Jake Voracek warned us about this.
Not just earlier this season, when he warned about making too much of the Flyers early offensive prowess.
But at the end of the last one, when he said this after exit meetings:
“We’ve just got to find a way in those tight situations and find a way. What does it need? I don’t know. I would love to answer you but I have no idea. We put in a lot of pucks on the net but that stretch where we had like 15 games, we scored 23 goals if I’m not mistaken. We are playing pretty good. But I think it’s normal if you score 23 goals in 15 games you start questioning yourself like what am I doing wrong and that’s just how it works. 45 shots and you score one you’re goal you’re like “Oh my god is it luck or am I doing something wrong? Or are we not good enough? Good teams find a way to win the games 1-0, 2-1. I think that’s the part where we got to do better.’’
We are 18 games into a season that at first suggested a sea change. Wayne Simmonds looked like the best player on the team, Taylor Leier and Scott Laughton threateneded to make their fourth line a weapon. There were fresh faces on defense, on offense, fresh faces down on the farm waiting for their shot. Mike Vecchione has already been a player of the week. Oskar Lindblom, who was expected to make this team, has finally found his game. Samuel Morin – when are we going to see Samuel Morin?
Balanced scoring, it sure seemed, was not going to be the problem it had been in the past. Sean Couturier was exactly what Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek needed. But Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild was already the NHL-leading fifth time the Flyers have been shut out this season, the second in a row that pretty much laid out the blueprint for what Voracek spoke of. The Flyers have won pretty this season. They have lost ugly, whether it was coughing up a late lead in Nashville or Tuesday’s second consecutive game in which Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk extended a goal-less streak to three games.
Two of those game of course were against the Flyers, who have oh-so-quickly devolved from a team that started the season looking improved to one that is currently eerily familiar the team that streaked from good to very bad last season.
The characteristics are similar too. They miss the net a lot, and hit the goaltender in the numbers too much too. Yes, Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk is at the top of his game lately. But lately, the Flyers would struggle scoring against a piece of plywood with five holes cut out.
Some samples from Tuesday night:
*Eight minutes into the second period, Laughton needed only to elevate a rebound over the pad of Dubnyk. He could not.
*At 11:30, Dale Weise fired a point blank shot into Dubnyk’s midsection.
*With under two minutes left in that period, Leier rang one off the post.
*Weise also had a third-period breakaway. There was no deke, just a shot into Dubnyk’s pad.
The good news? Oskar Lindblom, who was supposed to make this team to start the season instead of Weise, has seemed to have found his game in Lehigh Valley. And Nolan Patrick seems close to returning to the lineup, perhaps as soon as Thursday in Winnipeg.
Alone, they’re not saviors. But they can do nothing but help, right?