Philadelphia Flyers: Could sure use some home cooking

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

With their disastrous season-long road trip finally in the rearview, the Philadelphia Flyers return home to the Wells Fargo Center, hoping to rediscover a successful brand of hockey.

For the past two weeks, the Philadelphia Flyers have been seemingly chasing the game, gripping their sticks too tightly, and ever other bad hockey cliche that indicates that a team is struggling.

Tuesday night’s overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes mercifully concluded their six-game road trip, one in which the club went 1-4-1 and looked nothing like the playoff-bound Flyers that we had come to know for the first few months of the season.

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Now, they will be tasked with taking on the league-leading Washington Capitals on Wednesday night, not even afforded a full 24 hours to lick their wounds after returning home. There is truly no rest for the weary.

The turnaround must start in net with Carter Hart, who was shelled three times on the road trip and now sports a hideous 4.01 GAA on the year away from the Wells Fargo Center.

His home numbers, however, are sparkling. with just one regulation loss in 14 games played. It’s unlikely he’ll maintain the lofty heights of the 1.49 GAA and .947 save percentage that he’s currently sporting at home, but he needs to shake off what looks like the first true extended funk of his NHL career.

Team defense has to get exponentially better, even with the loss of defenseman Justin Braun for the next few weeks. The Flyers allowed at least five goals in all five of their losses on the road trip, 28 goals all told in the six games. Show me a team that can win playing this way in today’s NHL, and I’ll tell you with a straight face that Jadeveon Clowney isn’t a dirty player.

I would also point to the Flyers’ “best” players as needing to produce more but, surprisingly, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier all averaged at least a point per game on the road trip, combining for 19 points in the six contests. Still, when you’re surrendering five goals a night, something has to give. Either your big guns need to completely carry you, or you (more likely) just need to play better hockey to cut down on the goals that end up in the back of your own net. Only then will your own goals start to matter.

Where the offense could really use a jolt is on the power play. The Flyers’ man advantage unit went 3-for-17 on the road trip. It wasn’t an outrageously bad percentage, but it’s simply not good enough currently. It frequently looks out of sync, and the top unit will go long stretches where it can’t even get set up in the zone.

It’s really a miracle that they’re as high as they are, ranked 16th in the league, when they look so lost in the wilderness at times. More production is needed, and soon. And it’s up to the coaching staff to figure out something different to make it work.

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The Flyers will be playing six of their next seven games at home, and it couldn’t come at a better time. With a playoff grip slipping away day by day, this next stretch will be crucial in determining if the 2019-20 season will be remembered as one in which the club made strides or just showed themselves to be the “same old Flyers” that have frustrated fans for the better part of a decade.