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A poor start and too many defensive laps doomed the post-deadline Flyers, who look a lot like the bad pre-deadline Flyers. (Paul Sancya / AP Photo)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 63: PHI 3, DET 6 – Sonk Cost

A poor start and too many defensive laps doomed the post-deadline Flyers, who look a lot like the bad pre-deadline Flyers. (Paul Sancya / AP Photo)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 63: PHI 3, DET 6 – Sonk Cost

Talk about putting the dead in deadline. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 6-3, for the second time this year to the Detroit Red Wings. Yes, two empty-net goals by Detroit made the final score look a bit more lopsided. But the Flyers’ level of play, especially out of the gates, hardly warranted them being close late in the game.

The first viewing of the “new look” Flyers, which are basically the same Flyers as we’ve seen the last two games but a little worse around the edges, felt more like a comedy act than a hockey game. Who was the Flyers’ first-line center Tuesday? Maybe Kevin Connauton. Perhaps Joel Farabee. Maybe no one. Or maybe just all of the above. Unsurprisingly, they were down 2-0 less than ten minutes in. Carter Hart didn’t even see one of them. Keith Yandle and Nick Seeler blew tires at random moments. James van Riemsdyk ripped a Cody Ceci-Esque one-timer that barely hit the area of the glass behind the goal-line. “I gave them three goals, and it cost us the game,” said Rasmus Ristolainen, two weeks removed from receiving $25.5 million over half a decade.

It’s not everything went against the Flyers; after all, they were within a goal in the third period, as they are just about every night. The Flyers scored their first goal 25 seconds after falling behind 3-0 when the Red Wings gifted them a 3-on-0. Yes, Kevin Hayes’ backdoor saucer pass could’ve easily hopped Farabee’s stick and turned into the blooper of all bloopers. But it didn’t. A few minutes after that embarrassing miss, van Riemsdyk actually scored on a one-timer. Hart delivered another solid performance, one at least much better than the numbers show. As it has been all season, it’s not that there aren’t bright spots in Philadelphia’s play. The gaps between them are just far too wide to establish any type of consistent success or momentum.

Yet perhaps the lowest point of the game came late in the second, the Flyers having scored two straight goals to pull within one. The Flyers were only about a minute away from reaching the locker room a shot away from being equal. But then Dylan Larkin cut across the slot, froze the Flyers defense, and found Jakub Vrána for a wide-open one-timer that became his second goal of the game. It took a game that felt within reach and put Detroit comfortably in the driver’s seat. In fact, van Riemsdyk’s late goal ensured this wound up as the game-winner.

The problem right now isn’t that the Flyers aren’t making plays like this. It’s not that the coaches aren’t telling to make excellent plays like this. Or that the players don’t want to. It’s that the Flyers simply can’t. They don’t have the talent to do it.

Just look at the Flyers lineup right now if you can stomach it. van Riemsdyk had been ice cold until his goal and does most of his damage from close to the net. Cam Atkinson is too trigger-happy to make a play like Larkin’s. Sean Couturier is out. Claude Giroux is gone. No one else is even close to that caliber of player. Morgan Frost has the raw tools to be at that level one day, but he hasn’t even established himself as a full-time NHLer. The only two exceptions might be Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny. The former had to be more focused on learning an entirely different position than making highly creative plays. That leaves Konecny, who can make that play but was billed as the guy who could finish plays like this. He has scored five goals in the last three months.

This has been a problem that has haunted the Flyers for far too long. They had players who could make plays like that in their prime. But weren’t able to surround two of the best pure playmakers of the 2010s in Giroux and Jake Voráček with a true sniper. Wayne Simmonds was a great goal-scorer but didn’t have the pure “score from anywhere” ability that would’ve maximized Giroux and Voráček’s primes. Nor were they able to build a defense that made up for that shortcoming. The team underwent a retool in the mid-2010s that was supposed to produce those talents. And just look at how far the Flyers have come since exactly five years ago.

How it started…
https://twitter.com/PodStreetGove/status/1506419125966589965
…how it’s going.

Oh.

That realization is probably the most disappointing part of the post-trade deadline Flyers. The deadline is supposed to provide hope for everyone. Contending teams should be looking forward to the playoffs, of course. But even bad teams should have the hope of new picks and prospects that should bring them closer to addressing their flaws. The Flyers technically did that, hauling in three picks, including a first-rounder, plus a former first-round pick in Owen Tippett.

But for what they gave, it’s hard not to feel underwhelmed. How much value does a first-round pick from an outstanding, young team three drafts from now really have? Tippett’s odds of ever being a key piece on a Cup contender seem pretty low. A third and fourth-round pick isn’t going to move the needle. And it’s not like the team cleared cap space beyond 2022. At the end of the day (that day being Monday, the trade deadline), the Flyers aren’t significantly closer to having a brighter future. That also makes the present a lot tougher to watch — and puts a lot more weight on an already pressure-packed offseason.

Lindies

Just before the trade deadline, the Flyers made two paper transactions, sending Cam York and Max Willman to the Phantoms. Those moves ensure both players are eligible to play in the AHL playoffs should the Phantoms make it. Lehigh Valley is currently six points back of a spot but with a game in hand. However, since teams are only allowed four post-deadline call-ups, the Flyers have obviously used two of theirs. So at least two of Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison, Isaac Ratcliffe, and Egor Zamula won’t be able to play in the NHL this season — unless the Flyers are in a position where they can make emergency call-ups to injuries or suspensions.

While it wasn’t as noteworthy as Claude Giroux’s ceremony, the Red Wings honored Marc Staal for playing in his 1,000th NHL game. He and brothers Eric and Jordan are the first trio of brothers to reach the milestone. Also, his former teammates Kevin Hayes and Keith Yandle were part of the festivities.

Try to temper your enthusiasm, but there’s a lot of Flyers hockey coming up. The team has five games in their next eight days, including three in the next four. Three of their remaining games in March start after 8:00 PM or later.

Here’s a recap on what the Flyers, Red Wings, and everyone else did on (and leading up to) deadline day.

Tuesday was just the eighth time all season the Red Wings have scored multiple first-period goals; their 40 entering the game all season was 31st in the NHL. To be honest, it’s not all that surprising that it’s not the first time they’ve done it against the Flyers this season.

3 Stars

3rd: Joel Farabee (PHI) – Goal (13), Assist (16), 3 Shots

2nd: Jakub Vrána (DET) – 2 Goals (4, 5), 3 Shots

1st: Marc Staal (DET) – Honored for 1,000 GP, Assist (10), 20:27 TOI

Next

PHI: 3/24, 8 PM @ STL (34-18-9, L1)

DET: 3/24, 7:30 PM vs. NYI (26-25-9, L1)

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