If, after consecutive outstanding efforts against the two best teams in the NHL, it was hard to see Thursday night’s 2-0 loss to the Blue Jackets coming, the best explanation for it was that Sergei Bobrovsky saw everything coming.
“He saw a lot of our shots,” said Scott Hartnell. “He’s pretty good positionally and he comes out a long ways.
“I don’t think we drove an attack to make it uncomfortable for him. We had some shots and the rebounds were swatted away by their D. “
It is difficult to believe the Flyers, who scored at least three goals in seven of the last nine games (and got four five times) until the last two contests, continue to have this much offensive zone time and yet have been shutout consecutively.
Also hard to realize that they have won only one of their last six, even though just one of them, at Madison Square Garden, was a sub-par effort.
They didn’t play an entirely bad game Thursday night, only a bad third period, but that was hard to fathom, too, considering the Flyers have 11 third period comebacks for wins and the second highest total of third period goals (to Boston) in the NHL.
The Flyers went into the final 20 minutes trailing by only one goal. They had the Jackets where they wanted them. Yet they played a bad first six minutes and a disjointed 14 thereafter, which seemed curious only until Captain Claude Giroux nailed the reason.
“We got impatient because it wasn’t going in,” he said.
Eureka! Between that 7-0 early November debacle to Washington and Tuesday night in St. Louis, the Flyers had been shutout only twice. They are not used to it, so Thursday night it started to get to them.
As a result, Columbus got to them for an insurance goal off Brandon Dubinsky’s skate and a number of Steve Mason-erased chances that made a lot of the good will the Flyers have been building with their fans over five months dissipate in a chorus of impatience that matched the impatience they were watching.
As a reason for Thursday night’s loss, frustration was a better theory than the Flyers, having come through the worst of their killer schedule with well-earned and confidence-building points against the Boston and St. Louis juggernauts, took their foot off the gas pedal.
“I don’t know why this one wouldn’t have been as emotional as the past ones,” said Hartnell. “These guys are right on our tails and have been playing really well as well.”
The Blue Jackets got a second-period power-play goal off a neutral-ice slashing penalty on Sean Couturier and then squeezed a team that was squeezing its sticks. Three first period Flyer power plays produced just two shots, but as intolerant as fans can be about power play failures, these often are a reflection of a team’s five-on-five play.
Okay, maybe in Washington’s case it is not, but the solution to this 0-for-9 schneid the Flyers’ power play is on is pretty much the same as the answer to their five-on-five drought:
Go to the net young men.
Change the direction of the team by changing directions of some shots. Blind Tuukka Rask on Saturday to the fact that he is facing a team that hasn’t scored in 130 minutes. As far as he is concerned, these are the same guys that came at him in waves on Sunday.
The Flyers cushion to make the playoffs still is three points with two games in hand on Toronto. After this 24-hour rain, on Saturday in Boston the sun is scheduled to come out.
And if the Flyers blot it out from the Boston goalie’s vision, they will start to score again and this fight for a playoff spot won’t have to go to the wire.
NEW: Berube announces Ray Emery gets the start vs. Boston on Saturday. WATCH BELOW: