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Flyers blanked by Bruins: Five observations

Another loss, another game for the special teams to flounder. For the Flyers, it's been a familiar refrain in the first 10 games.

Boston's John Moore (27) and the Flyers'  Nolan Patrick (19) battle for the puck in front of Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak on Thursday. Halak blanked the Flyers, 3-0.
Boston's John Moore (27) and the Flyers' Nolan Patrick (19) battle for the puck in front of Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak on Thursday. Halak blanked the Flyers, 3-0.Read moreMICHAEL DWYER

BOSTON — Five observations from the Flyers' latest loss, a 3-0 defeat Thursday night against the Bruins in Boston:

No offense

The Flyers were catching the Bruins at a perfect time. Boston was coming off a long Western Canada trip, and it usually takes a team a period or two to find its rhythm after returning from such a road swing. In addition, Boston was playing without three injured defensemen, including the talented Charlie McAvoy.

Good teams take advantage of such circumstances. Right now, the Flyers are not a good team. Their special teams are abysmal, and they still lack finishers around the net.

So on a night when they got good enough goaltending and defensive play to win a lot of games, their attack was punchless except for a second-period mini-surge.

When high-scoring James van Riemsdyk went down with a knee injury, the players and coaches downplayed his absence and said it was an opportunity for someone else to step up.

That hasn't happened.

Elliott solid, but Neuvirth deserves a start

Goalie Brian Elliott had one of his better games of the season. He had no chance on the first two goals — one appeared to deflect off a teammate; the other was a tip-in from a wide-open player in front — and the third was an empty-netter.

Despite Elliott's strong work, the Flyers should turn to Michal Neuvirth on Saturday against the Islanders. Neuvirth had a successful rehab start Wednesday for the Phantoms and served as Elliott's backup Thursday.

Coach Dave Hakstol overused Elliott last season, and that might have played a part in the core-muscle injury he suffered.

Hopefully, Hakstol learned from the mistake.

Not-so-special teams

The Flyers allowed two more power-play goals (one was an empty-netter), and their penalty kill is 30th in the NHL out of 31 teams — successful on just 67.6 percent of their attempts..

Making matters worse, their power play is 1 for 17 in the last six games, including 0 for 3 on Thursday.

Trailing by 2-0, the Flyers received two power plays in the third period and a chance to at least slice the lead in half. Instead, they managed a total of three shots on those two power plays and showed little urgency. And Boston's Zdeno Chara, a 6-foot-9 defenseman who is still a good penalty killer despite his age (41), was in the penalty box for one of the power plays.

The Flyers are getting most of their power-play shots from the perimeter, and that is a recipe for failure.

Play Vorobyev or send him down

Hakstol was leaning toward using rookie center Mikhail "Misha" Vorobyev on Thursday, but decided against it because he liked the way Jordan Weal was playing. So Vorobyev sat for the fourth straight game.

Vorobyev is 21 and needs to play.  If it's not with the Flyers, he needs to go back to the Phantoms so he can continue to improve his game.

That won't happen sitting in the press box.

First-goal blues

Here's a novel idea: Score the game's first goal and make the opponent do the chasing. That can cause the chaser to take some ill-advised chances that lead to more scoring chances for the team with the lead.

This is a formula the Flyers want to follow … but haven't.

Thursday, they allowed the first goal for the ninth time in 10 games. Call it Groundhog Day Gone Bad.