Flyers show character flaws - again

Penguins Craig Adams falls into Johan Backlund during the second period. The Flyers lost to Pittsburgh 4-1.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH - The Flyers, it has become clear, have serious character flaws.

When they get a break - like the gift goal goalie Marc-Andre Fleury handed them early in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins - they fail to keep a deflated opponent down.

And when they face adversity - like when Simon Gagne’s second-period goal, which would have given the Flyers a 2-1 lead, was disallowed - they fold.

About a minute after the goal was nullified because Ville Leino made what the referees called “incidental contact” with Fleury, Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead of its own.

Funny team, these Flyers. They were woefully inconsistent under John Stevens. Up and down. Up and down. The same thing has happened under Peter Laviolette.

This just in: It’s the players, not the coaches.

This team lacks leadership and character.

Not to mention goal scorers.

Trailing 2-1 in Saturday’s second period, the Flyers’ Claude Giroux broke in alone, but lost control of the puck and got off a weak shot.

Giroux is going to be a terrific player down the road. Right now, though, he and most of his teammates are in hard-to-fathom scoring funks.

Consider the following slumping players:

  • Darroll Powe: 0 goals in his last 27 games.
  • James van Riemsdyk: 0 goals in his last 14 games.
  • Arron Asham: 1 goal (scored Saturday) in his last 14 games.
  • Dan Carcillo: 2 goals in his last 14 games.
  • Danny Briere: 1 goal in his last 11 games.
  • Giroux: 2 goals in his last 21 games.
  • Mike Richards: 2 goals in his last 12 games.
  • Scott Hartnell: 3 goals in his last 29 games.

The Flyers, who suffered another goalie injury (see accompanying story), fell to eighth place in the Eastern Conference on Saturday, and they are in danger of falling out of the playoffs. Atlanta, which is in ninth, can climb to within two points of the Flyers with a win Saturday night.

Flyers fans deserve better. They have filled the Wachovia Center to 99.8 percent capacity this season. They are being cheated of their hard-earned money by a team that takes periods off and, too frequently, plays without a sense of urgency.