Twenty games into the season, the Flyers are 10-6-4 for 24 points – four more points than at a corresponding point last season.
The modest gains, however, could be a lot greater if some of their veteran forwards -- most notably, Kevin Hayes, Jake Voracek, and James van Riemsdyk -- had not been off to disappointing starts.
Slowed by their offensive struggles, the Flyers’ attack has been sputtering lately. They have averaged two goals over their last six games, a fact that has been camouflaged a bit because the team has gone 4-1-1 in those contests.
“Five-on-five, we need to be better than we have” coach Alain Vigneault said before the Flyers blew a 3-0 third-period lead and dropped a 4-3 shootout decision Saturday to the New York Islanders.
The Flyers have been outscored 42-37 in five-on-five play.
“There’s no doubt that teams that get into the playoffs are on the plus side in five-on-five, so we’re not there right now,” said Vigneault, whose team plays in Florida on Tuesday. “I think our process is good; we’re getting a lot of chances, but we’re just not putting the puck in the back of the net. … You have to go to the tough areas. Most of the goals are scored a couple feet from the goaltender. You have to go there. You have to have that willingness to play inside.”
Van Riemsdyk has had that willingness, but he hasn’t been able to finish numerous golden chances. He is not alone.
Here are the Flyers in long droughts:
· Hayes, Michael Raffl, Shayne Gostisbehere and Carsen Twarynski each have no goals in their last 11 games. Hayes, who signed a seven-year, $50 million contract in June, has no points and is minus-8 over his last 10 games.
· Voracek, who has been stuck on 199 career tallies, has no goals in his last 10 games.
· Van Riemsdyk has one goal in his last 11 games.
The Flyers have made modest strides because many of their young players have blossomed, particularly Travis Konecny (19 points), Oskar Lindblom (18), Ivan Provorov (13), and goalie Carter Hart.
Now they need their veterans to step forward.
“We’re working on getting better as a group,” Vigneault said. “We’re not where I think we can get to, but we are working extremely hard and we’ve got a lot of faith that we’ll be able to get there.”