Flyers searching for offense
The team has launched 70 shots on goal the previous two games without scoring a goal.
SURE, THE numbers are pretty bad. The Flyers haven't scored in more than 138 minutes of play. Their 35 goals scored is a franchise-worst through 20 games in the near 50-year history of the organization. They're scoring fewer goals per game than any other team in the league. In 10 games in front of their home crowd at Wells Fargo Center, they have just 15 goals.
Saturday, in a 4-0 loss at Ottawa, they went scoreless for the second game in a row. They've scored just seven goals in their last six games and have fallen to 6-9-5.
But despite the lack of goal-scoring, coach Dave Hakstol is more concerned about the Flyers' play in the defensive zone and their play without the puck. The past two games, the Flyers got a combined 70 shots on goal. But none of those attempts got by San Jose's Martin Jones or Ottawa's Craig Anderson.
Hakstol said after Sunday's optional skate that he wants the focus to be more on what the Flyers can control.
"All the focus coming out of the last two games, and certainly coming out of (Saturday) night, is on the lack of goal-scoring," Hakstol said. "That's what I feel. That's where all the focus is at. I'm going to flip that 180 degrees. We had 81 shooting attempts (Saturday) night and zero goals, so obviously we have to do a little better. We have to be hungrier around that net. But I think if we have 81 shooting attempts the next game, we'll probably get one.
"My focus is on the attention to detail without the puck. How did we give up the first goal? Why did we give up the second goal? Why did we give up the third goal? Those are the things that are part of a foundation that I believe we need to do a better job of. And those are the things that are always within your control. The play of another goaltender, the bounce of the puck, a play around the net, sometimes those things are not in your control. The plays that led to our goals against (Saturday) night, those are foundational items that are always within our control."
That's not to say Hakstol is content. Certainly any coach whose team is struggling to score this badly has a high level of concern. But he thinks the signs are there for the team to break out of its scoring slump, at least when looking at the last three games. The Flyers have 108 shots on goal in those three games. They entered Sunday second in the league in shot attempts per game. It's just a matter of getting those shots through the goaltender and across the goal line.
Easier said than done.
"When you look at the last couple of games, you'd be able to make an argument that we deserved a better fate," Hakstol said. "But I'm not in the business of making that argument. I think we can and have to be better in areas of the offensive game. There's no question about that. But, No. 1, first you have to deal with the things that give you long-term success."
That is something the Flyers are desperately searching for.
Less than 24 hours after getting hit and leaving the game Saturday night in Ottawa, Scott Laughton was back on the ice at the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees, N.J.
Two minutes into the game, Laughton hit the sideboards awkwardly after being struck from behind by Senators forward Alex Chiasson. Laughton, who has a concussion history, appeared to suffer a shoulder or head injury. He was evaluated in the locker room and the Flyers ruled him out for the rest of the game with an upper-body injury.
"Any time you're kind of in a dangerous area, it's scary," Laughton said. "All is good. I watched it a couple of times and I don't really know if it was clean, but it's a tough play."
With Laughton in pain on the ice, linemate Sam Gagner came to his defense and dropped the gloves with Chiasson. The much smaller Gagner held his own in the bout, but was given an instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. So the Flyers were down two forwards for an extended portion of Saturday's game.
"I really appreciate that," Laughton said of Gagner having his back. "I went up to him and said thank you. I would do the same for him and he knows that. I really appreciated that. It really means a lot when you get hit like that and a smaller guy comes in and fights a 6-foot-4 guy, or whatever it is."
Laughton said he felt good and would be evaluated after skating Sunday. He was unsure if he'd be in the lineup Monday night against Carolina.
There were five Flyers on the ice at Sunday's optional skate: Scott Laughton, Vincent Lecavalier, Taylor Leier, Shayne Gostisbehere and goalie Michal Neuvirth . . . Former Flyers forward Rod Brind'Amour, who is now an assistant coach with the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, will be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame Monday night . . . The Hurricanes (7-10-3) snapped a five-game losing streak with a win Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings.