'Fragile' Flyers suffer embarrassing home loss

'Fragile' Flyers suffer embarrassing home loss

Highlights: Flyers crushed by Bruins 6-1

January 25, 2014, 5:45 pm
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Steve Mason allowed four goals on 18 shots and was pulled for the third time this month in a 6-1 Flyers loss to the Bruins Saturday afternoon. (USA Today Images)

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Scott Hartnell said that from the drop of the puck, the Flyers weren’t ready to play, and the Bruins were toying with them.

Kimmo Timonen said Boston beat them in every aspect and skated circles around them.

And Flyers coach Craig Berube said his team is “fragile” right now and sorely lacking confidence.

Whatever ails the Flyers, they have dropped from the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference all the way down to ninth following their fourth straight loss.

This was the worst of recent games -- a 6-1 humiliation courtesy the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

Many of the same things that have plagued the Flyers recently were on display again:

• Poor breakouts that result in turnovers
• A lack of puck support in their own end
• No puck possession of sustained time in the offensive end
• A disjointed five-man defensive play

“You try to prepare and get ready to work and battle, and it seemed right from the first couple shifts, they had a minute cycling on us,” Hartnell said. “It’s deflating. It gives them confidence and a lot of energy. It seemed like, right from the get-go, we couldn’t get going and it got worse and worse as the game went on.

“[It] doesn’t matter what the score is -- 5-1, 6-1 or 1-0, especially in this town in your home building -- you gotta work your [butt] off for 60 minutes, no matter what the score is.”

They should have been down only 1-0 after one period, but the Flyers gave up a bad goal in the final 18 ticks of that period when Nick Grossmann screened starting goalie Steve Mason, who has now been pulled three times this month.

Grossmann, incidentally, played a large part in four of Boston’s six goals (see story).

“You lose a few games and you get fragile,” Berube said. “Right now, our team is a fragile team out there. That’s what I see. But we can correct that and get going the right direction again.

“I don’t know why it happens. It shouldn’t. We’re a good hockey team. You’re going to go through stretches where good teams lose two [or] three in a row. They all do.

“It’s not bad habits. It’s a confidence thing, where we look like we don’t want the puck. The support and team play is not there. To me, when that happens, it’s confidence. I’ve seen it my whole career.”

Timonen says the Flyers simply refused to match the Bruins' effort.

“They were so much better in every area,” Timonen said. “The skating they did to us -- that’s the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final. … It’s a skating game, and we got beat by a team that skated way more than we did.”

The Flyers look like they have tired legs.

“[We] shouldn’t,” Timonen replied. “We haven’t skated. We played a lot of games, but we get days off. … These games are huge. I don’t know what happened. That’s a team with a learning process of how you play the game. And we got out-skated by their forwards big time. Big time.

“We've got to get better as a team. That team played like a team and we haven’t the last three or four games. We've got to get back to that. It all starts with skating and we got out-skated by a mile today.”

How the Flyers were unprepared for a game of this magnitude remains a mystery. Barely a month ago, this would not have happened, as they marched along during that long West Coast and Canadian swing.

Confidence, scoring, defense, and solid goaltending abounded.

“It has to be the most embarrassing game I’ve been involved with,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “We didn’t win any battles, we didn’t play as a team.

“Defensively, I think they were just moving the puck around us. We’ve got to do a better job of working and winning those battles. That’s what we’ve got to get better at.

“We know what to do. We know how to play. Nobody has to say anything. You just have to go out there and play and do the right things out there. I think the little details were a big factor.”

Someone suggested the Flyers are in a legitimate crisis, having tumbled so far in the standings so quickly.

“Crisis? I don’t view it as a crisis,” Berube replied. “We’re in a little bit of a hole here and we have to dig our way out of it. We are right there.

“All these teams are tight and bunched in together in a playoff [race]. … To me, it’s not a crisis. It’s about getting back and doing things properly. Then we’ll win some hockey games.”