Will the Real Flyers Please Stand Up?

As the Philadelphia Flyers head into the 2011 NHL playoffs, the team currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a one point lead, but that could end as early as today when the Washington Capitals take on the Buffalo Sabres.

The Flyers might have set a club record for most road wins in a season, but you can bet that everyone on the team would prefer to not have to win a playoff series by not having home ice advantage. Still, the Flyers are not at the top of their game, even if the standings show otherwise.

The Flyers are 4-3-3 and have lost two in a row. The up-and-down play of the team could be a result of many factors which is probably why they are playing like Sybil these days. For those of you who don’t know who I refer to when I mean Sybil as in the true story of Sybil Ardell Mason who was said to have had at least 12 different personalities.

The truth is, there is no one reason why things are not going well for the orange and black these days. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

One reason is the Flyers are losing points by allowing teams to come from behind on a regular basis. You wouldn’t dare guess that a team with the best record in the conference to allow more goals scored in the third period than they have allowed (81-80) despite outscoring opponents 159-116 in the first two periods. The Flyers were outscored the last two nights 3-1 in their respective losses to Atlanta and New Jersey, two teams who could have been eliminated from playoff contention at the hands of the Flyers.

Another is the lack of leadership on the blueline (see Chris Pronger for details). Without the Flyers’ main man on the blue line, who usually strikes fear into the heart of his opponents, no one on the Flyers’ blueline is willing to produce black and blue marks on opposing players around the net (with the possible exception of Braydon Coburn).

The power play is in a major slump and the team is consistently being outshot in games.

Earlier in the season the Flyers were outshooting opponents and winning games on a regular basis. Even the leadership on the team is being questioned by some in the media. That notion was shot down quickly by the head coach and by teammates. That said, things are not looking too good for a team getting reading to head into the playoffs with hopes of returning to the Stanley Cup finals for another shot at glory.

With only one week left in the regular season, there is still time to correct some of the Flyers issues but with teams like Washington and Pittsburgh starting to get healthy at the right time, it could be an early exit from the playoffs if things don’t turn around quick.

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