The goalless Flyers have now gone seven straight periods without scratching out a single tally. The team that touts the top scoring combo in the league has now been shut out in consecutive games. The Vancouver Canucks skated into the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night and slapped Craig Berube’s team upside the head, delivering a humiliating 4-0 defeat.
We knew the season would be a challenging one as much as we know the future is bright. But is this rock bottom? Can it possibly get any worse?
What Was That?
The Flyers shot out of the gate on Thursday as if they were serious about making a miraculous playoff run.
Philly pressed the puck into the offensive zone, peppering Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller with five shots within the game’s first five minutes. But after Nick Bonino scored on the Canucks’ fourth shot of the game, the Flyers were cooked.
The six-year veteran treated Michael Del Zotto as if he were his opponent in a game of NHL 15 on an Xbox One console, scoring his third goal in his last 28 games. It would be the first of four Vancouver goals, which were evenly distributed in the first two periods.
As for the Flyers, it was more of the same without Steve Mason and Scott Laughton.
What cannot be debated is Thursday night served as the first moment when the Flyers stopped believing in their own playoff chances. With atrocious body language and even less energy, the Flyers were shutout for the second night in a row and whipped, 4-0, by a Vancouver team which had scored just two goals in its previous three games. — Frank Seravalli, Philly.com
Philadelphia’s brutal penalty kill unit surrendered two more power play goals, snapping Henrik Sedin’s four-game goalless drought, and Radim Vrbata’s three-game spell without a mark. Add in a Jannik Hansen breakaway goal, and the embarrassing route was complete.
Goalless Flyers Meet Miller Time
Despite being held to nine shots in each of the first two periods, the Flyers actually outshot the Canucks by a 30-22 margin. That didn’t matter to Ryan Miller, who grabbed his fourth shutout of the season with a 30-save performance.
It's odd because the Flyers usually light Miller up.
— Ryan (@Notorious_RJG) January 16, 2015
Much like the night before against Braden Holtby, Philly didn’t force Miller to stand on his head – although he did make a spectacular first period glove save on Luke Schenn from close range. The 34-year-old veteran improved his record against the Flyers to 15-13-2, snapping a three-game losing streak against the team on Broad Street.
Remember Washington’s 23-1-3 record after scoring the game’s first goal? As it turns out, the Canucks aren’t too shabby either after winning the race for the game’s first mark.
Thanks to Nick Bonino’s first period goal, Vancouver is now 17-4-2 when scoring first. Adding insult to injury, however, is the manner in which Bonino beat the defense – primarily Michael Del Zotto – to wrist one past Ray Emery.
Haven’t seen this in a while: Nick Bonino came into the zone and did a full pirouette to elude Michael Del Zotto. As he came off the spin he unleashed the puck from 23 feet and it beat Emery to the far side. An embarrassing goal for both Del Zotto and Emery and it gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead just 6:35 into the game. — Tim Panaccio, CSN Philly
Sure, the goal was “embarrassing.” But not as shameful as being held without a goal in seven straight periods, like the Flyers have now been.
Just the Worst Penalty Kill
After killing off their only two penalties on Wednesday night in Washington, the Flyers penalty kill was back to their old routine – one that sinks them even further behind Arizona’s 29th ranked PK.
Once again, the Flyers’ lackluster penalty killing contributed mightily to their downfall. The Flyers’ kill, ranked 30th/last in the NHL at 74.4 percent entering the game, surrendered Vancouver’s second and third goals while a man short. — Wayne Fish, Burlington County Times
since Dec. 14, the highest the Flyers have been ranked in PK efficiency has been 25th. Most of the time, they have been 30th
— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchRET) January 16, 2015
The Flyers have now given up an astounding 40 power play goals through 45 games. Calling their penalty kill “bad” would be a compliment at this point. It’s an egregious achilles heel that looks like it’ll linger until either the season’s end, or a coaching change, if not both.
Power Play on Empty
One of the bright spots of the roller coaster season has been Philadelphia’s fifth ranked power play. But another shutout means another ineffective power play effort.
The Flyers would go o-for-4 on the man advantage on Thursday night, despite Michael Del Zotto washing out one of their power plays before it could even go on an attack. In their last two shutout losses, Philly has gone 0-for-8 after drawing a penalty, including a 4-on-3 advantage against the Canucks.
Simply put, it’s all gone down the drain.
Emery Gets the Hook
After giving up three goals on 12 shots, Flyers goalie Ray Emery was yanked from the game just 1:21 into the second period. Emery’s early night adds to a tough stretch for the veteran backup, making it four straight losses for Steve Mason’s understudy. And with Mason on the shelf due to injury, the 10-year-veteran is struggling at the worst time for the Flyers.
“Well, obviously his stats aren’t as good,” said Flyers coach Craig Berube. “That’s for sure. It’s a combination of things with Ray and the team. We gotta play better in front of him. He’s gotta play better.”
Since starting the season 4-0-1, Ray Emery has gone 3-8-0 with a 3.75 GAA and .864 save percentage in 12 games. #FlyersTalk
— Tim Riday (@TimRiday) January 16, 2015
With the latest clunker behind him now, Emery has now given up three goals in all four of his last appearances. Rob Zepp, his replacement, didn’t fare much better right off the bat. Jannik Hansen busted out on a breakaway, scoring on the very first shot against the 33-year-old rookie.
Lecavalier Hits Century Mark
Vinny Lecavalier’s tenure in Philadelphia, which can be spun off as a drama series for a network television station, has now reached 100 games. It’s been quite the journey for the former Lightning captain. After a humbling trip to the press box for the first time in his 15-year career, the 34-year-old forward bounced back with five goals in a seven-game stretch.
Since tapping in his seventh goal of the season on Jan. 3rd, though, Lecavalier has now gone six consecutive games without a single point. The second year Flyer was held to just one shot on 10:28 of ice time on Thursday night.
Jake Voracek Watch
In Philly’s second straight shutout loss, Jake Voracek was held off the scoresheet in consecutive contests for just the second time all season. But with Pittsburgh idle, and teammate Claude Giroux suffering the same fate as Voracek, the 25-year-old Czech’s 52 points remain the NHL’s top scoring mark.
The #Flyers have been shut out in their past two games, and Jakub Voracek STILL leads the league in points by three-point margin
— Rob Riches (@Riches61) January 16, 2015
After a two assist night for Tampa Bay, though, Tyler Johnson has now reinserted his candidacy for Voracek’s seat at the top of the scoring mountain. The third-year center has now tied Dallas’ Tyler Seguin, as well as Giroux, for third on the yearly list with 48 points.
Finally, It’s Time to Play Buffalo
After facing off against six straight teams with winning records, the Flyers finally get that break in the schedule that, by all accounts, should result in a pair of points. The orange and black will travel to Buffalo to take on the doormat of the Eastern Conference on Saturday in the Sabres.
After a four-game winning streak in December, the Sabres are back to their old ways, losing nine straight games. Ted Nolan’s squad is peskier, though, at home, exhibiting a 10-12-2 record. But they too were shutout at home on Thursday night, dropping a 7-0 decision to the Minnesota Wild.
#Flyers Berube: "There's a lot of hockey. Regroup tomorrow, go to Buffalo and win a hockey game. That's what we're going to worry about."
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) January 16, 2015
The Flyers will enter the First Niagara Center with a three-game win streak against the Sabres, last tasting defeat in that building on Apr 13th, 2013. Philly’s success over their last three meetings with Buffalo include scoring four or more goals against the lowly Sabres.
That’s good news for a team that hasn’t scored now since the second period of Monday’s game against Tampa Bay. Another shutout on Saturday would set the benchmark for humiliation at an all-time high.
Andy is a contributor for The Hockey Writers, covering the Philadelphia Flyers. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Walsh University. He enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and reading. He is married with a daughter. You can follow Andy on Twitter @ADudones.