Question: What's been worse, the weather in the month of March in the Delaware Valley or the Flyers' play this month?
Tough one, but I'd have to go with the Flyers. At least you can go inside to escape Mother Nature. There's been no escaping the storm clouds forming of late around the Flyers. They say timing in life is everything and right now time could be running out on the orange and black's playoff chances. They are 1-6-1 in the month of March. Teams that appeared to have no chance of catching the Flyers in the playoff race are now right on their bumper.
The Flyers had won ten of eleven after beating the Canadiens, 1-0, on Feb. 26. Since then, they've lost games in a myriad of ways. Late in games (Boston, Vegas). Poor starts; the Flyers have been outscored in the first period during this stretch, 11-5. The power play has not been good enough. The penalty kill has been a major issue all season. They have not gotten nearly enough secondary scoring.
And players not named Claude Giroux who have been studs all year have not been producing goals. Sean Couturier does a ton for this hockey team. But the way they are built, he needs to put the puck in the net. He‘s gone without a goal in thirteen straight games.
But more troubling is the pattern of late where they are being outworked. 50-50 battles are being lost. Careless clears, turnovers you may get away with against Montreal, cost you against Vegas.
Head coach Dave Hakstol said this after Thursday's loss to Columbus: "I thought their team was a little bit more ready to play, and that squarely comes to me."
Excuse me? More ready to play? This time of year? That's a stark indictment of both him and his team. Mid-March, game No. 71 of the season at home vs. a team that is right on your heels and they were more ready than your club? His players echoed the same sentiment after the game. Inexcusable. This would be a colossal collapse if they don't make the postseason. The fans are owed more.
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Columbus has won six straight and is now tied with the Flyers at 81 points. The Florida Panthers, who at 77 points are three out of the final wildcard spot, were 16 points behind the Flyers on Feb. 26. They now trail them by just four points with three games in hand. The Flyers are currently the sixth seed, they have eleven games left - five at home, five are against Metropolitan Division opponents, all but two are against the Eastern Conference. So they very much control their own fate. But if they don't find a sense of urgency, it will be two straight seasons of tee times in early April.