Flyers Continually Doomed by Slow Starts

The Philadelphia Flyers have a record of 5-7-3 and they have not been playing well recently. In their last eight games played, the Flyers have a record of 1-5-2 and they’ve looked like anything but a playoff bound team. There have been miscommunications all over the ice, wildly inconsistent goaltending and horrific luck by many of their forwards.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for Philadelphia, as they’re sixth in the Metropolitan division and are only four points from a playoff berth. Obviously it’s very early in the season to be discussing playoffs, but until the Flyers can play more consistent hockey, they’re a long shot to make it.

Flyers Struggling Early In Games

Here are some interesting facts about the 2015-16 Flyers. In the first period they have been outscored 14-6 by opponents and they’ve been out shot 165-126. Then in the third period their shot differential is much closer as they have lead opponents with 142 shots for and 138 against, but their goal differential is still negative three, or nine goals scored for and 12 allowed.

They’re a team that takes sometime to get rolling, and some nights the Flyers are dominated in every aspect of the game. The two biggest problems with the Flyers have been on special teams, their power play has been anemic ranking 27th in the NHL while at home and converting on just 5.3% of chances. On the road their the 13th ranked unit and they capitalize on 20.8% of opportunities, but their overall ranking still sits at 25th at a rate of 14.0%.

Their penalty killing has not been anything spectacular either. Overall they rank 17th and kill 80% of chances faced. At home they’re 11th with 82.6% kill rate and on the road they’re 22nd with a rate of 78.1%.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Part of the Flyers problem is the sheer inexperience of head coach Dave Hakstol. He’s never coached at the professional level and all of his assistant coaches have never worked as a head coach. The lack of experience has shown in the sloppy execution by the players. This is an issue that should only be relevant at the beginning of the year, as the season progresses Hakstol should continue learning and improving his performance.

But there was something that was unacceptable during the Flyers 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Forward Brayden Schenn is third on the Flyers in scoring with seven points in 15 games, Sam Gagner is sixth on the team in scoring with five points in 11 games played. Yet, Schenn had the second lowest time on ice at 11.5 minutes and Gagner was not far ahead with 13 minutes on the ice. When your team is struggling to score goals, you do not keep your most productive players on the bench.

Sure, there have been numerous trade rumors involving Schenn, and it is true they have explored trading him, and Gagner is far from a perfect player, but they can both help the Flyers. But they can’t do it watching from the bench. They have been scoring and some of the best forwards on the Flyers and both are doing it without many opportunities. This is an issue with Hakstol’s coaching and general manager Ron Hextall not emphasizing the right things when meeting with the coach.

The Flyers have been doomed by their slow starts and until Hakstol changes his methodology, it could be a long season for the team.

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