Philadelphia Flyers: A Must Win for Flyers against visiting Lightning

The Philadelphia Flyers have started off poorly to begin 2017, after a 10-game winning streak was snapped in late December.

Dave Hakstol‘s bunch have lost five straight, after their last win on December 21st against Washington. Outscored 21-9 in their last five defeats, the goaltending has become a major issue while consistent scoring is also a problem.

The Flyers have scored a total of 12 goals in the last eight games, in which they have lost seven of those contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason has been called into extra duty this season, with Michal Neuvirth‘s injury problems. After winning eight out of the ten games during their lengthy winning streak, Mason has been in net for the last five losses. The 28-year-old has a save percentage of .908, and a G.A.A. of 2.82.

Neuvirth is expected to start Saturday against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning after coming back from a knee injury. He has not played since November 12th. Mason could return to goal on Sunday as Philly travels to Columbus, to face Mason’s former team.

Scoring has been another issue during this slide. After being one of the top-scoring teams in the league earlier this season, the Flyers have dropped to ninth in the league (2.9 goals per game). One of the league’s potent Power Play units have failed to continue its success earlier this season, seeing that ranking drop to seventh (22.0% success rate).

Players like Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Jake Voracek have struggled to find the back of the net during this poor run and that needs to change. After a 5-2 defeat vs New York on Wednesday, Hakstol could be changing the offensive lines for Saturday. According to insider Sam Carchidi, Hakstol shuffled every line but one during Friday’s practice in Voorhees.

Maybe a change of scenery between the lines could spark a resurgence to the offense. Tampa Bay, who sit at 42 points so far this season, have lost their last two games by a combined score of 12-5. Winger Nikita Kucherov (15 G, 23 A) leads the scoring, while defenseman Victor Hedman (7 G, 29 A) and centerman Tyler Johnson (12 G, 12 A)  have helped pick up the slack due to Steven Stamkos‘ absence.

But for the Flyers, tomorrow needs to be a win to stop the bleeding. The energy, focus, determination all has to be there from the first puck drop. With a tough game in Columbus on Sunday, they need to get it going. A win tomorrow helps the cause in the tough Eastern Conference, but a loss will continue to add pressure to the team and Hakstol.

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