The Philadelphia Flyers didn’t just cough up a three-goal lead against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
They let another two points slip out of their fingers and suffered their second loss in a row, sapping whatever momentum they had built over the last few weeks.
With a 11-13-1 record, they are only three points shy of a playoff spot, but have played in three more games than the eighth place New York Rangers. On top of that, the surging Washington Capitals are breathing down their necks, threatening to climb above them in the standings.
In other words, the Flyers have a hole to dig themselves out of, and only 23 games left to do it in.
Thursday’s contest was perhaps a microcosm of their problems this season. They showed flashes of what the team is capable of, but they couldn’t sustain it for a full 60 minutes.
“We talked about it after the first period that the Pittsburgh Penguins weren’t going to sit back and hand over two points,” Scott Hartnell said in a CSN Philly report. “They were going to come hard.
“Low and behold, before you know it, it’s 4-4. We just can’t do that. It’s embarrassing to the fans, embarrassing to one another, and we let another two points slip away … It was a big letdown. I don’t know why we would have stopped playing.”
Hartnell’s statement echoed Flyers captain Claude Giroux’s complaints last month that his team was “just going through the motions” and not competing for the complete 60 minutes.
All the same, the Flyers are down, but certainly not out.
Injuries have been a factor, but most of their key players are back now. With that in mind, maybe they can find some measure of redemption in Boston on Saturday.
“Go into Boston with a do-or-die attitude,” Hartnell said. “We’ve been saying it but now it’s time to get out there and back up our words and get a decisive win.
“We played a great 20, but 20 doesn’t get you anything these days.”