Flyers Backcheck: Uninspired in Detroit, Another Road Loss

All the yelling, expletives, and slammed doors in the world can’t fix what’s going on with the Flyers right now. Their 5-2 road loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night dropped Craig Berube’s team to 8-10-3 on the season, and 2-7-1 when playing away from home. So where do we go from here?

Another Trip to Detroit, Another Road Loss

Dating back to Jan. 24th of 1998, the Flyers have traveled to Detroit 13 times. Of that dozen plus one, the Flyers managed to win only two of those games. While that’s not as drastic as Detroit’s nine-game losing streak in Philadelphia, Wednesday’s result was an added touch for a Flyers team that last won on the road over a month ago – in Pittsburgh.

The Flyers have played 10 road games, and, inexplicably, they have not scored first in any of them. This time, Stephen Weiss gave Detroit a 1-0 lead by tipping in a shot by Darren Helm with 9:48 left in the opening period. — Sam Carchidi, Philly.com

Weiss’ deflection past Steve Mason near the midway point of the opening period came after the Flyers owned the possession game to start the game. Despite taking a one goal deficit into the dressing room for the first intermission, the game wasn’t over yet, with shots evenly distributed at seven apiece.

The Flyers would tie the game early in the second on Claude Giroux’s seventh goal of the season. But from there, it was all down hill.

Detroit answered with goals from Tomas Jurco and Pavel Datsyuk, who came up one goal shy of a natural hat trick in the second period. Datsyuk’s markers came in between a goalie change, as Berube attempted to spark his squad by replacing Steve Mason with Ray Emery in net.

“You never want it to have to come to that,” said Mason after a players-only meeting. “You don’t want to look at the standings, but at the same time, it’s pretty easy to see things slipping away, see points that are up for grabs and you’re not.”

Jakub Voracek would cut the lead back to two, scoring on a third period power play with less than eight minutes to play. But Henrik Zetterberg’s empty-net score solidified Philadelphia’s sixth loss in seven games, with five of those losses suffered on the road.

Mason, who now falls to 10-11-2 all-time against the Red Wings, remained on the hook for the loss – his first loss to Detroit as a member of the Flyers. But even though Mason was pulled after giving up three goals on 14 shots, the damage could’ve been much worse. The Red Wings dented Mason’s net with screened goals in which the 26-year-old virtually never saw.

“Second period, we got away from our game, and it showed on the scoreboard,” added Giroux, who’s team was outshot 13-6 in the second period.

The Flyers would finish the game just one shot shy of Detroit’s 25, courtesy of an 11-5 advantage in the third. But by then, it didn’t matter. The damage had been done, and the Flyers are now left reeling.

What Now?

With their 10th regulation loss in 21 games, a shortage in patience is anything but a secret.

“We had some guys that aren’t competing, and the result’s in goals against. It can’t happen,” said Berube. “You need everybody on your team competing at the highest level all the time in this league; otherwise, you will not win.”

After the latest road loss, the players held a closed-door, players-only meeting. This, of course, is the latest tactic team personnel has grasped onto. In the time of less than a month, the team has witnessed GM Ron Hextall explode on them, head coach Craig Berube refuse to defend their lackluster performance to the media, and now a players-only meeting.

Reporters waited longer than usual while a players-only meeting wrapped up and coach Craig Berube said others could join goalie Steve Mason, who was benched after allowing Detroit’s third goal late in the second period. — Scott Held, CSN Philly

Giroux, who beat Detroit starter Jimmy Howard for his first even-strength goal of the season, doesn’t see the Flyers’ problems as an issue of playing away from Broad Street, though.

“I think it’s not just on the road,” said Giroux. “We need to look ourselves in the mirror here and kinda see what we’re doing and show a little attitude here.”

The lack of attitude Giroux speaks of resulted in just the fourth time in 21 games that the Flyers have given up five or more goals – two in which, have come in the last 11 days. In those games, naturally, the orange and black have gone 1-3-0.

https://twitter.com/BrokenBellSprts/status/537821814568009728

While Giroux’s assessment is far from inaccurate, there’s no denying the Flyers have been bruised and battered since the onset of the season. Whether it was Kimmo Timonen’s blood clot setback, or the growing number of injuries that have throttled the lineup throughout the first two months of the season, the Flyers have been sticking band-aids on gaping wounds.

The team limited by little to no cap space have now called up five skaters and signed a free agent to fill the voids left behind by injuries to Braydon Coburn, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Michael Del Zotto, and Michael Raffl.

With the Flyers catching up from the early season injury bug, they have since sent Shayne Gostisbehere, Brandon Manning, and Blair Jones back down to Lehigh Valley, while Carlo Colaiacovo has gone back and forth from the ice to the press box. But despite returning back towards a more traditional lineup in regard to positional breakdown on Wednesday night, recent rumors suggest the team is looking to make a move.

 The Philadelphia Flyers may be talking trade with the Edmonton Oilers, with Edmonton right winger Jordan Eberle possibly playing a starring role slightly different than the one he fills on the ice, according to Eklund of Hockeybuzz.

A good friend of mine at the NHL tells me there is tons of talk surrounding the Oilers and Flyers today…

The latest is talk the Oilers have big interest in Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn. The Flyers are mainly interested in Eberle, but Yakupov for the first time I have heard, is also on the radar. — Cal Setar, HNGN

Clearly, the Flyers have a decision to make. Ron Hextall can either wheel and deal in an attempt to fight for a playoff berth this season, or the first-year GM can sit back with the long-term approach in hand. Should he choose the latter, things are highly unlikely to get any better this season. And even with a conservative approach such as that, hinging bets on a draft pick or two comes with uncertainty as well.

There’s no such thing as a sure thing, and who’s to say they get their right guy? Even if they do, the growing pains of adjusting to playing in the NHL must also be accounted for. In a nutshell, a move has to be made.

Tidbits from Motown

Claude Giroux’s first period goal was not only his first even-strength goal of the season, it also prevented his first consecutive game pointless streak since the stretch between Mar. 30th and April 3rd (three games) of last season. Giroux’s goal and assist gave the Flyers captain his ninth multi-point game of the season.

Henrik Zetterberg’s empty-net goal on Wednesday night snapped a nine-game goalless drought for the Red Wings captain. Zetterberg recorded the uncontested mark for just his second point in Detroit’s last six games.

After being held in check for just the third time in 20 games on Monday, Jake Voracek remains in the NHL point leader race. Voracek’s third period power play goal serves as his 30th point of the campaign, good now for second in the league. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby collected two assists – points number 30 and 31 – in an overtime win against Toronto, giving him the single point edge through 21 games.

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Sean Couturier found himself in an unusual setting on Wednesday night, dropping his mitts with Kyle Quincey. It was Couturier’s second career fight, and it showed. The two-way forward last fought Ottawa’s Kyle Turris on Dec. 9th, 2013.

Voters from Hockeyfights.com voted Couturier the winner of both fights, giving the 21-year-old center an unblemished record in the throwdown.

The Flyers will return from Thanksgiving to host the New York Rangers on Friday, their last home game until Dec. 11th. With three points separating the Flyers from fourth place in the Metropolitan Division, a win on Friday feels like a must. Especially with the five upcoming road games on the schedule beyond that.

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Who knows, though? Perhaps the Rangers will see a new face with the Flyers. Maybe not. Regardless, sitting on 19 points is getting depressing.