Flyers fall out of first with 5-2 loss to Senators

Senior Hockey Insider —

Nick Foligno celebrates the Senators' second period power play goal. Foligno scored one of his own earlier in the game. (Courtesy AP)

The Flyers have now lost four straight games, while the Washington Capitals have won three during that stretch and overtaken them for first place in the East.

This game was nothing more than an embarrassing effort. The former top team in the East going against Conference bottom-feeders, and the Flyers hardly ever seemed to have a chance.

After going up one after Mike Richards found a puck in front and beat a screened Craig Anderson on the power play, the Senators tied it with an extra man tally of their own.

Mike Richards put his team back on top in the second with another power play goal, but it didn’t last long. In the final minute and a half of the period, the Senators scored back-to-back goals – another fluky one on the power play followed by a breakaway goal as the Flyers got caught changing.

The third period saw the Flyers fail to get any significant chances until the final few minutes, by which point another Ottawa power play goal (noticing a theme, here?) had them down 4-2. An empty net tally put them away 5-2.

Slipping down the standings as their confidence plummets, the Flyers seem to be just trying to hold on until the playoffs arrive.

And the way I see it, that might not be that bad of an idea.

It’s terrible seeing them lose these games – games they should be winning – but the fact of the matter is that this team has a serious problem finding motivation to play when it’s not right there, in their face.

In the past two weeks, they’ve only had two really good games – their showing against the Capitals on March 22nd and then against the Penguins on March 29th. They lost one due to a collapse in goaltending, and won the other in somewhat impressive fashion.

What set these two games apart from the other games in that stretch (which amounted to a 1-4-2 record) is that they had some extra meaning. The Washington Capitals at home after a road swing, facing the surging team coming up to contest their Eastern Conference title. Then the Penguins in a game that gave Pittsburgh the opportunity to share the division lead.

These other games haven’t had that extra significance, and the Flyers can’t be bothered to try. That’s a serious problem, but not one that will matter if they can simply turn a switch and hop to it in a week, when they’re facing their first round opponent.

If they can just turn things around at the drop of a hat like that, then all this worrying over the past couple of weeks will be for naught.

Though if the Flyers fail to find their game and continue these struggles into the playoffs, it won’t matter for long anyway – their first round opponent will make short work of them.

So all we can do for now is just sit, wait, and keep an eye on the standings to see where the Flyers land on this free fall, which hopefully won’t last any longer than two more games.

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