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Flyers Analysis: 3 Observations from Blowout Loss to Capitals

Manav Khandelwal is a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News. To follow him on Twitter, click here. To check out his full game report from last night, click here.

The Philadelphia Flyers may have hit rock-bottom in last night’s 7-0 loss to the Ovechkin-less Washington Capitals. After the game, Claude Giroux’s first two words to the media were “It’s embarrassing,” which describes how the team felt after the final horn sounded, ending the 3rd period.

Here are three observations from Friday night:

1. Flyers Are Still Dumping and Chasing

Flyers don’t win battles in front of the net (via CBSPhilly)

When the Flyers fired head coach Peter Laviolette, they did it with the hope that a new system and a new take on hockey would reinvigorate this team. Instead, they have seen much of the same offensively under Craig Berube.

The Flyers have been dumping and chasing for several years now; in 2010, when they went to the Stanley Cup, it was certainly in style, and it turned into a lot of goals for the Flyers. One of the big defenseman would dump the puck, an energetic forward would beat a defender to the spot and then make a beautiful centering pass for a quick shot and goal. That script, that scheme just doesn’t work for this team any more.

General Manager Paul Holmgren put it best: “It just seemed like we’re afraid to play the game right now, afraid to make plays, afraid to battle for pucks, afraid to skate after pucks.”

This team cannot dump and chase because they don’t use their speed to win the pucks along the boards, and if they do somehow win the puck, they are unable to control the puck under pressure. With the amount of puck-passing wingers Holmgren has assembled, it just doesn’t stand to reason that they should continue to dump and chase. Why not follow the Capitals mold? Work the puck up the ice, set up in the offensive zone, pass it around until you either create a mismatch in front of the net or get an open shooting lane. The Flyers have the players to make that type of scheme work (Giroux, Lecavalier, Downie, Simmonds, Hartnell), but they refuse to change.

It is baffling.

2. Turnovers Will Be the Downfall of This Team

Flyers left Mason out to dry (via SBNation)

As inconsistent as this team has been offensively, fantastic goalie play, especially from Steve Mason, has kept the Flyers in game after game. He’s stopped great slapshots from the point, can take anyone 1-on-1 on a breakaway, and even knows how to clear a rebound that lands right in front of the net.

The problem? His defense does everything it can to make his job harder. Last night, out of the Capitals’ seven goals, five were the result of Flyers’ turnovers and three came off of rebounds.

The epitome of all that was the 3rd goal of the night, the second of the 2nd period, when Brayden Schenn took a clean pass at the point but fumbled it, allowing Joel Ward to scoop it up and race down the ice. The Caps had a 3-on-2 advantage, and Mikhail Grabovsky came right up the middle, took a pass from Ward, and . . . got stuffed by Steve Mason. Of course, however, the Flyers defensemen, notably Mark Streit, took their time getting back up the ice, so the Caps were able to keep the puck in the Flyers zone until Streit passed a rebound right onto the stick of Jason Chimera, who buried a wrister past a helpless Mason.

The Flyers need to be more careful with the puck, or else they will find themselves in bad positions game after game. And, as you know, they don’t exactly respond to adversity very well.

3. Flyers Do Need A “Culture Change”

Fights like this one are not good for hockey (via Getty Images)

When the Inquirer’s Mike Sielski asked Ed Snider about a culture change, and then wrote his recent column on the trade for Steve Downie that suggests more of the same from this organization, it got me thinking: Friday night’s game against Washington is a great opportunity for the Flyers to play inspired, clean hockey and for them to prove Mike wrong, that they are capable of change.

Boy was I wrong.

After being embarrassed through the first two-and-a-quarter periods by a team missing its best player, the Flyers snapped; with two 10-minute misconducts already, one from Zac Rinaldo and the other from Downie, the Flyers took one look at the 7-0 scoreboard and came after the Capitals. Four fights broke out at once, with Simmonds, Schenn, and Lecavalier all finding their own Capital to bash. All three got five-minute majors, and Schenn even got a ten-minute misconduct for a second instigation.

The worst of the bunch, however, was goalie Ray Emery, who sprinted halfway down the ice to fight Caps goalie Brayden Holtby, who clearly wanted nothing to do with the fight. While Emery said “I don’t ever mean for anyone to get hurt,” something he was definitely being honest about, the fact that he continued to punch Holtby while he was down on the ice is a little disturbing. Anyone can understand the frustration he had been dealing with, but to show it in that manner was inexplicable.

The only answer after something like that is an organizational culture that needs to be done away with: if you can’t beat them, fight them. Instead of skating harder to the net and winning 1-on-1 battles for the puck,  the Flyers decided to drop the gloves to show they had “heart.” That is not how you win games, it is how you gain a negative reputation.

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Categories: Editorial, Flyers

Author:Manav Khandelwal

I am the founder of Khandyman Sports, and follow all Philadelphia pro sports teams religiously. I also write for the Hoop76, covering the Sixers for ESPN, and am a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News.

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