After a surprisingly strong start, the Philadelphia Flyers have struggled with three consecutive losses, and on Tuesday night they’ll visit the Columbus Blue Jackets, who started the Flyers’ losing streak last week.
The Flyers, who most recently dropped consecutive home games to the Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars, will look to rebound in the same building where things started to unravel for them: Nationwide Arena.
The Flyers fell 5-2 at Columbus last Thursday, starting the slide in which they have been outscored 14-4.
“I’d be more upset with the loss if I felt they weren’t trying,” Philadelphia head coach John Tortorella said after the flat 5-1 defeat to the Stars. “You can boo us, you can talk (expletive) about us, but I will back those guys because they’re trying. If it was an effort problem, it’s a different story.”
The Flyers scuffled on special teams, going 0-for-6 on the power play and also allowing a short-handed goal to the Stars.
“Those are the things I have to coach,” Tortorella said. “Those are the things I have to be fair about when we’re trying to build this team. I’m very pleased with the effort.”
“The special teams really cost us the game today,” defenseman Ivan Provorov added. “I think five-on-five, we’re actually playing pretty good.”
The Flyers have scored two or fewer goals in six of the last seven games, and their 2.47 goals per game is 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 hurt against the Senators and sat out Sunday’s loss to Dallas.
The Blue Jackets are dealing with more than their share of injuries, too, and will look to rebound following Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss on the road to the New York Islanders.
“It’s a close 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 into overtime there and we got caught.”
Cole Sillinger scored the game’s first goal, but the Blue Jackets couldn’t hold 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2 leads.
“That’s frustrating,” Sillinger said. “I mean, we had a lot of 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 getting out of the zone.”
Marcus Bjork did register his first career goal and he’ll likely receive more playing time with the ailing roster.
Patrik Laine is the new significant addition — he’ll 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 for at least three more weeks and Nick Blankenburg (ankle) is not expected to return until Christmas. Zach Werenski (torn labrum) is out probably for the season.
Bjork spent four seasons playing in the Swedish Hockey League and was most recently with the Cleveland Monsters in the American Hockey League before the injuries forced a call-up.
“He’s got good poise with the puck,” Larsen said of Bjork, 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,” Bjork said of his goal.
–Field Level Media