After a surprisingly strong start, the Philadelphia Flyers have struggled with three straight losses and on Tuesday night they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets, who started the Flyers’ losing streak last week.
The Flyers, who most recently dropped back-to-back home games to the Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars, will look to bounce back in the same building where things started to unravel for them: Nationwide Arena.
The Flyers fell 5-2 in Columbus last Thursday, starting a slide in which they have been outscored 14-4.
“I’d be more upset about the loss if I felt they didn’t try,” Philadelphia head coach John Tortorella said after the flat 5-1 loss to the Stars. “You can boo us, you can talk (expletive) about us, but I’m going to back those guys because they’re trying. If it was an effort issue, that’s a different story.”
The Flyers struggled on special teams, went 0-for-6 on the power play and also allowed a shorthanded goal to the Stars.
“Those are the things I have to coach,” Tortorella said. “Those are the things I have to be fair about as we try to build this team. I’m very happy with the effort.”
“The special teams really cost us the game today,” added defenseman Ivan Provorov. “I think five-on-five, we’re actually playing pretty well.”
The Flyers have scored two or fewer goals in six of their last seven games, and their 2.47 goals per game is the worst in the Eastern Conference.
To be fair, the Flyers are playing without key injured standouts Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, Cam Atkinson and Ryan Ellis. Wade Allison was also injured against the Senators and missed Sunday’s loss to Dallas.
The Blue Jackets are also dealing with more than their share of injuries, and will look to bounce back from Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss on the road against the New York Islanders.
“It’s an even game,” Columbus head coach Brad Larsen said after Zach Parise scored just 39 seconds into overtime to win it for the Islanders. “We got it in overtime there and we got caught.”
Cole Sillinger scored the game’s first goal, but the Blue Jackets couldn’t hold a 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2 lead.
“It’s frustrating,” Sillinger said. “I mean, we had a lot of guys come into the lineup and step up and have that extra opportunity, but it’s a matter of playing for 60 minutes. We had some momentum there at the end of the second period, but we could have been sharper to get us out of the zone.”
Marcus Björk scored his first career goal and he will likely get more playing time with the sick roster.
Patrik Laine is the new significant addition — he will miss 3-4 weeks with a sprained ankle. Sean Kuraly (upper body) and Erik Gudbranson (upper body) are day-to-day, and Jakub Voracek (upper body) could be back next week, but Adam Boqvist (foot) is out at least three more weeks and Nick Blankenburg (ankle) isn’t expected back until for Christmas. Zach Werenski (torn labrum) is likely out for the season.
Bjork played four seasons in the Swedish Hockey League and was most recently with the Cleveland Monsters in the American Hockey League before injuries forced a recall.
“He has good balance with the puck,” Larsen said of Björk, who was on the ice for 15 minutes.
“I didn’t see it at first, but it went in, so it was a nice feeling,” Björk said of her goal.
–Field Level Media