After a historic November and an above-average December, the Philadelphia Flyers were set to continue their torrid pace into the new year. From third in the Metropolitan Division to fighting for a wildcard spot, the annual West Coast road trip has put a serious dent in the Flyers’ season. Through four games the Flyers have posted a 1-3-0 record with their only win coming in overtime.
Related: Flyers Post a Franchise Record November
The team’s play has been destitute, slow, and not what fans and pundits anticipated. Surely the team would struggle, but their recent play has been alarming as they have surrendered the first goal in all but one game. While the final scores of these past four games have been relatively close, the team has been outplayed in every aspect.
Need a Better Effort
The Flyers currently sit fifth in their division with 49 total points. This road trip was meant to be a springboard for the team as they look forward to the second half of the season. In a division as tight at the Metropolitan, the Flyers need every point they can get. They especially need points against teams lower in the standings than them like the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. In typical Flyers’ road game fashion, they were pummeled by both of these teams. Ivan Provorov ruined a shutout bid with a power-play goal in the third period against San Jose but other than that, the team provided next to nothing in the offensive zone.
Allowing 11 total goals in the two losses, the team struggled in all three zones and could barely generate offensive pressure. If the Flyers want to keep pace with the division leaders, they will need to perform and ultimately beat teams on the lower end of the standings.
A Battle with the Golden Knights
In what ended up being a back and forth game, the Flyers showed life and ultimately fell short against the Vegas Golden Knights. With another shaky away start from goaltender Carter Hart, the Flyers showed life and battled back from an early deficit. The Flyers were gifted a huge opportunity to tie the game late in the third when Vegas took two late penalties.
They were unable to capitalize and ended up falling by a score of 5-4. Even though they rallied, the Flyers’ play against the Golden Knights was a microcosm of their road trip. It showcased their two main issues of weak special teams play and the inability to cope with early pressure. Obviously, there were some positives as they did compete against a quality opponent and Hart displayed an aptitude to work himself back into the game.
A Tough Win
The only win during this current road trip came in the form of Kevin Hayes making a huge individual play in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks. In a goaltending duel, Brian Elliott and John Gibson were called upon early and often to make big saves. The Flyers again allowed the first goal in a flurry of pressure from the Ducks. Without Hayes’ big play in overtime, I’m sure the Flyers would have lost this game.
The Ducks were all over the Flyers in every zone, pushing play and possessing the puck. This team needs a better effort against weaker teams, especially on the road. The difference between the Flyers on the road and at home is staggering. Their 5v5 Corsi for percentage at home stands at 53.37% while away it is just 49.83%. The save percentage disparity is even worse. At home, the Flyers post a .931 and on the road, an .878.
The Flyers now look to right the ship against a tough Arizona Coyotes team on Jan. 4. I expected the Flyers to struggle on this road trip but not to this extent. It may always be sunny in Philadelphia but California and the West Coast as a whole seem to bring a dark cloud to the Flyers’ season each year. A more consistent team effort and better special teams play will go a long way to returning to November form. There is no doubt the team is better at home, but the great teams, the top contenders, all find ways to win on the road. If the Flyers can buckle down and focus on away games, they can reclaim their top division spot and comfortably make the playoffs.