TORONTO – An optimist would say, it was just six bad minutes.
A pessimist would say the mistakes and breakdowns are too frequent, and frankly too paramount.
An optimist would say offensively there were a lot of good things as the Flyers did fire 46 shots on net and it was stunning that a few more didn’t actually go in.
A pessimist would say the Flyers offense continues to be the bane of their existence and that their inability to break that two-goal barrier – something they’ve done only three times so far this season – is the root of the malaise.
Yet, no matter if you’re the glass half-full or the glass half-empty type, the end result is still the end result – and this was a 5-2 loss by the Flyers to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And it all centered around a brutal six-minute span that saw the Maple Leafs score three goals at the start of the second period, forcing coach Peter Laviolette to try to swing the momentum by pulling starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in favor of Brian Boucher.
But, the Flyers power play failed them when they had a chance to get back in the game, going 0-for-5 – including a full 5-minute major that was uneven at best and downright bad at worst – with all five chances coming after that three-goal barrage by the Leafs.
“They were the better team today,” said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. “They were hungrier and when that happened they were able to create turnovers. But we gave them those turnovers. We had a few mistakes. Sometimes you have to play a simple game and we didn’t do that today.”
It’s a shame too, because the Flyers really came out buzzing.
From there, the Flyers really were dictating the play, putting 11 shots on the board in the first 10 minutes of play.
The Flyers killed each penalty, but in between, Dion Phaneuf blasted a slapper past Bryzgalov to tie it.
The penalties though were the butterfly effect, setting off a series of events that led to those dreaded six minutes.
Penalty, penalty, penalty, momentum swing, mistake, goal, mistake, goal, mistake goal.
And for all intents and purposes, that was the hockey game.
Oh, sure Reimer hurt his left leg something fierce and had to be helped to the locker room, replaced by an ice cold Ben Scrivens.
And yes, the Flyers had practically seven consecutive minutes of power play time thereafter to make it a hockey game again, but they failed brilliantly, getting only one real scoring chance despite putting six shots on goal during the man advantage.
“Those six minutes killed us,” Giroux said. “We have to learn from it and move on. It’s good to be frustrated I think. It’s good to be a little [ticked] off. We have another game here and we have to move on.”
And while there is a game Tuesday in Winnipeg against the Jets, the Flyers can’t have mistakes like they did in those six dread minutes.
They can’t have a failed clearing attempt by Tom Sestito that leads to a shot by Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr out-working Nick Grossmann for a rebound to put past Bryzgalov.
They can’t have Matt Frattin beating Braydon Coburn to a scoring position and re-directing a Nazim Kadri shot into the net.
And they really can’t have Grossmann turn the puck over in the neutral zone, leading to a rush the other way, and then have an inability to clear the zone and leave Clarke MacArthur wide open at the backdoor for an easy goal.
“Things that we’ve talked about that hurt us in the past hurt us again in that span of six minutes,” Laviolette said. “We shot ourselves in the foot and it seemed to unravel a little bit… and we couldn’t get back on track.
“There were a lot of good things that happened outside of those six minutes.”
At least we know the coach is an optimist.
Notes: Sean Couturier did not play because he was hit with the flu Monday afternoon. The Flyers sent him back to Philadelphia to rest and he will not play Tuesday in Winnipeg either… Tye McGinn scored the second Flyers goal of the game in the final minute of play. It was his second goal of the season… Former Flyer James vanRiemsdyk scored the fifth Toronto goal, when the puck rolled off his stick and made a lucky beeline past a sliding Boucher... The Flyers had 22 shots on goal in the second period, their most since 24 against New Jersey last February. Their 46 shots were the most since a 55-shot effort in Winnipeg, which also occurred last February… In case you still don’t believe special teams is the difference maker, in the six games the Flyers have earned points (5-0-1) their power play is 7-for-22 (31.8 percent). In their seven losses the power play is 2-for-33 (6 percent).
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