It was a tumultuous opening week for the Philadelphia Flyers. They opened the season with three consecutive losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Carolina Hurricanes. The lackluster performances, which saw the Flyers manage just one goal in each game, wound up costing head coach Peter Laviolette his job and had many fans, as well as media, questioning the culture surrounding the Flyers’ top brass.
Defense was already a primary concern coming into the season. Those concerns continue to come to fruition as the Flyers rank 23rd in the league in +/- with a -1 rating after the first week of the season. Defense is one of the facets of the game that new Head Coach, Graig Berube would like to emphasize and improve. In fairness, their poor rating also reflects the Flyers inability to score goals at the other end of the ice. They have scored a total of five goals in the season’s first four games. Only Dallas and Buffalo are worse. Tuesday’s victory over Florida marked the first time that the Flyers recorded more than one goal in a game this season.
Change can often provide a spark. That missing energy was on display Tuesday night as the Flyers began the Craig Berube era with a show of hustle and enthusiasm that has been lacking from their play since last season. However, as the game wore on, many of the Flyers issues resurfaced and only a strong performance from goalie, Steve Mason, saved them from a fourth consecutive defeat.
There were some positives that the Flyers can take into the second week of the season. Particularly their outstanding penalty kill on a four minute double minor in the third period which helped them preserve the lead against the Panthers. Then, in the game’s final minute, the Flyers played their most spirited hockey to date as they kept Florida pinned in their own end and secured their first victory of the season.
The week ahead will prove to be a difficult task for a Flyers team in transition. On Friday, they welcome in the unfamiliar Phoenix Coyotes and then travel to Detroit, a place where they haven’t won since Bill Clinton’s first term, for a difficult finish of back to back games. The Flyers will welcome the Vancouver Canucks to the Wells Fargo Center next Tuesday, a challenge that will put their inexperienced and shaky defense to the test early and often.
Though it wasn’t perfect, the Flyers finally stopped the bleeding and got that all important first win of the season, but there is much more work to be done. Graig Berube now has two off days to begin to implement his system. It’s a long season and we really shouldn’t judge a team in the opening weeks of the season. However, the week ahead will go a long way in showing a lot of the character of this hockey team.
On The Fly:
- The Flyers recorded their first multiple goal game of the season in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Florida.
- The Flyers tripled their 5 on 5 scoring on Tuesday scoring 2 even strength goals. They know have 3 even strength goals on the season.
- Newcomer, Vincent Lecavalier (1G, 2A) and Brayden Schenn (2G, 1A) lead the Flyers in scoring with 3 points each.