Flyers-Blue Jackets observations: Goalies are struggling, and so is Ivan Provorov
The Flyers are a defensive mess. In seven games, they have allowed 31 goals — the second-highest total in the NHL.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Observations from the Flyers' 6-3 loss Thursday in Columbus, a game in which they were outscored, 5-1, over the last two periods.
Yes, the Flyers' defense is out of sync, and their forwards are turning over pucks at inopportune times, which is leading to Grade A scoring chances for opponents.
But the goalies — whether it's Brian Elliott or Cal Pickard — are not bailing them out.
As a result, the Flyers (3-4) have allowed a whopping 31 goals, the league's second-highest total.
Pickard (4.75 GAA, .833 save percentage), making his second start with the Flyers, struggled mightily on Thursday. Elliott (4.04, .874) has looked like someone coming off two surgeries.
Right now, Michal Neuvirth is probably their best option when deemed healthy. General manager Ron Hextall said it will be "days, not weeks," before Neuvirth is ready.
For all their defensive flaws (and there are plenty), the Flyers need a goalie to step up.
And, no, Carter Hart is not ready yet.
Ivan Provorov, the Flyers' best all-around defenseman, continued to play below par (for him) on Thursday. Hextall said Provorov is healthy,
"Just because a guy is maybe not playing up to his standards doesn't mean there's always something wrong with him," Hextall said before Thursday's loss. "We all have good days and bad days. … The guys are human beings; they're not robots."
Added Hextall: "Provy's hockey that's not up to his standards is still pretty good hockey."
That said, Provorov has had stickhandling and coverage issues in the first two weeks.
"Is he playing at the top of his game? No," Hextall said. "But it's (seven) games and you have to be really careful not to over-react. We know he's going to be a very good player for us for a long time."
Just like last season, the Flyers are maddeningly inconsistent from period to period. That's a recipe for disaster.
Example: They dominated the first period Thursday — swarming the net and building a 2-1 lead that could have been bigger if they hadn't twice hit iron with shots — but played sloppily in a turnover-plagued second period in which they were outscored, 3-0.
"As a team, we've talked about (playing) the full 60 minutes," said right winger Travis Konecny, who had a goal and an assistant Thursday. "I just feel when we're not on our game, the bounces seem to go the wrong way for us…..You're playing against the best guys every single night. This is the NHL, and when mistakes happen, more than likely guys are going to capitalize."
The Flyers are making too many dangerous offensive plays and getting caught out of position, contributing to odd-man rushes for their opponents.
"It's got to stop, this high-risk, almost summer hockey," center Sean Couturier said of the team's undisciplined wide-open play. "It's getting out of hand here."
They get a chance to correct their flaws Saturday afternoon against visiting New Jersey (4-1).