The Flyers handed out hot-off-the-press 2018 calendars to all fans before Tuesday’s game against the Penguins.
They should have given one to each player, too.
If they did, maybe it would have reminded the players that it is a new year, and the new year is as good a time as any to ditch bad habits for good ones.
Rather than start fresh, though, the Flyers reverted to their 2017 form of inconsistency in the first contest of 2018 and displayed the mind-boggling pattern of playing poorly after a strong game.
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Fresh off a 5-3 win on the road last Friday over the Lightning, who lead the NHL in points, the Flyers surrendered four goals, including two from the Penguins fourth line, in less than three minutes in the second period during an ugly 5-1 home loss.
Instead of leapfrogging the Penguins in the standings, the Flyers (16-15-8) fell three points behind them and remain in the basement of the Metropolitan Division.
“It’s obviously very frustrating, especially with the magnitude of the game,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “This is a great opportunity for us to gain some ground. Obviously, it wasn’t the result we wanted or the effort, for that matter.”
The results and effort have been hot and cold all season, and especially on their recently-completed four-game road trip.
In back-to-back games before Christmas, the Flyers lost 4-3 to the lowly Sabres only to bounce back 24 hours later with a spirited performance in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets.
“I think we had a real good effort from our lineup,” coach Dave Hakstol told reporters after the Columbus game. “Obviously, we weren’t happy with the result or overall how things went for us [against Buffalo], but I think [against Columbus] you can flip that around the exact opposite. We had real good efforts from everyone in the lineup.”
Then, in another set of back-to-backs before new year’s, they were listless in a 3-2 loss to the dismal Panthers but returned to knock off the Lightning the next night.
Bad. Good. Bad. Good.
Save for a few stretches this season, even during their 10-game losing streak and six-game winning streak, this is how it has gone for the Flyers – and the main reason why they are on the outside of the playoff picture.
As for which team will show up on Thursday when the Islanders visit is anyone’s guess – including the players.
“If I had the answer, we wouldn’t be doing it,” goalie Brian Elliott said of the team’s inconsistency. “We have to work our way out of it.”