Flyers-Blue Jackets: Postgame Review
It seems like all that can go wrong will go wrong for the Flyers. Another defeat has them officially on the ropes in the playoff picture.
A 5-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets has the Flyers recent free-fall pressing on, while Columbus' surge puts them on the cusp of overtaking the Flyers in the standings. New Jersey and Florida are all knocking on the door too, as the Flyers spot in the playoffs burns to a crisp.
Let's fire things up with our Postgame Review.
- Goaltending - This was another one of those games for Petr Mrazek, and while you can't fault Ron Hextall for trying to get proactive with both goaltenders out well beyond the deadline, this was by far the worst performance the deadline pickup has displayed since the trade.
I really like what Dave Hakstol did in the timing of the goalie change. After the fourth Columbus goal, which came in a period the Flyers were dominating up to that point, it was as if to say that Mrazek needed to make a big stop for his team and let them down, barely moving on Cam Atkinson's second goal.
In entered Alex Lyon and with the way he played, it's disappointing to think he doesn't get more of a shot. Much like Anthony Stolarz last season, the Flyers are sheltering a young rookie goalie by constantly running out a veteran who isn't performing up to standards. At what point do you give the kid a chance?
Lyon seized opportunity in this game. He may not have been on the winning end, but he made a game of it all the way to the end, which is more than you could ask.
The Flyers have a back-to-back this weekend and Lyon was probably going to see the ice at some point anyway, but this performance should all but seal that.
Of course, at the other end of the ice, you have the former Flyer netminder that got away. Sergei Bobrovsky wasn't as invincible as he usually is -- allowing three goals -- but he made more than his share of highlight-reel saves to show the Flyers just what they are missing out on.
- Clearing the Zone - Same problems equal the same result. The Flyers have been horrendous when it comes to effectively moving the puck out of the zone throughout the month and once again, it came back to haunt them on Columbus' first goal of the game.
Eleven seconds later, the puck was in the net again. 2-0, just like that.
It's the little mistakes that are getting the Flyers right now, and frustration is really setting in. Travis Konecny was robbed by Bobrovsky just moments before Columbus' first goal. After the save, Konecny started to make a motion to smash his stick, but stopped before doing anything further. You saw similar frustration from Jake Voracek at the end of the first period when he missed the net on a power play with a lot of net to shoot at.
It is really boiling over for the Flyers now, and it's getting to a point where, not unlike their 10-game losing streak earlier in the season, there is no end in sight at this point. Obviously, one win on Saturday didn't solve all the problems, so now it's on these players to make a difference and get back to basics before it becomes too late to turn it around.
- Snapping One Streak - One Flyer who finally got back on the board was Shayne Gostisbehere. It had been 19 games without a goal for Ghost and he finally got the payoff on a shot that made it through a leaky Bobrovsky.
Gostisbehere isn't the only Flyer who was stuck in a drought, and that only fuels the frustration. Sean Couturier hasn't been scoring. The Flyers bottom-six has struggled to find the net on their chances. Oskar Lindblom remains snakebitten. It's a frustrating time right now in general.
For Gostisbehere to get a positive, it at least puts him on the right path back individually. There are a lot of other guys who need the same kind of break right now, but breaks aren't given away at this stage of the season, they are earned.
- Raffl Powers Multiple Lines - One player who stood out in this game to me was Michael Raffl. Raffl had to do it all essentially, filling in on the top line for Claude Giroux briefly as Giroux got repairs from a puck to the face. Raffl also drove the energy of the third line with Scott Laughton and Wayne Simmonds.
Raffl's another one of those players who hasn't been able to pick up numbers offensively, but a game like this helps get things going in the right direction, at least individually. There were not a lot of players who can pull positives out of this game. Raffl is certainly one who played a better game.
- No Margin for Error - Well, if there was no margin for error before, there really is no margin now. The Flyers are tied with Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division. They are one point ahead of New Jersey. Florida won as well on Thursday, so they are just four points behind with three games in hand.
The Flyers desperately need to turn things around, and not just in the next game. They may very well need a weekend sweep just to give themselves some breathing room again.
If the Flyers come out of this weekend with two more losses and nothing to show for it in the standings, they will more than likely hold the final wildcard spot with very little distance back to Florida. What was thought to be inconceivable at the end of February is now more than a possibility. The Flyers may actually find a way to miss the playoffs.
It's still going to take a lot with 11 games to go, but the Flyers are not going to have a good seed in the playoff picture. This stretch of games in March has definitely tempered expectations going in as well.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.