The morning after: Flyers vs. Ducks 10.21.10

“The morning after” is a review of the previous night’s Flyers’ game which, in theory, provides a more objective perspective on the game.

In the four days that the Flyers were off, players were bag skated, the team worked on the power play, and they had plenty of time to rest so that they could come out hard against the Anaheim Ducks, a team that stumbled out of the gate this season.

Much like the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins this past Saturday, this win was there for the taking and the Flyers did not grab it. Instead, they dropped to 2-3-1 on the season, losing their last three straight games and three of four at home this season.

In recent years, the Flyers have fallen into a bad habit of making backup goaltenders look like Vezina Trophy frontrunners and last night was no different. The team poured 42 shots on Curtis McElhinney but could only sneak two pucks by him. The first goal came on a beautiful backhander from Claude Giroux on his own rebound. The second came as a result of a scrum in front of the net. It was credited to Scott Hartnell. There wasn’t much McElhinney could do about either goal.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the nice, Sergei Bobrovsky continued to show the chinks in his armor by letting in a couple of preventable goals, reminding us all that he is just a rookie. He is not to blame for the loss but, unlike McElhinney, he was unable to steal this game for the Flyers.

So far this season, I have not been overly impressed with the decisions made by head coach Peter Laviolette. It was risky to start Bobrovsky in the season opener. Putting Jeff Carter on the top line with Mike Richards did not work in the playoffs and it continues to be problematic early on in the season. Carter and Richards have 3 points a piece in ’11 and they are a combined ’7. Richards has yet to score a goal.

In two of the last three losses, there were moments when Laviolette could have utilized his magical timeout-calling skills to refocus his team but he failed to do so.

In his defense, Laviolette is also missing a key component to his lineup. If the team is going to be hellbent on maintaining the Hartnell-Briere-Leino line that worked so well last postseason and was also the team’s best line last night, the Flyers need to add another scoring winger. They cannot continue to plug Andreas Nodl and Dan Carcillo into a top-six forward spot. There’s no reason to hit the panic button yet but it couldn’t hurt for Paul Holmgren to start putting out some feelers to see if he can add nother piece to the team.

Claude Giroux led all forwards in shorthanded TOI (3:55) and Mike Richards was tied for second (2:54). Once again, Andreas Nodl saw no time on the PK. Neither did Jody Shelley. At the risk of repeating myself, this needs to change. Guys like Nodl and Shelley need to play on the kill to open up opportunities for forwards like Giroux and Richards to rest and be ready to play more in offensive scenarios.

Darroll Powe, who has a modicum of offensive talent, was groomed to be a penalty killer this team and it has paid off well. There’s no reason the same process cannot be repeated with Nodl.

Through stretches of the game, the Flyers came out strong and looked like they had the potential to dominate and run away with the game. They hustled and, for the most part, avoided bad penalties.

Something has been missing, though. The team has not been firing on all cylinders.

Boiled down to its simplest form, the Flyers are not scoring enough goals. They are scoring 2.17 G/G and averaging 2.83 GA/G. The team is 24th in the league in goals scored per game. The question is: why?

Is it because of the line combinations? Is it a lack chemistry? Is it their undisciplined play? Do they not have the right players or personnel? What is wrong? It is hard to really tell at this point but the answer should become clearer in due time. Let’s just hope that the problems gets solved soon.