They Flyers haven't been very good this season, and that has General Manager Ron Hextall feeling let down. He's not happy with team leadership right now:
"I think given the inconsistencies, I think it is something we have to evaluate. See where we think it is at. ... [L]eadership doesn’t come down to one guy anymore. Those days are gone. It’s a group. It’s typically, [your] older players. Middle-age guys can add to it. It’s five, six, seven guys on a team that typically depend on the bulk of your leadership. Not one guy or three guys for that matter."
I'm not sure if he's calling for more old farts in the locker room, but I don't think that'll help the Flyers' putrid 69.8 road penalty kill effectiveness. That's bad. Nearly 30% of the time, someone can score on the Flyers outside of Philly. Someone draw a penalty or ten tonight, will you?
R.J. Umburger especially is feeling pretty crappy. The recent scratch has just 15 points on the season while the guy who was sent to Columbus, Scott Hartnell, has 43. From The Morning Call:
"I think the biggest thing that’s bothering me is that I feel like I’ve let (Flyers GM Ron) Hextall down,’’ Umberger said after the morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. "He believed in me, bringing me here.
Of course, the fact that Umberger was acquired in exchange for a player who was popular with teammates, fans and media has simply made the situation worse.
Is he feeling any added pressure from that?
"I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,’’ Umberger said. "I know what kind of guy Hartnell was in the locker room – how all these guys enjoyed having him here, the success he’s had.
"He’s done well in Columbus so yeah, when things aren’t going well there’s added pressure.’’
Any time we as fans worry about how the Blues react to tough stretches, we should feel secure that the team doesn't sit around in the locker room in the dark listening to The Cure like the Flyers apparently do. To be fair, I'd be doing that too if I were on a team where Claude Giroux only had two goals in his last 20 games, and Jakub Voracek had three in his last 25.
With Jay Bouwmeester's return tonight, the Blues should be in much better shape defensively. They just need to take advantage of a very weak, very down Flyers team whose GM still believes that they can make the playoffs if only they'd be workin' on their fitness. They're nine points out of the last wild card spot in the East and are 4-4-2 in their last ten. They're stuck in a three game losing streak. They need more than gym time.
The Blues are 19-7-2 against the East and are still two points behind the Nashville Predators. While the Blues are playing the Flyers tonight, the Preds are in San Jose playing a Sharks team who is fighting for their playoff lives. Tonight would be a good time for the Blues to go to bed at the top of the Central.