Instead of catching a boost from the holiday spirit, the Flyers fell into a turkey coma and were once again thoroughly outplayed by a superior Hurricanes team en route to their fifth straight loss. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 19: CAR 6, PHI 3 – Black Eye Of The Storm

Yeah, this one isn’t going to be positive. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 6-3, to the Carolina Hurricanes. Good news: the Flyers scored three goals in the first 59 minutes of a game for the first time since October 27. Bad news: basically everything else, from 5-on-5 to the power-play to even Carter Hart’s performance. It was a more miserable Black Friday experience than waking up at 4 AM to camp out in front of a Walmart for slightly larger discounts than you’ll find at any point over the next month.

That’s not an exaggeration right now. The Flyers have lost a season-long five straight games, and there’s not enough to assure this swoon is an aberration. Teams can go cold in the win column and still play well. That’s not what the Flyers are doing right now. Carolina won the expected goals battle in every period today. The Flyers have been outshot and out-chanced in every game of the skid by drastic margins; Philadelphia hasn’t cleared the 45% mark, the bar that separates being truly horrible from just really bad in any of their recent losses. Their goaltending is regressing from the team-saving standard it was setting early in the season.

It just feels like everything is off. The Flyers led three separate times on Friday, including scoring just 50 seconds in on their second goal by a defenseman since October 18, their second game of the season. Yet the Hurricanes were quick to respond every time, either with immediate sustained pressure or a goal directly after the Flyers tallied. While the Flyers were busy hitting posts (Cam Atkinson) and failing to score on wide-open nets (Travis Sanheim, though he was being practically mauled while doing so) or not capitalizing on a 2-on-0 (Connor Bunnaman, who was called up to replace Max Willman today), the Hurricanes just went about their business with perfectly placed shots and tic-tac-toe passing plays that as bad of a Flyers team defense as we’ve seen all season had no answers for.

Whenever the Flyers find an answer, it always seems like two or three new questions pop up. I’ve been following the Flyers since 2014, and I have asked thousands of questions about this team. So many different issues have torpedoed various seasons. So many others have prevented the team from creating the foundation of a Stanley Cup contender. Some of them led to Carolina taking it to the Flyers for the vast majority of today’s game. Other questions played a factor in the outcome, too. Nothing seems to work for long, and whatever is working seemingly never matches up with what isn’t. It’s kept the team from finding their footing for far too long and has them sliding down a slippery slope that nobody wants to know lies at the end of.

There are lots of bad teams in the NHL right now. But being bad isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Arizona Coyotes, for instance, expected to be bad. The Coyotes have a plan in place with an end goal of not being bad. Being bad helps this season that plan move along. Will it work? That’s a difficult question to answer. After all, the Coyotes had the same plan six years ago, and it bore almost no results. The same goes for the Buffalo Sabres. They are very bad, but they’re ok with that because they see it as a building block.

If the Flyers are truly a bad team, whether that means lottery contender or just bad enough to miss the playoffs without much drama, they won’t be one of those teams. All of the moves the team made in the offseason were designed to finally push them out of the prison of mediocrity the team has been locked in for almost all of the last decade. Yet right now, the bars look bigger than ever.

I understand the injuries. I understand the fact the Flyers have played eleven of their first nineteen games against the top eight teams in the NHL. But the Flyers are starting to run out of time. Struggles like these were one thing during Ron Hextall’s regime when the team was more focused on accumulating prospects and cap space than contending. The Flyers never tried to be actively bad under Hextall, but they rarely tried to be all that good, either. And that was ok because that was part of the plan to be good one day.

Today is supposed to be “one day.” The current plan is for the Flyers to be good. Right now, they aren’t. Trades and firings don’t happen just when you lose. Those things only happen when plans fail. The 2021-22 Flyers report card is far from set in the stone, but they are trending in the wrong direction. And waiting for the schedule to ease up and their injuries to subside isn’t a valid answer.

Lindies

If it seemed like I made a concerted effort to talk about this game as little as possible, it’s because I’m back home from college on Thanksgiving break and just don’t want to deal with the negativity. Whether the Flyers turn it around soon or not, I feel like I can do a better job discussing the specifics of the team’s games; I’ll try to get back into that mode on Sunday.

The Flyers officially activated Zayde Wisdom off Season Opening IR yesterday after he missed the first two months of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. In a bit of a surprising move, the Flyers sent Wisdom back to the OHL to play for the Kingston Frontenacs. It’s surprising because of how well Wisdom played last year in the AHL as an eighteen-year-old, scoring 18 points in 28 games.

Philadelphia’s backend scored nearly as many goals today (2) as it had the first eighteen games of the year (3). Congratulations to Rasmus Ristolainen on scoring his first in Philly today, a blistering 97 MPH slapshot that beat Antti Raanta clean short side.

This was the Flyers’ first regulation loss to the Hurricanes since April 6, 2019, a 4-3 loss at home to wrap up the disappointing 2018-19 season. Hopefully, this season has a much happier finish.

A few days before that loss, Carolina qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and has been one of the league’s premier teams ever since. Much like the Flyers, Carolina spent a decade stuck spinning their wheels before finally breaking through. Like the Flyers, ping pong balls awarded them a number two overall pick. Carolina’s selection (Andrei Svechnikov) scored today. Of course, the Flyers’ choice, Nolan Patrick, is long gone. That’s not the only separation between the two teams, but it certainly makes a difference.

Another big difference between these two teams? Depth. The Flyers’ bottom two lines posted an atrocious 26.7% Expected Goals rate and were outscored 3-0. Carolina’s third line was actually gashed similarly from a territorial standpoint, but both they and the Canes’ fourth line found twine.

All of Svechnikov, Jesper Fast, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi snapped long droughts with their goals today because that’s just what always seems to happen to the Flyers.

Yes, it came in defeat, but man, Joel Farbaee’s short-handed goal in the first period truly was something special. Make it two goals in two games for Farabee since I said he needed a reset in the press box. If he can back to first-week form, it would really help the Flyers solve their offensive woes.

Check out the status of the Flyers’ next opponent, the somewhat surprisingly solid New Jersey Devils.

The general rule of thumb is that 12-13 teams in playoff spots on Thanksgiving finish the season in one (maybe 11 in a particular chaotic season). The Flyers have been in that group just once since 2011-20 (2019-20). That means they’ll try to win the uphill battle for the fifth time in the last decade.

3 Stars

3rd: Antti Raanta (CAR) – 20 Saves

2nd: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (CAR) – Goal (4), Assist (2)

1st: Sebastian Aho (CAR) – 2 Goals (9, 10), 7 Shots, 54% Faceoffs

Next

CAR: 11/28, 1 PM vs. WSH (12-3-5, W1)

PHI: 11/28, 7 PM @ NJ (8-5-4, OTL1)

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All Advanced Stats are 5-on-5 unless otherwise stated and via Natural Stat Trick