Breaking down the Bullies: Third-period meltdowns

Bad Coburn

The Flyers have spent far too much time in the box in the third period… Pic c/o Amy Irvin

When the Flyers take the ice against Pittsburgh later this week, they might have a much different mindset than that of about month prior versus Winnipeg. With the team likely to be in a selling mode as their long layoff drags on, that game might best be described as the last time the Flyers had hope.

After a rough start to the season, the team needed to go on a run to turn things around. Entering the third period of this contest the Flyers were trailing, but they were able to overcome adversity and get their game together when it mattered most – the third period. They squeaked out a 5-3 win vs. the Jets thanks to three goals in the final frame, and with their third win in four contests, they looked to be turning a corner before the most crucial stretch run of the season.

Somehow, instead of building on this successful effort where they were rewarded for their late-game production with a win, the Flyers took a considerable step back. Just how bad was it? You be the judge:

Since that comeback versus Winnipeg, the Flyers have failed to win a single third period. There was not a single game where the Flyers could look at the score sheet and say they came out ahead. In 10 games, they have managed just TWO GOALS in the third period, for a whopping minus-8 differential overall. That’s over 60 minutes of hockey (aka an entire game) per third period goal.

Of the 10 games, there was only three times where they stepped onto the ice without facing a deficit. They scored their only goals of the period in games where they trailed, but this still averages out to just a measly goal every 3.5 periods – for an offensively geared roster. Needing to win time and time again, the team failed to deliver, managing to go just 4-6 while fading from the crowded playoff picture.

It gets even worse. The one thing the Flyers ARE good at in the third period is taking penalties. During this same stretch, they managed 20 minor penalties, one major, and two game misconducts (not including coincidentals). That averages out to two penalties a period, and a hair over two penalties per game that they were trailing after 40. Unfortunately, it also averages out to 10 penalties per third period goal. Those numbers are simply unacceptable.

Mean Zac

Zac Rinaldo has been one of the few bright spots this season.. pic c/o Amy Irvin

For comparisons sake, lets take our ugly neighbors to the west – those pesky Penguins.  There was not a single time the Penguins LOST a third period. Over the past five games, they have managed to put up nine goals in the final frame without yielding a single tally. During these games, they have taken just seven minor penalties, en route to the second half of a 10-game winning streak for the third straight season.

Are they one of the hottest teams in the league with a loaded roster? Yes, but the Flyers have also hung with them in short stretches this season. It is a testament to the desire of the Penguins to work hard down the stretch to get a win, and the Flyers complete lack thereof. Of those five games, they only had the lead going into the third in just two of the contests. During those other three contests, they managed seven goals in 60 minutes of hockey.

When it matters most, the Flyers have done the opposite of their most formidable opponent in every aspect of the game. While Pittsburgh has once again managed to put itself in the Stanley Cup conversation, Philadelphia has gone into a season-ending tailspin.

Ironically enough, Philly might get a chance to end their bitter rival’s streak and split the season series on Sunday. Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, it is one of the few things they appear to have left to look forward to in this slightly awkward and incredibly frustrating season.

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