Flyers Looking to Bounce Back

Flyers Looking to Bounce Back It didn't seem that long ago that the Flyers had provided themselves a cushion by going on a 10-game winning streak.

Yet since that streak, the team has taken a major step back.

After earning the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot last year, the Flyers appear headed toward contending for another low seed, with no guaranteeing of earning a postseason berth.

The Flyers have lost 11 of 14 since that winning streak and they are having trouble scoring and stopping goals, not the best combination for a team with playoff aspirations.

What had to be most disconcerting to Flyers fans were the past two games when the team wasn't competitive in the least. First it was a 6-3 loss at Boston to the Bruins and then next day a 5-0 loss at Washington against the Capitals.

Now there are few things more difficult for an NHL team to play back-to-back games on the road, especially when the second of those contests is against a team that at the time had the best record in hockey.

The Flyers, who have off until a Saturday game against the visiting New Jersey Devils, have some unsightly plus-minus statistics.

Wayne Simmonds, the team's lone all-star selection, is a minus 16, just one behind struggling second-year defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (-17).

Slumping captain Claude Giroux is at -13 along with Brayden Schenn while the other major offensive threat Jake Voracek is -12.

Every member of the team has a minus rating.

The goaltending has been inconsistent. With both Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth having expiring contracts, the Flyers have to decide whether to offer either potential free agent a contract.

Mason was sensational during the 10-game streak, when Neuvirth was hurt, but it's possible that coach Dave Hakstol may have played him too much both during the streak and afterwards.

Mason has gone through stretches where he looks every bit the part of a true No. 1 goalie, such as toward the end of last season when the Flyers got hot and clinched a playoff berth.

Yet there have been times, when his game suddenly goes south. Last year's playoff was a good example when he had three subpar games, all of which the Flyers lost, and was replaced the rest of the series by Neuvirth.

In the playoffs Neuvirth was spectacular, winning two games and losing the finale 1-0 to the potent Capitals.

Yet he has a history of getting injured, something that happened again this year with a knee injury.

Maybe this little time off will help, but the Flyers have to come out and play with more urgency. Last year they were sensational at the end of the season but this year they would be advised not to rely on a late-run and to turn things around right now.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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