Flyers

Flyers

The Flyers are 4-5-0 and without back-to-back wins through their first nine games.

The numbers aren't pretty.

It all had general manager Ron Hextall discussing the state of the team Tuesday.

"I'm a pretty patient guy," Hextall said, "but things need to start going better here."

Let's look at five staggering stats behind the areas that must improve:

1. The No. 1 is obvious: goal prevention.

The Flyers entered Wednesday allowing the second-most goals in the NHL with 37, only one behind the Red Wings, who are the worst team in hockey at 1-6-2.

The play in net hasn't been good as the goalies own an .864 save percentage for a ranking of 30th in the league. And that's why goaltending is a concern.

But the effort in front of the net has been sloppy and porous, as well. Zone exits haven't been clean and too often are the Flyers trying to make a high-risk play or they're heavy in the offensive end that it results in an odd-man rush or coverage breakdown.

Just about everyone can be better. When they are, they give themselves a chance to win.

2. The Flyers' penalty kill ranked 27th in 2014-15 (77.1 percent), 20th in 2015-16 (80.5), 21st in 2016-17 (79.8) and 29th in 2017-18 (75.8).

Through the early going this season, it's 30th (68.8) and has allowed an NHL-high 10 goals. For the most part, over time, things have gotten worse.

You don't want to inflate ice time, but one option could be implementing some more of your skilled players on the PK. It creates a better chance of clears and puts pressure on the opposing power play when shorthanded opportunities are greater. 

 

3. The Flyers have scored first in just one of their nine games and came into Wednesday permitting a league-worst 12 first-period tallies.

To their credit, they have four wins when trailing first, but constantly having to fight back is not a trend the Flyers want to continue.

Following a slow start in Monday's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche, head coach Dave Hakstol didn't believe the issue was from his team not getting up for a game.

"It wasn't a lack of energy, it was a lack of execution with the puck," Hakstol said, "which gets us up ice and gives you a chance to build momentum inside the offensive zone rather than the puck is bouncing back and forth and we're not really setting a tone."

4. Typically, the Flyers' bread and butter is their power play. However, the man advantage is 1 for its last 14 over the past five games. 

This is where the absence of James van Riemsdyk really comes into play. The Flyers aren't as deep and don't have as many options to switch things up when the unit falls in a lull.

Still, the power play should be fine, but when the team's go-to strength isn't clicking, deficits ensue and comebacks are less likely.

5. This isn't an area the Flyers must improve, but it shows just how much the team is struggling in other facets.

The Flyers lead the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 57.4, which is so crucial to starting and dictating possession. However, when there are too many lapses after the draw, it won't matter much.

Last week, the Flyers won the faceoff battle with the Blue Jackets, 32-18, but lost, 6-3.

That shouldn't be happening.

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