Flyers Focus: Early Season Struggles Continue


The most comprehensive weekly look at the Philadelphia Flyers on the internet. 


When I last left you, I harped on how the Flyers couldn’t beat a bad team. A week later, I write just waiting for the Flyers to muster an effort that’s capable of beating any team.

Dave Hakstol’s club spent Thursday night north of the border in a matchup that pitted two of the league’s coldest teams against one another. A similar pattern from the last week emerged, the Flyers scored just once and retreated back to their locker room with just a point to show for their efforts.

More from Section 215

Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo entered play with a sub .880 SV% (which is bad, teetering on awful).  He didn’t look sure of himself on many shots throughout the contest and when tested, he let in a soft goal off the stick of Michael Raffl, but that’s all the Flyers could manage.

Reality is setting in. This team is playing at a very low level.

Consecutive losses to the Devils, Sabres, Canucks, Oilers and Flames caused the Orange and Black to plummet in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers closed play in Calgary in sixth place in the division, just five points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and one point above the Carolina Hurricanes.

The most glaring of all stats is 1.2. That’s the team’s goals per game average during the past five games.  They’ve scored the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference on the season and are second-to-last in the league in front of only Anaheim.

Depth scoring has been a concern during each of the past few seasons, but when your top line players not named Claude Giroux have combined for exactly one goal in 13 contests, your concern goes from a lack of depth scoring to a simple lack of scoring.

In both power play and even strength situations, the team lingers on the perimeter. Shots are coming from outside of the slot, making the lives of opposing goalies exponentially easier.

The team’s collective game lacks much semblance of flow. The outlet passes are choppy, the transition game often breeds giveaways and because of that, they’re forced to work very hard for any offensive opportunities they earn.



We’ll go back to the well here. Jake Voracek is still yet to tally his first goal of the season. As you may recall, Voracek signed a mega extension this off-season that will make him the franchise’s second highest-paid player at $8.25M. The early returns thus far have been less than encouraging.

Listen-Section 215 Podcast

Earlier in the season, I wrote that the offense would come for Voracek. Especially playing on the first power play unit and also spending tons of time alongside line-mate Giroux. It still may, but the team is in desperate need of offensive production from its top line and Voracek holds the key.

The 26-year-old seems to be forcing plays in the offensive end and hasn’t seemed to have that elusiveness in the neutral zone that helped to earn him his massive pay day.


A week after pointing this out for the first time, the power play unit hasn’t gotten any better.  Although the Flyers power-play unit had just two opportunities in Calgary, this is by no means an isolated issue.  The sample size is growing larger. Through 13 games, the Flyers are capitalizing on just 11.1% of their chances on the man advantage. The team’s four power play goals is tied for the fewest in the league.


A silver lining here…in Michal Neuvirth‘s last two starts, he’s played well enough to keep the team in striking distance. A 45-save performance in a 4-1 loss to the Oilers and a 28-save night in Calgary earned the team one point. Had the offense been more effective in either game, more points would have followed.

Steve Mason is reportedly dealing with an illness. So what may have appeared as Hakstol riding the hot goaltender hand, it could have been a move out of necessity. But Neuvirth responded well to the extended minutes.

Section 140

It was a battle of ineptitude. Right now, the Flyers have the ability of making any team look like a defensive juggernaut.

This is just kinda how things are going right now. Oh my.

Comedic relief.


I’m No Longer An NHL Player Award – Vincent Lecavalier

To an extent, you feel for Vinny.  But then you look at that salary…why Paul Holmgren….why?  Lecavalier is back in the lineup (for now) due to injuries to the team’s front line. But I wouldn’t expect that to last. A bad giveaway led to the Flames first goal on Thursday and his ice time was slashed from that point forward.

The ‘Hey Guys, I’m Trying’ Award – Michal Neuvirth

We’re dishing out ample praise here to the one guy that deserves it. Neuvirth was stellar in his two starts this week. Several big saves kept the Flyers close when they probably should not have been. For that, the Czech keeper gets another positive shout out.

‘Can I Go Back To College?’ Award – Chip Kelly Dave Hakstol

I write this with my tongue firmly in cheek. I’m not suggesting that Hakstol be run out of town. I don’t think the team’s struggles are because of him or the system he’s implemented. The team has too many complimentary players and not enough contributors. Hakstol will have better rosters to work with during his tenure in Philadelphia than the one he currently presides over, but he’s got to feel a little overwhelmed with the way the last couple of weeks have gone.


The team will stay in Canada for one more game on the road trip, closing it out in Winnipeg on Saturday.

A positive, the Flyers have earned points in four of their six trips to the MTS Centre since the Jets rejoined the NHL in 2011-12.

Following that game, the Flyers return home to host the Colorado Avalanche. If the team can hang its hat on anything in the early season, it’s the their home record. Their 3-2-1 mark at the Wells Fargo Center is responsible for 7 of the team’s 11 points.