Canucks Hand Flyers Their 3d Straight Loss

Posted: February 13, 1989

Their official name is the Philadelphia Flyers, but you can call them Club de Hockey Mediocre or maybe Club de Hockey .500.

The Flyers, who have long been a franchise with its head well over .500, dropped down to that level of mediocrity last night at the Spectrum, where they were beaten by the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2.

That's right, they lost to the Vancouver Canucks - again. And they lost at the Spectrum - again.

For those keeping track of the not-so-pretty statistics, the Flyers have lost three consecutive games, including this past brutal weekend in which they were knocked off by Toronto and Vancouver, which isn't exactly like losing back-to-back games against the Soviet National Team and Team Canada.

More than that, the Flyers have now lost five of their last six at the Spectrum, and all three games against Vancouver this season.

The result is a record of 27-27-3 - marking the latest date they've been at .500 since the 1970-71 season. Their present record is good enough for fourth place in the Patrick Division, and tied for ninth overall in the NHL.

In short, very mediocre. Worse than that, the Flyers have got to start worrying about the fifth-place New Jersey Devils, who trail by only seven points with a game in hand.

Last night's loss also marked the first time in Vancouver's 19-year history that the Canucks have swept a season series from the Flyers. And if the Flyers can't beat the Canucks, how great can their chances be in their next two games starting tomorrow night against the New York Rangers, and then Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens?

After all, both those clubs are over .500, and the Flyers' record against winning clubs is 7-15-3. At least they were beating losing clubs - until this weekend.

"Maybe our problem is that we thought these would be easy wins," said Flyers coach Paul Holmgren, in a stern voice. "There are no easy games in this league anymore. Just look, we've got zero points against the Vancouver Canucks.

"And some people thought those were going to be easy games."

Holmgren also said that he was not happy with the efforts of some players, but would not point a direct finger.

One thing is for sure - with Tim Kerr out with a sore shoulder, the Flyers will need more production from the likes of Mike Bullard, Brian Propp and Scott Mellanby, who has just one goal in the last 19 games.

As for Propp, he's got an amazing statistic of scoring only two of his 23 goals in the 25 games he's played that the Flyers have lost.

Once again - just as they did at Toronto - the Flyers made a game effort in the third period, but it was too late.

They had come into that final period trailing, 3-1, and got some life when Derrick Smith scored within the first three minutes, cutting Toronto's lead to 3-2, but the rally stopped there.

The Flyers wound up outshooting the Canucks, 35-33, but they've outshot their opponents in their last five losses. "It's not the shots on net that count," said Murray Craven. "It's the shots that go in the net."

Although the result was similar, the Flyers' method of losing was exactly the opposite of the previous night in Toronto. At Maple Leaf Gardens, the Flyers did not show up for the first period, and then sparked to life too late in the final period.

Last night they were all over the Canucks through the first 20 minutes, outshooting Vancouver, 17-8, and dominating the territorial play. However, they still came out of the period in a 0-0 tie because of the goaltending of Kirk McLean, and their inability to bury some good chances.

The second period was the exact opposite as the Flyers were outshot, 12-1, during the first eight minutes while the Canucks grabbed a 2-1 lead, which was eventually stretched to 3-1.

Actually, the Flyers scored first when Dave Poulin scored his second short- handed goal in two nights. Poulin took a pass from Terry Carkner at the blue line and snapped a shot from the middle of left face-off circle past McLean.

Less than two minutes later that lead evaporated when Rich Sutter was being pushed out of the crease by Flyers defenseman Moe Mantha. As Sutter was falling, he managed to tip a shot by Kevan Guy past Flyers goalie Ron Hextall.

The next goal was no fluke at all as Vancouver forward Brian Bradley snapped off a wicked wrist shot from 20 feet to the right of Hextall. Bradley picked the upper far-side corner with his shot at 6:49 to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead.

The Flyers buckled down a bit after that goal, but Bradley gave the Canucks some breathing room when he walked away from a scrum in the corner to the left of Hextall, and stashed his second goal past the goalie with 2:32 to play.

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