It’s hard to imagine a worse start to the season for the Flyers. With the schedule being so cramped, the Flyers found themselves on the menu for two home openers after starting the season with a tough loss to their in-state rivals Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for them, the damage has been caused by a host of issues throughout the line-up, and it seems to have festered with each passing game, adversely affecting the level of play in greater volumes as the madness unfolded.
Now the Flyers are 0-3 and facing nothing but questions and the occasional Seth Jones quip. So where do the troubles begin? To me, it starts with the offense.
First and foremost, three goals in three games just isn’t going to cut it for anyone, let alone a team that was supposed to thrive on its offensive ability. It starts with Captain Claude, who was off to a great start before crashing to the ice in a beautiful ball of redheaded rage last night in Newark. It’s tough to score when you don’t get a single shot on goal, but it’s even tougher when you’re in the box for needless reasons like abuse of officials. While you hope he doesn’t make a habit of such performances, Giroux gets a pass based on his history of success.
The same can’t be said for much of the young secondary scoring, which was expected to at the very least maintain it’s prior level of play. Unfortunately for the Flyers, that isn’t happening across the board, starting with Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. When it comes to the latter, he’s been in the spotlight for some awful plays, highlighted by last night’s defensive breakdown that led to the Devils first goal.
Even with the offense struggling across the board, there is reason to believe things will soon improve. The Flyers can easily cut down on the bench minors and ticky-tack stick penalties, give them time to develop a rhythm up and down the lineup. The Flyers couldn’t generate much of anything against the Devils, parading in and out of the box in what turned out to be a battle of special teams. Cut down on the penalties and you can stick to your game plan.
If the offense can develop a flow, the addition of Jake Voracek to the pairing of Giroux and Scott Hartnell could spark the offensive leaders. The man many expected to see flanking Claude from the beginning wasn’t able to generate much last night, but his ability to read and react to what Giroux wants could pay large dividends on the score sheet. He may get comparisons to Jaromir Jagr because of their shared native roots, but the two possess a similar ability to slow the game down and control the puck, albeit on different levels.
When Voracek holds onto the puck, the defense is forced to respond, opening windows for Giroux and Hartnell to strike. He’s drawn some ire from the fans, but he’s always on the verge of something special, and was directly responsible for the Flyers first strike versus Buffalo. To date, that’s 33 percent of the offense – a terrible stat for a team that averaged three times as much last season with arguably a stronger defense.
While we’re piling on the positive bandwagon, the addition of Danny Briere when he returns from injury should do wonders in balancing the Flyers scrappy core of forwards. Leading that train is Wayne Simmonds who has been everywhere, causing havoc on the ice while coming inches from potting his first few goals of the season. With these two talented players on the verge of contributing, the Flyers offensive woes could soon be cured.
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