The Philadelphia Flyers had themselves quite a busy week, playing four games over the span of six nights. Unfortunately, the team could manage to secure only one win, giving them seven points nine games into the 2016-17 regular season.
The Flyers started off their week in Montreal, playing a hard-fought game where they remained in contention throughout the entire 60 minutes but wound up falling to the Canadiens 3-1. The team flew back home and took on the Sabres on Tuesday night. Being faced with a three-goal deficit, Philadelphia managed to come back late in the third period and eventually get the win in a shootout. The victory would be their only one of the week as the team fell to Arizona on Thursday and their hated rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Saturday.
First Period Woes
In hockey, as well as every other sport, a strong start will always prove to be beneficial when a team is looking to increase their number of victories. Of course, playing catchup does not always result in a loss, there would be no such thing as a comeback if that was the case. However, a team would much rather play with a lead rather than attempt to come from behind.
The NHL season is still quite young, however, the Flyers have struggled mightily to acquire any sort of momentum in the first period of play. Fascinatingly enough, the team has yet to enter the first intermission with a lead in any of its first nine games. In addition, Philadelphia has only scored the first goal of a game on two occasions, in the first game against the Kings in the second period and Saturday’s contest against the Penguins. In the game against Pittsburgh, the Flyers actually managed to score the first two goals in the first period but immediately surrendered three goals before the horn at the end of the period could sound.
— #HockeyFightsCancer (@NHL) October 30, 2016
Philadelphia’s struggle to end the first period of play with a lead is clearly having a detrimental effect on their ability to win games. They are proving to be quite a resilient squad, coming back from their deficits more often than not. However, they are also falling just short of completing the comeback and recording the victory on most nights as well. If the team could have entered the second period ahead of their opponents in any of their first nine games, I guarantee their win total would be more than three at this point.
Two Struggling Goalies
Before the season began, I would have argued that the Flyers had one of the strongest goalie tandems in the entire National Hockey League. Both Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth demonstrated last season that they could both be solid and reliable options in net for the orange and black.
Unfortunately, the duo’s success from the prior season has not translated into success early on this season. For Philadelphia, it appears that letting in goals is the new trend as they are the second worst team when it comes to average goals against per game. Allowing 3.89 goals per game is just not going to cut it if the team wants to qualify for the postseason.
Neither Mason or Neuvirth has really looked good for more than a game. Mason has been the better netminder to this point but not by much. It can be argued that the Flyers’ defense is not helping anything which can always be viewed as true. Especially when trusty old Andrew MacDonald is on the ice. However, the team is only allowing 28.2 shots per game which is the eighth best number in the league. In hockey, shots are going to wind up on the net. It is then a netminder’s duty to stop them. To this point, that is not happening in Philadelphia.
Voracek is Back!
Last season was quite worrisome for Flyers’ fan in regards to one of the team’s star players, Jakub Voracek. His 11 goals and 55 points did not meet expectations and were unacceptable after being signed to a monster contract.
Luckily, it appears the Voracek’s 2015-16 season can officially be put in the rearview mirror as he has started off this season on fire. The Flyers’ winger has recorded five goals and five assists to this point, tying his buddy Claude Giroux with the team lead in points. Voracek is on pace for a fantastic season which is something Philadelphia desperately needs. Having him back to his dominant ways, along with the Flyers’ other weapons, will make the team quite dangerous to play against throughout the entire season.
Jakub Voracek scored his 4th and 5th goals tonight for the Flyers, absolutely undressing Fleury on this penalty shot to tie the game at 4. pic.twitter.com/YbEUbwYPbo
— NHL 365 (@NHLDaily365) October 30, 2016
The Week Ahead
The Flyers have another busy week ahead of them as they play another four games, this time over the span of seven days. They start things off with a contest Sunday evening on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes. Then they head back home for a game on Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings. This will be the only home game for the Flyers this week as they then travel to Brooklyn to take on the Islanders on Thursday and cap off their week in Montreal on Saturday to take on the Canadiens for the second time this season.
Philadelphia is in for a challenging week playing against some very strong competition. I am predicting that they go 2-2-0, with victories over the Hurricanes and Islanders and losses to the Red Wings and Canadiens.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.