The Flyers sorely miss Chris Pronger’s towering presence and mean streak. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
By Stu Hackel
They’re last season’s Eastern Conference champion and a Stanley Cup favorite now. They have seven 20-goal scorers in their lineup, and one more tally by Ville Leino will give them eight. They have great centers and a solid and deep defense corps. They have one of the game’s best young captains and a very good mix of youth and veterans. But the Flyers’ play in the last two months is not making an encouraging case for their chances of going far in the playoffs.
As The Globe and Mail’s fine columnist Roy MacGregor wrote last weekend, it’s always wise to not take too seriously any team that plays unusually well or unusually poorly in the last couple of weeks before the season ends. So it should be easy to dismiss Philadelphia’s play in its last 10 games, in which the Flyers have gained only nine of a possible 20 points. But the team’s struggles have gone on longer than 10 games.
On Feb. 17, the Flyers were atop the East with a seven point lead over second place Tampa Bay. Since then, they’ve gone 8-11-4, picking up just 20 of a possible 46 points, and they now trail the Capitals by four points for the top spot with the Bruins only two points behind. The Flyers have said that their big lead made them complacent and got them into bad habits that they’ve been unable to break. Or that they were so busy looking forward to the playoffs that they forgot about the present. Those are plausible reasons, although the Canucks certainly didn’t have that problem in the West. They just kept getting better.
“It will be a quick offseason if it keeps going the way it’s going,” forward Scott Hartnell told reporters this week (video)