Passive starts are killing the Flyers early in season: ‘We need to fix it’
Fourth-line left winger and penalty killer Michael Raffl will miss four to six weeks with an apparent left-foot injury. Corban Knight is expected to take his place.
In the first three weeks of the season, starting slowly in games has become a bad habit that the Flyers have been unable to break.
They have allowed the first goal in eight of nine games and have been outscored in the opening period, 12-7. All of which has greatly contributed to their 4-5 start.
"It's tough. I can't put my finger on anything," left winger Scott Laughton said after practice Tuesday in Voorhees. "We've been doing the same stuff at the start of games. I think we're ready and prepared and have a good warmup, but I think we need to be more urgent. We get down one goal and then we start getting urgency in our game and start attacking and playing the way we're supposed to."
Passive starts have become the Flyers' early-season identity.
"We're sitting back; we're waiting for them to make a play, and trying to cheat too much [by making a 'home-run' pass]," Laughton added. "It's catching us right now, and we need to fix it."
The Flyers will try to start quicker Thursday in Boston (4-2-2 entering Tuesday).
"It's never a good thing when you're chasing games," center Sean Couturier said. "We've got to be better at the start and capitalize on our chances when we get them, and maybe play with the lead for once and see how that goes."
General manager Ron Hextall is unhappy with his team's overall play.
"We've been mediocre; it's not good enough around here," he said. "…. We have to bring that effort and consistency on a more regular basis."
As for the team's poor starts, Hextall said: "The execution is a result of the preparation. Individually, players have to be ready to play. That's what warmups are for — to get ready for the game and you have to start hard. We're in too level of a playing field here to say, 'OK, we can donate the first 10 minutes.' It doesn't work like that. We have to be more ready to play, individually and collectively, and hold each other accountable."
Goalie Michal Neuvirth, coming off an apparent groin injury, is expected to play Wednesday for the Phantoms in Hartford on a conditioning stint and could join the Flyers later in the week. At that point, Cal Pickard may be placed on waivers.. … Flyers goalies entered Tuesday with the league's worst save percentage (.864). … James van Riemsdyk (knee) will resume skating in a a few days, Hextall said. The big left winger isn't expected to return to the lineup until mid-November.