Devils visit Flyers, take nine-game losing streak to Philly

NHL Hockey

As the Philadelphia Flyers continue to careen out of the playoff race, so has their offense.

In their first 28 games, the Flyers averaged 3.3 goals per game. In the last 19, they’ve scored 2.1 goals per game.

That’s quite a dropoff.

The Flyers (21-19-7, 49 points) will look to reverse the trend in the final nine games of the season when they host the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

“A lack of confidence,” said forward Scott Laughton, who has gone 23 games without a goal. “It seems like when we have a play, it bounces off our stick. We have to figure it out. It’s been a tough stretch, but we have to work through this.”

Laughton even tried to change the momentum with a rare fight in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Friday. In the second period, Laughton tangled with Kevin Rooney, but the fracas didn’t ultimately help the Flyers.

“You have to try to change a little bit of the momentum, but it didn’t work,” Laughton said.

The Flyers haven’t scored more than three goals in 13 consecutive games and 18 of the past 19.

“They’re probably fighting it a little bit,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said of the scoring drought. “But (Friday) we had some great, great looks to come back in this game and just couldn’t find the back of the net.”

Goaltender Carter Hart has been plagued by a lower body injury so Brian Elliott and Alex Lyon split the back-to-back games against the Rangers.

Vigneault intimated that Elliott likely would start against the Devils.

The skidding Devils will hope to avoid a 10th straight loss.

Their ninth consecutive defeat was a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

As a result, the Devils’ record dropped to 14-27-6, good for 34 points. Not that long ago, they were at least competitive.

“We’re a team right now that needs big saves on big mistakes,” Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. “We haven’t gotten them and it’s been hard on us. At the same time, we have to narrow the margin on mistakes we’re making.”

Early deficits have been especially troublesome. On Saturday, they trailed 2-0 in the first and never recovered.

“You can’t win a lot of games early. But you can help set the tone,” Ruff said. “We’ve helped a lot of other teams set the tone for the game.”

What has to change?

“Pucks in deep, manage the puck, 200-foot game. Simple as that,” Ruff said. “We get the puck, we get it behind them, we get it below the goal line, we put them under pressure. Then it’s just details after that for me.”

Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood did return from an upper body injury to record 33 saves against the Penguins. Blackwood, who had been out the previous two games, looked sharp for most of the game with a number of stellar saves.

The Devils must produce more offense to take the pressure off the goaltender.

“Offensively, trying to use our speed and making good decisions when we hit the line,” Ruff said. “Getting inside and battling for the first opportunity, but more importantly is getting there and trying to look for the second opportunity. It’s really important that in all three zones we have a detailed effort.”

–Field Level Media

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