It’s Okay to Feel Bad for them After this One: Thoughts on Islanders 4, Flyers 3 (SO)

Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

It’s easy to bash the Flyers these days. They deserve it. They’ve been a major disappointment. They had a 10-game losing streak in November and December that got coach Alain Vigneault fired.

They had a brief recovery where they earned points in seven straight games, but now they’ve lost nine straight again, showing that interim coach Mike Yeo doesn’t have any answers either.

The cries of “blow the team up” and “sell the team” are permeating social media.

Every bit of it is understandable. And you know what else would be understandable? If the players just threw in the towel on the season.

After all, there’s a whole lot of change coming down the pike for this organization in the next six months. It would be easy enough to do enough to save face but also ensure your health so that you can have another job next season, whether it’s here or somewhere else.

That, however, wasn’t the Flyers M.O. Tuesday.

Instead, the Flyers played a game loaded with pride. They played hard. They skated hard. They stuck to their game plan and their systems. The blocked shots like it was Game 7 of the Cup Final. They did everything they could to win the game.

They didn’t. They may have deserved to, but they didn’t.

Nope, they lost 4-3 in a shootout to the New York Islanders for their ninth straight loss on Tuesday. And it was almost poetic that in that shootout, the Flyers were 0-for-9. They have now played in four shootouts this season, and lost them all. They haven’t scored one shootout goal either. Nope. They are 0-for-16 in the four shootouts. That’s 16 breakaways, zero goals.

Only the Flyers.

It’s a shame, really. You do have to feel bad for them, at least for one night, when they laid it all out there and weren’t rewarded. They were the better team. They should have ended the losing streak and been feeling good about how they played structurally.

“We know we’re playing the right way right now,” said captain Claude Giroux, who had a goal and an assist. “Tonight, maybe we did deserve to win. But, at this point we’re just finding ways to lose games.”

Finding ways? Hell, these Flyers are inventing new ways to lose.

This time they blew a 3-2 edge in the closing minutes when Casey Cizikas, you know that goal scoring machine, got to the front of the net and one timed a pass from Scott Mayfield past Carter Hart to tie the game with 4:28 to play.

Cizikas snapped a 43-game goalless drought with a deflection in Monday’s game. So he scored for the second night in a row. The Flyers allowed a guy who hadn’t scored a goal since April Fool’s Day to score twice in two nights.

Only the Flyers:

Gerry Mayhew gets caught a little out of position, so he ends up chasing Mayfield and can’t quite get to him. Ivan Provorov has a chance to block the pass but really doesn’t do anything, and although Justin Braun tries to give Cizikas a shove just before the pass arises, because Cizikas was moving his feet and coming with more force, he bounced off of Braun’s check and was able to score the tying goal.

The Flyers got behind early 1-0 when Robin Salo scored his first NHL goal just 2:08 into the game:

Salo thought he had scored his first NHL goal Monday, only to have it taken from him by Cizikas when he tipped the shot on the way in. Salo didn’t miss this one, meaning the Flyers basically gave up the kid’s first NHL goal… twice.

Only the Flyers.

We point this goal out though for two reasons. One, because we tell everyone who likes to bet sports live in-game to immediately bet against the Flyers if they give up the first goal. No matter what the odds are, just do it. You will win far more often than you lose this season.

That’s because the Flyers are now 2-16-3 this season after allowing the first goal. The only two times they won were thanks to Carter Hart, who made 39 saves in a 2-1 win in Carolina in November – maybe the Flyers most impressive win this season – and a game a little more than a week later where Hart shut down the Calgary Flames at Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers won 2-1 in overtime on a goal by Cam Atkinson.

Hart almost pulled out a third win for them Tuesday, as he was sensational in overtime and the shootout, stopping 14 consecutive shots until Oliver Wahlstrom beat him with a snipe in the ninth round of the shootout.

Before that, there was a lot of this:

And this:

Hart deserved to be one of the stars of the game. Maybe even No. 1. He got none. Womp. Womp.

But the reason we’ve been suggesting you bet against the Flyers live, in-game, when they’ve given up the first goal is not just because of that record, but because that record has been forged by a complete and utter lack of confidence, leading to structural breakdowns, nervous play, risky chances that often come back and bite them, and crushing additional goals that put the Flyers down two or three, all but ruining their chances at coming back from the earliest and easiest of deficits.

However, on Tuesday the Flyers showed a concerted effort and got back in the game. James van Riemsdyk tied it with a powerplay goal, and then after New York took the lead again, the Flyers remained resilient and tied it again, this time on a goal by Travis Konecny:

The goal Monday wasn’t real. Yeah, Konecny got credit for it and it ended his 20-game goalless drought, but it was a pass that took two crazy ricochets off of Islanders players and completely changed direction and went into the net.

This one, was well-deserved. Konecny had a heck of a game. His whole line did really. Scott Laughton and Oskar Lindblom played great as well and the trio had myriad scoring chances. But it was Konecny who was playing with the utmost confidence.

Two games ago, against the Rangers, Konecny was looking to pass the puck to Nick Seeler, of all people, on a 2-on-1. Tuesday, he was looking to score any way he could.

Then, in the third period, Claude Giroux put the Flyers ahead:

It was a really nice give-and-go with Atkinson. Giroux had another multi-point night, also picking up an assist on JVR’s goal. It was his ninth multi-point game of the season and his third in his last seven games played.

Appreciate it folks, because Giroux’s time here is running short. Barring a miracle run – the Flyers are 12 points out of the final playoff spot in the East, and the team that holds that spot, Boston, has three games in hand – Giroux has somewhere between 17 and 23 games left as a Flyer. The trade deadline is March 21, so it’s still a ways off, and while no conversation has been had yet between the team and their captain about waiving his no movement clause, it’s almost a sure bet that chat will happen sooner rather than later. Because you aren’t overcoming losing 20-of-25 games in one season and still making the playoffs.

“Losing sucks,” said coach Mike Yeo. “There’s no other way around it. It’s difficult because you see the effort that was put in tonight, the way the guys were blocking shots (the Flyers had 13 different players block 20 shots, led by Justin Braun with three), paying a price for each other. It felt like a lot of areas of our team game were really strong. … (But) it’s adversity. It’s difficult. We’re seeing progress in our game, but it’s hard to sit here when you are in a losing streak like this and feel good about progress.”

Ticket Nightmare

On another note, the announced attendance for last night’s game was 16,362. The more accurate count was the drop count – which are actual butts in seats. I didn’t get an actual drop count from my usual source for that last night, but I would say, based on the eye test,  there were about two-thirds of that attendance figure in the building:

Now, some of those seats eventually filled in, but a lot didn’t. That’s because there was a lot of fan confusion with tickets Tuesday night.

You see, the game originally scheduled for Tuesday had the Flyers hosting the Detroit Red Wings. They game was moved to a yet-to-be-announced date (likely during the original Olympic window in February) and was replaced with the Islanders game that was originally postponed on Nov. 30 because of COVID.

Fans still showed up with the wrong tickets, and the Flyers had to deal with this. From what I was told it was a bit hectic at the box office because of it.

I tweeted this out last night to report it, but I also said this:

Flyers fans have to be more on top of what’s happening. Really.

Now, I was also told that the Flyers went out of their way to remind season ticket holders (both full and partial plan holders) to use the Islanders tickets from Nov. 30 and not the Red Wings tickets from Jan. 18. I was told there were several emails sent out (even to people who didn’t have tickets for either game, but that’s OK).

But what about the single game ticket buyers? Especially if they didn’t buy them through the Web site and got them from the secondary market?

That’s where reminders on the television and radio broadcasts would have helped. (I didn’t listen to the radio broadcasts, so maybe they were there, but I don’t remember anyone saying anything during Monday Night’s game on NBCS Philly).

Additionally, the team could have emailed the media and asked us to put reminders in our stories and on our web sites to help make fans aware. That didn’t happen either.

In the end, I’m sure everything worked out and either tickets were exchanged or there were refunds, or whatever (if not, please email us and let us know), but it’s certainly a problem that could have been avoided with a little more push from the Flyers and a lot more awareness from the fans.

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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