Ed Snider's Flyers are off to a 4-10-1 start and scoring just 1.47 goals per game. (AP)
As far as Flyers chairman Ed Snider is concerned, things have never been this bad before.
“I’ve been in the game for 47 years,” Snider said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
He’s referring not just to the Flyers’ ugly 4-10-1 record and last-place standing in the Metropolitan Division, but also to their inability to score -- their powerlessness to do so much as win a battle along the boards or create any significant pressure on opposing goaltenders.
The Flyers lost to the New Jersey Devils, 3-0, on Thursday night. It was the second consecutive shutout on their home ice. They’ve been outscored 12-2 in their last five games.
“We’ve had teams that have struggled,” Snider said. “Sometimes we have bad goaltending, but we’re scoring four goals a game and giving up five. But I’ve never seen a team that can’t score, particularly with the talent that we have.
“We’ve got to figure out what to do to overcome it. Everybody’s working hard.”
So far, though, they haven’t been able to figure anything out. The Flyers rank dead-last in the league in goals per game, with a paltry 1.47 average. Coach Craig Berube has shuffled up his lines in each of the last five games, searching for an ever-elusive chemistry. It’s been so bad, Berube hasn’t felt confident enough to give the new lines he sends out on the ice any real time to develop.
It’s been so bad, the fans are greeting the Flyers with boos more often than with cheers these days.
“When they’re booing like they were last night, to me, it’s very disconcerting, but I understand it,” Snider said. “I don’t blame them. The effort was pathetic. We were losing all the battles along the boards. We can’t continue to be a team that can’t score. If we can’t score, we can at least win the battles along the boards. It’s being addressed I’m sure, by the coach, who’s working very hard to break some of the bad habits that these guys have gotten into.”
He acknowledged that fans calling for the firing of general manager Paul Holmgren is “upsetting,” but that both he and the GM understand it. And he knows what’s in store if things don’t change. Soon.
“Next,” Snider said, “they’ll be calling for my head.”
The Flyers’ chairman, like so many others, is distressed by what’s going on with captain Claude Giroux. Giroux hasn’t scored a goal in 21 games going back to last season, and has just seven assists and a minus-11 rating.
But he doesn’t believe those struggles are at all related to the "C" Giroux is wearing on his chest.
“He didn’t play this poorly last year,” Snider said. “He did struggle for a while, but he ended up with a point a game. He didn’t play this poorly -- we had a top-notch power play last year. He was the captain last year, too. You look for answers, but I don’t want to speculate and have the wrong answers.”
One area that doesn’t appear to have Snider concerned is the Flyers' skill level– at least when they’re playing up to their abilities.
Snider cited Voracek’s 22-goal season last year, said that evaluating talent is an ongoing process and reaffirmed his belief that the Flyers can be a good team. And they’re trying to be. They just haven’t found a solution, for whatever reason.
“We all know what these guys can do,” Snider said. “It’s not like they’re all new guys and we never saw them before. … Everybody’s struggling at the same time. It’s a puzzle that we’ve got to resolve, and we’re working very, very hard to do that.”
He added: “We certainly know we’re more talented than we’re showing on the ice. I think the question is: How talented are we? … I’m hoping that they’ll snap out of it and show us the kind of talent that they’ve shown in the past, and that we believe they still have.”
Snider, who said he’s “been better,” given the state of his team, lacks answers just like everyone else. All he knows, he said, is that what’s been happening out on the ice needs to stop.
“I know they’re trying their hardest,” he said. “They don’t want to lose. They’re embarrassed, they can’t stand hearing the boos. No one can.
“And I know that they want to snap out of it as bad as anybody.”