Floundering Flyers trying to rebound out west as top players struggle
The Flyers, who have been one of the NHL's worst teams in the first three-plus weeks, will try to regroup on a four-game trip out west.
The Flyers seem to know why they are playing so poorly, but then they go out and repeat the same mistakes: defensive breakdowns, awful starts to games, and failure to get many quality shots from in close.
For the first three-plus weeks, it has been the same old, same old.
"Once we get scored on, we get too hard on ourselves and it's tough to get out of the hole in this league," losing goalie Michal Neuvirth said after the team's latest defeat, an embarrassing 6-1 wipeout Saturday to the visiting New York Islanders, "There are no easy games and you have to be ready for every one of them."
The Flyers (4-7), who will start a four-game road trip Tuesday in Anaheim, have not been ready. They have allowed the first goal in 10 of the first 11 games.
"I'm not sure what to say, but we can't give up," Scott Laughton said. "On the bench you've got to stay positive, keep encouraging guys, and it's only these guys in here that's going to get us out of it. No one's going to feel sorry for us that we're under .500, but it's the group in here that's going to get us out of us."
Losers of four of their last five games, the Flyers will try to regroup on the road, where they will face Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Arizona. The Flyers were 3-1 in road games against those teams last season.
"I think when you go on the road for a long time with your teammates you get a little closer and that's what we need right now," captain Claude Giroux said. "We need to get closer as a team, we need to go out there and play for each other, and this road trip is going to be very important for the season."
A year ago, the Flyers went out to Western Canada and turned around their season, ending a 10-game losing streak with wins in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. From the start of that trip on Dec. 4 until the end of the season, the Flyers had the fifth-most points in the NHL.
Now they are in another crisis mode, and fans have been chanting for coach Dave Hakstol to be replaced.
"We're making a lot of 'hope' plays out there. We're just waiting for pucks, waiting for something to happen, and it's just not working," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We have to get back to getting the puck in deep, fore-checking hard, making all the easy things, then those bounces will come. I think for us it's getting back to the drawing board, keeping it simple."
The Flyers have been getting mostly poor goaltending — they entered Sunday last in the NHL, allowing 4.14 goals per game — and their top players have gone into slumps at the same time. Consider:
Sean Couturier has zero assists over 11 games and has just one goal in the last seven contests.
Ivan Provorov, who tied for the NHL lead among defensemen with 17 goals last season, has yet to turn on the red light in 11 games and has a minus-8 rating.
Giroux is goalless in his last five games.
Jake Voracek has one goal in his last seven games.
Gostisbehere (minus-8 overall) has no goals in his last eight games.
Excluding an empty-net tally, Wayne Simmonds (minus-6 overall) has no goals in the last five games.
Put it all together and you have a team struggling to score while allowing goals at a head-scratching rate.
It's not a successful combination.
The Flyers promoted wingers Nic Aube-Kubel and Tyrell Goulbourne from the Phantoms, demoted Mikhail Vorobyev to Lehigh Valley, and put Corban Knight on the injured-reserve list. … The Flyers scored a total of two goals over their last three games, getting outscored by 13-2 in that span. … Through 11 games, the Flyers' power play (15 percent success rate) was tied for 23rd in the NHL and was 1 for its last 20; their penalty kill (67.5 percent) was 30th in the 31-team league.