To put it softly, the Philadelphia Flyers are off to a terrible start this season. They have scored 3 goals over 3 games – one goal in each of those three games, including tonight's loss at the Carolina Hurricanes. The Flyers have scored exactly one even strength goal through 9 periods of play, and look absolutely flat offensively so far this season. Tonight against the Hurricanes, the Flyers did not play the worst game they've ever played, but it was bad enough to not be able to pick up their first win of the season. Steve Mason got the start and played a decent game in net, and was tested early and often by the Hurricanes. Anton Khudobin got the start and picked up the win for Carolina, and was not tested nearly as much as Mason was.
The Flyers came out flat in the opening period. They could not sustain any consistent offense, and only mustered 5 shots on goal. The Hurricanes looked much like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens looked for the majority of the first two games of the season – like a squad in mid-season form. The Flyers were unable to get set up in the offensive zone, and had problems with turnovers. The Hurricanes only made the Flyers pay once, in the form of a goal by defenseman Jay Harrison on a puck that beat Steve Mason through the five-hole.
The Flyers were outshot 17-5 in the first period of tonight's game. Perhaps they came out a bit slow after a tough game less than 24 hours in Montreal. No matter the case, the Flyers' early-season offensive woes were made very evident in the opening frame of tonight's game. One positive was that the Flyers played a very physical first period, accumulating 20 hits.
The Flyers came out with a bit more jump in their step in the second period. They accumulated a number of shots on goal early in the period, and it finally paid off. The team picked up its first even strength goal three minutes into the period, with Luke Schenn depositing a wrist shot over the shoulder of Khudobin. Kris Newbury picked up his first point as a Flyer with an assist on the goal.
The game didn't stay tied for long. Despite the jump in their step, the Flyers have continued to have lots of issues with turnovers. This manifested itself in the worst way when the Flyers turned the puck over on an erratic pass from behind the net by Luke Schenn. The puck deflected off the net, and right onto the stick of right wing Radek Dvorak, who beat Mason top-shelf to give the Hurricanes the lead again. The turnover issues continue to plague the Flyers here in the early going of the 2013-14 season.
The final period has been a big problem for the Flyers in the first two games. Tonight, they came out looking stronger than they did in the first two periods, but were unable to turn this into any sustainable offense. They had a chance on a power play after Zac Rinaldo took a high stick to the face, but Andrej Meszaros was called for boarding to nullify the chance for the Flyers. The Flyers could not get set up and sustain offensive pressure, and were not able to get many chances. They kept the Hurricanes off the board, but that would not be enough to get the job done.
Simply put, the Flyers are playing uninspired, inefficient hockey. The Giroux-Hartnell-Voracek line has not registered a point through the first three games. Their only goal tonight was from Luke Schenn, a defenseman. Of course, this will not continue forever, but the team cannot win games with their feature line not showing up, and only defensemen scoring goals. Each of the four lines are all unable to achieve any sustained synergy in the offensive zone. The Flyers are losing neutral zone battles, and the team's defensemen and goalies are being tested way too much in these first few games. The numbers don't lie – the Flyers offense let out just a whimper tonight, putting up only 18 shots, while the Hurricanes put up 34 shots on Mason. Only two of those got through, and Mason did make a few good saves, stopping 32 of 34 shots – which is certainly not a bad performance.
One good thing notable in the early going is the frequency of hits. The Flyers put up over 30 hits tonight, and have had very physical play so far. But physical play doesn't necessarily covert to offense, especially when the team can't protect the puck. The Flyers are committing way too many turnovers, and are getting absolutely dominated between the blue lines. The offense is seemingly nonexistent at times, making the opposing goalies, who are generally average-at-best, look like All-Stars. One has to start questioning the execution of the coaches on this team – and perhaps it is time for a change. For now, the 0-3-0 Flyers will face the Florida Panthers at home on Tuesday night.
Carolina – Jay Harrison (1), Assisted by Ryan Murphy (1) and Jeff Skinner (2)
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