Flyers hit bottom; change coming?

Scott Hartnell (left) runs into the elbow of New Jersey Devils' Bryce Salvadore during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

NEWARK, N.J. — The Flyers hit rock bottom with a listless 5-2 defeat in New Jersey on Wednesday night, losing ground on one of the teams they are chasing in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.

It was s stunningly poor effort, considering the importance of the game.

They are 11th in the East with a 12-15-1 record — the most losses in the NHL — and they are playing without confidence, without an edge.

They have scored one even-strength goal in the last 11 periods, and their goalie’s save percentage has dropped to .896 and his goals-against average has climbed to 2.86.

The Flyers have 20 games left to salvage their season, and there are hints that a loss on Friday to the visiting Devils might spell the end of the Peter Laviolette coaching era.

The players defended Laviolette after Wednesday’s loss, but they sure haven’t been defending him by their actions on the ice.

“Lavy’s emotional, he’s intense, he thinks the game really well,” winger Scott Hartnell said. “His bench awareness is great; it’s definitely not his fault.”

The Flyers have lost four of their last five games, and unless they make a major turnaround, they will miss the playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.

Breakaways. A source had no comment on the job security of Laviolette or GM Paul Holmgren....The Flyers' new French Connection line of Simon Gagne, Sean Couturier and Danny Briere was a combined minus-8.....Jake Voracek scored his 13th goal; if this was an 82-game season, he would be on a 38-goal pace.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.