The Flyers' first two lines look dynamic, and the third line figures to feature a right winger, Wayne Simmonds, who is healthy again and could return to 30-goal form. The defense also has some nice offensive components.

In other words, scoring shouldn't be a problem for a team that opens its season in Las Vegas on Thursday.

But for the umpteenth straight year, there are questions about the goaltending. Major questions. It's not that Brian Elliott, who is expected to handle most of the duties, doesn't have a solid resume. He does. Elliott, however, is coming off core-muscle surgery in February and a hip operation a few months later.

If the preseason is any indication, it's going to take Elliott a while to regain his mojo.

All of which means the Flyers will probably have to win a lot of high-scoring games if they are going to get off to the kind of energetic start that general manager Ron Hextall says is necessary in the oh-so-balanced NHL.

"We've got to focus on the start of the season," said Hextall, mindful the Flyers have tough opponents in four of their first five games, including two matchups with Vegas. "We've got to get off to a good start. It's hard to chase in this league. We've done it, but it wears you out." (For proof, see last season.)

The Flyers haven't won a playoff series since 2012, back when Carter Hart — the hot-shot young goalie who may contribute at some point this season — was still in grade school.

"We understand it's a process," said captain Claude Giroux, who is coming off a 102-point season that should have made him an MVP finalist. "We can't win the first round next week. It's a process. We have to worry about Game 1 and then there's 82 games of that. Our goal right now is the regular season and being consistent every night."

The Flyers were extremely consistent over the last four months last season. From Dec. 4 through the rest of the season, they had the league's fifth-highest point total.

The problem was the first two months of the season, which included a 10-game losing streak and just eight wins in their first 26 games.

"If you lose one game, the next game you have to win it," Giroux said of this year's mind-set. "We've got to work on that, and I think the message is pretty clear. Guys know it won't be easy to make the playoffs.  It's a good league. A lot of teams are getting better every year."

The Flyers, with the addition of high-scoring left winger James van Riemsdyk and the blossoming of numerous young players, are one of those teams. Expectations are high.

"On paper, I think we've improved," coach Dave Hakstol said. "But until you prove it as a team, you can't really make a judgment on that. You have to prove you're a good team, and a good team isn't made up by the names on a piece of paper. It's how that group of guys jells together and gets the job done."

Most of the players are back from the team that excelled over the last four months last season.

"And it does make a difference," Hextall said. "Every year the group is together, the chemistry should get better."

For the Flyers to make strides from their 98-point season, their special teams need to show vast improvement from a year ago, especially the penalty-killing unit.

It's difficult to tell what was scarier: the Flyers' penalty kill last season or the introduction of the team's new mascot Monday.

But, hey, at least Gritty is supposed to be funny-looking.

The Flyers' PK was, in a word, awful. Again.

They finished 29th in the 31-team league and killed just 75.8 percent of their penalties. The Flyers' penalty kill has finished 19th, 20th, and 29th during each of Hakstol's three seasons, all with assistant Ian Laperriere running the PK.

It was surprising, then, that Hextall didn't add a quality penalty killer in the offseason. Hakstol experimented with numerous players on the PK in the preseason. None made anyone forget Bobby Clarke.

Center Sean Couturier, the Flyers' best defensive forward, said the penalty killers need to "get back to the basics, and get guys out there who are going to read the play, get into lanes, and take good passing lanes. I think it's just about executing and doing little things [like] clearing pucks. We talk about it all the time."

Starting Thursday in Sin City, in an electric arena that is the home of a second-year team that nearly won the Stanley Cup last season, the talk needs to translate into positive results.