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Flyers have been here before

The Flyers stumbled after the 1995 lockout, too.

Flyers have been here before

New Jersey Devils center David Clarkson (23) watches as his shot<br />enters the Philadelphia Flyers net against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov,<br />center, of Russia, and left wing Ruslan Fedotenko (26), of the<br />Ukraine, during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan.<br />22, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
New Jersey Devils center David Clarkson (23) watches as his shot enters the Philadelphia Flyers net against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, center, of Russia, and left wing Ruslan Fedotenko (26), of the Ukraine, during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

What follows is likely the laziest blog post of all time. It is a reprint of the Flyers' game story from their third game in the lockout-shortened 1995 NHL season. Then, as now, it was their third consecutive loss out of the gate. Then, as now, there was concern because of how a slow start would cripple the team in a season made up of only 48 games.

The point is not to draw any lessons from history. It is merely to remember that, when you think you've never seen something before, you usually have.

Your eyes and ears on that night in 1995 belonged to Les Bowen. (Note: he had never heard of Chip Kelly at this point in his life.)

With that:

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WHEN'S HOCKEY OVER?

FLYERS DROP TO 0-3 WITH 4-3 LOSS TO ISLANDERS

THESE GUYS KNOW HOW TO DIG A HOLE

 

By Les Bowen

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- If between-periods trading were an accepted practice in the NHL, several Flyers might have been unavailable for the final 20 minutes of their 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders; they might have been packing for Ottawa or Winnipeg.

Up in the rafters of Nassau Coliseum, Flyers president and general manager Bob Clarke was attacking a stick of gum like it was Valeri Kharlamov, his face deep red as the Flyers ended the second period down 3-1, with eight shots on net . . . to the Islanders' 34!

Clarke expected a few glitches with three games in the first four days of the delayed season, the Flyers coming off more than 3 1/2 idle months before their one-week training camp.

He didn't expect to be 0-3, for the second time in franchise history. (The other was 1989-90. Clarke got fired that time.) He didn't expect the Flyers to run their winless streak at Nassau to 0-11-1 since Feb. 23, 1991.

"I thought they'd play good tonight," Clarke said, shaking his head.

Fortunately for several turnover-prone defensemen and for forwards who routinely lacked the legs or the will to fight through checks during the first 40 minutes, the Flyers recovered some of their dignity in the third period.

They gave up a penalty-shot goal to Benoit Hogue 9:29 into the third, then they scored twice, and came within a remarkable glove save by Isles goalie Jamie McLennan on Rod Brind'Amour of tying it with 1:08 left.

By the time he entered the visitors' locker room, Clarke's face had returned to its normal color and he was focusing more on the penalty calls that put the Flyers in a hole rather than the loss of poise that turned that hole into a gaping crater.

"The first 10 or 12 minutes we played pretty good, and then we were shorthanded for (the rest of the first period)," Clarke said. "That definitely had an impact on the outcome of the game . . . Still, we made some unforced errors. I don't think you can not be concerned about it, but I also don't think we can overreact."

New coach Terry Murray worried coming into the season that the Flyers didn't have their system fully in place, weren't the team he hopes they can become before it is too late to secure a playoff berth in this 48-game sprint.

"We're trying to change a lot of things here," Murray said. "They understand when we talk about it in meetings. Habits are funny things; sometimes they resurface."

The Flyers shortcircuited themselves early by taking three successive penalties, for a total of nine minutes. Chris Therien went off for interference, Shjon Podein went off for holding Pierre Turgeon's stick, and then, with 4:54 left in the first and Podein still in the box, Dimitri Yushkevich took a five-minute major and a game misconduct for high-sticking Hogue. The Isles had 11 seconds of five-on-three, followed by 4:49 with a one- man advantage that could not be erased by the scoring of a goal.

If goaltender Ron Hextall hadn't been amazing, the Flyers would have been buried by the end of the period. As it was, he was beaten once, when Steve Thomas top-shelfed a rebound with 4:37 left. After that, the Isles got nothing. They finished the period with 22 shots on net to the Flyers ' six, 12 of them coming during the Yushkevich penalty.

The Flyers got no jump from Hextall's stirring play. After repeated terrible giveaways, the final one by Shawn Anderson, Turgeon put the Isles up by 2-0, 7:20 into the second.

Eric Lindros one-armed a puck past McLennan to make it 2-1, even though the shots on net were 28-7, with 6:20 left in the second. Lindros's goal was his first of the season, on the Flyers ' first shot on net of the period. It was the first Flyers goal this season not awarded through video replay.

A frenzied scramble in front that resulted in a Derek King goal with 2:11 left in the second seemed to put the Flyers back to sleep, until the Hogue penalty-shot goal woke them up, too late.

Lindros then made it 4-2, shoveling in a power play rebound with 5:31 left in the third. The Flyers had been 0-for-15 on the power play for the season.

They got to 4-3 when the Isles' Travis Green inadvertently slid into the net with the rebound of a Brent Fedyk shot with 1:36 left.

On the next shift, incredibly, Brind'Amour was all alone with the puck to the right of the slot, about 6 feet from McLennan. He was unable to lift the puck as much as he wanted, and McLennan gloved it.

"This is really frustrating," Lindros said. "We're getting good goaltending, and we're wasting it. Hexy played a great game. What'd they have, 40 zillion shots? (41, actually) . . . The only positive thing out of this is that we did come back and try to make a game out of it, could have tied it up if not for that great save. But there were a lot of mistakes prior to that, that made it so much more difficult to turn it on."

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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