Philadelphia Flyers Struggles Continue With Key Missing Pieces

The 2021-22 season can not get any worse for the Philadelphia Flyers as COVID-19 and injuries continue to ravage the lineup. The Flyers entered Thursday’s game against the Pittsburg Penguins down nine players. Six are in COVID-19 protocol, including Jackson Cates, Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Nick Seeler. The other three are out with long-term injuries, including Sean Couturier (upper body), Ryan Ellis (lower body), and Nate Thompson (shoulder).

“Whether it was because we looked at our lineup and didn’t think that we had enough, I’m not sure. To be honest with you, I’m not sure,” Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “We’ll have a discussion about that tomorrow and try to get to the bottom of it.”

Mike Yeo, Philadelphia Flyers
Mike Yeo, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“But bottom line is, going forward, we have an opportunity to prove that that’s not us,” Yeo continued. “That’s the situation that we’re in in the season. That’s the situation we were in in the game tonight. That’s how we responded. How are we going to respond going forward? Obviously, I’m very hopeful that it will be differently.”

Regardless of the players missing from the lineup, the Flyers are struggling this season. The Penguins defeated the Flyers, 6-2 on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. With a 13-15-6 record, something needs to change quickly if they want to make the playoffs.

Flyers Move Forward After Struggles

After four straight losses, Philadelphia is not in a good place at the moment. There are challenges involved in finding replacements for the nine absent players, but the team is not putting their best foot forward each night, and one excuse after another has kept them on a downtrend.

“You have nine, ten guys out, six guys in protocol,” Scott Laughton said after the loss. “It’s a tough league to win that way. It’s a tough league to chase, and we’ve been doing that quite a bit. Try and lead by example. Work as hard as you can. That’s pretty much it. I’m not sure what to say. You’ve got to skate and work and try to create energy for your team. It sucks right now. I don’t know what to say.”

Laughton is not typically looked to for leadership, but in these moments, someone needs to step up. He might not be producing offensively, but he isn’t afraid to speak up about his team’s struggles. Creating energy is something every player in the lineup needs to do, but they are just not doing it at the moment. 

Yeo: Going Down Swinging

If the Flyers want to turn the ship around, things need to change fast. The team thought firing Alain Vigneault would be the answer, but the issues are bigger than that. Realistically, the team has not had a decent season from the start, so at what point do they throw in the towel and try again next season?

“We can look at where we’re at right now in the season. We can just sort of accept our fate for the rest of the way and say maybe it’s not our year, bad luck, this and that. And you can do the same thing in a game, or you can fight,” Yeo said following the loss to the Penguins. “You can determine your own fate, regardless of what the circumstances are. There are going to be times where maybe you don’t get the result that you’re looking for, but you’re going to go down swinging if that’s the case. I didn’t think we did that tonight, so I think that’s the biggest thing that we have to address.”

Adopting a “going down swinging” mentality is what the Flyers need moving forward. It doesn’t matter who is in the lineup or who they are playing, the team should put forward their best effort every night in the second half of the season. There is still plenty of time left for the team to make something out of 2021-22. It’s a matter of changing their game for the better. Sometimes all it takes is one event to get the ball rolling.

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