Struggling Flyers say they still believe in each other

Claude Giroux and the Flyers are spinning their wheels despite major moves of the last few years. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Claude Giroux and the Flyers are spinning their wheels despite major moves of the last few years. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 21, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. - The Flyers' latest loss - a 4-2 defeat to the scuffling Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday - was a microcosm of their forgettable season.

They fell behind early and it proved fatal.

They again came up short in a decisive third period.

They continued to struggle on the road, dropping to a head-scratching 4-12 this season.

The Flyers entered a quirky five-day schedule break after Monday's loss, a defeat that pushed them into 12th place in the Eastern Conference and further behind in the playoff race.

"We believe in the guys we have in this room," captain Claude Giroux insisted.

But that belief surely must be wavering. The Flyers fell into an early 2-1 hole against the Lightning and dropped to 0-11 in games in which they have trailed after the first period. They are 1-6 in games that are tied (like Monday's) after two periods.

The Flyers did show more fight than in several games this season, but their defense made too many mistakes in front of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and the offense continued to falter.

The Flyers will have all week to stew about a lost opportunity against a Tampa Bay team that was playing six rookies, missing its injured captain (Vincent Lacavalier), and was on a dreadful 6-14-1 run.

There are many reasons for the Flyers' 13-16-1 record. Lackluster defensive play is at the top of the list. So is the fact that many of their key players are going through protracted offensive slumps. Consider:

The players on the second line have not scored in a combined 29 games - Danny Briere (13 straight), Brayden Schenn (10) and Wayne Simmonds (six). During their slumps, Briere and Schenn are each minus-10, and Simmonds is minus-5.

Matt Read, who fired a shot off the post in Monday's loss, has not scored in his last seven games.

Ruslan Fedotenko (25 straight games) and Sean Couturier (22) haven't scored goals since January, and Scott Hartnell, who missed most of the season with a broken foot, has just two goals in 14 games.

The Flyers will have three straight practice days starting Thursday to try to work out the kinks before they visit Pittsburgh on Sunday.

"I think it will be kind of good to regroup and have some practice time," Giroux said.

Fedotenko, who leads the team with a plus-5 rating, said the practices will give the Flyers a chance to "work on things we're not doing as well as we should."

Overall, the Flyers began Tuesday 24th in the 30-team NHL in goals allowed per game (3.03) and they were 15th in goals scored (2.67). Last season the Flyers finished 20th in goals surrendered (2.74) and second in goals scored (3.17).

Breakaways

Fedotenko is the only Flyers forward with a plus rating. . . . Entering Tuesday, the Flyers led the league in penalty minutes per game (16.2) and minor infractions (142) this season.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter@BroadStBull.

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