NEW YORK - Ilya Bryzgalov was blunt.
The Flyers’ goalie was asked to sum up the first half of the season after the Flyers lost to the host New York Rangers on Tuesday night, 4-2, and slipped to 11-12-1 at the halfway mark.
“We’re not good,” he said. “We’re obviously not in the spot we wanted to be.”
The Flyers slipped to ninth in the East, one point behind the Rangers. New York has three games in hand.
Bryzgalov said if the Flyers get further behind, “it’s going to be more ugly. This is the reality.”
Winger Scott Hartnell was more positive.
“We can’t be frustrated by this,” he said. “We have to learn from it and get going.”
The Flyers had won three of their last four games, but a third third-period meltdown _ two bad line changes led to Rangers goals _ cost them a chance to go over .500 for the first time this season.
The Flyers played most of the game without bruising defenseman Nick Grossmann, who left in the first period with an apparent hip injury. That caused the Flyers to go with five defensemen, and Erik Gustafsson (22:13) ate up lot of Grossman’s minutes. (Grossmann seemed to be walking OK as he left the Flyers’ locker room after the game, but he would not comment.)
“When you’re one man down, it’s always tough, especially on D,” Bryzgalov said. “Forwards, you can probably roll them (because) you have four lines.”
“It puts stress on the back end,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
The game’s turning point was when a turnover led to Ryan Callahan’s goal with 41 seconds left in the first period, tying the game at 2-2.
“We give up a goal in the last minute of the period and that can’t happen,” winger Wayne Simmonds said.
Until then, the Flyers had allowed just four shots, had scored a pair of power play goals, and had been in control. It was one of their best road periods of the season.
But the momentum disappeared when Callahan scored, and the Flyers showed little life in the first 15 minutes of the second period.
Two bad line changes led to goals by the Rangers’ Rick Nash in the final period.
“To me, those are mental mistakes,” defenseman Kimmo Timonen said.
The Flyers need to fix them in a hurry because their next two games are against elite teams _ Pittsburgh on Thursday and Boston on Saturday.