In the wake of a 10-game winning streak, the Philadelphia Flyers have hit a rough patch, with just one victory in their last seven.
Granted, this would be more of a concern if they hadn’t played so well Sunday night in Anaheim, where they lost 4-3 in a shootout.
But the Flyers have lost ground all the same. They’re now just three points up on Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot, and Toronto, Florida and Carolina are lurking back there too.
Last night, the Flyers put 54 shots on Ducks goalie John Gibson, plus one more for good measure on Jonathan Bernier.
“We deserved better, we played a helluva hockey game,” head coach Dave Hakstol said, per CSN Philly. “For the most part, our execution was pretty good and we had a lot of quality chances. Couldn’t get an extra one to go in.”
That’s hockey. During their 10-game run, the Flyers won a couple of games they easily could’ve lost. In the end, these things have a way of evening out.
“Put up 55 shots, you’re going to win most games,” said d-man Michael Del Zotto. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the two points. We’ve been in a little bit of a lull, but we keep playing like that, we’ll be successful.”
The Flyers return home to face the Rangers Wednesday (on NBCSN). Their next game after that is a big one, with the Lightning paying a visit Saturday afternoon. And after that, they play seven of their next 10 on the road, where they’re a modest 8-9-2 so far this season.
If there’s one area where Hakstol’s group could improve, it’s defensively. At 2.97, the Flyers’ goals-against average ranks 25th in the NHL. Last season, when they made the playoffs, it finished 12th at 2.26.
Obviously, some (or maybe much) of that falls on the goaltending. It was great last season; it’s been disappointing this season, save for the odd solid stretch from Steve Mason (14-12-5, .904).
In fact, Hakstol’s decision to go with Mason against the Ducks was called into question by reporters.
From CSN Philly:
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol opted to play Steve Mason, who had a bruised left forearm from the Sharks loss, rather than go with rookie Anthony Stolarz, who was completely healthy and deserved the shot after 40 impressive minutes in relief during the 2-0 defeat in San Jose.
It’s almost seemed a panic move to salvage two points from the three-game road trip. This was Mason’s 21st start in 23 games.
When pressed as to why not allow Stolarz to play, Add Contact FormHakstol said, he “gave it consideration.”
“He played very well coming in the other night,” Hakstol said. “He did an outstanding job. That being said, Mase has been the guy who has done a great job for us. I didn’t give it a whole lot of second thought.”
With Michal Neuvirth getting close to returning from his knee injury, it will be interesting to see how Hakstol deploys his netminders. Neuvirth was not playing well before he got hurt. His record was good, at 4-2-0, but his save percentage was a ghastly .859.
If Neuvirth continues to struggle when he’s healthy, it’s either going to be a very busy stretch drive for Mason, or Stolarz could be called back to make a few starts.
Stolarz, 22, is 2-0-0 with a .938 save percentage for the Flyers. He also had great numbers in the AHL (6-2-0, .927) before he was recalled.
Related: Stolarz making case to be with Flyers full-time next season