That could be the orange in the uniforms of both teams, or perhaps it is the rust seeping through when the Philadelphia Flyers pay their only visit of the season to Anaheim to face the Ducks on Tuesday.
In six combined games for the Flyers and Ducks since the resumption of play following the extended holiday break, only the Flyers have recorded a victory and that came in overtime last Wednesday against the expansion Seattle Kraken.
Philadelphia will enter off consecutive road defeats to the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, the most recent of which was Saturday in a 6-3 thumping across town in Southern California. The defeat at Los Angeles ended a seven-game points streak.
The Flyers’ 11-day Christmas break has made them wobble a bit. They had just emerged from a 10-game losing streak to win four of five before games against the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins were postponed before the break.
That pre-Christmas run of success was fueled by the firing of head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coach Michel Therrien on Dec. 10. Now, interim head coach Mike Yeo has to keep Philadelphia from falling into old habits.
“We generated some opportunities, but I thought we gave them way too (many chances), obviously,” Yeo said about the loss to the Kings. “Playing on the road, you can’t be trying to score six goals to win a hockey game.”
Yeo showed his mathematical side against the Kings, turning a 5-on-3 advantage into a 6-on-3 early in the third period by pulling goalie Martin Jones. The ploy worked as Kevin Hayes scored to cut the deficit to 4-2, but the Kings scored again 8 1/2 minutes later.
“Obviously it’s a risk, but if you look at the analytics of being down 4-1 in a situation like that, you obviously have to take advantage of those opportunities,” Yeo said.
The Ducks’ emergence from an NHL doormat to playoff contender this season was rooted in the emergence of young players like Troy Terry and his team-leading 31 points (18 goals), as well as Trevor Zegras (25 points, eight goals) and Sonny Milano (22 points, eight goals).
But the break was hard on Anaheim as well. The Ducks first hit a bump in a 6-5 overtime defeat to the Arizona Coyotes before the pause, then returned with a three-game losing streak, the most recent of which was a 4-2 loss on Sunday at Colorado.
Zegras (COVID-19 protocol) has not played in any of the last three games, while veteran Ryan Getzlaf (22 points, two goals) went into protocol this past weekend. The Ducks are still waiting on the return of forward Adam Henrique (lower body) and Max Jones (upper body).
The Ducks did get back Cam Fowler (upper body) and Max Comtois (protocol) for Sunday’s game.
“We did a lot of things well against a good team, but we’re past the point of being satisfied with keeping it close,” Fowler said. “So, we have to figure out ways to get some better results. That’s why I was, well, not happy. But to see guys disappointed … it should hurt when you lose a game like that.”
–Field Level Media