Are players thinking about outside factors as Flyers sink near bottom of NHL?

John Boruk
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Are players thinking about outside factors as Flyers sink near bottom of NHL? originally appeared on nbcsportsphiladelphia.com

WASHINGTON - Two weeks from now, the Flyers will be on a beach, a mountainside chalet or in a remote area where they can't be contacted.

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Wherever they venture off during their league-mandated bye week, it will likely be far from hockey to escape the spiraling abyss that has become their nightmarish season.

Then again, one can argue this team has yet to return from a three-day holiday break as it has failed to win a game during the post-Christmas portion of its schedule, now 0-6-2 following Tuesday night's 5-3 disappointment to the Capitals (see observations).

What appeared to be a solid start in Washington quickly evolved into a disastrous second period, when the Flyers have now been outscored 15-1 over those past eight games. Against the Caps, it was their dreadful downfall as they surrendered three unanswered goals.

"Second period came and we just stopped skating," Jakub Voracek said. "They locked us in the zone a couple of times, which is going to happen. They're one of the best teams in the league. Absolutely takes the wind out of us. How many times has that happened over the past few games where that second period was the worst of them all? Too many times."

Before Tuesday's game in Washington, interim head coach Scott Gordon indicated some players appeared to be thinking about issues not related to the game itself or the job in hand. 

"There's a lot of things going on in a lot of heads," Gordon said. "Sometimes it's their own personal successes and failures. Sometimes it can be contracts, sometimes it can be who you are playing on any given night."

Afterward, Sean Couturier was asked about Gordon's quote and while Couturier didn't agree with the coach's assessment, he didn't dismiss the idea either.  

"I don't know. I can't really talk for other guys," Couturier said. "I don't know if it is, or if it's not. It seems every night we have some guys off or we don't have everyone going at the same time. We need to start looking at ourselves in the mirror. Maybe some guys are thinking about it. I don't know."

If the Flyers can't find 60 minutes of undivided focus between Thursday's home game against the Stars and that final game in Montreal on Jan. 19 heading into the bye week, this team will establish a new standard for winless hockey.

Five more regulation/overtime/shootout losses will surpass the franchise's all-time winless standard set by the 1998-99 Flyers, who went 0-8-4 from late February to late March.

Of course, the Flyers likely wouldn't be in this situation if it wasn't for the NHL record they matched Tuesday night as they started their seventh different goaltender - a dubious accomplishment established by the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques. 

Mike McKenna had a front-row seat to what Flyers meltdown mode really looks like.

"You just try to get your bearings a little bit and sort things out, but hockey is hockey," McKenna said. "It definitely wasn't my best game."

Welcome to the club, Mike. You're already fitting right in.

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