If there was ever a good time to play a home-and-home series against the Philadelphia Flyers, now is that time. They have a new coach, they’re having trouble scoring and their starting goalie is injured. In short, Philly is struggling.
The Pens’ arch nemesis is 2-10 in their past 12 games heading into tonight’s matchup in Boston. Perhaps more troubling (for Philadelphia), the Flyers have scored only 22 goals in those 12 games and have been shut out three times in their past seven. And the recent coaching change hasn’t produced the desired short-term effect, as the Flyers are 1-4 under new bench boss (and former Carolina head coach) Peter Laviolette.
Goaltender Ray Emery’s abdomen injury could be seen as the start of Philly’s recent freefall. They’ve gone 2-7 since. Brian Boucher (remember him?) has replaced Emery as the starter, and backup Johan Backlund is in his first pro season in North America. Not exactly a promising scenario.
What’s surprising is the Flyers’ recent goal-scoring troubles. This is a team with the likes of Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere in the lineup. For some reason, their offense has simply disappeared.
Philly’s drop in the standings (currently last in the division, 13th in the conference with 29 points) cost John Stevens his job. Laviolette was brought in in an attempt to turn things around before it was too late (sound familiar?). It worked last year for the Pens. So far, not so good for the Flyers – although it is very, very early.
It’s always good news when a division opponent falls on hard times. When it’s the Flyers, it’s like music to Pens’ fans ears. Logic and stats dictate this is an ideal time for the Pens to pick up 4 crucial points against a division opponent. They’re reeling, and we’re heating up (7-2-1 in our past 10). Nonetheless, I’d expect a couple of hard-fought games Tuesday and Thursday. The Flyers have to snap out of this funk sooner or later – their season may depend on it. Let’s hope for later.
***For those of you with DIRECTV, be sure to find an alternate viewing site for Tuesday’s game. Thank you, Versus/Comcast (he said sarcastically with clenched fists). Of course you could simply tune to 105.9 and listen to the legendary Mike Lange. Not a bad option.