Something is not quite right with this hockey team.
It hasn't been for a while, and now, with just 10 games remaining in the regular season, time is getting a little tight to correct it.
It's not that the Flyers are falling apart. They're consistently getting points. With the exception of a recent four-game losing streak, they still are consistently winning more games than they are losing.
But you can cook numbers. You can manipulate them to make bad things look not so bad and good things better than they are. Sometimes, the best test is the eye test. That's the one the Flyers can't pass right now.
I remember the team that dominated the first half of the season, that came out of the All-Star break looking like a cinch to get back to the Stanley Cup finals.
I'm wondering where that team went. Maybe I'm being a little unrealistic, but I expected more of this team.
If this important game with Washington truly was the start of the playoffs for the Flyers, they don't appear to be ready.
Even with last night's shootout loss, you can look at the standings and say the Flyers are playing winning hockey. Only the Vancouver Canucks have more than the Flyers' 97 points. But are the Flyers playing Stanley Cup-winning hockey? Because honestly, this late in the regular season, that's what you are looking for from this hockey team.
You want to see that higher level of play, one that answers beyond a doubt that the Flyers are Cup worthy. All that we are getting now are scary questions.
Can a team win a Stanley Cup if it gives up three goals in the first 22 minutes?
Can a team win a Stanley Cup if it has to yank the goalie because he surrenders goals softer than cotton?
Can a team win a Stanley Cup if, after it fights back from a huge deficit to take a lead, it gives a demoralized opponent life by letting it score with 3 minutes remaining?
Since the Flyers couldn't win a regular-season game doing all of that, it's unlikely that kind of effort will win a Stanley Cup.
Much of the talk today will center around the goalie switch from rookie Sergei Bobrovsky to veteran Brian Boucher. Adding my 2 cents to the debate, I'd say that if the thought was to go with Bobrovsky in the playoffs because Boucher has the perfect temperament to step in if something goes wrong, simply start Boucher from the get-go because it seems that something is going to go wrong. The kid is not inspiring confidence.
But this goes deeper than goaltending. After Bobrovsky gave up the first goal, the Flyers went on a 3-minute, 14-second power play but couldn't get an equalizer.
With the Flyers down, 2-0, and simply looking to get out of the first period, Dan Carcillo took a silly cross-checking penalty with 36 seconds left. Washington went up 3-0 on a power-play goal 1:22 into the second.
Then there was the whole matter of giving up a late goal after scoring four straight, pulling a defeat out of the jaws of victory.
This was in front of a home crowd full of energy in support.
The Flyers are a good hockey team, one that has shown most of the season that it is fully capable of winning it all.
But right now, something is not quite right. It's almost like they are fighting themselves.
Unfortunately, this late in the season, that's not a comfortable place to be.
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