Defensive help? After 9-0 loss, who knows if Flyers will be buyers of any kind


Nobody would blame Chuck Fletcher if he threw his phone into the Hudson River on Wednesday night and laughed at the thought of looking for defensive help.

Does this team deserve to be a buyer of any kind at the April 12 trade deadline?

It feels like a fair question after the Flyers lost embarrassingly, 9-0, to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, where the 1,723 fans started to chant "we want 10" late in the third period.

All nine of New York's goals were scored before the final stanza. The nine goals are the most surrendered in an NHL game this season. The last time the Flyers allowed nine or more goals in a game was Oct. 27, 2011 — a 9-8 loss to the Jets.

Hard to believe.

"We got truly embarrassed," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said.

The Flyers (14-10-3) have been exposed so far in March. They're 3-6-0 in the month and have allowed 42 goals (4.67 per game). Over their first 18 games prior to this month, the Flyers went 11-4-3 and allowed 52 goals (2.89 per game).

After they missed Monday night's game because of the NHL's COVID protocols, Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Fox returned to the lineup for the Rangers (12-12-4), who had 12 different players record a point.

New York was missing head coach David Quinn and its entire coaching staff because of the league's COVID protocols. Former Flyers assistant coach Kris Knoblauch filled in for Quinn. Knoblauch is the head coach of the Rangers' AHL affiliate Hartford. Gord Murphy, Hartford's associate head coach and an ex-Flyers assistant, as well, was also behind New York's bench.

They enjoyed a cakewalk.

• The question is no longer do the Flyers need defensive help.

They clearly do.

The question now is how much help and will it ultimately be worth the sacrifice to get it?

Starting Thursday, the Flyers have some serious proving to do to management over the final eight games of March.

This will go down as one loss but it could mean a whole lot more in the grand scheme of things.

• Mika Zibanejad had a hat trick and six-point night. Buchnevich had two goals and two assists.

"There's not much to say," Vigneault said about the message at second intermission with a 9-0 deficit. "It's a question of pride and good leadership and move on from there."

The Flyers have given up four hat tricks this season in 27 games. They gave up one all of last season in 69 games.

The Flyers allowed a combined six goals to the Rangers all last season through three matchups.

Matt Niskanen is no longer here and he was essentially replaced by committee, including the addition of Erik Gustafsson, but it's still difficult to comprehend why the club has taken such a sizable step back from a goal-prevention perspective.

• Vigneault decided to sit Shayne Gostisbehere and Nate Prosser after the club was once again leaky defensively in Monday night's 5-4 OT win, particularly in the second period.

Suffice it to say the decisions didn't help the growing goal-prevention problem the 2020-21 Flyers are staring down 27 games into the season.

The Flyers collectively were a mess Wednesday night. From the forwards to the defensemen to the goalies.

The team's young defensive pair, which has a ton of promise, had a night to forget. Philippe Myers and Travis Sanheim were both a minus-6. By no means was it just those two players.

The Flyers embarrassed themselves as a team.

"It was embarrassing to be playing on that ice tonight," Claude Giroux said. "The way we played, we didn't help our goalies at all. ... We know we've got to wake up.

"Everybody knows that's not acceptable. There needs to be an answer tomorrow."

• Brian Elliott yielded five goals on 13 shots before being pulled in the middle stanza.

Carter Hart came in and permitted four goals on 16 shots.

The Flyers play Thursday and neither goalie will be fresh.

New York goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 26 saves for the easy shutout.

• The Flyers play the second game of a back-to-back situation when they visit the Islanders on Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). They then face the Islanders again on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

New York announced on Monday that its captain Anders Lee will undergo season-ending ACL surgery.

The Flyers should look like gangbusters from puck drop.

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