When the National Hockey League released its 2021-22 schedule, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers were blessed to be starting the season with a four-game homestand. After all, such a stretch would give the team a chance to find its legs and hopefully get out to a hot start before embarking on its first road trip.
But as television detective Adrian Monk would tell you, sometimes a gift can also be a curse, and the Flyers find themselves under immediate pressure to put some wins on the board before the new campaign gets off to a sour start.
Friday’s shootout loss to Vancouver was not the kind of effort that inspired much confidence, as the Flyers showed many of the same issues that torpedoed last season, such as an ineffective penalty kill and following up a strong first period with an absolutely disastrous second. Then, of course, there was Carter Hart, who looked shaky at best. All these things, and more, need to start pointing in the right direction over the next three home games as the Flyers look to avoid falling into an early hole in a very competitive Metropolitan Division.
The Philadelphia Flyers need to avoid a potentially season-killing slow start.
The Philadelphia Flyers will begin this week by welcoming the brand new Seattle Kraken to the Wells Fargo Center on Monday. As we all learned from the Vegas Golden Knights a few years ago, even expansion teams need to be taken seriously now, and so the Flyers had best not look past the Kraken, who have been very competitive over their first three games (1-1-1) thus far. Plus, this marks the return of our old pal Dave Hakstol, who can’t be allowed to leave town a winner.
On Wednesday, the Boston Bruins visit, and we all know how the B’s have given the Flyers fits in recent years, as long as their players weren’t missing the puck in shootouts. As always, they’ll represent a stiff test for the Flyers. The homestand wraps up with a Saturday night showdown against a very good Florida Panthers club, one who just thrashed the Islanders in convincing fashion.
This isn’t going to be easy, folks.
The Flyers find themselves in need of improved efforts (and results) extremely early here, or else they could put themselves at an immediate disadvantage in their division. Look around. The Penguins are already 2-0-1 (including a win in Tampa), and the Blue Jackets, picked by everyone to bring up the rear in the Metro, have won their first two games. I’m not saying that this Flyers season would be “over” with 78 games still to play if they were to go something like 1-2-1 on this season-opening homestand, but anyone who’s been a Flyers fan longer than a week would tell you that they’ve seen this movie before.
In this 32-team league, there is a thin margin between wins, losses, and the teams who are subsequently “good” or “bad” based on the nearly 50/50 results that play out over the course of a full season. Teams need to exploit any advantage they can, and so the Flyers have to come out of the gate as a strong home club, hopefully at the level where they found themselves two seasons ago before the pandemic hit.
A bad start could be an absolute disaster in every sense for the Flyers, casting a pall over the team’s ability to contend for the playoffs not only this year but also acting as an indictment of the team’s core and, most importantly, its young goaltender. Wait until you see how many empty seats they’ll be playing in front of, too.
On one hand, it’s silly to read too much into how the next three home games play out for the Philadelphia Flyers, either good or bad. And yet, perception tends to become reality, so it would be best if the Orange and Black took care of business on the ice this week to set the tone for a promising season.