Slumping Flyers try to cool off red-hot Islanders

NHL

The slumping Philadelphia Flyers will hope to avoid a third loss in four games when they host the New York Islanders on Monday.

Defensive breakdowns plagued the Flyers once again as they were trounced 6-1 by the Islanders on Saturday.

“It has to stop,” Travis Konecny said of turnovers and allowing a plethora of goals. “It has to be fixed now because it just can’t continue. It’s hard to play that way.”

Standout Sean Couturier was a late scratch with a lower-body injury, and his status is unclear for this critical game.

Without Couturier’s leadership, the Flyers struggled, especially on defense. Turnovers in their own zone have continued a troubling trend.

When you’re playing quality opponents, turnovers will ultimately lead to losses. The Flyers rank 30th in the league in goals allowed at 3.55 per game. Only the Ottawa Senators are giving up more.

“I think it’s just sloppy plays right now,” defenseman Erik Gustafsson said. “We’ve got to be better. That means me, too. I’ve got to make plays tape-to-tape.”

The Flyers, who are 4-7-0 in March, must find a way to regroup.

“It didn’t seem like it was right at the beginning; we didn’t have a lot of energy,” Philadelphia head coach Alain Vigneault said of Saturday’s setback. “We’re just gonna have to, you know, re-energize (Sunday) and get ready for our next game against these guys on Monday.”

Getting out to a lead would also take pressure off goaltenders Carter Hart and Brian Elliott, who are both struggling.

“Definitely puts a lot of pressure on us to try to chase games,” Konecny said. “That’s definitely not the way we want to play.”

The red-hot Islanders, meanwhile, will be looking for their 13th win in the last 16 games.

Casey Cizikas scored two goals to lead the six-goal outburst on Saturday.

“We were moving our feet, we were getting in on the forecheck, we were making it hard on their D,” Cizikas said. “We were moving the puck quick, and when we did have breakdowns, (Ilya) Sorokin made some huge saves at some key times.”

Anthony Beauvillier continued his torrid play with another goal in a solid all-around performance on both ends of the ice. His contribution was huge again in a balanced effort.

“We’ve said it for a couple of years, our depth up front and the back end has been really good,” Beauvillier said. “A lot of guys have been stepping in the lineup and doing the job. It’s really good for us especially without Leesy (captain Anders Lee) in the lineup. It’s part of our identity and we showed it again.”

The Islanders received a major boost from defenseman Thomas Hickey, who had a pair of assists in his first game with the team since the playoffs in 2019. Hickey had been dealing with a personal problem as well as a variety of injuries.

“It’s a lot more exhausting than trying to stay physically ready, trying to keep your head in,” Hickey said of the mental challenge. “You wonder, and doubt creeps in. I’m proud of the work I put in. I’ve got a great support system and that helps and support from my teammates.”

–Field Level Media

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