BOSTON – Scott Hartnell correctly framed Saturday’s disturbing 3-0 shutout loss to the Bruins at TD Garden in a few, succinct words.
“It seemed like we packed it in,” Hartnell said as the Flyers fell three games below .500, while losing their third straight to a top Eastern Conference opponent ahead of them in the standings.
“If one thing goes wrong out, whether it a be bad call or the first goal on that power play where he made a great play, you look down the bench and everyone’s heads are down,” Hartnell said.
“We were deflated right from that … that’s not what good teams, do. It’s on us to pick each other up and support each other and be positive. It just seemed liked we were down 1-0 and it seemed like we packed it in.”
It took the Bruins almost 11 minutes to get their first shot of the game. It took them just 2:18 additional, however, to score three goals and slay the Flyers, who had no response.
Hard to imagine given this was where the Flyers made NHL history under coach Peter Laviolette during the 2010 playoffs, rallying from a 3-0 series deficit in the playoffs.
Rallying from a 3-0 Game 7 deficit, as well.
“After 1-0, we stopped competing … 10 minutes into the game,” Laviolette said of this game. “Guys were playing hard and there wasn’t a lot of room out there either way and we never recovered, never responded to it …”
Laviolette called a 20-minute team meeting after the game. He spoke, then the players spoke.
“We wanted to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said.
Most of the talk concerned “playing with more passion” Danny Briere said.
That should have been a given against the Bruins. Briere said this club is looking a lot like that 2009-10 club.
“If you remember that year, we were in the same, similar kind of mess,” Briere said. “Halfway through the season we were [14th] in the conference. But we sorted through, stuck together and were two wins away from a Stanley Cup.
“I know it’s an uphill battle once again, but we have a lot of guys who were there and I really believe we have the horses to do that again.”
The Flyers needed to secure at least four points from these this past week and came away with nothing as they remain mired deep in the standings though still well within playoff reach.
They haven’t lost four in a row yet, but that gets put to the test Sunday at Wells Fargo Center against the Buffalo Sabres.
There was no urgency at the start as the Flyers took six minutes before getting a shot on goalie Tuukka Rask. Through two periods, they had just 12 shots.
You sense a shakeup is inevitable. If and when it comes, it could be in the form of a major trade -- not the firing of Laviolette, who has two years left on a contract extension.
The Flyers have been wrecked by injuries and inconsistency, plus an offseason in which general manager Paul Holmgren struck out big-time on three players who could have had considerable impact in this lineup – Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Shea Weber.
In a lockout-shortened season, given the overall state of the Flyers, a coaching change isn’t necessarily going to alter things dramatically and won’t guarantee a playoff berth, either.
Time to worry about the playoffs?
“Yes it is,” said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was again unable to make a save that might have turned things around that first period.
Other players agreed it’s time to worry.
“We’re three games below .500 halfway through the shortened season and if we want to make the playoffs, we’ve got to find a way to get some wins,” said Sean Couturier.
“There’s not any one to point fingers. On different nights, some guys show up and some don’t. It’s time for us to turn things around as a group and try to do the right things out there.”
Everything that mattered occurred near the mid-point of the first period.
Tyler Seguin scored on the power play at 11:53 for Boston’s first goal off a splendid backhand pass in the slot from Milan Lucic after Andrej Meszaros, back in the lineup after missing 21 games with a left shoulder injury, failed to clear the zone with the puck.
Less than two minutes later, Chris Kelly made it 2-0 off a wide-open chance from the bottom of the left circle.
And then the pièce de résistance -- a goal from David Paille. It began on a Flyers breakout with Simon Gagne handing off to Couturier. As he headed to the Flyers’ blue line, Shawn Thornton poke checked the puck off him from behind to Greg Campbell.
Campbell found Paille alone going down the slot. He went backhand on Bryzgalov under the left pad.
Bing, bang, boom, 3-0.
Couturier slammed his stick up against the back glass after the goal.
“The guy did a good backcheck [on me],” Couturier said. “At our blue line, you can’t really make those plays. You gotta be sure.”
You might think that trailing by three goals would inspire some offense in the second period after just five shots in the first, but that wasn’t case. Just seven shots.
“When you get into a situation like that, one guy can’t lead you out of a 3-0 hole,” Laviolette said. “Everybody has to grab the rope and pull yourself out of a 3-0 hole or three games under. 500 and that is where we sit right now.”
In the third period, the best chance the Flyers had came on a power play when Jakub Voracek rang one off the post.
That was it.
“It’s about attitude and supporting each other and being good teammates,” Hartnell said. “We’ve been talking about it almost the whole year – about passion and all that kind of stuff. It’s about time we start playing with it.”
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