The Philadelphia Flyers’ position atop the Eastern Conference has become tenuous rather quickly. A meeting with the lowly Edmonton Oilers may not provide the relief they’re looking for, as Edmonton hasn’t lost to Philadelphia in nearly a decade.
Philadelphia (40-19-6) has dropped four in a row, including a 7-0 rout at the New York Rangers on Sunday. That losing streak has seen the Flyers’ lead in the East shrink from eight points to two over Pittsburgh and Northeast Division-leading Boston.
“We’re at the stage now where it’s a test of our character,” defenseman Chris Pronger(notes) said. “We’re facing some adversity and we’ve got to show our mettle here and understand it’s going to take some hard work to get out of it and get everybody on the same page.
“We are still in a good position, but I don’t think anybody in this locker room is happy with the way we’re playing right now.”
A meeting with the Western Conference-worst Oilers (23-35-8) would appear to be a good way for Philadelphia to avoid its first five-game slide since last March 20-27. However, the Flyers haven’t beaten them in seven tries since a 4-2 win at Edmonton on March 19, 2001, losing six meetings and tying the other.
Their losing streak in the series reached five with a 1-0 road defeat Feb. 3, 2010.
Philadelphia has dropped four straight at home to Edmonton since a victory Nov. 9, 2000.
The Oilers have also won seven of 10 overall, including three in a row. They opened their five-game road trip Saturday with a 5-1 victory at Colorado.
Potentially getting Carter back could provide a needed spark for Philadelphia, which has totaled six goals over its last four games. The right wing has 12 goals and nine assists in his last 21 games, but has missed two of the last three with the flu.
Headed towards a fifth consecutive season out of the playoffs, the Oilers are already preparing for 2011-12.
“It’s good for us to face teams like this If we want to be a playoff team come next year we have to make sure we come through places like Philadelphia and have success,” coach Tom Renney told the team’s official website.
Sam Gagner(notes) has three goals and six assists over his last 10 games, including one goal and two assists Saturday. The scoring burst has given Gagner 42 points to tie Taylor Hall(notes) and Ales Hemsky(notes) for the team lead. He’ll likely pass both of them soon. Hall is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, while Hemsky’s status is unclear due to an ailing shoulder.
Gagner has an assist in each of his last three games versus Philadelphia.