There’s a few ways to look at a loss like the 3-1 defeat the Flyers suffered in New York Wednesday.
The pessimist would look at it as doomsday (which it’s not) with a terrible performance in the most important game of the season (which it wasn’t) and call for a rush to the lifeboats.
An optimist would say, hey, the Flyers still control their own destiny for home ice advantage with two games in hand on the Rangers and with 10 games to go can just as easily get back to where they were a few days ago with a couple wins.
I like to think the reality is somewhere in between.
Look, there’s no question the performance at Madison Square Garden – the Flyers own house of horrors where they haven’t won in three years – was not acceptable. Not in the least.
It was another game where the Flyers compete level was missing for good portions of the game and, as has been reiterated ad nauseam, when the Flyers don’t compete, they’re susceptible to being dominated. Just like when they have that snarl and edge to their game for an entire game, they are really tough to topple.
But at the same time, if we don’t look at the game in a vacuum and rather look at it as part of the bigger scope, the result is a little bit easier to swallow.
After all, if I told you the Flyers would be 5-2 through the first seven games of the 12-game gauntlet that faced them in a three week span, you’d take it 100 percent of the time. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise.
And the loss didn’t drop them from the spot they were in before the game began. As a matter of fact, if you look at the remaining games on the Flyers schedule, if they win the games they are expected to win based on records alone, the Flyers will have 93 points. That means they need just one point in the other five games against teams with better records than them to reach that watershed checkpoint of 94 points, which is a total that has qualified for the playoffs 100 percent of the time since the shootout arrived in the game in 2005-06.
It just stinks that the game, which was much-hyped against a division rival on national television with second place on the line turned out to be a dud.
That’s why there is a melancholy feeling among the Flyers faithful right now, and it’s understandable. But it’s also not time to push the panic button.
After all, how many times is Claude Giroux going to have a bad game? How many times is the reliable top pair defense of Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen going to struggle together? How many times are the rest of the top nine forwards (Wayne Simmonds aside) going to lay an egg together?
That’s the point. The play of several Flyers (Simmonds and the fourth line are exempt) was below expectations. It happens sometimes. I don’t think this is chronic either. You don’t win five games in a row in the fashion the Flyers did against the teams they beat last week on luck alone.
You do it with the perfect combination of skill, teamwork, sacrifice, energy, passion and desire.
A lot of that was missing in New York. I expect the team will find where it went well before it gets too close to being too late.
NOTES: Jakub Voracek extended his scoring streak to four games (3-2-5) and his goal-scoring streak to three games (3G)…Henrik Lundqvist bettered his career record against the Flyers to 26-12-3, including a mark of 12-3 in his last 15 appearances against them over the last three years (since March 6, 2011) and his eighth consecutive win over the Flyers at MSG… The Flyers have dropped consecutive games in regulation for the first time since January 23-25… The Flyers had 21 shots blocked, marking the fourth consecutive game in which they’ve had 20 or more shot attempts blocked. They also posted over 30 shots for the fourth consecutive game… The Flyers forced 15 Ranger giveaways, but were victimized by 11 Rangers takeaways…Simmonds finished the game with six shots on goal, three attempts that were blocked and three that missed.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers