Flyers' blowout loss has to be a wake-up call
Craig Berube and the Flyers have lost four games in a row and currently sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. (AP)
Throughout the course of a season, one word you hear coaches and players use often is consistency.
When a team or player goes on a hot streak, it's usually because the little things -- puck movement, forechecking, backchecking, etc. -- are being done consistently well.
Then there are times when being consistent isn't the best thing for an NHL club. Which brings us to the Flyers.
For most of January, the Flyers have been a consistent group -- just not in a good way. They've allowed three or more goals in nine straight and have been plagued by undisciplined play, turnovers and a lack of puck support on a nightly basis.
That's why the Flyers find themselves mired in a four-game losing streak and slowly sliding down the Metropolitan Division standings.
Things aren't getting any easier for the Orange and Black either. They face Detroit on Tuesday before traveling out West for tilts with three very good teams in California.
The Flyers need to get back to basics and start doing those little things right if they want to build some confidence before the NHL shuts down for the Olympic break on Feb. 9.
With that in mind, here are a few storylines we'll be following this week:
The Flyers' defense has received a lot of criticism over the past month, and rightfully so, but goaltending has also been an area of weakness.
Sure, Steve Mason and Ray Emery haven't received much help in their own zone, but neither netminder has been particularly sharp.
Especially Mason. The 25-year-old is 3-4-1 with a 3.60 goals-against average and .873 save percentage this month.
That's certainly not the type of production the Flyers want to see out of their freshly-extended No. 1 goalie. And Mason knows it.
“I’m disappointed in not being able to play well enough to get the wins now,” Mason said Sunday (see story). “I’d like to improve everything. When you are not having success, it’s easy to overthink things."
Mix and match
Head coach Craig Berube shuffled things up against the Bruins on Sunday, perhaps to send a message to his team.
Scott Hartnell was reunited with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on the top line, while Michael Raffl was dropped to Sean Couturier's unit with Matt Read.
Berube also decided to scratch Steve Downie and Andrej Meszaros in favor of Jay Rosehill and Erik Gustafsson, respectively.
It didn't work. The Flyers were listless, in front of their home fans no less, and allowed Boston to put on a clinic in an embarassing 6-1 rout.
Don't be surprised if Berube continues to make modifications to his lineup. The team desperately needs a spark to bust out of its current slump. Whether that happens through a line change, trade or call-up remains to be seen.
Nicklas Grossmann does a lot of things well for the Flyers. He blocks a ton of shots and has a physical edge to his game.
But the big Swede has struggled mightily over the past few weeks. He had his worst performance as a Flyer on Saturday as he was directly responsible for four of Boston's six goals.
“For myself? Poor defensive play and a couple of penalties that cost us," Grossmann said after the game (see story). "It’s unacceptable in an important game like this. We need two points. Stuff like that should not happen.”
Grossmann has also been a turnover machine, as evidenced by his minus-9 rating in January.
The Flyers can usually count on Grossmann to be one of their more reliable defenders. He's a lot better than he's been playing, but it's not just him on the defensive corps that needs to step it up. Everybody does.
Players to watch
Detroit: Henrik Zetterberg is on a tear. Entering Sunday, the Red Wings' captain has collected two goals and six assists in his last four games. The Flyers got lucky and didn't have to deal with him the last time these two clubs met, but Zetterberg did burn them for two tallies and a helper on Oct. 12 -- a 5-2 Detroit win.
Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry could very well be the best 1-2 punch in the NHL. Both forwards are in the top five in the league in scoring and have been a nightmare for every team to deal with this season. Getzlaf leads the Ducks with 60 points, but Perry isn't very far behind with 57 of his own. Yikes.
Los Angeles: Although the Kings have had their troubles finding the back of the net as of late, they still have plenty of forwards with tremendous offensive ability -- including center Anze Kopitar. The 6-3, 224-pounder has a team high 41 points and can control a game on any given night. He has just one goal in his last 12 games, but shouldn't be underestimated.