Flyers still 0-for-2013 after 3-0 loss to Devils

ELSA/GETTY IMAGES Flyers' Max Talbot and Devils' Marek Zidlicky collide along the boards.
ELSA/GETTY IMAGES Flyers' Max Talbot and Devils' Marek Zidlicky collide along the boards.
Posted: January 24, 2013

NEWARK, N.J. - They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Scott Hartnell said the Flyers were facing as big of a "must-win" as possible for the third game of a season on Tuesday night, against a Devils team that booted them from the playoffs last May with little fanfare.

That hunger for "payback" lasted all of about 67 seconds, when Travis Zajac tapped yet another first-period goal by Ilya Bryzgalov, igniting that oh-so-familiar derogatory anti-Flyers chant from the Jersey faithful at Prudential Center.

Despite what coach Peter Laviolette said was their best start to a game yet, the Flyers never recovered from a two-goal, first-period deficit en route to a 3-0 blanking at the hands of immortal goaltender Marty Brodeur. It was the 40-year-old Brodeur's 10th career shutout against the Flyers, tying them with the Islanders for his most vs. any opponent.

"We had a lot of good intentions in the game, certainly to start the game," Laviolette said. "You find yourself down, on the wrong end of it. I think guys are a little frustrated. There's lots of little things that we can do. I don't think it's 'Fix the No. 1 thing and we'll be all set.' "

New Jersey's run to the Stanley Cup finals last spring was so insignificant, so inconsequential for a team that has won more Cups in the last 17 years than the Flyers have in 45, that there was never even a mention of the Devils' Eastern Conference championship banner at the home opener.

It was simply hanging in the rafters with the rest. Ho-hum.

On the ice, little seemed to have changed for the Flyers since last spring - as they were dumped by the Devils for the fifth straight time, including the playoffs.

Three games. Three losses. Ho-hum. No panic here, move along now.

The Flyers are the NHL's only team with three losses - and one of only seven teams (out of 30) yet to register a point in this shortened season sprint for the Cup. This is the Flyers' first 0-3-0 start since the last lockout-shortened season in 1994-95.

"I wouldn't say [it's] a crisis," Wayne Simmonds said. "I think it's fair to say that the next game is a must-win."

That next game just happens to be against the Rangers on Thursday night. The Flyers haven't beaten them since Feb. 20, 2011, dropping eight straight games.

This season, the Flyers have struggled in all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams - as witnessed by the fact that they've held a lead for a grand total of 10 minutes and 57 seconds out of the 180 minutes they've played.

"We keep playing from behind," Simmonds said. "We're not going to win hockey games like that. It's tough to come back when teams play a trap."

They've been outscored, 5-0, in the first period of games this season - including two goals-against in the first 5 minutes of a contest. Bryzgalov allowed three goals on his first four shots on Tuesday, a downright scary .250 save percentage.

At the other end of the ice, the NHL's third-best offense last season - which scored at a clip of 3.21 goals per game - has produced just three goals. Claude Giroux has two of them. Four of the Flyers' top returning goal scorers - Scott Hartnell, Matt Read, Simmonds and Max Talbot - have not been heard from this season.

The Flyers were 0-for-6 on the power play, making them 1-for-15 (6 percent) for the season. They allowed a shorthanded (penalty shot) goal and a power-play goal, dropping the penalty kill to a putrid 10-for-16 (62.5 percent).

Through all of the blunders, Laviolette refuses to say that the Flyers' effort and compete level has been the issue for the woeful start.

"We came out and competed hard tonight," Laviolette said. "I thought it was most competitive that we showed up to start and play a game. I didn't like it in Buffalo, I thought it needed to be better. I think we came out with the right attitude, just not the right result."

Slap shots

With his penalty-shot goal, Ilya Kovalchuk now has 45 points (23 goals) in 46 career games against the Flyers . . . Ilya Bryzgalov is now 2-for-5 on penalty shots as a Flyer . . . The Flyers were outshot, 26-24, after holding a 13-2 advantage in the second period.

Foster out

Defenseman Kurtis Foster was mysteriously missing from the lineup. He was replaced by Bruno Gervais, who made his Flyers debut after signing with the team last summer as a free agent.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren called it a "maintenance'' day for Foster, who collected his first point as a Flyer in Buffalo on Sunday. Peter Laviolette said it was a "lineup decision." Foster was at Prudential Center but did not skate. When asked to comment, Foster politely said he couldn't.

Quotable

"He's played good. We don't need to make any sort of decision today. [Peter Laviolette] likes playing young guys. I think, in a lot of ways, it's become a young man's game. At the end of the day . . . I don't think about those things, I think about the Flyers. If they can help the Philadelphia Flyers, it's a good thing." - Paul Holmgren, on 18-year-old Scott Laughton, when asked if he would be worried about burning a year on Laughton's entry-level contract by keeping him beyond a fifth game as allowed by league rules.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: philly.com/FrequentFlyers

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