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by Anthony SanFilippo / Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA – It was only a matter of time before it reached this point.

There was only so long the Flyers could go playing substandard hockey before someone finally let the frustration boil over.

So, after the Washington Capitals scored their final goal of the night, en route to a 7-0 win over the Flyers, the pent up anger about the team’s 3-9-0 start came pouring out.

Wayne Simmonds took the next shift. He buried Steve Olesky with an open ice hit. He crunched Tom Wilson against the boards.

That was all the Caps needed, and they swarmed Simmonds. Wilson got to him first and the gloves dropped. While

Ray Emery was the epitome of the frustration that fills the FLyers locker room after a 3-9-0 start when he pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby.

they went at it, Ray Emery darted from his crease to the other end of the ice to go after Caps’ goalie Braden Holtby.

That set off two more fights – Brayden Schenn against Alexander Urbom and Vinny Lecavalier against Olesky.

And while this brief surge of energy showed that the Flyers have some players who care and want to try to wake the team up, the end result was another loss – and a bad one at that.

Making matters worse, because of the fighting in the game, the Flyers lost two players – probably for an extended period of time.

Lecavalier is definitely out tomorrow with a facial injury as a result of a fight. He will be reevaluated Saturday but it’s likely he will miss more than just one game.

Meanwhile, recently re-acquired forward Steve Downie was involved in an earlier scrap, and was hit hard near the left eye by Aaron Volpatti.

Downie immediately begged out of the fight with a cut and went to the locker room for further evaluation. Turns out, his injury is even worse, and he had to be transported to Pennsylvania Hospital for further tests and evaluation after the game.

General Manager Paul Holmgren identified his injury as a concussion. That likely means he’s out indefinitely.

With two players out of action, the Flyers will likely recall two players from Adirondack. Tye McGinn will likely be one of them. The other is anyone’s guess at this point.

The Flyers were assessed 99 minutes in penalties. It was the most since their franchise record of 213 against Ottawa in 2004. It is also the seventh-highest total in franchise history.

Regardless, the Flyers may have just hit rock bottom.

“Well it can’t get a whole lot lower, can it,” asked coach Craig Berube.

No, it certainly can’t.

The funny thing is, for the opening 15 minutes, the Flyers actually played really well. They were outshooting the Capitals 8-0. Their defense was solid. Steve Mason looked strong in net again. Chances were coming in the offensive end. It was smooth sailing.

Then, Nicklas Backstrom scored, and everything went to pot.

“I thought we played pretty good for the fifteen minutes, and once they scored the first goal we stopped playing,” said general manager Paul Holmgren. “I think we’re afraid to play the game right now, afraid to make plays, afraid to battle for pucks, afraid to skate after pucks; it’s tough to watch. I’m sure the players are very embarrassed, like we all are, and we have to be better than that.”

Holmgren wasn’t done with the condemnation of his club. He went downstairs to the locker room after a dreadful second period and let the fur fly. That probably contributed to the tipping point in the third period.

“Right now we’re not playing the game with any confidence, especially when we get behind,” Holmgren said. “Like I said, I thought we played fifteen pretty good minutes. They got one good chance and then they ended up scoring on (I think) their second shot. We just folded up like a cheap suit. It’s hard to win in this league when you don’t win battles and you don’t use your speed; we looked like a slow team tonight, and I don’t think we are.”

Wayne Simmonds sparked the line brawl in the third period with a couple of big hits.

Until the third period, there was very little fight in the Flyers. Starting goalie Steve Mason was hung out to dry. So, Berube pulled him and replaced him with Emery after the third Washington goal.

It wasn’t because of the way Mason was playing, but rather the way the team wasn’t playing in front of him.

That switch didn’t help. Emery gave up the next four goals before unleashing fury on Holtby, who honestly wanted no part of Emery.

“He didn’t want a fight but I said basically ‘protect yourself,’” Emery said. “He didn’t really have much of a choice.”

That fight was certainly one-sided, much like the game.

The good news for the Flyers players is that neither their coach nor their general manager admonished them for venting with their fists, although Holmgren’s response hinted that he wishes they would have come up with a different way of doing it.

“Well, when you’re getting slapped around like that it’s a response,” Holmgren said. “Do I have an issue with it? Probably not. It’s a response.”

In other words, it would have been better if they channeled that energy into playing the system and producing on the scoreboard, but it is hockey and it’s understandable, because these things happen to every team.

Nevertheless, there are no excuses. The Flyers have not lived up to their expectations. They have fallen flat on their face. No one is going to help them up either. They are going to have to do it themselves.

And they don’t have to wait long to try as their next game is tonight in New Jersey against the Devils.

You go play a game [Saturday],” Berube said. “You pick yourself up and you go play. That’s it. Everybody has been involved in these games before. They’re not fun obviously but you know you can’t sit there and dwell on it, we’ve got to go play a game [Saturday]. Compete, work hard, that’s what you do.”

To contact Anthony SanFilippo email or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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