Flyers Notes: Shayne Gostisbehere upbeat, focused after second benching

Flyers Notes: Shayne Gostisbehere upbeat, focused after second benching

WASHINGTON – Shayne Gostisbehere was back in the Flyers' lineup on Sunday against the Capitals after his second benching this season Saturday afternoon in Boston.
 
He had two shots during a minus-2 showing in which he played 21:22.
 
While you can question some of Dave Hakstol’s benchings this season from the standpoint that certain players – Andrew MacDonald comes to mind – seem immune to punishment, it’s perhaps reassuring to find that it doesn’t seem to be hurting the confidence level of young players such as Ghost or even rookie Travis Konecny.
 
At least, from what you can see on the outside and from what they say themselves to the media.
 
Sunday’s 5-0 humiliation to the Capitals (see game recap) - the Flyers' fourth loss in five games - could call for a full team benching, but that’s another story.
 
As for Ghost, who sat out Saturday’s 6-3 loss in Boston, he didn’t seem scared by the benching.
 
“You could let it rattle you,” Gostisbehere said. “You could let it set you back, but I am going out there and gonna do whatever it takes to help the team. That’s the biggest thing. If that’s me being in the press box, then that’s me in the press box.
 
“I’m here to help the team in any way possible. Right now, it’s just getting back to work and doing the little things. It’s not going to come easy. That is something that me personally, and a lot of us have to look at.”
 
General manager Ron Hextall danced around the question of whether Hakstol’s benching of young players is a good or bad thing.
 
Hextall did say he thought that Konecny has been a “better” player since his benching, which came in San Jose on Dec. 30, a game in which the Flyers could have sorely used more offense during a 2-0 loss to the Sharks.
 
Gostisbehere echoed the thoughts of a number of Flyers, suggesting their five-day “bye” week which starts Monday would be a good time to look in the mirror, think about what has transpired recently, come back and be ready to go again with a fresh attitude and clean slate.
 
The Flyers can’t practice during this period. They will regroup at Skate Zone on Friday afternoon before hosting New Jersey on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.
 
A good time for this break?
 
“Totally,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s huge for us, but it can work against you a little bit. We got to be smart about it obviously and come back hungry and ready to go.”
 
Gostisbehere correctly picked up on what has become a common thread in many of the Flyers' losses since their 10-game win streak ended.  One or two mistakes after a good period and things go completely awry.
 
“A relapse like that, the puck is in the back of our net,” he said. “It’s just repeatedly happening and something we have to fix. Something we have to focus on during the break and look into the mirror.
 
“Not just go back to work, but work hard. It doesn’t come to us. It’s something that were realizing. We got to get back to doing little things right.”
 
Shots
The Flyers held Washington to 10 shots in the first two periods on Sunday. That set a season low for shots allowed through 40 minutes. The previous low was 11 to Montreal through two periods on Nov. 5.
 
Shutouts
This was the fourth time this season the Flyers have been shut out this season. They also became the fourth team to be shut out by Washington since Dec. 31.
 
Over the Caps' current nine-game win streak, the Flyers are sixth team in which the Capitals scored five or more goals against. That includes a 6-0 win over Chicago and a 5-0 win over Columbus.

Flyers enter bye week with 'unacceptable' loss to Capitals as slide continues

Flyers enter bye week with 'unacceptable' loss to Capitals as slide continues

WASHINGTON — They got blitzed.

That second wild-card spot the Flyers have been clinging to for weeks now?

Forget it. It will be gone by the time they get back on the ice again, because the Flyers have a five-day bye week coming this week.

Which might be ideal, given the 5-0 beatdown they suffered Sunday afternoon to the Capitals at Verizon Center (see Instant Replay).

“This was pretty bad,” Wayne Simmonds said. “I don’t know how much worse it can get. It’s a combination of things but I don’t think it’s effort. It’s execution. We have plays there and we're not executing as we have in the past. It’s hurting us.”

The mood?

Frustration? Anger?

“It’s all the above,” Simmonds replied “It’s unacceptable. We got to refocus, reset when we get back. It’s already urgency and desperation. We have that in our minds.”

If you were a tad late getting back to your seat between the second and third period, you missed a smorgasbord of scoring in what was once a very competitive, 1-0 game to that point.

As in four Capitals goals in five minutes that that left the Flyers 0-7-2 in their last nine road games.

“Kinda snowball effect,” Simmonds said. “Come out in the third, and everything kinda bouncing their way, it gets away from us. No excuses. We have to be better, plain and simple.

“It’s unacceptable, but it’s over now. We’ve got to refocus, reset and make sure we’re ready when we come back.”

Since winning 10 straight, the Flyers have gone, 3-8-3 to slip into the great abyss.

“You lose your spot in the standings pretty quickly when other teams are playing well and winning games,” Michael Del Zotto said. “We keep declining.”

General manager Ron Hextall was tip-lipped, but promised he would not overreact.

“You can’t let a little adversity become a lot of adversity,” Hextall warned about what happened in a 1-0 third when things quickly unraveled.

“When things are going wrong, all of a sudden, something happens and things tend to really go wrong. That’s where we have to be better mentally. … Right now, negative energy seems like a landslide.”

After Saturday’s shot festival in Boston, holding the Caps to just three shots through 16 minutes was impressive. Despite five shots on two power plays, the Flyers could not score on backup Philipp Graubauer, which was disconcerting given he’s not starter and defending Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby.

Also concerning was that of the 13 shots that Flyers had that stanza, none came from their top line. Mark Streit led them with three.

Claude Giroux (minus-3), whose game has vanished, didn’t have a shot in the entire game. Coach Dave Hakstol has tried to get him going, changing up his line several times without any effect.

How do you get him and his line going?

“I don’t know,” Giroux said. “I don’t know.”

The Flyers had four power plays early and kept doing nothing with them. So when Washington got its second of the game in the middle stanza, those wasted chances stood out.

Del Zotto inadvertently directed a puck directly onto Andre Burakovsky’s stick and the Caps' forward buried it on Mason.

“Broken play, it went off a guy’s skate and I went to clear it,” Del Zotto said. “It hopped over my stick right into his tape, coming down Broadway. An unfortunate bounce. Seems the way things are going right now.”

It stayed 1-0 through two periods.

The third period onslaught began with a nifty Marcus Johansson backhand pass to Justin Williams, who beat Mason shortside. Then a bouncing puck past Ivan Provorov became a rush with Alex Ovechkin faking a shot, passing to Matt Niskanen, who had a slam dunk to make it 3-0.

Two more goals and Mason departed for Neuvirth.  

"The floodgates opened," Del Zotto said.

Hakstol admitted he should have used his timeout before the game out away from him.

“First two, we played excellent road periods and didn’t give up much,” Hakstol said. “It got away from us in five minutes to start the third period … we didn’t stop their momentum.”

Mason seemed shell-shocked.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. “A complete 180. It’s not how we wanted to come out in the third. We’ve got to be a good third-period team. It wasn’t good.

“We’re struggling to find that consistency. I think everybody just has to come back from this four-day break here with a fresh mindset, fresh outlook and put this behind us. It’s not very good.”

Instant Replay: Capitals 5, Flyers 0

Instant Replay: Capitals 5, Flyers 0

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON – Another lost weekend for the Flyers with back-to-back defeats, as they head into their mandated bye week on a sour note.
 
The difference Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center was the Flyers had ample early opportunities before falling apart in the final period of a 5-0 beating from the Capitals.
 
After the shooting bonanza by Boston on Saturday, Dave Hakstol’s club had a strong opening period Sunday, holding the Caps to just five shots while getting off 13 themselves. But they failed to dent goalie Philipp Grubauer.

It was a mirage. Leading 1-0, the Caps scored four unanswered goals to blow it open. Justin Williams and Matt Niskanen each scored twice.
 
Offsides?
Was Sean Couturier offside in the second period? The play ended with a whistle just as Radko Gudas scored from the point. Hakstol couldn’t challenge since the whistle had blown. It was 1-0 Washington at that point.
 
Notable goals
How about the puck bouncing past Ivan Provorov at the point, Alex Ovechkin getting it from Nick Backstrom, then faking a shot on Steve Mason before lobbing a soft pass that Niskanen buried into an empty net for a 3-0 lead?
 
Goalie report
Mason was back in goal and got torched for five goals on 17 shots. His flubbed glove attempt on Niskanen’s second goal was simply brutal.
 
Power play
The Flyers had two pretty good shots on their first one in the opening period and didn’t score. To that point in the game, they had an 8-2 shot lead on the Caps. The Flyers had three shots on their next attempt and couldn’t score. Shayne Gostisbehere got some good looks, too. Their third one was a disaster with a turnover and four Caps' clears.
 
Penalty kill
Not overworked. But a glaring turnover by Michael Del Zotto handed the puck right to Andre Burakovsky in front of the net and he buried it on the Caps' second power play.
 
Injuries
Caps defenseman John Carlson was injured early in the game and did not return.
  
Scratches
Defensemen Nick Schultz (healthy) and Brandon Manning (healthy); forward Matt Read (skate cut).
 
Up next
The Flyers begin their bye week Monday. This is a mandatory four days off. They will resume practice Friday afternoon at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.