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by Hayden Downer (8th)

“Fumbling the bag.” I’m sure you’ve heard of it. According to Urban Dictionary it means, “To miss out on a chance to make money or mess something up in the process of getting money, causing you to not be able to get said money.”

Philly teams are no stranger to this lately. Eagles, Union, Sixers, wherever. However, the Philadelphia Flyers may just have the most egregious example of bag-fumblery since the British lost the revolutionary war.

I’ll just be blunt. The Flyers haven’t won a hockey game in three weeks outside of this past weekend winning a 1-0 matchup against the Devils. Philly looked like a sure bet for at least a wild card spot in mid-March, however they have dropped seven in a row and look like a completely different team from the version of the Flyers we saw for the first 5 months of the season. But what’s causing this?

It’s not an easy issue to spot with the untrained eye. 

Let’s start with more obvious problems. The goaltending has just been horrendous. In the absence of goaltender Carter Hart due to off-ice issues, the netminding over the last month has been abysmal. The Flyers have allowed a whopping 4.18 goals per game since the beginning of March, making it extremely hard for the offense to keep up. Sam Ersson started off his tenure with Flyers extremely hot but has been a bona fide sieve since Carter Hart’s season abruptly ended. Besides Ersson’s recent struggles, backups Cal Peterson and Ivan Fedotov have also struggled to make a difference so far this season. The Broad Street Bullies have had the second worst save percentage in the league since their 7-game losing streak began at .890, only marginally better than the basement-dwelling Ottawa Senators.

It’s an unfortunate reality for a team that looked poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2020. The magic dust has just worn off for this team. Star players like Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier have been underwhelming, and rookies like Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink – both of which had impressed in the early part of the season – have been radio silent for months.

Off the ice, coach John Tortarella has also found himself in hot water. Not just with the fans – with the league itself. Tortorella got himself into an altercation with a referee that eventually spiraled into a two-game suspension and a fine. Funnily enough, this was celebrated by most fans as they believe he was “keeping up the Philly identity”. Identity or not, the Flyers haven’t truly played like themselves since this incident, as their aforementioned losing streak began in the weeks following the scuffle.

Like it or not, this can’t be passed off as a normal occurrence. This is an embarrassing showing from a team that had looked so good all year. With the Flyers’ playoff hopes all but over, the blame train will surely be coming around the Wells Fargo Center this spring. Hopefully, this will be a lesson to the team, the front office, and most importantly, John Tortorella, that “It ain’t over till’ it's over.”

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