Here are five observations from the Flyers' 5-3 loss to the Capitals on Tuesday night at Washington:
I thought of this the other day. In previous eras of losing streaks — the current one now at eight games — we would have at least noted the presence of someone such as Dr. Joel Fish in the dressing room, or some other device designed to help the Flyers get out of their own heads. Once, I recall, head coach Roger Neilson presented Monty Python and the Holy Grail to the squad, in an attempt to get the boys out of a funk. I think it worked, too.
Here’s interim coach Scott Gordon after Tuesday’s loss: “I think the biggest thing is you’re looking at there’s a lot of things going on in a lot of heads. Sometimes it’s your own personal success and failures. Sometimes it can be contracts. Sometimes it can maybe be who you’re playing with on any given night …"
To be fair, Pheonix Copley now owns a 10-2-2 record, with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He’s a pretty good backup. The Flyers registered 40 shots on him, although a big chunk of them, 17, came after the Caps swamped them in the second period with three straight goals and the game swung away from them.
Still, considering the Caps traded Philipp Grubauer — who threatened to supplant Braden Holtby as their No. 1 last season — in the offseason, Washington keeps finding good young goaltending depth.
In this case, it comes from North Pole, Alaska, population 2,107.
Seriously, that’s where Copley was born. Here’s something else of note: Copley has been traded from and to the Caps in his career, the latter time as part of a deal that netted St. Louis the Capitals’ first-round pick of 2017.
That pick was later dealt to the Flyers, who used it to select hot prospect Morgan Frost.
Remember when that was supposed to be the Flyers' future forte, a stable of young goaltenders? Mike McKenna, the record-tying seventh goalie to play for them this season, was brilliant at times Tuesday, not so much at others, like when he deflected in a wide-angle shot off his pad for Washington’s fourth goal, which staked the Caps to a 4-1 lead.
Still, among the reasons the Flyers lost their eighth straight, he was far from a list of their three non-stars.
The stars are as guilty in this streak as anyone, whether it’s a lack of finishing, or the kind of ``stupid play’’ — Sean Couturier’s words, not mine — that resulted in Washington’s third goal Tuesday. With Jakub Vrana pinching at the point, Couturier attempted a lazy drop pass to Claude Giroux that was converted into a semi-breakaway goal. ``Those are the kind of mistakes that are haunting us right now,” Couturier said.
Yes they are. Another more subtle example: On Washington’s first goal, Vrana easily got past Travis Sanheim and Jake Voracek in the neutral zone to create a 2-on-1, and ultimately Tom Wilson’s poke-in goal.
The Flyers outshot Washington, 11-4, in the first period. Once they tied the game at 9:28 of the first, they registered seven shots on Copley, and saw almost as many blocked. But second opportunities, greasy goals ... well, they are theoreticals for the struggling team.
Shayne Gostisbehere received a penalty on a hook that occurred after an offsides. Originally, Tom Wilson was credited with Washington’s fifth goal late in the third, but a challenge by Gordon resulted in a reversal, the replay showing Wilson clearly offsides.
But Gostisbehere still went to the box, on a play that technically never happened. Gordon said the explanation he was given was that once the arm went up for a penalty, it could not be reversed or eliminated. ``The penalty, it doesn’t logically make sense,’’ Gordon said. ``Because technically, the whistle should have blown before Ghost actually hooked him. So that’s all I can tell you.’’