“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Philly coach Craig Berube said of Wednesday’s OT loss in Colorado.
By Sam Bush
The Flyers’ Magical Mystery Road Tour that began with such promise ends tonight in Carolina, and the question must be asked:
Are they the worst team in Philly?
Worse than the tanking Sixers, whom no one expects to win this year; certainly worse than the on the rise Eagles; and then there are the Phillies, who are more than worse.
The Flyers have been unable to attain any sort of sustained success this season, with their most recent struggles coming away from home.
Philly (14-16-7 and nine points behind the New York Rangers for the last Eastern playoff spot)) opened its road swing with three consecutive victories, knocking off Minnesota, Toronto and Winnipeg. However, as has plagued them all season, the Flyers subsequently dropped the following three games.
“I wouldn’t say discouraged,” goaltender Steve Mason said following a 4-3 overtime loss to Colorado on Wednesday. “But we have to start coming together and putting some wins together.”
The Flyers have three three-game win streaks this season, but at each instance, they have followed with consecutive losses. Another defeat Friday would mark the fourth time this season Philly has strung together four or more defeats.
The lack of success comes despite the Flyers touting two of the NHL’s top three scorers in Jakub Voracek (47 points) and Claude Giroux (43). Voracek scored his sixth goal in 10 games Wednesday, and Giroux scored his third in four contests.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Philly coach Craig Berube said. ”We’re playing pretty good hockey, (but) we’re finding ways to lose games. I thought we had the better of the play.”
Wednesday’s loss was the fourth straight for Mason, who dropped to 1-7-4 on the road this season.
He could enjoy a lesser challenge Friday against Carolina (10-23-4). The Hurricanes rank near the bottom of the NHL with 1.95 goals per game and have lost 11 of 13 games, scoring only 16 goals in that span.
Seven of those 11 defeats have come in one-goal games, which proved again to be the story Wednesday in the Hurricanes’ 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh.
“We play hard, we play right, but we have to generate more,” captain Eric Staal said. “We have to get more offense out of everybody, and it’s obviously a broken record and beaten to death, but it is what it is.”
Staal has scored in each of Carolina’s last two games and leads the club with 21 points. He should be joined Friday by his brother, Jordan, who made his season debut Monday and picked up an assist in a loss to Montreal before sitting out Wednesday with illness.
Part of Carolina’s scoring woes can be attributed to Jeff Skinner’s slow start. With eight goals this season, Skinner is on pace to finish with approximately 15 fewer than last season, when he ranked 11th in the NHL with 33.
The Hurricanes’ scoring woes could potentially reach historic lows. Since 1954, only last season’s Buffalo Sabres and the 1997-98 Tampa Bay Lightning finished with fewer than 2.0 goals per game.
Cam Ward has been solid in net despite the lack of scoring support. His 2.39 goals-against average would be the best of his career, and he has surrendered two or fewer goals in each of his last five starts.
“For us and for me, it’s definitely disappointing not to be able to put up some more offense for him,” Eric Staal said to Carolina’s official site.
Ward sat in favor of Anton Khudobin for Carolina’s first matchup with Philly this season – a 5-1 Flyers win on Dec. 13. Mason made 25 saves and Voracek scored to lead Philadelphia to its first win against the Hurricanes in five tries.