Out of sync would probably be the simplest way to describe
the Flyers through three games so far, but at least in the first two they
managed to make it competitive. On Tuesday night in Newark, they had dug
themselves into a hole little more than a minute into the game, and kept on
digging until it was 3-0 Devils early in the second period, which wound up the final
Not much has gone right for Philadelphia. Cluade Giroux is
doing his thing, lighting the lamp twice this season already, or the equivalent
of two-thirds of Philly’s goals. Ilya Bryzgalov looks sharp enough, though you wouldn’t
know it from looking at his stats thanks to the numerous breakdowns in front
of him. There are rumblings that 18-year-old Scott Laughton could stick with
the big club, so I suppose that’s positive.
Then there are these special teams numbers which tell a big part of the
story. The Flyers have scored one power play goal on 15 tries, tied for the
third-highest number of opportunities in the NHL. They have allowed opponents
to convert on six of 16 tries, both the goals allowed and amount of times they were
short-handed being tied for the most in the league. Their power-play (6.7%) and
penalty-kill percentages (62.5%) rank 27th and 25th respectively.
Then there are the things you can’t necessarily quantify.
The lack of chemistry has been disappointing on every line starting from the
top. Everybody is playing the same sloppy brand of post-lockout hockey, but the
Flyers really seem to be pressing more than others, forcing bad passes in the
offensive and neutral zones, and making generally poor decisions with or
without the puck all-around.
When you list it all like that, it sounds heavy. When you state
it frankly – zero points through three games of a 48-game season – it sounds
downright desperate. You might be tempted to panic.
Naturally it’s too soon for all of that. Those special teams
numbers can’t keep up at their current rate, and head coach Peter Laviolette
will find the right pairings to spark the offense – he’ll get reinforcements
soon once Danny Briere returns to the lineup. And nothing can account for the
bad bounces that have come the Flyers’ direction, like having a pair of goals waved
off in Buffalo on Sunday, or having two deflect past Bryz off of teammates already.
It also just so happens the last time Philly started 0-3 was in the lockout-shortened 94-95 season, when they wound up finishing first
in the Atlantic Division and going all the way to the Eastern Conference
We certainly understand the reasons for concern however, even
if the team is only 6% of the way through the schedule. The Flyers’ sluggish starts
in all three games have become the personification of the early goings of this
season. There is plenty of time to climb back in, but as they demonstrated last
night, sometimes the holes run too deep.
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