Flyers
Eventually, somebody had to lose to the Sabres. And with how terrible the Flyers were all month, it’s not a surprise they were the ones to do it; the only surprise is how long it took to happen. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

What are we even doing here? The Philadelphia Flyers lose, because of course, they do, 6-1, to the Buffalo Sabres. Congrats Buffalo, you finally ran into a team that’s a bigger train wreck than you are. Enjoy the victory and avoiding the misery of passing the 2003-04 Penguins for the longest losing streak in the shootout era. You genuinely deserve to celebrate. Please do while I try to muster enough energy to rip the Flyers to shreds. Who just lost to one of the worst teams in recent NHL history by FIVE ACTUAL GOALS. AGAIN!

Perhaps the most frustrating part of tonight’s defeat is the Flyers started legitimately solid, with Sean Couturier hitting a post just ten seconds in. Of course, that was immediately followed by a bad line change that resulted in a Jeff Skinner breakaway. But the Flyers mostly settled down after that, generating some really nice looks and showing that they had moved past the embarrassing first two periods in Monday’s should’ve been loss.

If it were only that simple. Buffalo got another dangerous rush near the halfway mark of the period, and just as the Flyers defense stabilized, Reinhart settled the puck down and slung it off Justin Braun’s arm. A shot that was going six feet wide finds twine, giving Buffalo a 1-0 lead for the third time against the Flyers this year. Braun’s bad luck continued when his shot was blocked, sending the Sabres the other way with numbers. Braun got back in time to prevent Riley Sheahan from breaking in, but no one picked up the trailer. 2-0 Buffalo. Is this bad? It seems bad.

Flyers
Great defense, boys. Helluva back check.

At least the Flyers came out guns blazing to start the second. And their efforts were rewarded with an “anything you can do, I can do better” moment. Ivan Provorov wired a shot that could’ve gone in on its own but became unstoppable when it deflected off Brandon Montour. The first eleven shots of the period belonged to Philadelphia. And then Steven Fogarty buried his first NHL goal on the doorstep on one of the few shifts the Flyers got hemmed in on. On his next shift, he found Casey Mittelstadt with a Grand Canyon of space at the right circle. Yeah, it goes five-hole on Elliott, but for the love, what is this team even doing anymore?

They never even came close to tying it in the third. Brandon Montour iced the game with a short-handed empty-netter, then scored another short-hander on Lyon just 37 seconds later. A pathetic ending to a pathetic contest. If you can even call it that.

This draining, miserable month of March has finally come to an end, and with it, the Flyers’ hopes do, too. There’s a reason I left in all of the talks about the season being over yesterday; the comeback didn’t change of any that. Tonight’s loss only amplifies this message. This group is flawed beyond belief. It’s going to take at least an offseason of changes from Chuck Fletcher to fix things. I didn’t like the Ghost move, but at least they did something (even if Ghost is far from the main culprit here). The rest of this season is irrelevant unless you’re interested in the potential last rides of pending UFAs like Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl. There’s no point in not selling when your season is over with more than a month to go.

It’s the same issues that have plagued them all season. Inexcusable random defensive collapses. Goaltending incapable of bailing them out, often costing them games. Every little mistake snowballing into a multi-goal avalanche. Terrible lineup decisions by Alain Vigneault. Carsen Twarynski and Connor Bunnaman, man? I know Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick haven’t had amazing seasons, but that’s a weird way to respond to not having any offense for forty minutes last night. You do realize Erik Gustafsson is the lite version of Shayne Gostisbehere, right? How does Ghost go from playing 20+ minutes to sitting in the press box on a routine basis?

It’s a season that is defying logic, and not in a good way. Well, it was at first when the team started 8-3-2 despite being outshot and out-chanced to hell and back every night. But we’re way past the point of over-correction. This is another level of bad, not seen since the Flyers finished dead last in the league in 2006-2007. Will the lottery cause them to narrowly miss out on a generational talent again this year? Wait and see! Only twenty-one meaningless games of misery separate us from that moment. If these players want to stay in Philly, they better not treat them like they’re meaningless, of course. But as for this season?

Related note, since this game was a national broadcast: I miss Doc Emrick.
Didn’t forget about my promise to respond to this. I just don’t have the strength to do it tonight. Maybe Saturday.

Lindies

Obviously, the big story coming into this game was Shayne Gostisbehere being placed on waivers. He ultimately ended up clearing and was placed on the taxi squad before tonight’s game. Ghost is eligible to be shuttled between the roster and taxi squad/AHL endlessly in the next 10 games or 30 days, allowing the Flyers to save more cap space. That will be critical if Chuck Fletcher wants to add a defenseman (or anyone else) before the April 12 trade deadline. Though the way they’re playing, the only thing I’d add to the Flyers is a parental guidance warning.

Speaking of adding defenseman, one possible effect of waiving Ghost is now a reality. The Flyers announced just prior to puck drop they’ve signed defenseman Cam York to his three-year entry-level contract. The 14th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft was the Big Ten defenseman of the year at Michigan and captained Team USA to gold at the last World Junior Championship. A couple of strong AHL games (or the Flyers falling out of the race) could get him a look.

Five of Sam Reinhart’s thirteen goals this season have come against the Flyers. Just another Flyer killer, nothing to see here.

All three of Brandon Montour’s goals this year have come against the Flyers.

This stat genuinely blew my mind. Like I said Sabres fans, celebrate this: you so deserve to.

Here’s another terrible but mind-blowing stat. Playing 17 games inflates this a little, but not that much. Yikes.

Casey Mittelstadt’s goal ended a fifteen-game goal-less drought. Alex Lyon came in after that goal (Buffalo’s fourth) for his first NHL action since February 1, 2020. I’d like to see him start Saturday, because honestly, why not? He stopped nine of ten shots in relief tonight.

The way I see it, the Fogarty goal was worth it. Why? Because in his NHL debut on April 7, 2018, against the Flyers, Fogarty should’ve scored right his first NHL goal right here. This was the Flyers’ final game of that regular season, one they had to not lose in regulation to make the playoffs (they didn’t know that for sure at the time, but with Florida winning that night and the next day, those were the stakes). Seeing him score tonight against the Flyers sucks, but that’s a trade-off worth making. Not like this Flyers team is going anywhere close to where that mediocre team went, anyway.

Congrats to Phantoms (and former Flyers interim) head coach Scott Gordon on picking up his 400th AHL win tonight. 2020 1st round pick Tyson Foerster registered two goals and two assists in the 4-1 Phantoms victory.

The final numbers from this month of hell: 6-10-1 record, no more than two consecutive wins, a minus-18 goal differential in the first period, and a million wasted opportunities. And a multi-goal deficit in each of their three games against the Sabres. The tough schedule certainly didn’t help (the next two days is Philly’s first multi-day break since February 25-26), but that doesn’t explain all of *gestures vaguely at above stats.*

In my fall semester, the Flyers playoff run ended right before Notre Dame’s football season began. It was basically like the Flyers passed the torch to Notre Dame football, who beat #1 Clemson and made the College Football Playoff in an exciting 2020 season. Fitting the Flyers season dies (if it wasn’t already dead) the night before the Phillies’ season begins. I don’t have super high expectations for the Phils because of their division, but the roster seems Postseason caliber (albeit 6th-8th best in the NL). There’s plenty of great baseball coverage here at Vendetta, so make sure to check that out. I’ll have a 2021 Phillies equivalent of this article out tomorrow as well. Play ball!

3 Stars

3rd: Jacob Bryson (BUF) – 2 Assists (2, 3), 22:31 TOI

2nd: Brandon Montour (BUF) – 2 Goals (2, 3), 4 Shots, 20:11 TOI

1st: Steven Fogarty (BUF) – Goal (1), Assist (2)

Next

PHI – 4/3 @ NYI (22-10-4, L2)

BUF – 4/1 vs. NYR (16-15-4, W1)

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