January 1 csnphilly.com:
ANAHEIM – Chris Pronger’s absence on defense is becoming more alarming as each game passes for the Flyers.
In the five games Pronger has missed while recovering from a foot fracture, opposing teams have scored 21 goals. Count ‘em!
You don’t win in the National Hockey League allowing four-plus goals a game.
“I agree,” said a visibly angry Coach Peter Laviolette after another ugly defeat, this one 5-2 to the Ducks on Friday night at Honda Center.
It’s not entirely on the Flyer goalies, either. The team’s overall defensive effort is shoddy.
“I don’t like the way we played,” Laviolette said. “The start of the second period was nonchalant. We got more desperate in the third period.”
Sergei Bobrovsky was making his first start in net since losing 5-0 against Florida on Dec. 20.
“His turn,” Laviolette said, echoing the famous words of Fred Shero.
Now goalie coach Jeff Reese said Thursday it was important that BOB have a quality game in his next start to get himself back into a groove. What Reese couldn’t foresee was the mayhem and sloppiness in front of his rookie goalie.
“We didn’t give him good support and … I’m sorry if I’m really short, I’m just really pissed off right now,” said Danny Briere, who along with team captain Mike Richards was minus-three.
Bobrovsky’s teammates failed him miserably.
“Our coverages haven’t been good and even in the L.A. game it wasn’t like it was a well-oiled win,” Sean O’Donnell said. “The last four games, even before Christmas, we’ve been doing things we weren’t doing in the first 30-35 games.
“We’re not tight in the neutral zone, we’re not tight in our own end and you’re seeing the results. There’s too many good teams in the league where if you give them scoring chances from key areas, they’re going to score and that’s what is happening to us.”
Is Pronger making that much of an overall difference?
“Chris is a great friend of mine and this team needs him, but this is the whole team right now, not just as if one D-pairing is struggling without him. We’re all struggling. We didn’t have Chris the first two games of the year and won.
“We can play well. This is too good a team with one player out for us to be struggling this badly. We’re in a funk right now. We need to tighten up and get out of it.”
Sure, the Flyers fought back from a three-goal deficit to make it a 3-2 game in the third period on Jeff Carter’s 16th goal at 3:30. South Jersey’s Bobby Ryan got it right back off a turnover in the slot two minutes later.
“I don’t know what’s wrong,” Richards said. “It seems like we don’t have the same confidence with the puck and our positional play had led to people turning pucks over and tonight, they were very opportunistic on their chances.”
Jason Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky each had two goals.
“They had some guys finishing checks right from the first shift,” O’Donnell said. “Bobby Ryan, Jason Blake, guys like that. You know when guys like that are hitting, they got a message from their coach that they are here to play.
“Teams get up for the Philadelphia Flyers. We came in tonight, we’re one of the top teams in the league and we’re getting every team’s best game every night. We have to bring it. … There’s too many good teams in the league where if you don’t bring you’re ‘A’ game, you’re not going to win.”
Anaheim consistently had better rushes up ice in the opening period that had the Flyers back-peddling. Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller’s outlet pass to Toni Lydman found Blake streaking through the neutral zone against Oskars Bartulis.
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