Dec 4, 2013, 4:53 PM EDT
That’s cool and all, but it doesn’t mean squat these days because they’re are in the midst of six-game road trip – which continues tonight in Detroit – that has them away from Wells Fargo Center until next Thursday.
And while the Orange and Black picked up a win – a shootout win (!) at that – this past Saturday in Nashville against the Predators, the first two games of the trip haven’t been pretty.
The Flyers have been badly outplayed to start the road swing.
What’s to blame? Look no further than the offense, which has reverted back to its October ways.
I know you remember that offense from the beginning of the season that was historically bad and helped that Flyers get off the worst start in franchise history. Well, that’s what we’ve seen two games into this trip.
The main reason the offense has been putrid lately is the fact that the Flyers haven’t shot the puck enough.
Instead of shooting, they instead have tried low-percentage passing plays that opposing defenders have gladly eaten up and taken the other way for scoring chances. You know, the things that anchored them at the beginning of the year.
If you’ve watched the games, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The Flyers have tried to pass through multiple defenders, pass cross-ice or pass to an unaware teammate instead of shooting when there are clear lanes to the net.
The most glaring example came in the first period of Monday night’s clunker of a 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild when Claude Giroux broke into the Wild zone on a partial breakaway. Instead of taking a shot, Giroux, the most dangerous Flyer, decided to cut to the side of the net and try to hit a trailing Scott Hartnell. Hartsy didn’t have an angle to the net and the play was easily broken up and resulted in a huge missed opportunity.
The Flyers finished Monday’s game with just 21 shots on net in 60 minutes of play. With as good as NHL defenses and goaltenders are these days, putting just 21 shots on net isn’t a recipe for winning.
To make matters worse, outside of the diving save Wild goalie Josh Harding made on Jake Voracek in the third period, how many of those 21 shots actually tested Harding? Very few.
The story was much the same in Nashville. The Flyers recorded just 24 shots in 65 minutes of play against Predators rookie goalie Marek Mazanec. If it weren’t for a defensive breakdown that left Sean Couturier open in front of the net in the third period and Steve Mason’s wizardry between the pipes, the Flyers would have suffered another inept defeat.
You can even go back to the Thanksgiving Eve stinker in Tampa if you want. In that game the Flyers had just 21 shots on net in a 4-2 loss to the Lightning.
A quadratic formula here, use the FOIL method there, carry the one over this way… and that averages out to 22 shots for the Flyers over their last three road games.
Anyway, an average of 22 shots on net won’t get a team anywhere but the loss column unless a goalie stands on his head like Mason did in Nashville.
The moral of the story is that if the Flyers want to get the offense back on track, they better start shooting a whole lot more.
Stop the overpassing and low-percentage plays and just shoot if there’s a lane. They have to be a lot more selfish and just shoot the damn puck.
If there’s one thing Gary Dornhoefer taught me during the hockey telecasts of my youth it’s that it’s almost never a bad play to get the puck toward the net. You never know what’s going to happen.
Tonight’s game in Detroit against the Red Wings would be a good place to start.
The Red Wings will be without their entire top line of Todd Bertuzzi, Henrik Zetterberg and puck-handling magician Pavel Datsyuk. That’s 28 goals out of the lineup tonight for Detroit. That should work in the Flyers advantage.
What shouldn’t work in the Flyers advantage is the fact they’ve won just one game in Detroit since 1988. In my lifetime, I’ve seen the Flyers win JUST ONE FREAKIN’ GAME in Detroit. That win came in January 2011 and is the only victory in the Flyers last 18 games in Joe Louis Arena.
More than 22 shots on net would be a step in the right direction for the Flyers if they are to get just their second win in Detroit that these green eyes of mine have ever seen.
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