Month/Overall Record 5-5-1
The first official month of the season is in the books for the Philadelphia Flyers, and it has produced some interesting results over in only 12 games. It is only a month, but it is long enough for trends and changes to have happened for the Flyers.
After consecutive slow starts, the Flyers were looking to get out to a better start this season, with a new crew of coaches and some new faces on the roster (and a few more coming after game 1) they ended up being pretty average record wise. To make matters worse, the Flyers played their worst game of the season in their last outing.
The Flyers play is inconsistent at best and apathetic as worst. They’ve had great games, as wins against Las Vegas, New Jersey and the Columbus comeback. They’ve also come out and looked awful against the Islanders, Penguins, Dallas, and Calgary. The Flyers start, hasn’t been it’s worst in recent memory, but it’s middle of the road. Last year they had 2 more losses in the column, so take from that what you will, but the chemistry isn’t there yet, but for the first time in a while, it might not be far off.
So let’s look at the good, the bad and to future of this season.
Player of the Month, Travis Konecny
No surprises here, as TK has been off to the hottest start of any Flyer player. Currently leading the team with 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) he’s been buzzing ever since getting back on the ice for the team. With a new contract in tow, Konecny has been finding the back of the net early and often, and seeing increased power play time has also helped his numbers, as 6 of his early points (2 goals 4 assists) have come on the man advantage.
His pace likely won’t stay at this level but his progression is evident. If there was ever a year he makes the leap to becoming a 30 and 30 guy, it would be this one.
Biggest Problem: The Defense
Woes have embraced most of the Flyers defenseman early this year. Silver lining is that guys like Ivan Provorov, Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun have been good to start, with Provorov finding some of his offense game again.
The bad news is the other half of them haven’t played well at all. Robert Hagg is a 6th defenseman, and he’s done ok but more on him later. Travis Sanheim has been all over the ice in the worst possible way. Nothing seems to be coming easy to him, and against Pittsburg, whatever can go wrong did go wrong for him. In terms of Shayne Gostisbehere, he hasn’t been overly impressive offensively and has his clear limitations in the defensive zone. It’s one thing when he’s scoring but when he isn’t it becomes far clearer.
The extension of the defense is the goalies, and they’ve been up and down. The numbers on both Carter Hart and Brian Elliot are bad, and right now it very much seems like a revolving door situation between the two for the starters spot as of right now.
Lineup Changes Coming
GM Chuck Fletcher promised that changes would happen fast if the team wasn’t working. Poor play and injuries have forced his hand early. Joel Farabee was too good for the AHL and looks good now in the NHL, albeit snakebitten. Mikhail Vorobyev couldn’t crack the lineup again so he goes down and up comes German Rubstov and Carsen Twarynski. Phil Myers comes up to insert into the lineup as Sam Morin is also on his way back down on a 14 day conditioning stint to hopefully shake off the rust he’s collecting in the press box. Scott Laughton is out with finger surgery, and Nolan Patrick still remains week to week with his chronic migraine issues.
Outlook Moving Ahead
None of these changes or injuries are drastic but it will hopefully spark change in the Flyers play. One of the teams problems has always been reinforcements in the back half of the lineup and this is now one of the better bottom six looks the Flyers have put out in recent memory, so if they can be consistent and the top end picks up the Flyers should rise.
Kevin Hayes so far looks like a very good addition, Oskar Lindblom and his early breakout is rivaling Konecny, and Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek aren’t far off from their usual paces. If guys like Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere pick up offensively like we’ve seen them in the past the Flyer could be very solid offensively. Whether or not the gel at the back en, and in goal, is another story.