THESE COULD HURT IN THE END
It's worse when its against the Atlanta Thrashers.
It's worse when you are in a 30-game sprint that may or may not end up with a playoff berth.
Before I get into the game, let me say this... If the Flyers miss the playoffs this season, it very well could cost Paul Holmgren his job.
There won't be any excuses like injuries, or bad coaching to lean on any longer.
If in fact there are no playoffs this season, the problems with this team will probably be exposed as the kind that can't be corrected.
Which means the core of the team will need to be blown up.
Shudder to think....
Anyway, here's what's wrong right now from my perspective:
1. The top two lines are listless. Jeff Carter runs hot and cold. He's really good for a stretch and then disappears just as long. Danny Briere was playing great for awhile, but after jamming his neck against the boards last Saturday against Carolina, he hasn't been the same. Scott Hartnell must be in the witness protection program because he hasn't been seen in a while.
Then there's Mike Richards, who seems to be an offensive threat only on the power play. Simon Gagne is playing with a bit more fire, but hasn't scored in eons, and Darroll Powe is very good for a third line, but not really for a second line.
2. The defense is too thin. Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen are fine. Matt Carle had a bad game, but is usaully reliable. Braydon Coburn hasn't been the same since the 2007-08 playoffs when he got hit in the face with a puck.
But the rest of the defense is shaky. Oskars Bartulis has the makeup to be a decent NHLer, but not right now. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen gambles too much and his injuries have limited him from making up for his little mistakes. Even Danny Syvret, who is hurt and Ryan Parent, who had back surgery, are suspect. Sytvret as offensive skill but makes too many mistakes on D. Parent could be a very good shut down defenseman, but can;t stay healthy enough to find out.
3. The goalie needs to be better. Ray Emery wasn't terrible tonight, but he hasn't stolen a game since his return either. I wouldn't be surprised to see Micahel Leighton Saturday against the Isles. Emery could use a rest and Leighton needs to shake off some rust.
4. Every once in a while, this team still thinks it can turn on the jets as needed. That was the case against Atlanta and it didn't work. Peter Laviolette is frustrated. Pronger is disappointed. Messages have been sent. The stakes are well known - and yet it still happens. The Flyers hope it's just a blip on the radar. But, if not, it could again be their undoing.
Some notes from the game:
* The Flyers record now stands at 26-23-3 and 55 points, including a 15-11-2 record at home.
* The Flyers are now 3-2-0 on their six-game homestand and will play the final game of their longest homestand of the season when they take on the New York Islanders on Saturday at 1 pm ET.
* Despite the loss, the Flyers own a 14-2-2-1 record at home against the Thrashers, earning 33 out of a possible 38 points in the all-time series.
* Simon Gagne appeared in his 634th game as a Flyer, surpassing Rod Brind’Amour for 11th place on the Flyers’ all-time games played.
* Arron Asham has 10 points in his last 12 games (3G,7A).
* Rookie James van Riemsdyk has at least a point in four of his last six games and in eight of his last 12 games (11 pts - 5G,6A).
* Dan Carcillo’s goal marked the fourth time this season that a Flyers player has scored on his birthday (Danny Briere on Oct. 6, Chris Pronger on Oct. 10, Claude Giroux on Jan. 12, Dan Carcillo on Jan. 28).
Check back in the morning for video of me and NHL.com senior writer Adam Kimmelman as we break down this loss for the Flyers.