Who knew that a 4-2 defeat to their on AHL franchise would start the downward spiral we are watching with the Flyers? After 4 games, the Flyers are sitting at 0-3-1. Not exactly what we expected as fans, especially after their Eastern Conference final berth last year.
The team has had a big problem with playing a complete game. They're continuously having a bad period that just puts the game out of reach. Also, for now, I would let Biron get his focus back. He is letting in at least one weak goal a game. He's far from the #1 caliber goaltender that he was in the playoffs.
Dan took the time to find some numbers that can clearly describe how bad the team has looked to start the season.
One point in four games (29th in the NHL)
2.50 Goals/game (t-24th NHL)
4.25 Goals Against/game (t-27th NHL)
Faceoff win 44.0% (29th NHL)
A #1 Goalie with a 5.74 GAA and an .824 save percentage
Our top line has 7 of the team's 10 goals
Everyone is a minus except Coburn, Gagne (both +1) and Metropolit (+0)
Half of our goals are on special teams (3 PP, 2 SH)
5 Power play goals allowed in 27 opportunities (81.5%)
So what can we do? One suggestion is to break up the Gagne-Richards-Briere line. While it has been a great line, it's really putting all the main playmakers on one line instead of spreading them out. Outside of only scoring 10 goals in 4 games, that line has literally scored 7 of those goals (Gagne 4 and Richards 3). Jeff Carter has 2 and Scott Hartnell has the only other one. Our scoring in 4 games has come from only 4 different players. Far off from the team last year where 8 players had at least 10 goals.
How about special teams? We're 3-26 on the PP. A whopping 11.5%, which is good or bad enough for 26th in the NHL. The PK isn't great either right now. Most of the goals allowed have come while the second PK unit was on the ice. I think we need to change some things up there.
What else do they need to improve? The backchecking by the forwards hasn't been great, which is the opposing team controls the puck more than not. Their poor rate of face off wins also gives the team pucks more often, especially in their own zone. Lastly, when they do force turnovers in their own zone, their break out is scrambled and often causes them to give the puck right back.
The season is still young, so don't get down on the team yet. They were dealt heavy blows with the losses of Jones and Parent after already being without Derian Hatcher. The defense has played poised for who they are, but there are certain guys who need to improve.
Lastly, the team needs to cut down on the penalties. Yes, they're often penalties that need to be taken, but that is only because odd man rushes break out to poor puck control. The Flyers are talented. They will make the playoffs. Just do not expect them to be in the running for the division or a top seed.
Just give them a few more games, though Saturday is going to be tough against a 4-0 San Jose team. No better time than to set the team straight.
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