The most consistent characteristic of this Flyers season comes in the question most often asked of them:
How can they beat the better teams and lose to the lesser ones with such annoying consistency?
And what’s with the streaky play?
There are so many tangible answers to that, beginning with the four goaltenders they have been forced to use this season due to injury, injuries to their defensive core, lingering injuries to centerpiece players like Wayne Simmonds and Nolan Patrick.
But the underlying answer is youth. Youth that finally started to arrive this season, and the youth in Junior hockey, the AHL and Europe who are expected to fill the jobs now occupied by veterans.
In that it is not unlike the Phillies rebuild that preceded the current one. In five of six seasons from 2001 through 2006, the Phillies won between 85 and 88 games and finished no better than second in each of them.
Those seasons were punctuated by similar fluctuations these Flyers have endured (or inflicted) this season. Larry Bowa’s team would win five in a row, lose six in a row, drop series to cellar dwellars and then battle the better teams as if they were their peers.
Not quite yet
Not until some of the younger players on those roster matured and the young talent assembled through drafts and shrewd trades began to graduate and replace long-in-the-tooth veterans like Doug Glanville and David Bell, or even some of their own underwhelming stars like Bobby Abreu.
Tuesday night, against a team that had lost its previous eight games, the Flyers again surrendered the early lead en route to a 3-2 overtime in Dallas. “I don’t know – it’s tough,” Travis Konecny was saying after the first period in Dallas Tuesday night. “You come into a barn like this and these guys are in a tough spot too. I don’t know if they’re mathematically eliminated or not but definitely in that push place. But they’re a team that has nothing to lose.”
“And us coming off – it’s kind of a tough road trip. Like long trips and just trying to get our energy in right spots.”
You’ve got me. I think the 21-year-old, whose goal and infectious energy finally got his team on point in the second part of the period, was really projecting forward to the flight to Colorado after the game. Certainly the distance between Pittsburgh and Dallas, with a day to recoup, isn’t much of an excuse for the latest slow start to a season dominated by them.
In fact the Flyers have performed remarkably at times this season on short rest, defeating Tampa Bay and Vegas, on the road, after playing the previous night. Just seven days before they lost a shootout in Detroit as the Red Wings broke their own 10-game losing streak.
Against struggling backup goalie Kari Lehtonen, who had allowed three goals or more in his previous six games, the Flyers missed the net 20 times.
They registered two shots on two power plays.
Slow starts. Squeezing the sticks. Soundly beating the best, losing to some of the worst. A jaw-dropping 24 games decided after regulation.
A developing team for sure.
Petr Mrazek is costing himself money allowing the kind of goal that gave the Stars a 1-0 first period lead. His right and left pads were both wide of the net as was the puck that then bounced to the front on the other side. Why? On a shot from the point. That’s not overaggressive. It’s under-thinking … Travis Konecny’s tying goal that period was reminiscent of one of his goals against Washington last Thursday, swooping from the boards, getting the defense to sag before snapping a quick shot in motion. Hard to defend. It was his 17th goal in the last 31 games.