While the divisions have been altered slightly this year due to the pandemic, a majority of the Eastern Division competed in the Metropolitan Division last season, where the Philadelphia Flyers retained the top spot when play was suspended in March. latest. But this season, with higher expectations, those same Flyers have planted their faces; they’ve lost 10 of 14 games this month, leaving themselves with a tough road back to the playoffs.
The latest loss, an 8-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, led veteran defenseman Shane Gostisbehere to denounce his team’s efforts in his post-game press conference.
“It is simply unacceptable. It’s just not good enough right now, ”Gostisbehere said. “We have to be better as a team. ”
At the start of March, the Flyers were 11-4-3 but were fifth in the Eastern competition, one point behind the Islanders. And they did so despite the COVID-19 issues that impacted the list for most of February. But since March 1, the team has apparently made a 180 and, after Thursday’s results, the team are sixth in the East with 34 points. The Boston Bruins are in fourth place with 37 points, but also have three games in hand.
The biggest difference between the start of the season and now has been the team’s defense. In Thursday’s games, no team – not even the Buffalo Sabers, who are in the middle of a 16-game winless streak – have given up more goals this month than the 65 Flyers, who have a total in average 4.65 goals per game. That’s significantly more than the 2.89 goals against per game the team allowed in the first month and a half of the season (52 goals in 18 games).
Third-year goaltender Carter Hart has been at the center of the surge against goals, allowing at least three of his 10 starts this month, except one, and at least five of three. Still, Gostisbehere hasn’t pinned recent struggles just on the goalkeeper, saying the whole team needs to be more responsible in defense.
“… At the moment, this team has really lost its identity. From where we were at the start of the year to where we are now, it sucks now. We have to find something because we are too good of a team to let it go to waste, ”said Gostisbehere. “We owe it to our goalies, we owe it to the older guys on our team. ”
The Flyers will have the chance to get out of their defensive funk against the Rangers on Saturday afternoon before closing the month with a pair of games against the Sabers next week.