Thanks….for Nothing: Thoughts After Flyers Winless Streak Hits Eight Games

It’s Thanksgiving morning. It’s so early that I’m the only one awake at the moment. The sun isn’t even up yet, although I can see the daylight beginning to stir. The girls have come home from college. visiting, slept on an air mattress behind me because they wanted to stay up late, drinking red wine and watching reruns of Grey’s anatomy.

Maria is still in La La Land, although she’ll soon be making her traditional Thanksgiving breakfast before everyone prepares for a full day of food and soccer at my parents’ house.

The silence here is so intense and wonderful that I decided to write this post on my computer that requires a wireless keyboard because those keys are so much quieter than any other.

I am telling you all this because I cherish this morning more than any other. I cherish this day. It’s the one day of the year when we’re guaranteed to all be together. The food is good. The company may be fleeting, but perfect. And the little things that surround the day – like that hour of the morning – are actually serenity now.

And yet in the midst of all this perfection lies a flaw. I get up this early not to enjoy the silence or smell the aromatic French vanilla coffee, but to write about another loss to the hockey team.

Yep, the Flyers did it again, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, extending a late lead and losing 3-2 in overtime to the Washington Capitals, extending their winning streak to eight games (0-5- 3).

It is the third time in the last calendar year that they have had a winning streak of eight games or more. As a reminder, they set the franchise record for longest losing streak last season with 13 games. Not to say they’ll make it or break it, but the next six games are against Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders twice, Tampa Bay, New Jersey and Colorado — all winning teams.

That gets ugly fast – and again it’s a simple mistake that costs them the game.

It doesn’t matter if you lose in overtime. With their roster so exhausted by injuries, once they reach 3-on-3 their odds of winning get even worse because the talent and skill for open hockey just isn’t there:

(FYI, it was also the 164th goalkeeper that Ovi (tie third all-time) has scored against and his 123rd game-winning goal of his career. The guy is just special….OK…back to the post,)

No, the coups de grace happened in the third third, at a time when the Flyers were playing well and looked like they were finally going to grab a hold and tear that carriage. Until a minor glitch kills the team:

The error occurs in the neutral zone. It’s really obvious in slow motion playback when they’re looking for the offside. Watch Joel Farabee step up from the blue line to challenge the puck carrier. His intention is to clip a pass, but it’s a really low percentage play because the puck carrier just has to wait a second, run past Farabee, who’s going in the opposite direction, and then make the pass to an open winger to get one Prepare for a 3v2 charge from the blue line.

Evgeni Kuznetsov finds TJ Oshie with that pass and it becomes a resignation as Farabee gave Oshie the time and space to have the play developed and Kuznetsov then sprints past Morgan Frost who while not the initial bad actor is in it plays a little and leaves Tony DeAngelo stuck while trying to defend both Kuznetsov and Sonny Milano at the back door, which is impossible. Two nice passes. Goal. It’s easy.

“It’s a cover that we’ve kept revising and we just don’t get it right and it cost us the second goal,” said coach John Tortorella. “Reporting – and not from a young man – reporting cost us the second goal. What I think is very simple reporting turns into a mess.”

Speaking of mayhem, the Flyers’ power play is that and more.

They are 2 to 27 (7.4%) in the last nine games. It was 0-4 against Washington, and in the third half, with a chance to add an insurance goal, the Flyers had back-to-back power plays and had zero on target.

They probably should have given up possession of the puck when the second penalty was awarded, but they instead tried to score and missed an extended opportunity in the 5-on-3. To make matters worse, Zack MacEwen went off the ice after the second penalty as his racquet was blown into pieces. Noah Cates got on the ice, but at the same time, Felix Sandstrom also came off the ice for the delayed penalty, and no second player skipped the boards, meaning the Flyers were trying to score with just five points on a delayed penalty skater instead of six.

“We’re stagnant, we’re way too stagnant,” Torts said. “We are so conscious. And also with some pretty good attacking players. So intentionally. We just can’t do the next game. It is what it is.”

He sounds upset about the power play – and he should be. The Flyers’ struggles have propelled them 29th in the NHL on the power play, scoring by a one-man lead just 14.9% of the time.

Once again, the Flyers are quickly turning into a team that doesn’t know how to win.

And that’s why Bundy and I came so close with our August predictions for the Flyers’ success, or lack thereof. Because it’s not always about talent or coaching. It’s about the desire to win, and there isn’t enough of that. Not in a long time.

“Some guys aren’t able to think that way, where they want to win but are waiting to lose,” Tortorella said. “I think that happens with some guys.”

Whoever these guys are, they’re a bunch of turkeys.

Which reminds me. The sun is shining. The girls wake up. Maria is ready for the french toast. It’s Thanksgiving. We can continue talking about hockey tomorrow.

Until then, I hope your Thanksgiving Day is happy, safe, and filled with memories for a lifetime.


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