Flyers Storylines: Road trip coming to a close

Flyers Storylines: Road trip coming to a close
February 17, 2013, 3:15 pm
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The Flyers are heading in the wrong direction.

After yet another deflating performance in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Canadiens, the Flyers dropped to fifth place in the Atlantic Division and could potentially wake up Monday morning dead last in the Eastern Conference.

Lack of offense, spotty defense, injuries, costly turnovers and struggles on the road have all been reoccuring issues that have plagued the Flyers since the start of this 48-game, lockout-shortened season.

“We were not competing,” Claude Giroux said after the Flyers' loss to Montreal. “We were not winning battles. It’s just frustrating to see. We need to cut those mistakes down. We’re aware that mental mistakes are out there. We need to cut that.”

The underachieving Flyers have completed one-third of their schedule, posting an undesirable 6-9-1 record through 16 games.

It's getting to the point where things have to turn around soon or the orange and black will remained buried in the standings and watching the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs come May.

With that in mind here are a few storylines we'll be keeping an eye on this week:

End of the road
The Flyers season-long, six-game road trip will come to a close after an afternoon matchup with the New York Islanders on Monday and an intrastate clash with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

It's important for the Flyers to close out their trip on a high note. They have gone just 1-3 through the first four games and have a miserable road record of 2-8 overall this season.

It's also worth noting the final two games of the trip are against Atlantic Division rivals. The Flyers are 1-4 in division games this season and need to start winning these contests if they want to compete for a playoff spot.

The resurgent Islanders have won two in a row against division foes, so it's crucial that the Flyers not underestimate them.

One thing going in the Flyers' favor is a visit to Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center. Since the building opened in 2010, the Flyers have gone 5-1 on the Penguins' home ice in the regular season.

Home sweet home
The Flyers will finally return to the Wells Fargo Center this week.

In fact, the orange and black will open a five-game homestand beginning on Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

The Flyers are 4-1-1 on home ice so far this season and have a chance to gain some ground in the standings against five non-division opponents.

Returning to form in front of a strong, passionate fanbase could prove to be a big confidence booster for the Flyers.

Also keep in mind that Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder) and Scott Hartnell (left foot) are skating with the team and could be closing in on a return. It's unlikely they'll play this week, but they could be back at some point during the homestand.

Who will step up?
That seems to be the question haunting the Flyers' offense thus far. A year after averaging the second-best goals per game in the NHL at 3.17, the Flyers are putting up just 2.38 tallies per contest.

Offense has been a major concern through the first third of the season. The Flyers have failed to score more than two goals in 11 of their 16 games. Someone needs to step up.

Matt Read (six goals, four assists) is the only Flyer with more than five goals. Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek each have three goals and eight assists and are leading the team in scoring with 11 points.

Claude Giroux, who finished third in the league with 93 points in 2011-12, has just three goals and seven assists through 16 games. Max Talbot scored a career-high 19 goals last season, but has yet to register a single marker this year.

If the Flyers want to turn things around, they're going to need someone -- anyone -- to start generating some offense. It remains to be seen who or when that will be.