3 Takeaways from Flyers Loss to Devils

The Philadelphia Flyers lost 3-0 to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on Wednesday night. The loss extended their losing streak to 10 games, and their current six-game regulation losing streak is the franchise’s longest since February 2008. Interim head coach Mike Yeo fell to 0-2-0 since taking over for Alain Vigneault on Monday. The Flyers are the only team the Devils have beaten during a current skid of six losses in eight games.

Flyers Leadership Can’t Stop Losing Streak

When it rains, it pours. Right now, the Flyers are playing every bit as miserably as their 10-game losing streak suggests. They are playing without confidence in any element of the game. They have allowed their frustration to affect their performance, and they’ve shown no resilience to the disadvantages they encounter.

Philadelphia Flyers Sean Couturier
Philadelphia Flyers Sean Couturier (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

During the offseason, general manager Chuck Fletcher prioritized adding players who could bring strong leadership and character to the dressing room. The leadership of the team is failing each test they face while the team continues its tailspin. Sean Couturier, an 11-year veteran considered by many as the best player on the team, took a bad penalty in the closing seconds of the second period with his team trailing 2-0. The looming penalty kill changed the mood entering the intermission and lessened the already slim hopes of a comeback. 

Yeo Loses Second Straight

Philadelphia’s problems extend beyond coaching. They played an aggressive offensive game in Yeo’s first chance behind the bench against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night and scored more than three goals for the first time since Oct. 27. The offensive burst was a refreshing change of pace, but the Flyers still lost 7-5. It was perfectly clear that they had a lot of problems to fix, and they didn’t move forward on any of them tonight. The penalty kill allowed a goal. The power play didn’t create many high-danger chances, and MacKenzie Blackwood stopped all 25 shots he faced. 

“I didn’t think we were just going to come here snap our fingers and everything was going to be great for us.”

-Mike Yeo

After the game, Yeo mentioned the need to find a good medium between playing too safe like they did against New Jersey and too aggressive like they did against Colorado. Finding that medium will take time. He did make a notable positive contribution with a successful challenge to take a New Jersey goal off the board late in the second period.

Flyers Defensemen Struggling

Ivan Provorov continues to struggle in the absence of Ryan Ellis. He has experienced problems breaking the puck out of the defensive zone, and he is not showing confidence in his ability to attack puck carries in any of the three zones. His work on the power play as a distributor from the point was also ineffective. His workhorse style serves best as a second defenseman rather than an anchor on a top pair. He led all skaters in ice time with 27:05. 

Related: Flyers Have 5 Good Options to Replace Vigneault

Travis Sanheim has been inconsistent throughout the early part of the season. On New Jersey’s first goal, he lost a puck battle in the Philadelphia zone and fell to the ice afterwards. He then failed to regain position and allowed Jesper Bratt to take a one-timer to light the lamp. Later in the period, he and Rasmus Ristolainen left Dawson Mercer uncovered to deflect a shot from the point for a power-play goal that Carter Hart had little chance to stop. Sanheim did show a burst of speed to produce a good scoring chance on a rush with six minutes left in the third period.

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The Flyers allowed more goals than any team in the NHL in 2020-21. Fletcher revamped the blue line during the offseason with the expectation for Ellis to play on the top pair. The injury to the former Nashville Predator shouldn’t mean the collapse of Philadelphia’s defensive corps and the loss of the 2021-22 season.

Ivan Provorov Philadelphia Flyers
Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Flyers will travel west to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday and the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Yeo hopes to steer the ship in the right direction once he gets the practice time to implement changes in the team’s approach. They sit nine points out of the final Eastern Conference wild card spot and 18 points out of the Metropolitan Division lead.