tonight featured perhaps the ugliest game I’ve seen in years.
On November 5, 2011, the new-look Flyers played the listless Columbus Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center. The Jackets had lost Jeff Carter to injury and defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-game suspension. They entered the building with a 2-10-1 record.
The Flyers scored five goals in the first period, chasing then-Jackets goaltender Steve Mason out of the crease. They won the game by a 9-2 margin. The Jackets continued their descent to the bottom of the standings, ending the season with an abysmal 30th place finish.
This is where the Flyers are heading.
The team showed some early jump against the Washington Capitals on Friday evening, holding them to just one shot in fifteen minutes of game time. Four turnovers in the waning period resulted in the Capitals drawing first blood, though, and the team seemed to mentally forfeit immediately after.
Whatever individual talent exists on the roster, they are no longer working as a group. They aren’t the “comeback kids” from 2011 that come out slow but exhibit resilience. They’re just an embarrassing mess.
The most cringe-worthy incident occurred in the third period when, down 7-0, a line brawl broke out. Goaltender Ray Emery, playing in relief for Mason, skated to the other end of the ice and just started beating the sense out of the Caps’ goaltender, Brayden Holtby, who wanted nothing to do with him.
Emery, along with Vincent Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn, was given a game misconduct. Lecavalier and Schenn will likely skate away with, at worst, a fine. Emery, on the other hand, is facing a lengthy suspension.
Emery certainly didn’t help matters either by telling reporters, “I basically told him to protect himself. I gave him a chance to protect himself.”
The Flyers don’t have any time to reflect on this debacle, either. They get right back to the ice tomorrow in Newark to take on the New Jersey Devils.
Lecavalier will miss the game after losing teeth in his fight during the line brawl. Steve Downie will also not be available, as he was taken to a hospital after the game for post-concussion evaluation following a fight earlier in the game. Emery will probably be sitting the first of many games in the press box.
As a result, anywhere between one and three players could be earning a call-up from the Adirondack Phantoms tomorrow. The Phantoms, on a three-game winning streak, won tonight against the Binghamton Senators. Tye McGinn scored two goals in the game, so don’t be surprised if he is one of the call-ups.
The best one can hope for is that the infusion of youth needing to prove themselves will give this team more of a jump than they’ve shown to date. Beyond that, there isn’t much hope left to hold onto.
“The whole damn team stinks.”