When asked Wednesday morning about his team’s inability to win at Madison Square Garden, Craig Berube scoffed.
“We won a game here in the playoffs,” the second-year Flyers coach said. “We broke the curse.”
Yet, after Philadelphia’s lackluster 2-0 loss at its house of horrors — the club’s ninth straight regular-season defeat at MSG dating back to 2011 — both the coach and his club were devoid of answers.
Including that win in Game 2 of last year’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Flyers are 1-13 in their last 14 games at MSG, have been shut out three times, and haven’t even forced overtime in that stretch. The last Philadelphia netminder to win a regular-season game at MSG was Brian Boucher, and Daniel Carcillo had the game-winning goal on Feb. 20, 2011 in Philadelphia’s 4-2 win at The Garden.
“Sometimes it happens where you can’t win in a building,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said Wednesday. “We definitely have to find a way to win here.”
If ever there were a time for Philadelphia to snap that skid on Broadway, it was Wednesday. The Rangers were reeling, having lost three straight entering the affair, and sent their backup netminder — he of the 3.48 goals-against average and .880 save percentage — to the ice.
Plus, after the Flyers swore Giroux wouldn’t play all morning — he suffered a lower-body injury earlier in the week in practice — he hopped a train to New York, took the ice and logged a season-high 25:25 of ice time. Steve Mason made 10-bell save after 10-bell save and even got some help from a friendly goal post, but, the lackluster Flyers fell behind early and failed to beat Talbot.
The frustration of a missed opportunity boiled over post game, as Flyers general manager Ron Hextall laid into his team with a profanity-laced tirade that was audible to the media.
What is most strange about this streak is the Flyers have had success against the Rangers in Philadelphia. They won two postseason games at the Wells Fargo Center last April and claimed both head-to-head meetings in the regular season. The Flyers have won six of the last eight head-to-heads in Philly, including four of the last five in the regular season.
Yet, when the Flyers trek the 100-or-so miles to MSG, they look befuddled and slow with nowhere to go as the Rangers stymie their speed game and somehow stop Philadelphia at every turn. Plus, Lundqvist usually saves his best for the Flyers, but Talbot stopped 31 shots in his fourth-career NHL shutout.
“I’ve only been here a year, but I know the streak lasts longer than that,” Mason said. “I’m not sure why we’re not having success here.”
Next weekend, the Flyers and Rangers will meet again with a high-profile, home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday. Saturday’s game at MSG will be the Flyers’ last chance to snap the regular-season skid at MSG this season. The longer this goes, the greater life this bugaboo takes on, no matter how cool and calm Berube wants to be.