Flyers goalie Michael Neuvirth’s magical start to the season came to a crashing halt during a 4-0 loss to the Avalanche on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The backup netminder allowed a soft goal less than a minute into the game, fumbled and fought the puck all night and gave up way too many juicy rebounds.
Yet, it’s difficult to get too upset with Neuvirth’s off-night.
It was his first bad game of the season after racing off to a blazing first season with the Flyers. He entered the game ranked fourth in the league in goals against at 1.81, third in save percentage at .945 and became the first Flyers goalie in franchise history to record three shutouts in his first seven starts of a season.
So, yeah, Neuvirth, who also leads the league in shutouts, gets a deserved pass.
The Flyers’ offense, on the other hand, gets nothing.
The forwards have been maddeningly nonexistent pretty much the entire season and Tuesday’s performance has become the rule – and not the exception. Save for a five-goal outburst against the Bruins, they have failed to score more than three goals in any other game, been held to one goal seven times and were held without a goal for the first time all season against the Avs.
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Averaging 1.80 goals a contest, they are ranked 29th in the NHL behind only the Anaheim Ducks. Need a scapegoat to blame their 5-7-3 record on? Look no further than the offense.
“We need to play better together, support each other and play as a team,” said captain Claude Giroux, whose squad returned home following a dismal 1-3-1 road trip that started in Buffalo and ran through Canada. “When we support each other on the ice, I think that’s what makes our job a lot easier so we’re not playing by ourselves out there.”
And just about everyone is guilty. Jakub Voracek, who tallied 22 goals last season, is still searching for his first goal, while Wayne Simmonds, last year’s leading scorer with 28, and Michael Raffl have a combined three. Brayden Schenn leads the team with five and Claude Giroux has four.
They had trouble getting out of their own zone against the Avs, connecting on passes, building any consistent attack and didn’t register their 10th shot until 7:05 was left in the second period. And this was against a team that had lost four of its last five games and arrived in Philly at 4-9-1.
Now, they have to try and generate some offense on Thursday against the Capitals, who are 10-4 and have allowed just 32 goals. Expect Steve Mason to likely return in net but considering the support he and Neuvirth have been receiving all season, it doesn’t really matter who is between the pipes.
“We’re frustrated,” winger Ryan White said. “Everyone in here cares [but] but we’re just not playing well enough. That’s the bottom line.”