December 02, 2022
John Tortorella wasn't kidding. To build the Flyers up, it's going to take time and pain. Lots of pain.
The moment of respite from ending the 10-game winless streak ended just as quickly as it began.
The Tampa Bay Lightning came into the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night and skated downhill from the second period on. Carter Hart, for the most part, stood on his head in goal but could only do so much, and there was little saving grace from having Travis Konecny and Tony DeAngelo back in the lineup.
The Flyers fell, 4-1, and went immediately back into the loss column.
The Lightning, with one of the most well-rounded and skilled rosters in the NHL, employed the exact same strategy that has helped lift them to the past three Stanley Cup Finals. They clogged up the neutral zone and methodically cycled the puck down low to wear down an inexperienced and way overmatched opponent.
At one point, the Flyers were caught and just straight up couldn't get off the ice for a change. The skaters, Ivan Provorov and Rasmus Ristolainen especially, were gassed after being stuck out there for minutes and never recovered.
"We never could change the momentum back after that one shift where they hemmed us in," Tortorella said. "We just didn't have the ability to change the momentum back our way. I don't think we played a bad first period, but after that shift, it was a mess."
Tampa Bay didn't score on that sequence, but it really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Nick Paul found the back of the net twice – with goal No. 2 notching an assist from captain Steven Stamkos and the celebration of his 1,000th NHL point – Ross Colton made it a 3-0 game in the dying seconds of the second, and Ian Cole scored off a flukey dump-in that bounced perfectly awkwardly off Carter Hart's pad and over the goal line in the third.
The Flyers were outshot 27-22 for the game, and an extremely lopsided 17-2 in the second period alone, as they dropped to 8-11-5 on the season and 1-6-3 in their last 10.
"We couldn’t gather ourselves," Tortorella said. "We didn’t have someone or a group to turn it around with a shift of our own. We just never got our feet underneath us after that one shift.
"It’s momentum swings and it’s a great lesson for us. A good team like that knows how to win coming off a loss. They seized that and once they had us, they kept pushing. We just could not get our feet underneath us from there."
They didn't know how to.
This was a Tampa Bay team that knows very well how to win against a Flyers squad that has no idea.
This was the Stanley Cup champions in two of the last three seasons against an organization that only just seems to be recognizing that it has to start from scratch.
This was a team that has become the gold standard in how to build an NHL franchise against a club that got booed off the ice, again, by the faint number of fans still left in the arena as the clock expired.
This was an embarrassment.
This was pain.
And in the short-term – New Jersey, Colorado, Washington, and Vegas are all on-deck in the next week – and long-term, there's much more of it ahead.
"We’ll have our practice, I already know how we’re going to go about our business at practice, and get ready to play against another very good team in Jersey," Tortorella said. "We’ve got some pretty good teams coming here. We've got to face it head-on.
"To me, what I want to watch now is how we handle ourselves after something like this because we’re embarrassed, and we should be. But how do you handle it? Do you curl up in a ball or do you face the next one head-on? Do we have a good practice tomorrow and get ready for our next one? These are lessons we’re going to go through, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to handle this the right way entering tomorrow."
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