Flyers-Canadiens: Postgame Review
It's been since early January, right at the end of an eight-game losing streak, that the Flyers have lost back-to-back games. They followed up Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the NHL's best with one of their worst performances in months.
The Flyers gave up three goals in the first period again, then two more in the second to essentially turn this one into garbage time. The 5-1 loss to the Canadiens was flat out embarrassing, against a team they were chasing in the standings no less. The lack of motivation to play, the lack of preparation, was reminiscent of the team that fired its GM in November and its coach in December.
More in our Postgame Review.
- Not Ready to Play - Sean Couturier said after the loss to Tampa on Tuesday that they didn't give Carter Hart a chance in that game because they weren't ready. For a team that had won 12 of the previous 15 games going into Tuesday, it was a chance to put your money where your mouth is.
The Flyers failed to do that. For the second straight game, the team was not only not ready to play at the start, they might as well have not even been there.
The start by the Flyers was as poor as they come. The Canadiens never stopped either. They had their way with the Flyers through the neutral zone and on offensive zone entries the entire night. At least after Tampa's quick start on Tuesday, the Flyers tightened up and started to play better. At that point, you tip your cap to the best team in the league.
But Montreal is a team that, like the Flyers, has to fight for their playoff lives with every game. And they played like it.
Maybe it's fatigue from the Flyers. Maybe it's a lack of execution catching up to them. Maybe it's a combination of both. They aren't excuses. In fact, they may just be reality.
- Hart Chased Again - Brendan Gallagher's second goal on the way to a hat trick was the last shot Hart faced in this game. He only saw nine shots in a little more than 10 minutes for the second straight game before being pulled for Brian Elliott. It was one of the first truly leaky goals he has allowed.
When Hart got pulled in Carolina on Dec. 31, he responded with a string of starts that put the Flyers on a winning streak and got them back into the playoff race.
It could be that all of the starts are just catching up to the 20-year-old. This is an intensive schedule and the level of play is ramped up. It could also be that after two games where Hart got a lot of support, he's getting next to nothing now. To get the result they need, the Flyers have to rely on Hart standing on his head. And that just isn't going to happen in every game.
- Deadline Time - The Flyers came into this week with three games against difficult opponents to prove to Chuck Fletcher that there was a playoff run in this team, to make the statement that may get him to use more judgement on trade deadline decisions. A shocking win over Tampa or a win in Montreal or in the Stadium Series against Pittsburgh could be enough to show that this team was capable of playing with the big boys.
If the last two games have shown anything, it's that time has run out on the Flyers playoff push, at least without ramifications of going through the standard trade deadline process as sellers. The Flyers could be in position to make a neutral move that sets them up for the future while selling in the present, but it really is apparent that nothing was going to change the Flyers fate, especially after three months of inconsistent play and stringing together losses.
- Phil Myers - One of the lone bright spots in the game was Phil Myers. Myers finally got regular shifts as part of a six-man defensive core and looked the part.
Myers was not on the ice for any of the Montreal goals. He played 20:28 in the game with one shot and three hits and was on the ice for the lone Flyers goal. He was not the issue with the Flyers in front of the net.
This game and the next are big for Myers. If he is able to repeat his own performance on Saturday, it's going to be hard to pull him from the lineup when Radko Gudas returns from suspension.
- Take It Outside - The Flyers weren't the only team with a disappointing performance on Thursday. Pittsburgh suffered a 4-0 loss to San Jose on Thursday as well. So that means two frustrated teams will come into Philadelphia for the Stadium Series on Saturday night trying to right the ship.
Saturday's game is already big because it is a spectacle. All outdoor games are. But Saturday may be the final chance the Flyers have to announce their presence in the race. A loss there would likely erase any chance of the Flyers finishing off the run they started over the last month.
By the Numbers
Montreal dominated the first period with a 65 CF% and 11 scoring chances at 5-on-5. In the second and third period, the Flyers had more high-danger scoring chances, 4-2, in both periods at 5-on-5, but the damage had already been done.
Stat of the Game
With his hat trick, Brendan Gallagher has nine goals and six assists in 19 career games against the Flyers.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.