PITTSBURGH – Though they took a mediocre 5-4-1 record into Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault likes the way his team is adapting to his systems.
“I’m real happy with the attention to detail, the focus that our guys are bringing every day, whether it be on the ice, whether it be in video sessions, in line meetings, power-play or penalty-kill meetings,” Vigneault said before the Flyers were walloped by the Penguins, 7-1, “I still don’t have quite yet the handle on our group. We still have some players I’ve seen do things the way they need to be done to win, but I’ve also seen them do it the other way, so I don’t know if they can do it consistently."
Vigneault, whose team is using a 1-2-2 alignment to get a quicker counter attack -- the Flyers played a 1-3-1 for most of last season -- said he was "still trying to sort out this group, and that’s normal. I mean, we’re only 10 games in and it usually takes a little bit of time to figure out what you have.”
He said he was still searching for the correct lines, defensive pairings, and roles for some of his players. That was evident as the Flyers fell into a 6-0 deficit Tuesday.
“Some guys we may have thought previously were capable of doing things, whether it be moving the puck [or something else]. … and when you see them live, they may not be exactly what you anticipated,” he said. “We have decisions to make. Chuck [Fletcher, the general manager] and I are talking constantly about our group and that’s what we’ll continue to do until we’re happy.”
The analytics say the Flyers are playing better than their record indicates. They are among the league’s best or at the top in several categories, including puck possession, expected goals, and shot attempts.
That said, they struggled mightily in the last two games and Vigneault said they need to hit the reset button.
Hart sits, then rises
For the fourth time in the last five games, Brian Elliott started Tuesday and Carter Hart was behind him. Hart relieved Elliott at the start of the third period with the Flyers trailing, 6-0.
Elliott was the NHL’s No. 3 star for games played last week as he went 3-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in four outings.
Hart, 21, had a 1.62 GAA in his first three games this season, and a 5.85 GAA in his last three.
“Carter’s fighting it a little bit right now, but he’s going to put in the time and put in the work” to get straightened out, Vigneault said before the game.
Morgan Frost has a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists) and is tied for the Phantoms’ point lead with German Rubstov. … Nic Aube-Kubel recently collected his 100th career point in 210 AHL games, all with Lehigh Valley.
Robert Hagg returned to the Flyers’ lineup and Samuel Morin was a healthy scratch. ... Claude Giroux had a team-best plus-6 rating in the first 10 games. … Jake Voracek has 199 career goals. ... Travis Sanheim and Michael Raffl were each minus-4 on Tuesday, while Kevin Hayes, Misha Vorobyev, Chris Stewart, Joel Farabee, and Justin Braun were each minus-3.