In a normal season, you could forgive the Flyers for being discombobulated after finding out their No. 1 center wasn’t going to play mere minutes before the start of a game in which the opponent blitzed them for four goals in the opening frame en route to a 6-1 final.

But this isn’t a normal season.

That excuse can not fly when your playing a shortened season, and every game is a division game. That excuse can not fly when you are chasing the final playoff spot and with each loss it seems further and further away.

That excuse can not fly just 72 hours after one of the worst defeats in franchise history.

There’s no doubt missing Sean Couturier, who was out with a lower body injury after deciding not to play following the pre-game warm-ups, hurts. He’s one of the best centers in the sport and losing him changes everything in your lineup as he’s an all-situations player.

But, as good a player as he is, he wouldn’t have stopped the Flyers from getting steamrolled even if he was in the lineup. Especially when the Flyers were credited with 20 giveaways – which are basically unforced errors. The Islanders had another four takeaways, which are forced errors, for 24 times the puck was turned over in this one.

Five of those 24 gaffes ended up in the net.

Now, I can sit here and point out all the individual mistakes that occurred in this one – for example, Nate Prosser who is likely going to be a healthy scratch – and maybe for a long time after this one – turned the puck over twice that led to immediate goals.

Carter Hart turned the puck over trying to make a pass, and it went right back in the net. He also needed to make a save on the first Prosser turnover because it wasn’t a difficult shot, but his numbers are so ridiculously bad at this point, that there’s likely nothing that can save him this season except for a long reset and plenty of practice time.

Erik Gustafsson continues to be a swing and a miss in the offseason. What little he has brought offensively has been gravely overshadowed by what he does wrong in his own end, and yep, there was a goal on him too.

But, really, has anyone on this team truly played well enough at all this month to escape the wrath of the angered unscathed?

Nary a player. Certainly, some have been far more egregiously costing the Flyers than others, but the collective has been subpar for three weeks. Ever since the calendar flipped from February, things have gone completely sideways.

Like the Soothsayer said in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March.”

Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter who made these mistakes or why they keep making them. What matters is how do you stop the bleeding?

Alain Vigneault is out of answers. The players are out of answers. Yet there’s one person we need to hear from at a time like this, and we haven’t heard from him in awhile.

In the past, at times like this, both Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren during their stints as General Manager, would come out publicly and say something either to try to spark the team, or put them on notice.

Hell, even Ed Snider would come out and say something – especially when the team was playing as poorly as it is right now. (Thanks to the Wayback machine for finding my story from 2006 since it doesn’t exist on any more).

Dave Scott doesn’t hold the same cache or gravitas as Snider these days, despite the fact that he wants everyone to believe he does, so we really don’t need to hear from him.

But Chuck Fletcher, he of the same title as Clarke and Holmgren, he needs to come out publicly and address what is going on with his team.

It’s not fun, I know. You also don’t want to drop a gauntlet too many times in your tenure, so you have to know when to pull that card out from up your sleeve and play it, but the reality is, there were far greater expectations for this hockey team than 11 straight games allowing three goals or more, having the franchise goalie regress to a level he may not have been at ever in his life as a goaltender, have a defense more disjointed than a contortionist, and have a veteran coaching staff, helmed by the guy with the seventh-most wins in the history of the sport saying things like this when asked if he could put a finger on why this team is so prone to self-inflicted mistakes:

“If I could I would have fixed it already. It’s my job to find solutions and I really thought prior to the game that we were focused and that we talked about really following up that performance we had (Thursday) with another solid one.”

So, if the coach is scratching his head, and the players aren’t responding other than for 53 minutes Thursday, and there have been seven losses this month, a few of the embarrassing variety, then the GM needs to make an appearance.

Every fan wants Fletcher to make changes. I’m pretty sure he would if he could do something that made sense for the future of the organization. But, in the interim, other GMs around the league who might be selling players, may be stalling to see if the market brings out better offers as the April 12 deadline approaches.

This leaves Fletcher in a position to hope the guys he has can figure it out, and if not, maybe he doesn’t look to be active in advance of the deadline in a way that would add to the current roster. Maybe he changes his mind and decides to sell at this point.

But, before it gets to that point, there is one tactic left – speak out publicly and condemn the poor performances of the month of March. Let it be known that as the GM you are not OK with what is happening.

Speak to the fan base, but at the same time, ensure the message is delivered to the players.

And if they can’t respond to that, then you know for sure that the right group of players aren’t in that locker room after all.

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