/Three observations through the Philadelphia Flyers’ first five games
Scott Laughton shot 2018

Three observations through the Philadelphia Flyers’ first five games

The season is still young, but certain teams are already making an impact. One of the teams that is still searching for consistency, however, is the Philadelphia Flyers. Here are three things we’ve noticed through the first seven games.

 

The defense is young, and it shows

While there is a lot of excitement about the blue line’s youth in Philadelphia, it also comes with some growing pains along the way. Through five games, the Flyers have allowed 31 goals against, which is the second-most allowed so far on the fresh season. They have also allowed the first goal in six of their seven games so far this season and are currently ranked 21st on the penalty kill (74%). If prolonged, both are very dangerous trends. Veteran blue-liner, Radko Gudas, currently leads the team in points by a defenseman, with four assists. Ivan Provorov, who is coming off of a successful previous season with 41 points (17g, 24a), is struggling to find his rhythm with linemate Shayne Gostisbehere. Another player who has seemed to send every possession the other way has been Andrew MacDonald. Turnovers, missed passes and failed clears have been the norm through the first five games for just about every defenseman, and if the Flyers expect to be a contender this year, it’s a trend that simply can’t continue.

 

Scott Laughton has been impressive

When you think of the top players on the Philadelphia Flyers’ roster, Scott Laughton isn’t the first one that comes to mind, but the 24-year-old winger is certainly making a case for it so far this season. Through five games, Laughton leads the team in even-strength goals with three. Not only has he managed to find the back of the net – something most of the other Flyers are struggling to do – but his physicality and playmaking seem to be revved up from previous years. He is slowly earning himself more ice time and opportunities, jumping up to the third line with Mikhail Verobyev and Wayne Simmonds, and averaging 14:32 of ice time through five games. His penalty killing is also proving to be much improved this season, as he is helping to keep pucks in the offensive zone for extended periods of time despite being his team being short a player on the ice. Whether this trend continues upward remains to be seen, but for now, it’s safe to say that Laughton has been putting in the extra work and making the most of every opportunity that he has on the ice.

 

The ability to respond is still lacking

One of the most repetitively aggravating things that has come in the Dave Hakstol era has been the team’s inability to respond.  Through seven games this season the Flyers are 3-4-0, but more alarming is the inability to start and finish strong. As noted above, the orange and black has allowed the first goal in every single one of their contests this season. Looking a little deeper into two of the three losses, it’s evident that the Flyers struggle to respond when they go down on the scoreboard. Whether it’s by one goal or four, it seems that the team always struggles to regain momentum once it’s lost. The passes get sloppier, the drive slows down and the energy just seems to vaporize from the Philadelphia bench. Hopefully it’s just the early season rust, but as we’ve seen in the past, when the Flyers go down, it’s usually a chaotic spiral from there, as evident in the 8-2 beatdown by San Jose. On the rare occasion that the team does mount a comeback, it’s usually too little, too late and the home turf advantage has yet to aid the Flyers this year, as they have just one win at the Wells Fargo Center which they claimed after blowing a three-goal lead in the third. Time will tell if the trend continues, or if they settle into the season and learn to respond.

 

Featured photo courtesy of Yong Kim / The Inquirer

Daniel is an avid Philadelphia Flyers fan from South Central Pennsylvania. You can reach him at dbricker@gnghockey.com