The Flyers are not finishing their numerous scoring chances, and more than anything else, that has caused them to slip in the Metropolitan Division standings.
Since moving atop the Metro with a 1-0 shootout win in Montreal on Feb. 26, they have lost six of their last seven games and have fallen into third place with 12 games left. The Flyers are just two points ahead of Columbus — the surging team they will host Thursday — and are in danger of dropping into a wild-card spot. Or worse.
In their latest loss, the Flyers had a territorial advantage and outshot speedy Vegas, 40-29, but some defensive breakdowns — and the fact they got outworked along the walls — led to a late goal and a painful 3-2 loss Monday.
"As hard as it is to walk away with no points, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and flush it out and move forward," coach Dave Hakstol said.
The Flyers are outshooting most of their opponents. The chances are there.
The finishers aren't.
The Flyers did erupt offensively in a 7-6 shootout loss in Tampa on March 3, but they have scored a total of 10 goals in their other seven games since Feb. 26. That's an average of 1.4 goals in those seven games.
When a team is in a scoring slump, you hear the same refrain from players and coaches: "We have to get to the dirty areas. We need some greasy goals." Etcetera.
But it seems even when the Flyers do get to the dirty areas, either they miss the net or the goalie makes an outstanding save. In Monday's loss, for instance, Oskar Lindblom seemed to be at the right place at the right time late in the second period. Marc-Andre Fleury had just stopped Nolan Patrick's point-blank shot, and Lindblom quickly pounced on the rebound — only to be robbed by the veteran goaltender.
"I'm getting chances. I just have to keep going here," said the snake-bitten Lindblom, a second-line left winger who is still searching for his first NHL point after 11 games. "Not trying to be too negative."
Several Flyers are in long droughts:
Claude Giroux, who has 10 goals in his last 17 games, has carried the Flyers lately. In fact, if the Flyers rally and win the Metro title, he would be a strong MVP candidate. But the 30-year-old captain needs some help.
During the 10-0-2 run that put them in first place, the Flyers received balanced scoring. In their last five games, however, they have had just one even-strength goal from a player not on the top line.
As a result, the Flyers have fallen four points behind first-place Washington and three points behind second-place Pittsburgh. Only two teams in NHL history have won a division title during a season in which they had at least a 10-game winless streak (as the Flyers had in November and December) — the 1976-77 St. Louis Blues and the 1989-90 New York Rangers — according to the Elias Sports Bureau.